Photo courtesy of Tina Nyathi

Tina Nyathi from Livingstone, Zambia, lived and served as an IVEPer (International Volunteer Exchange Program) in 1988. Here she's standing outside the MCC office in Pennsylvania with Irene Leaman, her host mother.

“Life is a journey” is a cliché commonly used to describe the tides of existence. For most of the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) alumni, the experience is an unforgettable path that has shaped and changed the trajectory of their lives. The best part of the IVEP program is when participants retell their experience from years ago as if it just happened. Below are a few snippets from IVEP alumni of years gone by.

 

"My favorite memory of my IVEP year (2003 to 2004) is the worship during the mid-year conference. It was just amazing having so many people, from so many parts of the globe together, sharing the same faith singing and praying and feeling the spirit. I felt I was having a taste of heaven."

- Priscila De Lima Santana from Brazil

 

"Being in North America in 2003 to 2004 and being a part of cross-culture training helped me a lot to learn new things about living in Canada such as living with wonderful house parents, experiencing snow, working with little kids and appreciating the Lord’s creation."

- Ammah Lois Alcazar from the Philippines

 

"I admire still the idea of something good (about others) written on a piece of paper and put into a lunch bag, each marked with the name of each IVEPer. I still have the bits of paper and enjoy finding positive things about me. I am just sorry that I had been too sick to write even one."

- Dorthea Harder from Germany

 

"I am an IVEP alumnus of 2010 to 2011. One of the strongest memories was during a monthly East Coast IVEPers gathering, a meal with the Amish. It was so humbling to me seeing their life simplicity within this American modern society, as well as the warmth of the family who hosted us and remarkable comfort food."

- Greta Andrea from Indonesia

 

"I was very honored when I was able to sit on the chair assigned to my country (Honduras) in the General Assembly hall at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Also, I cherish our group hugs that ended in laughter, most of the time. I felt so much love and appreciation going from one person to the other. I am very grateful to maintain communication with the IVEP 2009 to 2010 brothers and sisters."

- Karen E. Flores V from Honduras

 

"When we had the final conference in Toronto at the end of July in 2018, we all were on a bus, returning to the dormitories at the University of Waterloo. It was dusk, and the sunset glow emerged, which was so amazingly beautiful. At the same time, a song called "How Great Is Our God" from Chris Tomlin was broadcast on the bus, and suddenly everyone sang it together! Just in the few minutes, with this amazing song and incredibly beautiful sunset glow, my mind was blown away and I felt so touched. How I wish all the IVEPers from 2017 to 2018 could get together and sing this song again! Thank you for giving us an opportunity to reflect on our IVEP year!"

- Xie Rongbin

 

"I served in Kansas from 2017 to 2018. My favorite memory of my term is the Kansas sunset. I was nervous getting to where I would be staying, and I remember anxiously sitting down and as I watched the sunset, I felt calm and relaxed. That moment made me feel peaceful and taught me to always take a breather and enjoy each moment in life!"

- Sithandweyinkosi Mpofu from Zimbabwe

 

"I served in Lancaster Mennonite School, Locust Grove campus as an assistant in the Spanish immersion program 2017 to 2018. For me, my most important memory as an IVEPer was that this time helped me to be stronger, to believe more in me, and be more dependent on God, always trusting in the perfect plans that he has for my life. Traveling alone for the first time, full of fears and challenges, the main one was that I did not speak English, but this time was a space to understand that I am capable of doing everything I set out to do. For me, my year as a volunteer has been the best experience and despite fears, it has been the best decision of my life. I met incredible people, angels that God placed by my side. I strengthened my vocation as a teacher within my place of service and it helped me to understand that we are called to serve, build peace and communion among brothers and sisters of all nations. Our job will always be to make this world better through our actions."

- Rina Garcia from Guatemala

 

"The blending of many cultures, spiritual growth, friendships and relationships birthed, lifetime opportunities created, were my takeaways and highlights from the IVEP year (1994 to 1995). This wasn’t during the social media frenzy, cell phones, emails, but we managed to remain in touch as a class with fellow participants. A reunion would be great! The only sad part was that my peer IVEPer from Zimbabwe passed away not too long after we returned home (Buhle Mlambo, may her soul rest in peace.)"

- Busani Ntini from Zimbabwe