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#MyWheaton Alumni Blog

Posted March 28, 2017 by
Tags: Young Alumni The Liberal Arts Spiritual Life

In early May 2016, I triumphantly pressed “send” on my laptop, submitting the final project of my Wheaton education: my senior capstone paper. The paper, which sought to outline a Christian response to the refugee crisis in Europe, had caught my interest in a way that I couldn’t escape. About a week after submission of my final paper, I received my diploma on the stage of Edman Chapel, and three months later, I boarded a plane for Greece to begin working in what’s been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. 

I recently returned from spending six months in Greece serving with Samaritan’s Purse. My role allowed me to spend a great deal of time in refugee camps, managing various shelter and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) projects that were taking place on-site and frequently interacting with the people who lived there. I learned so much from the resilience and grace that so many refugees show in the face of such dire circumstances and I feel honored to have built relationships with some of them. It is a beautiful and humbling thing to be welcomed into someone’s tent, and to be offered a cup of tea and a chance to hear their story. These friends’ faces are forever etched in my memory and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have met them and to work on their behalf.

While in Greece, I realized how valuable the education and experiences I had at Wheaton truly were. My studies in international relations served me well in understanding the implications and complexities of the refugee crisis as a whole. Various history classes gave me context to appreciate the region I was living in and the rich backgrounds of the people I was working with. I held tightly to so many truths from my theology courses as I wrestled with the almost palpable hopelessness in the camps and was tested to lean on Christ alone as the source of hope. Even some of my general education courses like anthropology, geology, and public speaking provided me with useful skills while living and working in Greece. 

My education prepared me not only for the responsibilities of humanitarian work, but to recognize the greater kingdom work that was being carried out as well. I saw the Gospel regularly come to life in Greece since I’d been trained to look closely for how God is in the process of redeeming the broken things of this world. I’m thankful to Wheaton for teaching me these valuable lessons, as well as for providing me with people to live them out alongside me. I left college with many dear friends and professors who have been a constant source of encouragement and prayer every step of the way. In all these ways, Wheaton College has served as a launch pad for me. Those years of learning and cultivating my passions at Wheaton can now be used for their proper purpose of serving others and ultimately pointing them toward Christ and his kingdom.

Annie Arbitter '16 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in international relations and a minor in biblical and theological studies. Photo captions (from top): Annie with a little girl who enjoyed practicing her two English words “Ice cream?” with everyone she met; Annie with young Kurdish children enjoying getting their picture taken on the Greek islands; Annie with other Samaritan’s Purse staff at a hygiene kit distribution: Samaritan’s Purse Greece manages shelter, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) infrastructure and the distribution of non-food items in various refugee camps throughout Greece. Photos credit Samaritan’s Purse. 

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