CONWAY, Ark. (June 3, 2014) – Nine Hendrix students began their summer traveling
to Kosovo on a mission trip sponsored by the Hendrix - Miller Center for Vocation,
Ethics and Calling.
Students on the Kosovo trip included:
- Reed Brewer, a junior from Little Rock, Ark.
- Sarah Eddington, a sophomore from Benton, Ark.
- Hanna French, a junior from Memphis, Tenn.
- Rachel Head, a senior from Nashville, Tenn.
- Andrew LeMay, a junior from Little Rock, Ark.
- Youmna Moufarrej, a senior from Shreveport, La.
- Sarah Partee, a freshman from Brentwood, Tenn.
- Isabelle Staines, a sophomore from Clarksville, M.D.
- Neelam Vyas, a senior from Little Rock, Ark.
Through a partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities, students
spent 10 days in Kosovo working to construct a youth recreation center with local
Kosovar villagers and helping with infrastructure projects like drainage canals
and freshwater wells. They volunteered at Majka Devet Jugovića, a soup kitchen and
the vineyards at Visoki Dečani Monastery. Students also had the opportunity to visit
ancient Serbian Monasteries dating back to the 14th century.
“We were able to work side-by-side with our Serbian hosts, whether by weeding
vegetable fields, splitting wood, or picking up litter,” said Dr. Peter Gess, director
of the Hendrix Odyssey and international programs and politics professor, who was
the faculty advisor for the trip. Students were also accompanied by Shawn Goicoechea,
assistant director of human resources.
While the activities were a large part of the trip, the social and cultural interactions
left a lasting impact.
“I’ve never known a Hendrix student to let a language barrier stand in the way!
This was most evident when the students interacted with kindergarten students in
the classroom or older students on the basketball court,” Gess said. “It’s just
very humanizing to interact community to community. It teaches all of us that we
have a lot in common.”
“We had a great experience working with the Serbian minority communities in Kosovo.
Many of the villages are self-described enclaves totally surrounded by Albanian
Kosovars. In many cases the Serbs are not able to find work or trade goods in the
larger Albanian communities,” Gess said. “It was indeed eye-opening to see so much
discrimination in modern-day Europe.”
“We had an unforgettable time touring some of the country's 14th century monasteries,
tasting some of its local specialties, and experiencing its strong sense of community,”
said Neelam Vyas. “The most rewarding part of the trip was forging relationships
with the many people we met along our journey. Whether it was the gardener we worked
beside in the onion field or the kindergarteners who we taught the hokey pokey to,
the people we connected with made our experience so rich.”
Students overcame the language barrier through “a lot of hand gestures and laughter,”
said Vyas. “These moments made me appreciate the people of Kosovo in a much deeper
Established in 2008, the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling provides
resources and programming for Hendrix College students, faculty and staff to explore
the work and life to which they are called, the vocation that will fulfill. For
more information, visit http://www.hendrix.edu/millercenter/.
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts
and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of
the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.
Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools
That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton
Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's
Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated
with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit