Working with Refugees in Vienna
Kathryn Eckler (Religious Studies, Minor in Biology, ’19)
The past year has been a profound international adventure. In February, I was presented with the opportunity of serving as an intern with an international Baptist Church in Vienna, Austria. Projekt: Gemeinde is a Baptist Church that serves Middle-Eastern Refugees, Latino populations, and local German speaking families and students. Not only would this be an international experience in Austria, I would be working with people from all over the Globe..
I was stationed in Vienna for a total of two months. My duties as an intern included teaching theology courses for Iranian and Afghani refugees. On the average week, I would teach between thirty to sixty refugees. I taught in English, and my lessons were translated into Farsi or German. In addition to teaching, I also helped to meet the physical needs of the people around me. One of the church buildings was under construction, so I would cook lunches for the men working on the project. Gathering around a table with Europe’s refugees provided me with a humbling perspective. I came to appreciate those who have survived times of crisis, and I learned how to care for those who feel ostracized by society.
My experience in Austria has led me to consider the impact that I can have on society. As a Religious Studies Major, I will continue to create awareness for the intersections between Christianity and times of global crisis.