The month of April brought the HUG spring semester to a close. With all the HUG students back home, we asked HUGer Hannah Diles to share her thoughts on the semester. We hope you enjoy this deep dive into HUG Spring 2022. Also, be sure to read about Janis Ragsdale's upcoming retirement below.
HUG Spring 2022 Reflections
by Hannah Diles
For three months, I lived with some of my best friends in Greece, traveling across continents and countries, tasting foreign foods, and viewing incredible sights of wonder and history. Through vivid moments, each of us was transformed in the experiential classroom that was this semester. Throughout the semester, we visited Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, road tripped around Greece, and ended the semester trekking across Europe on our own. I have never learned or seen so much during one season of my life, and the Lord used each special moment and friendship to mold who I am now. In retrospect, I offer you some reflections and memories of my experience abroad.
One of the most important places of the semester was Porto Rafti, an idyllic beach town half an hour from Athens. The Artemis, a hotel turned dorm, quickly became our home away from home. Every moment was filled with joy in getting to know my classmates and spending time with one another. In the colder season, there were snowball fights and game nights. Between our trips during the warmer months, volleyball and visits to the beach kept us busy, along with numerous coffee and gelato runs. The Artemis was our place to build relationships and find rest between classes and trips to other countries. One of my favorite things to do was help Natasa in the kitchen. She always had a fun story or joke to tell, plus the wisdom of a “very Greek, very healthy” meal.
During the other half of the semester, we were always on the road, exploring all of Greece and many nearby countries. In Greece, we traveled through the Pelopponese, to ancient Biblical cities like Ancient Corinth, sweeping through the north all the way to south, and even over the sea to Crete. We saw thousands of years of history unfurling before us, where ancient mythology is set to where the apostle Paul first established churches. The landscape displayed the fingerprints of the Creator, from the rugged peaks of the mountains, into the valleys dotted with olive trees, and beside the glistening shorelines. On our other excursions, we journeyed through ancient Cappadocia in Turkey, the Great Pyramids and down the Nile in Egypt, and experienced a pilgrimage of faith through Bethlehem and Jerusalem in Israel.
One trip that remains close to my heart is our time in Israel. The days were filled with visiting sites Jesus grew up around. We sang at the Mount of Beatitudes, where the Sermon on the Mount was given, sailed on the Sea of Galilee, explored Jerusalem and sat in reflection in the Garden of Gethsemane. During those days, I loved being around Nazareth in the Jezreel Valley, where we walked by the Sea and hiked up to Herod’s Palace. The walk was steep, but well worth the sweeping view of the lush valley bordering the gentle waves of the Sea. On the rubble of Herod’s Palace, our guide Yossi showed us a coin minted in the time of Jesus, a special star inscribed on the surface denoting that the Savior had come. My heart skipped a beat, and I carefully pondered where I was and what I had seen. Jesus had grown up near here and started a movement that would shake the world, and I stood there thousands of years later to see how much change He had brought. It all started there, in His many trips beside the Sea, talking and engaging the Israelite people. In Israel, my faith was deepened by overwhelming peace, and I was reminded that the world can still be radically changed by the love of Jesus.
My time at HUG is made up of laughter and good times with friends, wonder and amazement at the natural beauty around us, a journey through humanity’s history, and incredibly faith-building moments. It was a trip that I knew would change me, but I had no idea how much or in what ways. There are not enough words to describe it all, but I am incredibly thankful for the moments and relationships that reforged me.
Janis Ragsdale Retiring
We would like to take this time to announce that Janis Ragsdale has chosen to retire at the conclusion of this current spring semester. She has worked at Harding for 30 years, 14 of which were with International Programs. We've asked Janis to share a few words about her years of experience.
"It has been an honor and a pleasure working with International Programs. I will treasure the memories made with hundreds of students, faculty and staff related to studying abroad since 2008. Traveling with students and having simultaneous mountaintop experiences have been highlights of my tenure. It is my wish to continue to instill positive energy, motivation, and a zeal for healthy fitness habits with others in the future. International Programs provides an exceptional, educational global opportunity for students, and is in accomplished hands with the current program directors and staff, including Executive Director and friend, Audra Pleasant. I cling to two mottos, “Never stop exploring,” and “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” After 30 years of tenure with the University, it seems a natural transition into retirement. I am ready for the adventures to continue!"
We want to thank Janis for her years of service and wish her the best in her future endeavors. There will be a retirement reception for Janis this Thursday, May 5, from 2 to 4 pm in the Sears Honors House for all who would like to attend.
Hannah with the Athens Acropolis from Hannah Diles
HUG students on Mars Hill from Hannah Diles
Sunrise in Porto Rafit, Greece from Hannah Diles
HUG Spring 2022 group with the Giza Pyramids in Egypt from Hannah Diles
Hannah and fellow HUG student at the Sea of Galilee from Hannah Diles
HUG students with Egyptian ruins from Hannah Diles
HUG students on a Nile boat from Hannah Diles
Hannah and fellow HUG student in Cappadocia, Turkey from Hannah Diles
HUG Spring 2022 group at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from Hannah Diles
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