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Conversations About Culture and Race Experiential Learning Trip to Birmingham and Montgomery

covenant students pictured at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

As part of an ongoing series “Conversations about Culture and Race” led by Covenant’s Student Life team, students had the opportunity to participate in an off-campus learning experience earlier this month.  A group of students and staff traveled to Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama for an experiential learning trip in partnership with Birmingham Theological Seminary, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, and Urban Hope Community Church. Nesha Evans (Associate Dean of Students for Student Life), one of the staff leaders for this trip, expressed her desire for students to learn this difficult history in a meaningful way. “It's one thing to hear about some historical sociological event in the classroom, but it is another thing to go to the spaces and places that these things occurred and to hear from people who have experienced what it is that we're learning about.”

Their itinerary included museums such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, The Legacy Museum, and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. According to Emily Kueh ‘24, these museums “captured fragments of these fragile moments of history in such a compelling and captivating way.”

Though the Civil Rights movement is broadly known by most Americans, the harsh realities of those times are often overlooked. Elysse Carrillo ‘23 described the humbling learning experience she had on this trip. “My eyes were opened to not only the egregious treatment they faced, but also their miraculous faith throughout a time of intense and bloody prosecution.”

When learning about such dark times in history, it is natural to feel a sense of hopelessness for humanity. But a unique aspect of this trip is the guidance of local pastors and theologians as tour guides. Evans expressed her gratitude for them, saying, “They were able to speak to the painful experiences and yet also offer the hope that somehow the kingdom of God can reconcile.” Covenant students on this trip were able to engage with history in a biblical way, and they ultimately left encouraged to see the Imago Dei in others.

As Evans reflected on her takeaways from this trip, she noted her hope that students would develop a greater sense of empathy for all people. That they would lean into hard conversations and know that “God does not shy away from the hard. He asks us to enter into the hard and to love him.”

We at Covenant are thankful for a community that is willing to engage in these difficult but necessary learning experiences. 

Interested in learning more about Covenant’s Intercultural Program? Click here.

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