For Student Government President Andrew Shadid ’15, a family vacation to Bethlehem sparked an enduring interest that has drawn him back to the Middle East and to the steps of Capitol Hill.
Now planning his sixth return trip to the Middle East, Andrew continues to unpack the significance of his time abroad, which included a formative four- month internship in Bethlehem with an organization called Holy Land Trust in the summer of 2012.
“While there I was researching the role of forgiveness, and what communal forgiveness looks like in areas of totalitarian conflict,” he says.
Through his research, Andrew met courageous people who have lent meaning to Christ’s instruction to love our enemies. “I got to know inspiring individuals who are putting their lives on the line as peacemakers—Muslims, Christians, Jews, you name it,” he says.
He also came home burdened for the Holy Land after witnessing the hatred, terrible injustice, broken relationships, and lack of forgiveness that plague the region.
Upon returning, he wrote, “There is no way that I can go back to my normal western life after experiencing what I did in Palestine and Israel. If I claim to be a follower of Christ, which I do, I must speak as a peacemaker. Silence is not an option.”
To learn more about the means to reconciliation, Andrew interned in the Congressional Fellows Program last summer. He attended U.S. Senate hearings for Senator Marco Rubio, conducted research, and dialogued with politicians including Senator Mike Lee.
“Senator Lee’s mentorship and leadership demonstrated what it means to lead an office where every single individual is important and has a role that is meaningful,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s summer internships and experiences have also shaped his studies at Wheaton. He is pursuing an interdisciplinary major composed of coursework from the communication, biblical and theological studies, and human needs and global resources (HNGR) departments to investigate how love molds interactions across all spectrums and all borders.
His Lebanese heritage has helped him understand the importance of letting love shape the words we speak.
“Often the ways in which we talk about people from different countries, who speak a different language or worship in a different way, allows us to treat them differently than how Jesus calls us to treat them,” he says.
Along with pursing peaceful interactions to catalyze change, Andrew has been involved with several campus events to broaden cultural awareness, including a film screening and discussion of From the Eyes of Hope, featuring Israeli and Palestinian voices of forgiveness. He has been encouraged by the network of people willing to engage in conversations about peace and reconciliation. He’s also been shaped by prayer, shadowing experiences, counsel, and shared meals with mentors.
Dr. Jeffry Davis, associate professor of English, says, “Andrew speaks with kindness and candor, allowing truthful communication to be his hallmark. He believes that effective leaders are not just born, but made.”
Andrew has had plenty of opportunities to build leadership skills in his role as president of student government this year, spearheading a focus on student innovation and initiation.
Looking toward the future, Andrew hopes to aid in reconciliation efforts across borders, religions, and cultures, furthering his interests in diplomacy and negotiations.
Silent he is not.