STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 12/15/2009
by Heather Smith
Nine years ago, some Gordon students, along with Bob Whittet, associate professor of Christian ministries, began to build a school in Tarija, Bolivia. That group spent nine days digging holes in empty cornfields and pouring cement for support columns. Construction continued over the years, and the Zuriel School is now a campus with a student body of several hundred in one of the most impoverished countries in South America.
Naara Arnold ’13 (pictured, right, with Bob’s daughter, Amanda ’10) graduated from Zuriel School and wanted to study art. She and Whittet prayed about her dreams, and two years ago he hand-delivered a Gordon acceptance letter to her. After a year of making arrangements for Naara’s financial support, she arrived in August as the first Bolivian student to attend Gordon. The College is providing Naara with a grant, and Whittet’s home church—Bethany Church in New Hampshire—supports the remainder of her costs through its missions budget.
Being in the United States has been a huge change for Naara. “Naara’s been in wonderment at the scope of everything,” Whittet says. “Coming from the narrow streets of open markets to the wide aisles of Super Walmart.”
“Tarija is a small, quiet town,” Naara adds. “It’s very traditional; for example, everybody takes naps at 2:00 in the afternoon.” Family and church are also important. “Since we are all involved in church, we’ve always hung out together, having lunch together every Sunday after church and gathering to pray on Mondays.” Naara’s uncle and father are pastors at her church in Tarija; she has always been very involved there and has taught Sunday School.
“I’m studying art and elementary education here,” Naara says, “because I love working with kids. I’m learning more about the Bible and growing in my faith too. I want to go back to Bolivia and teach art or English. I know God will show me where and how he wants me to serve.”