When Amy Blom ’17 embarked on an internship last year, she expected that joy would be hard to find.
During her six-month-long Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) internship, Amy worked with Sembrandopaz (“Sowing Peace”) in Colombia, South America, helping to promote sustainable agriculture and healing in impoverished communities.
Amy traveled into rural communities to conduct food and agricultural surveys, working alongside seasoned Colombian activists who have been busy fostering peace in their nation for decades.
“I tried to go into my HNGR internship unhampered by expectation,” says Amy.
But Amy quickly discovered that that was impossible. She had been exposed to too many cliched impressions and images of poverty.
“The poor are often depicted as sad and helpless and in need of assistance from the wealthy in order to find any remnants of joy in their lives,” says Amy. “I entered HNGR expecting that joy would be hard to find—or at the very least that I would be the one to bring joy to others.”
However, as soon as Amy stepped into the home of her host family, she was treated with amazing, joyous hospitality.
Amy recalls one woman in particular. She was among the most impoverished members of one of the rural communities where Amy conducted surveys. Yet she was also one of the most generous, offering Amy homemade chica (a sweet, corn-based drink) and always quick to help her own family and others in the community.
The story is a simple one, Amy admits. And yet it indicates a paradox that Amy experienced repeatedly during her time in Colombia: that joy and hospitality can co-exist alongside great hardship and poverty.
Nevertheless, Amy is careful not to glorify poverty in any way.
“I simply want to say that it is humbling to have my perspective turned upside down,” Amy says. “And it is humbling to receive joyful hospitality from those who have less material wealth than I.”
Amy’s HNGR internship transformed a very distant place and its people into neighbors. She went to Colombia to serve, but she discovered people who gave her more than she could have ever given to them.
Amy is one of nearly 1,000 HNGR interns over the past 41 years who have engaged in whole-person formation through experiential learning in more than 70 nations of the world. Your gifts to From the Heart, For the Kingdom help globalize a Wheaton College education through programs like HNGR, helping students like Amy to more fully experience and recognize God’s presence and work in the world.
Click here to support the From the Heart, For the Kingdom campaign by further Globalizing a Wheaton education.