From staff reports

The East Texas Baptist University School of Natural and Social Sciences recently traveled to China as a part of the Global Study and Serve Program.

Led by ETBU Department of Biology and Chemistry Chair and Professor of Biology Roy Darville, the class visited Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing during the trip May 13 to 30.

“I have traveled with ETBU on nine trips to China, teaching biology on seven of these,” Darville said. “I love this trip because it allows students to get out of the classroom and experience God’s creation in a different part of the world.

“From talking with various individuals in different cities, it is apparent that God is at work in China,” he added. “I believe it is important for students to acquire a global perspective and learn about different cultures. I often remind students of John 3:16 and emphasize that Jesus loves all people.”

Earning up to four hours of course credit in biology, students applied course content to real-world situations and practiced relational evangelism.

The group met with several former Chinese students and teachers that previously came to ETBU in an exchange program, many of which have become Christians through the program.

These students also served as hosts to the ETBU team as they toured sites across China.

“During my time in Guangzhou, I had the privilege of meeting Chinese students majoring in English,” ETBU sophomore biology major Arrianna Loera said. “It was one of my favorite experiences on the trip to China. They were excited to practice their English with us, curious and eager to learn.

“One day, I expressed to some of the girls I had a few hours of free time. Ten students showed up to spend time with us. We promised to stay in touch.”

In addition to building relationships and sharing their faith, the ETBU students received hands-on training at a panda bear base in Wolong, China. Here, the class worked closely with the endangered giant panda. They spent two days taking care of the pandas and learning more about their biology.

“First, we served at the base, cleaning both inside and outside of the pandas’ living area,” ETBU junior biology major Jerry Villela said. “We also had the opportunity to feed the pandas face-to-face.This was extraordinary, and I will never forget the experience.

“The program is set up to raise, nurture, and prepare the pandas to return to the wild. I learned so much about the base and the pandas.”

The ETBU Biology Department learned about the Chinese culture through tours of city parks, botanical gardens, zoos and the Great Wall of China.

The class also taught English to Chinese students and served at orphanages. Overall, students expressed that the Global Study and Serve trip to China strengthened their academic rigor and encouraged their spiritual walk.

“We learned many lessons in this city, both academic and spiritual,” ETBU junior music education major Hannah Rosser said. “For every lesson I learned in valuing the earth through biology, I learned a lesson in valuing people.

“We hope that gave them a different perspective and newfound hope. They certainly provided hope to us.”