Global Focus Week Highlights Global Cultures

Flags rose high as Liberty University held its biannual Global Focus Week to celebrate different cultures around the world and educate students about them on Feb. 19-23.

Global Focus Week, hosted by the Office of Spiritual Development, featured influential Convocation guests like Ravi Zacharias, global workers, experiences of cultures and interactive events, while also highlighting the G5 Rwanda campaign.

The week also consisted of mission organization tables, discussions led by globally minded speakers, and food tastings from different cultures.

In LU Serve Director of International Engagement Steven Gillum’s view, no matter a student’s passion, Global Focus Week is important for all students to learn more about different cultures, people groups and God’s love for all.

LU Serve’s goal was to open students’ eyes to the work that God is doing around the world.  The department held several seminars and interactive activities for students to connect with 48 global organizations that were represented at Liberty throughout the week

The week opened with the Parade of Nations at Convocation on Feb. 19 where students from different countries carried their flag throughout the Vines Center.

“(I was told), ‘You’re going to cry — you’re going to feel so proud of your country,’” Liberty freshman Andrea Edregal said.  “And I cried.

Edregal came to Liberty after a group of Liberty representatives went to her Christian high school in Peru.

“Every time there’s an event about our cultures, I get so excited because it’s something that I left in Peru, but here I can reflect it,” Edregal said.

Following the Parade of Nations, Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser led a panel discussion with four Liberty missionary kids, who represented Liberty’s 211 missionary kids from more than 100 organizations. This conversation allowed students to share their international life experiences and help their peers understand other cultures.

The four missionary kids, two siblings from Siberia, one student from Panama, and another student from Haiti, shared about their missions in the different countries and how their families share God with others and change lives cross-culturally.

“The government is against us, society is against us, the Russian Orthodox Church is very much against us, so sometimes it’s scary. But, God, He has always protected us,” Liberty sophomore and Siberian missionary kid Joanna Bantseev said.

Other Convocations throughout the week included Ravi Zacharias and senior pastor of Hope Church, Vance Pitman.  Through these speakers’ messages, students were able to understand how culture changes them and how they are able to apply impactful points of cultural awareness of the church.

“It’s time that we as the church unlock the keys to multicultural, multi-ethnic expressions of the gospel and it begins with followers of Jesus being intentional,” Pitman said.

Liberty hosted events for students and staff to attend throughout the week to highlight the G5 movement, such as the global refugee response, taste of Rwanda and cultural exposure.  The new initiative’s goal is to help students focus on a specific country’s culture and problems to build bridges with the country.

“At Liberty, I really find it beautiful how they acknowledge how the hand of God is moving globally, not just in the U.S.,” Liberty senior Henry Wilson said.  “Because the U.S. has had an impact on the faith spreading throughout the world, but it’s beautiful to come and acknowledge what God is doing in different parts of the world.”

Wilson’s family is originally from Ghana and he is the first-generation in the United States. He said the grace of God brought him to Liberty, and he is now majoring in psychology.

The music, dance, food and hospitality that make up the life of Ghana are what Wilson loves most about his culture. To Wilson, it is a collectivistic culture.

The last event of the week was the Global Cultural Intelligence discussion held Feb. 22, featuring global speaker Buhle Dlamini. The discussion was about his global experiences and to equip students to better serve those from different nationalities.

“If we don’t understand the culture, then we go in and cause more damage,” Dlamini said.

In his opinion, Dlamini says cultural intelligence is the difference between success and failure.  Global cultural intelligence is effectively behaving in different cultures.  The four capabilities of cultural intelligence are drive, knowledge, strategy and action.

He shared with the students how the world is becoming more self-focused and needs to be more others-focused.  Dlamini discussed how single stories about race, culture and nationality affect people’s views of others and the way they engage with one another.  One student added that it could result in racism, stereotypes and cultural ignorance.

Describing Global Focus Week in three words, Gillum said it is engaging, interactive and eye-opening.

Looking toward the future, Gillum said Liberty’s goal for Global Focus Week is to continue to create the best possible partnerships to provide better opportunities for global awareness, resource training and engagement.

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