It was a Christmas feast.
A delicious spread of empanadas, yellow rice with vegetables, Peruvian beans, plantano maduro, summer salad, and flan. Each dish evoked the sight, smell, and taste of home for eleven South American pastors who recently enjoyed a farewell Christmas luncheon hosted by Nyack President Michael Scales and Provost Dr. David Turk before their departure for home on December 22.
Here in the States for a fall semester at Nyack College Rockland, the cohort of men and women studied English with instructors Diana Nygard (pictured and seated above center), who taught them grammar and conversation and Rita Roman, who taught two courses, "Pastoral Interaction" and "Read and React."
“Their desire to learn English in our culture and at our college motivated them to work as hard as possible. One of the ongoing assigned activities they enjoyed was conducting interviews in English with people on campus or in the churches they visited.” shared Prof. Nygard.
Because of the humor and camaraderie that reigned in the classes, Prof. Nygard said, “The level of anxiety was low, and the level of confidence, morale, and risk-taking was high! Just laughing and conversing freely has a lot of value in overcoming fear of learning a new language. It was a joy to me to participate in the pastors' progress in English.”
The luncheon held in the office of Nyack president, Dr. Michael G. Scales, was the perfect intimate setting for the pastors who unanimously shared their gratitude to Nyack for their experience which they described as a dream come true.
The churches they pastor range small to large churches of as many as 4,000 people; one is a director of region where 400 churches are under his leadership. Not only were they interested in learning English for personal development, but because so many of their youth are learning English, they have made learning to stay connected with them a priority.
Bravely showing off their newly acquired language skills, their comments related an interest in returning for further studies at Nyack; however, the commonly expressed and preferred vision was for Nyack to establish an extension site in their country. Learning English was a stretch for them, but even moreso being away from their loved ones was not easy.
President Scales assured them of Nyack’s commitment to reach a Spanish-speaking population of students, which is evident in Nyack’s flourishing campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He called that educational outreach, “a 21st century version of (Nyack founder) Dr. A.B. Simpson’s dream.”
“I'm glad that Nyack College opened its doors to the pastors from Colombia. The possibilities for exploring the creation of academic and ministerial programs are endless,” added Prof. Nygard. “The relations that we can foster from culture to culture, especially in Christ, are instrumental to doing the will of God.”