After arriving at C.S. Lewis school in Bratislava, Slovakia, Minnehaha junior Jeremiah Todhunter enthusiactically greets C.S. Lewis junior Andrej Hano, who spent fall semester at Minnehaha Academy. Photo by Nicholas Freeman.

Sounds of CFE week still ring true

Students share reflections on their Cultural Field Experience site visits last March

What is one thing that makes Minnehaha Academy unique? Three little letters: C.F.E.

Cultural Field Experience this March gave every student in grades nine to 11 the opportunity to learn about others, and for some it was a life-changing experience. While students are still reflecting on their recent experience, plans are being made for next year’s new opportunities.

Sophomore Martha Rausch spent her CFE week with students at Dugsi Academy in St. Paul.

Sophomore Martha Rausch went to Dugsi Academy, which is a Somali school educating children grades kindergarten through eight, located in Saint Paul.

“It made me realize or learn more about the Islamic culture and things they celebrate and believe or don’t believe,” Rausch said reminiscing on her CFE experience. “I got to sit in on their culture class which immerses them into Islamic culture and it was really cool to hear their language. That was the best part.”

Another student reflecting on her experience is freshman Catherine Dustrude, who went to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Austria on the band trip last March.

They toured, learned and saw all kinds of different artifacts. One of the many places they visited was the Holocaust museum and the concentration camp in Poland.

“It opened up my eyes to the world because that’s when it like hit me that people died right where I was standing, and that was really hard to handle,” Dustrude said. She also said that this experience really showed her a much better view of the world and learned many things.

“It was a really cool experience [and] getting immersed in the culture was the best part.”

The CFE sites for next year will differ from this past year’s sites. More than half of this year’s local sites will be partnering again with Minnehaha next year. Some national trip possibilities include the Center for Student Missions (CSM) in Chicago or Denver, Good Neighbors in Staffordsville, Kent; and Via International in San Diego, Calif. Other international trips being considered as well include the Dominican Republic, a visit to Minnehaha’s sister-school in Kyote, Japan and a Covenant church history and choir trip to Scandinavia in connection with the school’s 100th year anniversary. Costs for the national trips will range from $600 to $1,200. International prices will range from $2,500 to $3,500

“I value the many unique ways that CFE affords all of us, both students and faculty alike, the opportunity to interact with people and places beyond our school community that we typically wouldn’t take time to immerse ourselves in otherwise,” said Amy Swanson, director of cultural immersion. “I think these opportunities encourage MA students to consider new perspectives and also helps them experience meaningful ways to relate to or impact others in the world around us.”

What students wrote

The following comments were written by students at a retreat, when participants were asked to reflect on the meaning of their Cultural Field Experience:

“You cannot live your life to the fullest without getting out of your own bubble and serving, helping and embracing those around you then you will find purpose and meaning to your life.”

“Working with kids definitely brought sunshine into my day. I felt so overjoyed and privileged to work with people that made me so happy. I couldn’t help but be happy around others so I hope that I can bring sunshine into other people’s day like these kids brightened mine.”

“I had to be careful with how I act because I worked with little preschoolers. They would look up to us, the ‘big kids’ and sometimes followed what we did. We had to be careful and had to think before we act around them because we knew they were watching us and following us as a role model.”

“I think that we shouldn’t be scared of not knowing what do to in a certain situation, but learn how to deal with that situation in an effective way.”


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