Last summer, 20 students spent a month on campus at Wheaton learning about international politics, business, and economics. It was the first half of their experience with Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI), an experiential learning program that focuses on these topics. During the second half of the ISI experience, the students traveled through Africa for four weeks with Min-Dong Paul Lee, associate professor of business and economics, stopping in South Africa, Malawi and Ghana.
While in South Africa, they had the opportunity to talk at length with F. W. de Klerk, who served as the country's president from September 1989 to May 1994. During his presidency, de Klerk made the difficult and historic decision to end apartheid in South Africa. Students had the chance to ask questions about the factors that influenced his decision, including his Christian faith. “It was fascinating to hear President de Klerk’s personal insights about working with other world leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. . . . I am very thankful for the J. Dennis Hastert Center connection that allowed us to have this opportunity,” said ISI student Julia Wittrock ’15.
Students were also able to see microfinance in action through visiting organizations like Opportunity International in Malawi and Khayelitsha Cookies, a factory owned by Christian business people in South Africa. At each site they witnessed first-hand how business and economics can be used by God to bring hope and new opportunities to vulnerable people. They also met alumni who were using what they learned at Wheaton to impact the world, giving the students an exciting glimpse into where God might be calling them in the years to come.
“Going into this trip, I was very prideful, thinking that I knew enough about third world countries and the problems that they have since I am from one,” said ISI student Paul Kim ’15, who is from Cambodia. “But then going to Africa I realized that the issues and problems there are at a whole different level. . . . It really allowed me to lay down my presuppositions, pursue open-mindedness and have a broadened perspective on God’s kingdom.”
Think you or someone you know might be interested in Iron Sharpens Iron? The next ISI trip is scheduled for summer 2015. Learn more >