Taking Counseling Skills to Most Vulnerable

Jul. 9, 2014 - by Carol Best

Halfway around the world MNU graduate students apply learning to help others.

By Amy Holmquist ('09)
July 9, 2014
Jump rope

Fourteen graduate counseling students and a professor from Mid America Nazarene University (MNU) sit around a makeshift “campfire” made of flashlights in a small village in Uganda. They share the day’s experiences, processing together the traumatic stories they heard, marveling at God’s blessings that they experience in the profession of counseling. They feel honored that so many are willing to share.

Students in the capstone class in the Master of Arts in Counseling program at MNU journeyed to northern Uganda in June to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” by teaching others about counseling for two weeks. As part of their final requirements for graduation, students put into practice what they have learned in the classroom, applying it in real life to what can only be called a mission field.

Led by Professor of Counseling Tricia Brown, PhD, they visited various churches and orphanages where they taught church leaders, seminary students, and the women (called mamas) who staff the local orphanages, teaching them how to counsel those who have suffered through traumatic situations. Also accompanied by Marsha Campbell of Global Orphan Project in Kansas, the students met many individuals who devote their time to help the “most vulnerable” children.

“The purpose of the capstone class is to give students the opportunity to present what they’ve learned to people outside of the university,” Dr. Brown explained, “This trip was an opportunity for the students to pull together what they’ve learned about counseling and advocacy, mental health, and families, and offer something back.”

The group teamed up with the project Go Africa, a part of the Global Orphan Project, whose goal is to support African churches with their work in orphanages, regardless of the circumstances of war or turbulent times.

“That is what appealed to me about this organization. Their philosophy is they don’t pull out when times get bad. They are still there because the churches are still there, the churches are permanent,” Dr. Brown noted.

MAC-Uganda-Trip-June-2014MNU group with women in Gulu, Uganda who survived and escaped from the Lord's Resistance Army, an extremist group. These women meet to support each other and rebuild their lives after years of captivity. They spent time with the MNU group and performed their story of freedom through dance.

The group traveled to the villages of Gulu and Lira holding workshops with educators, clergy, seminary students, and the mamas. The goal was to educate the locals’ on basic listening skills. In the Ugandan culture, people give and seek advice, but effective listening does not come naturally. Help was requested by an official in the Anglican Church of Uganda to train these individuals how to assist their fellow Ugandans who are victims of civil war and a myriad of traumatic experiences.

Workshops focused on active listening, and included practice sessions with participants. After a session in the village of Lira, graduate student Kim Farag observed two participants practice the skills they had just learned from the graduate students. Farag says she saw first-hand how valuable the training is for the Ugandans.

“It was at that moment I knew why we had left our friends and family for two weeks to travel half way across the globe. I realized we went to Uganda to give them a gift of learning how to help each other heal from the trauma of civil war.  We taught them some skills on how to deal with their own pain and how to listen to each other,” Farag commented, “I feel so blessed that the Lord allowed me to see a glimpse of a gift that we had shared before we left to come home.”

Many workshop participants had experienced trauma of their own. They needed to learn breathing techniques to calm them and how to deal with the moments when they are flooded with traumatic memories. Those skills were just as important as learning how to comfort someone else.

“They just wanted some help understanding what kinds of things they were seeing and what they could do to make outcomes the best for the vulnerable children and for the mamas,” Dr. Brown pointed out.

During part of the trip, students met women who had escaped from the resistance army. Hearing how these women survived and how they were trying to make a better life had a great impact on the graduate students.

“As I have reflected on this trip and how it will affect my counseling relationship with my clients, the best word I can come up with is faith,” Farag remarked. “Time and time again we heard stories of horrible trauma that affected these people, and the mind just begins to reel and ask God why he would allow something like this to happen, but then I remembered that he did not abandon these people. He held them through all of it.”

MAC Uganda Trip TBrown June 2014Dr. Tricia Brown holds a baby after a church service in Lira, Uganda.

The group returned to Kansas City, full of hope and encouragement for their future careers as counselors; along with the satisfaction that they were able to use their education in service to the Ugandans.

“It was an enriching opportunity. I hope we were as much of a blessing to them as they were to us,” Dr. Brown said.

 

MNU News

Sunday, December 21
Recent News
List
Grid
Archives
Bruce Flanders
Library Director Honored

Library Director Honored

Library Director Bruce Flanders has been named the December member of the month for the Association of Christian Librarians. Established in 1957, the Association of Christian Librarians is one of the…

Read More
Website Icon
Admissions Site Nominated for Award

Admissions Site Nominated for Award

MNU’s web site section for undergraduate admissions is a nominee for eduStyle's 2014 Best Prospective Admissions Site. The design, which was created by MNU’s in-house marketing and web team,…

Read More
Terry Zeigler KCK Police Chief
MNU Alum Named Police Chief of KCK

MNU Alum Named Police Chief of KCK

MNU alumnus Terry Zeigler ('98) was named Chief of Police for Kansas City, Kansas last week. Zeigler holds a BA in Management and Human Relations from MNU. Read the whole story by Tony Rizzo in The…

Read More
Coach Willmer Gridiron
Coach Willmer Named Region 3 Coach of the Year

Coach Willmer Named Region 3 Coach of the Year

Willmer MNU Head Football Coach Brian Willmer was selected as the 2014 American Football Coaches Association’s Region 3 Coach of the Year for…

Read More
New MLK photo
9th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

9th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

MidAmerica Nazarene University’s 9th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will be held Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at 9:30 a.m., at…

Read More
Caldwell Close-up
Finally Home at MNU

Finally Home at MNU

Despite a troubled home life, John Caldwell never despaired; instead, he followed God’s call on his life and found a new place to call home at MNU. Homeless at 15, adopted by a church at 17,…

Read More
Tracy Cowell and Zach Phillips will work for several months away from home with an Ebola response team. “I have extreme confidence in the protocols they have given us and the equipment we have,” Cowell said. JILL TOYOSHIBA The Kansas City Star
MNU Alums to Serve in Fight Against Ebola

MNU Alums to Serve in Fight Against Ebola

Courtesy of The Kansas City Star. Two MNU alums, Zach Phillips ('11), BSN, and Tracy Colwell ('14), BSN, will  travel to West Africa Dec. 4,…

Read More
IC Client Icon
When Ministry Meets Need

When Ministry Meets Need

Dr. Randy Cloud wants students in his Introduction to Ministry course to think beyond the traditional church setting for their ministry careers. So he brought Greater Iowa City Church of the…

Read More
Blake Nelson and his wife
Into the Hot Zone

Into the Hot Zone

Blake Nelson, a residential educator and advisor for student media at MidAmerica Nazarene University, traveled to Liberia on a humanitarian trip for Heart to Heart International in October. His…

Read More
Sports
Awards Keep Coming for Men's Soccer

Awards Keep Coming for Men's Soccer

The post-season awards keep pouring in for the MNU Men's Soccer team...(click title for more)

 
Brubaker Leads MNU Past Valley

Brubaker Leads MNU Past Valley

Cale Brubaker's career-high 21 points led MNU to a 16-point victory over Missouri Valley on Saturday...(click title for more)

 
Pioneers Dominate Vikings

Pioneers Dominate Vikings

The Pioneers never trailed in a 90-52 thrashing of Missouri Valley on Saturday...(click title for more)

 
Latest Photos
Girls Dorm Lounging Dorm Life Then
Girls Dorm Lounging Dorm Life Now
Girls Dorm Group Hang Dorm Life Then
Girls Dorm Group Hang Dorm Life Now
Girls Dorm Phone Call Dorm Life Then
Girls Dorm Phone Call Dorm Life Then