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A letter from Eric and Becky Hinderliter in Lithuania

November 17, 2009

Greetings from Klaipeda!

Many of us watched with interest the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Becky and I invest our time and energy into the lives of the students we teach. Our students have much different lives than their parents had as the result of the dramatic changes in the last 20 years as symbolized by the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet system.

You may be wondering what happens to our students when they graduate from Lithuanian Christian College International University (LCC). For time to time we hear from our students. Here are messages from three of our students: one from Russia, one from Albania, and one from Ukraine. We thought you would like to hear from these students directly.

Photo of Eric and a young woman posing for a picture together.

Olesya and Eric at LCC’s annual class picnic.

Olesya Boreyko, from Russia, is an master’s candidate in sustainable development at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. Founded as a training center for Peace Corps volunteers, the SIT Graduate Institute prepares students from more than 30 countries to become effective leaders, professionals and global citizens. Recently Olesya observed how she is learning to view development from the perspective of those at the bottom of the pyramid. Her studies, she says, are “opposing the ‘planners’ or ‘haves’ approach to changing the world and focusing on experiential learning (or unlearning of traditional economics and development policies) and grassroots development.” Her professors, she says, “challenge my thinking every day, but I keep challenging them as well. Most of my classmates are professionals from all over the world who are driven by the desire to make a positive change in either their home countries or elsewhere in the world.”

Olesya was a summer intern at the United Nations office for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. “While still studying at LCC,” she writes, “I dreamt about being chosen for the internship at the U.N. since it is extremely competitive, and, as they say, ‘be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. As for the future, I will try to combine my love for development economics with my desire to spend the least amount of time possible at my desk staring at the computer screen and more time doing hands-on work with people. I might be looking at jobs with nonprofits or governments, or I might start my PhD studies. Yes, indeed, I am still a dreamer.” Becky and I were privileged to be a small part of sending Olesya on her way to be a caring and committed agent of change in the world.

Ledina Lamani, from Albania, is a 2009 graduate. She is home in Tirana, the capital, working for a real estate company but is hoping for a position with the country’s central bank. Ledina writes, “I meant for some time to send you an update from life back in Albania, and thank you for all the effort you have put in teaching me and making me a better person. Only now do I realize how much I learned from you, and how vividly do I remember issues we raised in Eric’s classes — the financial and managerial accounting policies and rules. But nothing compares to the human factor and all the love for education that I have received from you. And this comes from the heart and I want to thank you so much. All the best wishes, Blessings, Ledina.” We are pleased that Ledina has returned to her native Albania intent on making a contribution to the progress of what was once described as one of the most closed countries in the world.

Photo of Eric Hinderliter with a young woman wearing cap and gown and two older people. Though they are posing for a picture together, all their eyes are looking at something to the right of the camera.

Iryna Sychuyk and Eric with her parents on LCC graduation day, 2009.

Iryna Sychyk, a 2009 graduate from Ukraine, has just started her studies in economics at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Iryna shared her first impressions: “The diversity in the student body and the wider community was stunning to me. I am getting used to this. I’ve never encountered so many lifestyles, backgrounds, and personal expressions before. I am getting to know people from India, China, Hong Kong, Angola, Singapore, and European Union countries.”

Iryna is finding the adjustment to the teaching methods of a large university to be challenging. She compares the large lecture halls with the environment at LCC. “I do like it here. What I miss though is the Christian mission and the community of LCC. At LCC there is personal attention to and genuine interest in every student. I realize that the size of the university comes into play. It is hard to pay attention to every student when there are so many of them. However, I just found that this was what made learning enjoyable and effective. LCC education is really unique.” Our goal as teachers is to give our students the best we have so they can be sent out into the world equipped to cope confidently with the “stunning” things they will encounter. We hope that our Christian witness as teachers shines on our students and allows them to grow and to change as God intended. As these young women move into lives of service, we pray that God will protect and guide them to be fruitful stewards and compassionate servants.

Becky and I try to convey to students the idea of vocation — that God has given us all gifts and talents that we can and should use not only for our own benefit but for the common good. Our prayer is that those young people entrusted to us for a little might leave “dressed for action” with their lamps lit (Luke 12:35).

Friends, it is your commitment to God’s mission that allows Becky and me to develop and sustain these loving relationships with students here at LCC. Thanks be to God!

Becky and Eric Hinderliter

The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 178

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