AmbEx study abroad program is well underway

  • Dr. Virginia Cross and students enjoy lunch in the Bratwurst Haus in Nuremeberg, Germany.

  • Dr. Kent Kersey and students take a break in “Reformation Theology.” Kersey said, “The two-week intensive format of the classes allows the students to concentrate on the subject with a bit more focus.”

  • AmbEx students and staff begin the semester in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Amberg, Germany. Pictured are (front row, kneeling) Angela Eberly, Bonnie Zlatnik; (middle row) Hannah Dorr, Beth Bartosik (Student Life Coordinator), and Heidi Wright; (back row) Emily Slater, Brian Eberhardt, Tim Krug, Jeffrey Schloemer, and Mitchell Emmert.


The first semester of the AmbEx study abroad program in Amberg, Germany is going well, according to its director, Jerry Orr. Six of the students enrolled are from Corban, while two current faculty members have traveled there to teach two-week intensive classes.

The American Bavarian Extension Campus (AmbEx) is a ministry to students of American Christian colleges and universities, providing a unique and spiritually rewarding educational experience in the land of the Reformers.

The mission statement of AmbEx states, in part, that students learn “the foundations of the Protestant, evangelical Christian faith through a personal, comprehensive, and life-changing in-class and on-the-road academic experience, and through involvement in the European missions activities of local churches in Amberg, Germany and central Europe.”

“There seems to be the right balance of academic breadth, depth and rigor, spiritual formation, travel opportunities, cross cultural activities, and church and community service,” Orr said of the semester that began in early January.

Dr. Virginia Cross, Professor of Music, taught “German Culture” in late-January and early February, while Dr. Kent Kersey, Associate Professor of Ministries, traveled to Amberg in March to teach “Reformation Theology.” Beth Bartosik, former adjunct instructor of English at Corban, now serves as AmbEx Student Life Coordinator and German language instructor.

Courses taught by visiting faculty from other schools include “Christian Worldview” by James Venezia and “Reformation History” by Dan Duncan.

A highlight of Dr. Cross’s class included a trip to Nuremberg, Germany—the site of Germany’s largest museum. Her students spent the day in the Germanistiches Museum searching for and enjoying specific art pieces related to German culture.

After teaching two weeks of theology, Kersey noted, “There are so many ancient churches (and other sites) around that students are able to really sense church history.”

Taking advantage of the proximity of so many significant sites, the AmbEx students are “very active travelers,” as Cross described them. The AmbEx blog: includes many interesting narratives of their travels. Weekend trips, a major academic tour to the “Land of Luther and Bach” in April, and minor trips to places like Dresden, Munich and Dachau are all part of on-the-road academic experiences for the students.

Corban student Emily Slater wrote about a weekend trip fraught with bad weather, “We made it to Frankfurt in time to attend a fantastic concert, then took a quick train back to Aschaffenburg... Finally we ended up in beautiful Salzburg, Austria. By the time we returned to Amberg on Monday night, I was exhausted—but happy! From bus to high-speed train, from trees snapped in half by the storm to the regal Bavarian Alps, the weekend was one of new and interesting experiences and sights.”

Another Corban student, Mitchell Emmert said about a memorable destination, “Rome is full of history. It was crazy going around every corner to see incredible landmarks and things from all kinds of time periods. We visited the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. At times I think history is a concept of things that all happened near the same time, but taking a trip to Rome helped me realize how flawed that is.”

For Brian Eberhardt, also from Corban, it was Berlin that prompted him to write, “Walking around the city…I couldn’t help but see and feel the weight of the vast and influential history that had taken place within its borders. As we walked over, through, and under the various historic sites (including the Berlin Wall, the abstract Holocaust Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie), we began to get a picture of the conditions that the people lived under during the late Communist reign. We were also able to see some modern effects of this oppressive 40-plus-year reign, such as its unusually poor per capita income of 14,000 Euros (about $21,000) and the great number of buildings that were being rebuilt and constructed throughout the ever-evolving city.”

“We can be pleased with the students,” said Orr. “Their ‘pioneer’ spirit, scholastic aptitude, Christian testimony, and ability to adapt to European culture are impressive!”

Students enrolled in the inaugural semester include Corban students Eberhardt, Slater, Emmert, Bonnie Zlatnik, Angela Eberly, and Jeffrey Schloemer. Students from other schools are Tim Krug of Moody Bible Institute, Hannah Dorr from George Fox University, and Heidi Wright from Eternity Bible College.

Orr also reported, “The facilities, furnishing, meals and transportation also have worked out quite well thus far.”

He added that a dormitory acquisition fund has been established so that a facility may be purchased that would consolidate students and use resources more effectively.

Any donations that are received will draw interest in an escrow account until the amount of the down payment ($350,000) is reached, or be returned to the individuals making the donations if the project is cancelled.

“The facility we have in mind has a classic European “villa” appearance in an excellent location,” he described. “It has separate floors for men and women with an apartment for the resident director. Another floor would provide a large area for multi-purpose use.”

In her dual role as German language instructor and Student Life Coordinator, Bartosik said, “I love to encourage others to expand their horizons through study abroad programs. I feel honored to be a part of AmbEx, whose Christian perspective and mission are dear to my heart.”

Kersey added, “If I were a college student, I believe this is the study abroad program I would choose. It is a great community that enjoys learning together and exploring Europe first-hand.”

Tuesday, 1 April 2008