Caleb Crother, Westmont Ministry and Outreach
Emmaus Road aims to aid and create ties between foreign communities and Westmont students through cultural immersion. This coming summer, the organization will send participants to Spain, Uganda, Peru and Montenegro.
Esther Cabrera, senior and Emmaus Road programming coordinator, described the organization as “a different experience globally where, [in] that community and space, God is already at work.”
Speaking to the program’s goals, Cabrera explained, “In general, we try to help the Westmont community to encourage them to experience cultural differences outside the U.S. with Christ at the center of it all.”
As for the four experiences available to students in the summer of 2022, third-year Emmaus Road director Tiffany Gong explained, “All of the experiences are different … Sometimes you stay with a host family … You’re just being with the community, sharing meals, going to church with them.”
Emmaus Road seeks to assist local organizations already at work in the area. Gong explained, “We partner with certain organizations existing in those locations.” Gong described tasks participants may have as the program prioritizes “providing support to partners, [and helping] with the local church and schools.”
Tasks may also vary based on the location. For example, in Uganda, members of the Emmaus Road team have the opportunity to help out at a local orphanage.
Emmaus Road places great emphasis on the trip being an experience and not a missionary trip. This involves being respectful of other cultures as well as “knowing that we’re vessels of God and God’s work and need to be humble.” As Gong explained, “We call them ‘experiences’ because we are not being a savior.”
According to Cabrera, “We’re there to be tools to help in whatever they need us for. It’s an experience that engages both sides of the party.” This idea of being a helping hand promotes future sustainability in the communities when Emmaus Road participants are not present.
Students participating in a trip must also join the Emmaus Road orientation class. Gong explained the necessity of the course: “We are doing a semester class next spring … because we really want our students to be educated before they go into these spaces.” According to Cabrera, the class “prepares you for your experiences as well as gives you a space to talk about the experiences that you felt at your location.”
Emmaus Road creates an opportunity for those who join to experience a new culture. Gong noted that “a big part of Emmaus Road’s mission is … to create a space for Westmont students … We’re not actually changing the world out there, but we’re changing the world for Westmont students. It’s about helping our students.”
Gong explained the impact of these trips on participants: “It’s easy to think about things from our own perspectives. People live differently than you. It’s not about intention. Have open hearts and open ears … just bursting our bubble a little. It’s great to see students excited for these experiences. They can be life-changing.”