“We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. If you can not only learn from your own culture, but others as well, you will excel even more in this international world we now live in." These words by an unknown author express the beautiful sentiment of how much we can learn from other cultures.
For more than 11 years, Washington International Student Experience has been working to create an environment of cultural growth in schools around Washington Conference. WISE is a department of Washington Conference designed to help bring international students into our Adventist schools. It is a way to share Jesus' love with them and help them grow academically, physically and spiritually while bringing financial support to the schools.
The program began at one school in Washington but has expanded to 15 partner schools across six states. WISE has brought more than 600 students to our schools. They have hosted more than 45 short term programs in both winters and summers that have brought more than 750 students to our schools and summer camps. Students with little knowledge of Christianity attend Sunset Lake for the week and leave feeling the love of Jesus, singing praise songs and sharing the happiness they feel.
COVID-19 was hard for WISE, but God continued to bless it. At the beginning of the 2021 school year, there were 17 new international students at Auburn Adventist Academy — a record. It was not just due to WISE’s many connections across the globe, but also fervent prayers to bring students who need to be here.
At the end of that year, seven international students graduated. Four of which had not been to their home country for more than three years due to COVID-19 restrictions and the desire to finish at AAA. They showed resilience and strength as they navigated the challenges of language barriers, online learning and COVID-19 protocols.
Lena Zheng, a student from China, said, “AAA taught me to have confidence and be successful in what I do. The teachers and WISE helped me a lot and pushed me to learn and grow to who I am now.” One senior from China was baptized on graduation weekend. Three more international students followed and were baptized in 2022.
The program continues to expand its connections around the world to bring students to Adventist schools in the U.S. WISE's continual prayer is always that God sends the students that need to be here.