92 and still driving…

This blog is written by Matthew Wiebe. Matt, is a Fall 2018 student from Cedarville University. Editor’s note: This post has been edited.

Seniors, are just like anyone else! They can be awesome and also not so awesome.

Luckily, the seniors at Citipointe Seniors are fantastic. These seniors, while they may be old, are young at heart. These are not the grumpy old seniors who sit around and do nothing. One lady is 92 and still drives.

Seniors at a picnic

They are very active and engaging and genuinely want you to be there. They love talking to students and asking students questions about home life in the States.

The seniors really love when you ask them questions and engage with their lives. They want to tell you their experiences. My time at Citipointe Seniors has been nothing but fun and brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed the fellowship I had with the seniors through chats, drinking coffee, day trips to Bribie island or playing bowls! All of it was lots of fun.

Regular morning tea at Citipointe Seniors

Our weekly morning tea at Citipointe Seniors

I’ve have been fortunate of having my grandparents live with me for three years. This definitely made engaging with the seniors much simpler because I’ve been doing it for years. It also helps that the seniors at Citipointe see you as one of their grandchildren, so it’ll be no different for you to interact with these seniors then your grandparents.

Three people in a group

Jessica Gurrola from Biola University with Citipointe Seniors coordinators Anne & Stuart at the Toowoomba Flower Festival

If you haven’t been around your grandparents much, then this volunteer service might seem a bit scary. Never fear because you don’t need to try. You simply need to be there, and engagement will happen. It’ll probably take a couple days to feel fully comfortable. Once that mark is hit, then the rest of the time there will be amazing.

Service Placements are part of
The View of Australia Class (AS 200).
Find out more about the unit!

My Student Representative Council Experience

This blog is written by Chelsey Girvin. Chelsey, is a Fall 2018 student from Waynesburg University. Editor’s note: This post has been edited.

My name is Chelsey Girvin. I am a Biology/Pre-Veterinary Major from Waynesburg University in the United States. I was given the opportunity this year to study abroad at Christian Heritage College and be part of the student representative council on campus. My responsibilities and obligations on the council included the following: attending all meetings as a full speaking and voting member – providing input into decisions that affect international students and the wider student body.

CHC Student Representative Council, 2018. I am  third from the  right (next to the President in the hat).

Don’t just read about Chelsea’s experience.  Live it! 
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Need more information?  Talk to our admissions counselor.

I also participated in various community events such as lunch hangs (lunch time community hang outs – where I would help prepare meals which brought the students together). There was also campus chapel, where I was a greeter. One event was the CHC Ball, I assisted with the table arrangements and decorations of the venue so students and staff could enjoy themselves.


Post Suave

One thing I’ve learnt while serving as a representative included interpersonal skills. Through my SRC experience, I strongly believed I developed better relationships towards people in terms of gratitude, communication, friendliness, and optimism. This along with other experiences are essential in any community environment.

One challenge I faced, was exercising my leadership skills. I challenged myself by clearing my mindset, stepping back, and allowing everyone in the council to deliver their individual responsibilities and empowerment. This had a positive effect on me, as I was able to make decisions towards a shared vision.

 We did it!

We did it!

Overall, my involvement in the SRC has given me the opportunity to improve personally, build relationships with people, serve the community and represent students on a personal level which benefited them.

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Kangaroos, red dirt, and scorching sun…I knew I wanted to be a part of this adventure!

This blog is written by Ariel Norris. Ariel, is a Fall 2018 student from North Greenville College. Editor’s note: This post has been lightly edited.

Last semester, when I was deciding where I wanted to study abroad, the fact that ASC offered a trip to the Australian outback was a major draw card for me. Instantly images of kangaroos, red dirt, and scorching sun came to mind and I knew I wanted to be a part of this adventure.

Girl with whip

Having a whip crackin of a time!

Fast forward a few months, I find myself waking at 4am, jumping onto a bus (not entirely sure what direction we were heading) and onto the dusty roads towards the Outback! Though the ASC staff did inform us of what we should basically expect from the trip, I don’t think any of us truly knew what we were getting into.

Girl on dusty road

On the dusty red dirt roads

We were told, sleeping arrangements may include sleeping under the stars or in an old barn! To which a mixture of responses came from my fellow classmates! I, for one was thrilled at the prospect of falling asleep beneath a million stars. Others weren’t too sure.

Understandably, the nerves were not about sleeping in the Outback but more who or what they may be sleeping with? I will admit, the idea of waking up to see a king brown (snake) curled up next to me, or a kangaroo looking down at me did cross my mind once or twice. Thankfully, never once did I wake to find anything except the ranch’s dogs, Marley and Devil, snuggled up next to our group!

Outback sleeping arrangements

Outback sleeping arrangements

In addition to nerves about the sleeping arrangements, we are invited by the ASC staff partake in a “no shower challenge” to understand what drought stricken farmers constantly battle. I decided I would “Go Hard or Go Home!” with this challenge.

You see, it would be easy to come on the Outback trip with the mindset of “we have to do this.” But the experience becomes so much more enriching when we change our mindset from “have to” to “get to”.

Jessica Gurrola (Biola University) and Abby Haas (Montreat  College) making a new friend

Having a good feed

We heard from the ranch owners on how they didn’t choose this lifestyle because of  financial gain but chose it because the Outback is part of who they are.

Me and Lyle the ranch owner

Me and Lyle the ranch owner

Upon reflection, I left behind familiarity of the modern life and jumped into a new reality that I would never have been able to experience outside of the ASC program. We weren’t just in the Outback to have a good time. We were there to learn how challenging life can be in this arid sometimes “unforgiving” land.

Lyle the ranch owner talking about a particular tree local to the area

Lyle, talking about the landscape

The Outback is harsh, yet it is also full of life and richness if you allow yourself to see it. As I returned home to Brisbane, and gazed across the backyard (bursting with green grass and trees) I realized that even though it wasn’t easy experience, I did it! We did it! Our time spent there, I will never forget!

Desert flower


PS. Showering never felt better!

the place that calls my heart

This blog is written by Marissa Showalter. It comes from her personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane“. Marissa was a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been lightly edited. 

This past week has been a tough one. Every day that passes makes me wish more and more that I was on a plane headed back to the place that calls my heart. There are just too many in completes that I left behind in my sweet Brissy, and I want nothing more than to return to finish what I started under the sweet summer sunshine of Queensland. What do you do when your heart physically aches for somewhere else?

Photo 16-2-18, 11 50 11 am

A Gold Coast Beach

You would think that the more time passes, the more I would settle back into life here. WRONG. Yep. If anything, I feel even more listless than before. People here are talking about taking their GREs and applying to jobs, and I can’t help but feel like a frozen over creek, stagnant and unmoving.

I have been encountering so many well-meaning folks who, upon discovering that it’s my senior year, inquire as most do about what my plans are after college. I fake a smile and start going on about how I plan to go to grad school for counseling. HA. Who am I fooling?? Not that I don’t still feel like counseling is my calling or anything, but now I have bigger dreams and weirdly they look a lot like palm trees swaying on a spotless beaches and kangaroos bouncing across a stretch of barren desert.


A mob of Kangaroos

People are usually rather incredulous when I tell them that I want to move to Australia. They think I’m joking or being dramatic or just exaggerating the impact that my time there had on me. “You would really want to live over there?” they ask me. “But it’s so far! Wouldn’t you miss your family?”

Then they ask me what I would plan to do when I got there and that’s just the kicker, because once again, I have no idea. Like, not a clue. I could go and work odd jobs for a little while, which no one would understand once I have earned my degree. I could do grad school abroad potentially, but of course I don’t know what that would mean financially as an international student or the implications for becoming a licensed counselor in the US. All I know is that I need to find my way back somehow.

So this has been an especially hard week emotionally as I move yet again into my new apartment. In the move, I packed up all of my Australia mementos and carefully tucked them away to be prominently displayed in my new home. I cling to even the smallest item that claims even a little bit of sentimentality. You know what? I still have the packaging for a necklace that I received over there that should’ve gone in the trash long ago. And yet I continue to cling.

If I come to a conclusion about all of this, I’ll keep you updated.

Until then.

xoxo, Riss

A Night At The Museum

This post is written by our guest blogger Joyce Mok , ASC Student Services Coordinator.

Sometimes you stumble on an event which is so rich, it makes you smile days after it is over. Last week, Roxanne and I had the privilege to attend an “after dark” event at the Queensland Museum. A celebratory event showcasing Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders’ history, heritage and culture. The night featured talented young artists from Digi Youth Arts (creative space for indigenous youth), panel discussions, poetry, weaving, live music, roving performances, visual art and short films.

The night began with a moving ceremony, welcoming us (guests to this land) through song and dance.

Welcome to country

A Welcome to Country ceremony

With Welcome to Country over, we wandered the rest of this treasure trove of all things old and large. There was a room full of dinosaur bones, beetles and an assortment of deep sea creatures you only hear about in Jules Verne stories! I was in awe of the creative Creator who made these diverse beings.

With access to rooms and exhibits, we stumble upon a young performer. Motivated by her Aboriginal and Jamaican heritage, Aurora  Liddle-Christie uses her art as a platform to explore the experiences of people of colour within Australian society. Her poetry strong, bold, engaging!

As we weave past artifacts and gigantic termite mounds, it was only natural we end our night expanding our skills in weaving. Practiced by both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, each cultural group uses particular materials, techniques, patterns, colours and design based on the plants found in region.  Children are taught at an early age to make baskets for collecting food, nets of fishing and even toys.

Weaving workshop with Torres Strait Islander

Weaving workshop Torres Strait Islander style

I (and Roxanne) certainly enjoyed our night out at the Queensland Museum and look forward in the coming months in sharing experiences like these with the ASCers.

A librarian writes…

This post is written by our guest blogger Stephen Morton, CHC librarian and fountain of knowledge.

G’day. I’m Steve, the College Librarian at Christian Heritage College (CHC) which is located in a leafy suburb of Brisbane which is “down-under” in Australia. Brisbane weather is (generally) warm and sunny with the occasional tropical storm or cyclone thrown in for good measure. There are wide open spaces, and the outback is just over there “beyond the back of Bourke”.

Steve at work

CHC has the pleasure of hosting the Australia Studies Centre through which the CCCU Best Semester program brings students from the States to Australia, so that these students get the opportunity to broaden their horizons through experiencing the cultural and contextual differences found in studying abroad.

Over the last few years, we have asked our American students to let us know where they are from by placing a pin in a map of the States to identify their home town or home college/university. We have enjoyed meeting American students from almost every U.S. state.

ASC students and their hometown

Some of the things that we soooooooooo appreciate about our American visitors are: their thirst to experience life in ‘Straya (Australia); the passion to deepen their experience and understanding of God; the wide range of accents that we get to hear (and try to understand); the way they introduce us locals to our own indigenous cultural heritage that is often overlooked when it comes to teaching and learning in our schools; that they arrive as visitors and leave as friends.

We like to tease them about the wildlife and dangerous creatures that are found in Australia (you should be visualising Steve Irwin and his “Crikey!” antics right now). When we tell our Americans about the “bookworms” that occasionally visit the library, and explain that they are actually green tree snakes or carpet pythons, the looks of horror are a sight to behold (they are non-venomous, though). But, we balance this shock with the wonderful experience of… (hopefully) meeting our resident koala,

A friendly local

our growing family of ducks,

Wood duck family outing

and our wonderful sunsets that are best enjoyed from the bench seat at the front of the CHC library.

CHC sunset over the campus

Then, you realise that coming down-under for your Best Semester at CHC is simply a great opportunity to experience another unique corner of God’s creation.

Come on down and share your life experiences with us, as we share our country and its stories with you.

Happy 21st!

This blog is written by Hannah Herrold. Hannah is a Spring 2018 student from Taylor University.

The rural countryside of Toowoomba was the setting in which I had anticipated living during my entire time here in Australia. Although all of the Aussies laugh at me when I explain this, the view that Americans get of Australia revolves around the movies of red dirt roads and Steve Erwin. Now, I have to clarify that in Toowoomba the dirt is black NOT red, which I was ridiculed over by the Yarrow family whenever I forgot. Anyways, you might be thinking, “This is pretty random and the title is “Happy 21st”, so why is she talking about Toowoomba?” so I will get to the point.

21st Birthday Decorations

21st Birthday Decorations

Last weekend, I was invited to my Aussie (CHC) Friend Emma-Lea’s 21st birthday party at her place in Toowoomba. There we go, there is the lightbulb! In Australia, a 21st birthday is a huge celebration that includes not only close family and friends, but practically the whole neighbourhood. So, in case anyone in the audience is unaware, the drinking age in Australia in 18, unlike the drinking age in America which is 21. This leads to the question of why is the 21st birthday so special? No one actually seems to know… Emma-Lea’s mother explained it as a celebration of someone’s life but either way, I was invited to this party 3 hours away with an expected 80 people long guest list and enough food to feed about 302 people.

Toowoomba Landscape

Toowoomba Landscape

During the party, there were many speeches given, a lot of stories shared, too much delicious food (meat-pies included!), card games, and chats by the fire. However, my favourite moment was after the festivities had ended and the majority of the guests had gone home. Emma-Lea’s family owns a beautiful cotton farm that spans across a couple hundred acres. Since there were so many guests coming, before the party, Emma-Lea’s dad had started the cotton-picking early so that the boll-buggy was full.

What is a boll-buggy? It is basically like this giant metal container full of freshly picked cotton that is attached to a tractor and, after being commanded by Emma-Lea and her friends, you jump into this mess of cotton and ride around under the stars. The ride was my softer and fluffier than a hay ride and the view was incredible. I am still picking pieces of cotton off of the sweatshirt that I wore in the pit, but it was worth the few minutes we rode around looking at the stars. If you are ever given the chance, give it a go, and you might make some life-long friends while you are all jumping with a leap of faith into a huge bin of cotton.

(Also, Happy Birthday Emma-Lea!)

The number of times Abigail has death-gripped our hips…

Sarah Newell attends Gordon College and Allison Green is a student at Azusa Pacific University, they are both part of our Spring 2018 cohort! Read what they had to say about their service placement.
*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Allison and Sarah

A few months ago, we were asked to write a blog post about our service placement, and now, two months later, here we are.

Allison: We serve at Citipointe Seniors on Wednesday mornings. We set up the tables, make coffee, and sit and listen to their stories. Every week is a different activity, so one week we could be listening to a Western folk band and another week Sarah could be killing it at bowls while I create bookmarks.


Sarah: Going into service placements, I really didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that we were going to be with seniors and help them out any way that they need. I think I was expecting it to feel like a nursing home and that I would be kind of bored.

Allison: I would agree. I expected it to be a retirement home community. I thought that we would just work in the back and clean dishes and maybe bring them food around snack time. Other than that I was not expecting to be as integrated into their lives as we have been.


Sarah: There are so many things that I love about seniors, but the people are by far the best part. Every week when Allison and I leave, we grab each other and say “I love them.” (Every time!) It has been a real privilege to be able to sit and listen to their stories. There is Deanne, the 93 year old British lady (the first woman we met), who immigrated here with her husband at 23 after living through the bombings of World War II. There is Andrew, a gentle soul who without fail smiles and asks how we are. He is terrified of bungee jumping but once he went parasailing and 10/10 would recommend it.

Allison: Oh My Gosh! There is a man named Maurice who has dementia, and every week he always tells me the same story about how he is unable to push a lawn mower. And every week, without fail, people laugh. He always sits next to Violet, a lovely woman who moved here from Samoa. One time she said that she wishes I would go to Samoa because she thought I would be a good influence on the children. I’ve never felt so honored in our life, I’m going to brag about that woman for years to come.


Sarah: Every Wednesday, Abigail and Sam greet us with a big hug and sloppy kisses. They are in charge of seniors (and by extension, in charge of us). The first day we met them, Abigail gave us the low down on all of the seniors. They know all of their names, and about their lives and their children and grandchildren. They love so well and are incredibly humble in everything that they do.


Enjoying morning tea

Allison: Abigail always makes sure that she is available to us if we have any questions about life, love, or the pursuit of happiness.

Carrie and Graham are also another power couple in the Citipointe community. They’ve been married 50 years, and they are both some of the loudest people that show up! They are so vibrant and vivacious and they always know how to make people feel welcome.


  • S: When they pulled us up on stage to help them sing and dance
  • A: When they sang Sarah and a woman named Peta “Happy Birthday“
  • S: The extensive amount of food that they force us to take with us when we leave because they are afraid we aren’t eating enough
  • A: The amount of women that comment on my glitter eye shadow. They always say “Oh, so sparkly it brings out your beauty.” It’s a real ego booster
  • S: The running of tally of sloppy kisses we get, there is no escape. No matter how much we try
  • A: The number of life stories we get to hear
  • S: The number of times Abigail has death-gripped our hips
  • A: How much better Sarah is at making instant coffee than I am? Tip: Stir the cup
  • S: The times that people finish speaking and we have to run around with microphones for them to ask questions, but no one waits for us to get there before they start talking
  • A: The amount of times we get turned away when we try to help in the kitchen

Making friends with a yabbie during our Outback trip


Sarah: In class, we talked about the Power of Recognition, and I think it relates to our service placement. People often forget about elderly people once they stop working and ‘contributing’ to society. They forget that they had full lives before and still have so much to share. I feel really honored to be able to “sit at their feet”, so to speak and hear about the amazing lives that they have led.


Getting our faces painted up during an indigenous class trip

Allison: Going off of that, I feel like in American culture we have a really big “do it yourself” ideology. Often times when people get older we don’t want to take care of them because it’s “our turn to take care of ourselves” so we push them to the side or put them in a home. It seems that people aren’t as willing to keep up with those relationships because they feel like they couldn’t relate to an elder due to the generational differences. But there are so many different things that we can learn about life from what they have lived. Just because they lived in a different time doesn’t diminish the lessons we can learn. Also, we have a grand old time with them and we spend most of our time laughing and joking around.

Sarah: It’s nice to see that we aren’t so different after all.


See y’all next time!

*Coordinators of Citipointe Seniors

15 students, 2 nine hour bus rides, 3 nights sleeping in a sheep sheering shed, and 2 days in the hot, dusty outback No Showers!

This blog is written by Sierra Howard. Sierra is a Spring 2018 student from Azusa Pacific University.

My first thoughts when I heard “no shower challenge” were pretty neutral. I had done it before for various camps and missions trips so the feat didn’t seem too daunting. I looked around the room though at some of the other students and saw a look of horror in their eyes.

4 days total:  

15 students

2 nine hour bus rides

3 nights sleeping in a sheep sheering shed

and 2 days in the hot, dusty outback


I can’t say I blame them for being a little nervous about the trip. Despite some hesitations, we all chose to fully commit to the experience and take on the challenge.

Day 1: The first day was not bad at all, but that was to be expected. After all, it had only been a matter of 12 to 15 hours for some of us since our last shower. Although, I did miss the feeling of a nice, hot shower after spending nine hours on the bus sitting in recycled air. Sitting around the nice, hot campfire was the next best thing though.

Day 2: Waking up after our first night in the outback was actually really nice. I got up, got dressed, put in my contacts, tied my hair up in a ponytail and was good to go. I appreciated how easy it was to get ready for my day and although my hair already had started feeling kind of gross, it didn’t bother me much knowing that everyone else was in the same boat. I will say though, my baseball hat quickly became my best friend!

Sierra holding Australian Cattle dog puppy

Sierra holding an Australian Cattle Dog puppy

Day 3: My hair was definitely feeling pretty greasy by the time I woke up on our second morning at Bonus Downs.  However, I felt completely fine after once again hiding that grease underneath my baseball hat. Aside from my gross hair, I didn’t feel too much different after not showering for a few days. Sure we were all extremely dusty, but we were camping. Everything was dusty! There wouldn’t have been much point in showering to get the dirt off because we would’ve regained it the moment we stepped out of the shower. I used some facial wipes to clean my face at morning and at night and definitely applied plenty of deodorant, but body never actually felt that dirty.

Jacob, Sierra, Paige and Dalton enjoying their ride

Jacob, Sierra, Paige and Dalton enjoying their ride

Day 4: Our last day was anticipated to be the worst. It had been a while since any of us had showered and we were getting back on the hot bus for another nine hour trip. While it would have been nice to have cold water to stand under and wake ourselves up after the fun, but exhausting weekend, at this point, it still wasn’t too bad having not showered in a while. Surprisingly, I never noticed anyone really smelling bad. Although, it is possible that we just all smelt bad at that point and had gotten accustomed to the stench!

Enjoying the company of our host Madonna at the Ooline forrest

Looking back at our weekend without showering, we definitely all felt pretty gross by the end, but it wasn’t as bad as many of us thought it would be. Something about us all being in it together, made you feel less gross and at the very least, all seeing each other look like a mess together was definitely a bonding experience. There is something about seeing everyone at their worst state that really breaks down barriers and allowed us to be more vulnerable and open with one another. We got to see each other without being done up or put together, without putting on the facade of perfection that we feel the need to have for the world. We got to see each others flaws and imperfections and with that, we gained a whole new level of comfort. You could tell the dynamic within the group had shifted by the end of the trip and it was cool to see the whole new level of closeness that had formed since we had arrived in the outback on the first day. Overall I would most definitely count the no shower challenge as a success! However, I must say I didn’t waste any time taking one as soon as I got home and it was most definitely one of the best showers I’ve had!

Truly life changing, and for the better!

This blog is written by Emily Schnefke. It comes from her personal blog “A pilgrimage“. Emily was a Spring 2017 student from Missouri Baptist University. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been lightly edited. 

It’s been one year since I hopped on a plane incredibly excited but very nervous for a semester full of unknowns. I had no idea what those 4 months were going to bring, but I was excited for the journey. I met the group in LA, 22 strangers who soon became close friends, and we all made the flight to Brisbane.

Reflecting now, I am so incredibly thankful for the amazing memories that I made with all of these people, including that flight where we all were just getting started.


I miss the adventures to new and exciting cities, the bus rides commuting to and from school, grabbing coffee in the mall with fellow ASCers, chapel hangs, eating dinner with my host family, and learning in Kimberly’s classroom. During these four months these activities shaped me and molded me into someone who was different than the girl that hopped on that plane to LA. I learned about how beautiful community can be, gathering with others and pouring into them and being poured into. I learned how real God can become in a place where you know nothing else and have to rely on Him for things you made never had to before. I learned how to better be a pilgrim, to look at the places and the people I was around as more than just pretty scenery and faces. I learned that God works to teach us things in unique ways, whether they are beautiful (often times they were) or a bit messy and maybe not what we would have chosen. I learned to embrace life’s question marks, if you think too much they will stress you out but they can be very exciting when you trust God’s plan. Through the ups and downs that the semester brought I learned to completely place my trust in Jesus. To trust in His promises and in His character, He won’t let us down. Now, having been back for one year, I am still learning some of these things, and still learning new things from the trip! I smile (very big) thinking back on all of those late nights studying, eating at the Pancake Manor day one, donuts in the city, rugby with the fam, staying up all night in Sydney, laughing in class with the whole group, Carmello koalas in psychology, star gazing in the outback, and experiencing Straddie with everyone and the many more memories that have become of my semester abroad.


A group of us smiling whilst snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

I have stayed in contact with a lot of the people in the group and have even met up with some! My pal Anna came to visit me in STL for the weekend and I saw Tanner in Indianapolis while I was coming through for the weekend. I have plans to meet up with two more ASC’ers in May for a week to catch up (its been far too long). Boy, am I thankful the ASC brought me to these wonderful people from across the country. That was such a big part of the program for me, getting to know the group of us Americans as we made the journey together. We were all connected by similar yet individual stories with our semester abroad.


So, through the adventure and the unknowns, difficulties included, I got to experience a semester unlike any other. Truly life changing, and for the better! I will forever look back on those crazy four months and be overwhelmed with such joy and thankfulness for such an amazing opportunity.