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When Computer Science Meets Ministry

Ever wondered how you can connect a STEM major with ministry? As an IT intern at a nonprofit organization in Indonesia, Joshua Price ’23 is using his computer science background to create hospitable spaces in the company and local community.

Words: Eliana Chow ’21

Joshua Price headshot Wheaton College HNGR

“Technology is hugely important for any organization or ministry. Even if we’re more behind the scenes as opposed to on the field, IT support is key for making sure everything runs smoothly.”

For as long as he can remember, Joshua Price ’23 has been fascinated by the creativity that takes place behind the scenes of computer technology. One of his earliest memories took place when he was 3 or 4 years old, playing computer games in his family living room in Nishinomiya, Japan, where his parents served as missionaries for several years. Mid-game, his whole attention keyed into the task before him, an earthquake rolled into the city, forcing him and his family to abandon their respective responsibilities and duck into the bathroom for shelter. Crouched in the tub, waiting for the danger of falling books and plates to pass, Price felt a child’s disappointment—perhaps even more than fear—that he couldn’t keep playing the game.

That early intrigue had ample room to grow during Price’s homeschool education through eighth grade. His parents’ teaching was supplemented by healthy doses of Khan Academy and other tutorial videos, where Price first learned the basics of computer coding.

“It was a lot of copying and pasting at the time, with a few customizations, but I really enjoyed the creative aspect of it,” he said. “I’ve realized that coding is one of the primary tools I use to express myself.”

Throughout his years as a computer science major at Wheaton, Price has earnestly explored how a STEM-oriented field can be utilized to create hospitable spaces for communities at home and abroad.

“Programming can be hospitable in two ways,” he said. “More obviously, there’s the online space, so things like building user-friendly websites and programs and providing technology support. But there’s also the sense of being hospitable to whoever you’re working alongside.”

Price has seen this philosophy in action up close and personal. Through Wheaton, he’s earning a Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) certificate, a program that connects students with experiential learning opportunities to apply their college studies to social development and ministry work around the world.

“When I first heard about HNGR, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s for humanities or social science majors,’” he said. “As it turns out, computer science and HNGR are very compatible. Technology is hugely important for any organization or ministry. Even if we’re more behind the scenes as opposed to on the field, IT support is key for making sure everything runs smoothly.”

For six months this summer and fall, Price is completing an IT internship in Indonesia with Peace Generation, a nonprofit that promotes peacemaking development and education through advocacy events and creative media. Price is responsible for building an internal website to help centralize company data and make it more accessible across different teams in the organization. As a member of the local community, he also has the chance to participate in neighborhood traditions, take language classes, and learn from the kindness that’s been extended to him as a sojourner in their land.

“It’s not easy to welcome a foreigner who doesn’t even speak the local language and often doesn’t know what he’s doing,” he said with a sympathetic laugh. “But I’m learning a lot about hospitality from my host family and colleagues here.”

For Price, hospitality both given and received has been the bright thread running through every facet of his years at Wheaton so far. He’s no stranger to the act: Although his family moved often during his childhood—globetrotting between Nashville, Japan, Seattle, Paris, and San Diego for work—his parents were generous with their time and space. Price grew up watching his parents open up their home to anyone they met through church or school who needed a place to live or simply a warm, home cooked meal. Similarly, when he was a freshman and trying to find his place at Wheaton, his resident assistant (RA) made himself available for both conversation and companionable silence. Price also served as an RA during his junior year, allowing him to extend similar hospitality to the freshmen and sophomores on his floor.

As he enters his senior year and starts looking ahead to graduation, Price isn’t too worried about his future and is content to soak up every moment he has left as a college student, both in Indonesia and when he returns to campus in the spring.

“Wheaton has helped me grow in all the parts of my identity, not just the computer scientist part,” he said. “So my main vision for the future is that a computer science or programming job will provide me with enough resources to have a home and continue creating spaces for others to feel comfortable and safe.”