Reports of flights departing and landing and airport security protocol hummed in the background of an atmosphere thick with anticipation. Students gathered in lines at the mock-airport terminal on their way into Ispland, a country made up just for this training weekend.
The Office of Mobilization commandeered parts of the California Baptist University campus Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 for Intensive Training Weekend, a cross-cultural simulation for International Service Project, United States Project and Summer of Service participants.
The weekend launched a semester of training for these service teams.
John Grima, senior kinesiology major, participated in ITW for the first time this year. He will go to South Asia to provide healthcare this summer.
“The most challenging part was being in a situation or a culture that I didn’t understand,” he said. “I would say that even the things I didn’t necessarily enjoy, I learned a lot from.”
Part of the training for first-time participants involved playing a cross-cultural game where students pretended to be from one culture while trying to interact with and learn about individuals from a different culture.
Grima said he struggled with not knowing how to act in the new cultural scenario.
“I just felt helpless, like I wasn’t in control,” he said.
Though he said it was not his favorite activity, the lesson Grima learned was one of the most important over the weekend: To be flexible, and to “realize that we’re going to be put in an awkward situation and an uncomfortable environment because we don’t know the culture,” he said.
“It definitely gave me an appreciation for cross-cultural interaction,” Grima said. “It made me realize that this is something we have to rely on the Lord for.”
ITW is often the first time that service teams spend extensive time together, and Grima said the part of the weekend that stood out most to him was how his team bonded and worked well together.
“We were all put in a situation we didn’t know,” Grima said. Everyone on his team except for the team leader and student leader are participating in ISP for the first time this year. “Seeing how we worked together without doing this before, and
without really spending time with each other, was a blessing.”