Going Out to God’s Beloved World

by Jody Godoy '05

"God loves the world," stressed Kimberly Battle-Walters, Ph.D., associate professor of social work, after reciting John 3:16 with those gathered in the Upper Turner Campus Center. Walters shared this simple yet profound realization as one of the many things she learned during her experience as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa.

Founded in 1945, the Fulbright program was created to promote intercultural and international connection and communication. The program offers opportunities to students and faculty in almost any area of study through over 120 programs worldwide. Battle-Walters was the first professor from APU to be accepted to the faculty program.

The focus of her six-month stay in Johannesburg was teaching and research. The courses she taught at Rand Afrikaans University included topics such as social welfare policy, crime and delinquency, and cultural diversity. Her research involved case studies of women in various socio-economic situations for her study entitled "Race, Class, and Gender in the New South Africa: A Woman's Perspective." She described the South African women that she met as very resilient and strong, with an amazing capacity for forgiveness.

Her work as a scholar was part of her larger role as an ambassador. While in South Africa, she had chances to represent the U.S. in exciting and unexpected ways. Her experiences included everything from visiting squatter camps and speaking at church youth groups to speaking at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, meeting Bishop Desmond Tutu, and having tea with the Queen Mother of Lesotho.

Chair of the Department of Social Work, Sally Alonzo Bell, Ph.D., said that are the kinds of experiences APU hopes its faculty will engage in. "We encourage our faculty to bring their interests to the world," she said, and added that as Christian scholars, "we are also responsible for bringing Christ to the world."

Walters said it this kind of exposure is crucial, as it helps the scholar to realize the importance of international relations and thinking beyond U.S. borders. The crux of her own experience was something she hopes each APU student will gain: a deeper understanding of the fact that "we're only who we are through each other."