Hong Kong Jazzed by School of Music Visit
As part of its 2017 Hong Kong tour, the Cairn chorale partnered with the Levites Institute of Worship and Praise for two days filled with concerts, lectures, and masterclasses. As a staff member in the School of Music, as well as a chorale and chamber singers alumna myself, I was particularly moved by the hunger of our new friends for experiences that are part of our daily life at Cairn. While all chorale tours foster immense ministry opportunity, this tour uniquely allowed us to come alongside a new ministry and encourage them in their growth.
Having ministered in churches on two continents, the founders of the institute had observed a need for proper preparation of worship leaders for several years. Their passion for providing biblical instruction is obvious. Taking a step of faith in 2015, they took steps to bring the vision to fruition.
As the institute has developed, Cairn University’s administrators and the dean of Cairn’s School of Music have met with the founders and their colleagues on several occasions. As a result, plans were made for the chorale’s tour of Hong Kong in 2017 to include joint performances as a celebration of our new friendship.
The hunger for the chorale’s musical repertoire was immense. Originally scheduled to present only on the first day of our visit, the response was such that the chorale participated in a symposium on the second day of our visit, as well. In addition, Ruth Naomi Floyd (director of Cairn’s jazz studies program) presented a concert of sacred jazz music. Exposure to this idiom was almost entirely new for the institute’s members, and they were eager for more. What a privilege to take the mission of the University across the world and for it to be received so ravenously!
On a personal level, the Cairn students connected with the people of the Levite Institute immediately. When Christ is the center of life and work, unity quickly follows. What a joy and honor it was to watch these relationships blossom before my eyes! The chorale served Christ through their ministry to the people of Hong Kong, as well as their ministry to one another.
Looking back on this tour evokes many thoughts of the University’s other relationships in Hong Kong and mainland China. The Lord is doing tremendous work in the hearts of the people there, and watching the growing partnerships between Cairn and China’s Christian schools, churches, and organizations is nothing less than exhilarating. We have much to be thankful and excited for.
— By Abbie Mulhern, Cairn music recruitment and events coordinator
Egypt Welcomes Sports Ministry Partnership
My role at Cairn affords me the tremendous opportunity to help support our work with international partners. WellSpring Egypt is a prime example of the caliber of these partnerships. WellSpring was launched in Cairo in 2009 with a vision to help Egyptian youth build character through sports camps. In just seven years, WellSpring has grown to serve 80,000 Egyptian kids annually, operates in 14 countries, and runs programs for Syrian refugee children and families. Cairn and WellSpring share a similar vision to train up the next generation of leaders as men and women of character.
Since November 2016, Cairn’s partnership with WellSpring has proven fruitful. One of WellSpring’s senior staff is pursuing his online MBA at Cairn; several others plan to follow suit. WellSpring is extending a variety of international internship programs to Cairn students. In May, a team of 25 Cairn students served as coaches and counselors in WellSpring’s overnight camps in Cairo, and Highlander Athletics and WellSpring are arranging for Cairn’s teams to compete in Egypt’s professional circuits. We anticipate God’s continued blessing on our collaboration.
— By Gwen Rapp ’12/G’12, Cairn public relations associate
Germany Campus Supports Global Christian School Movement
Cairn Magazine sat down with Sarah Zimmerman ’04/G’12, assistant to the dean of Cairn’s School of Education, and Scott Jones, director of Black Forest Academy (BFA) in Kandern, Germany. For several summers, Sarah and Scott have worked together to facilitate Cairn’s European campus at BFA, which offers an affordable and accessible opportunity to earn graduate degrees from Cairn’s School of Education. In light of the 20th anniversary of the European campus, Steve and Sarah reflected on the continued and growing global need for this program.
Q: What can you tell me about the start of Cairn’s European campus?
A: SZ: The European campus was started to take Cairn’s graduate programs to students across the world who couldn’t afford to come to Langhorne. That continues to be the purpose of these programs: to identify key teachers and school leaders, give them scholarships, and allow them to have this education in a beautiful place.
Q: What kind of need exists among international school teachers for this kind of training?
A: SJ: Typically, international school teachers are expats: Americans or Canadians serving far from home, without access to the professional development resources available here in the US. Here, there are a lot of resources and colleagues and schools in your home country, in your native language. For international Christian school educators, resources are few, and you’re often far from the nearest [international Christian] school. You can’t just go to a seminar over the weekend. So you rely on people in your own school, which is great to a point, but you can lose sight of what’s happening in the world of education.
Q: What contributes to the scarcity of resources in the countries where these schools are located?
A: SJ: The language barrier is part of it. In Germany, Black Forest Academy is the only English-speaking Christian school in the country. There are German Christian schools, but their model for Christian education is different, and there’s the language barrier. There are some resources for Christian educators in German, but we don’t speak German. That’s true throughout the rest of Europe. In England, there are some Christian school associations — but that’s quite a distance, and again the model is a bit different from how we see Christian education and biblical integration. Also, Christian schools are often strategically located to facilitate evangelism. They are established to support missionaries in areas that are largely unreached with the gospel.
Q: Our European campus doesn’t just serve international school teachers. We also serve nationals from different countries. What need does that fill?
A: SZ: Our students who are nationals are often hand-selected by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) to complete this program because they’re leaders in their home countries and communities. They’re chosen to represent ACSI and their country by getting this education, then charged with equipping others in their home countries with the training they have received. These graduates multiply the training they’ve received to educators where they are, enhancing not only their own teaching, but the teaching of others.
SJ: Most of ACSI’s growth around the world is in African national Christian schools. They’re starting up all over the place, by the hundreds. The growth is just staggering. And they’re just desperate for professional development. They have passion, but no framework or clear understanding about what Christian education is or how to do it.
In some parts of the world, like Eastern Europe, communism was extraordinarily effective in secularizing society. But there’s an emerging Christian school movement in countries like Romania and Poland, all national schools serving the local population, where they’re struggling because they don’t have funding or training. They don’t really know what they’re doing, but they know that God is calling them to [open Christian schools].
Because of funding, this kind of program is difficult to deliver to some of those areas en masse, but ACSI helps us strategically recruit leaders who can go back and “train the trainer.” When you identify key leaders and somehow get them funding for a program like this, they can really have enormous impact when they go back. There’s tremendous potential for this program to have significant influence in these areas: not just in the international school world, but also in the emerging national school movements.
Q: How has our campus helped to address those issues of funding for students who need it?
A: SZ: Nationals not only get Cairn’s 50% tuition discount for Christian school educators, but receive further funding through our International for Nationals Scholarship and two scholarship funds that were set up years ago by the Vickers and Stadtler families. The tuition rate for the international campus is already less than what we charge other graduate students. But even with that, especially the Africans struggle to come up with that money, because they make so little.
SJ: African nationals’ average income might be $350 a month, so for them to pay much of anything in tuition is formidable. And to come to Kandern — for them, that’s extraordinarily expensive: airfare from Africa to Europe, visa fees, and housing. That’s something we’re continuing to think through: How can we strategically identify and attract key people from some of those countries, then find the funding to enable them to come?
African Teachers Receive Training from Cairn Alumni
Over its 20 years of existence, I have witnessed the great global impact of Cairn’s European campus in Kandern, Germany. Despite generous scholarships and the addition of online course options, however, African teachers have remained difficult to reach.
With a typical income of about $200–400 USD per month, few African schoolteachers dare to dream of paying for a master’s degree at US prices. However, ACSI has recognized the value of a Cairn graduate education degree, raising up donors to provide scholarships for African nationals. These donors, along with donors to Cairn University, made it possible for Segun Oludipe G’17, administrator of ACSI Nigeria, to graduate with his MS in Educational Leadership and Administration degree. However, due to costs, this is just one person on a very large continent.
The Christian school movement in Africa is growing at an unprecedented rate. However, many African schools have very limited financial resources, poorly trained teachers, and little understanding of how they can improve. Furthermore, they lack access to materials helping them to articulate what makes a Christian school distinctly “Christian.”
ACSI has recognized the need for better training in both education generally and Christian education specifically, as well as the financial obstacles to obtaining training outside Africa. These challenges motivated the development of two teacher training programs based in Africa: the Elephant Project and Paths to School Improvement (PSI).
The Elephant Project is an 11-day training program for Christian educators in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The curriculum has been written and translated. The second project is called Paths to School Improvement. This project is designed to help Christian schools develop a plan for improvement, based on seven standards, distinctly Christian and achievable regardless of financial limitations. School leaders receive five training sessions over the course of two years, achieving an understanding of each standard, why it is biblical, and how they can take steps toward meeting it. Finally, leaders write action plans for replicating the training for their staff. The ultimate goal for both projects is to expand throughout Africa by training “master trainers.”
Fellow Cairn graduate Brian Bliss G’14 and I have seen exciting results while piloting the PSI project in Uganda and Rwanda. Schools are beginning to improve after just two training sessions. Leaders are excited for opportunities to rethink education from a biblical perspective.
— By Dr. Debbie MacCullough ’87, co-developer of the Elephant Project curriculum and PSI principal project member