Reetu Height was born in India and came to the U.S. as a child. She spent time in New York City and Michigan and attended Olivet Nazarene University, where she took part in short-term missions trips. She eventually went with her husband to the mission field in Africa, serving in Senegal and Ghana as the Nazarene field finance coordinator for 14 countries. Following a return to the United States, Height settled in Nashville and is using her expertise in missions to help Trevecca students experience cross-cultural ministry.
What is TAG all about?
Trevecca Around the Globe is a series of service learning trips that allows students to go into cross-cultural contexts and serve their neighbors. Everyone in the Trevecca community is eligible for TAG trips. All students – commuter, residential and graduate – can participate. We are also opening it up to faculty and staff. We encourage anyone who is willing to go and be a learner to take part.
What are some past examples of trips students have taken?
This year, students went to three different places. Our spring break trip was to Cactus, Texas, where students worked with refugees and immigrants from all over the world at the Cactus Ministry Center. In Manchester, England, students learned how church happens in a post-Christian context and met with people living in diverse religious communities. And a group of students went to Germany over the summer and worked with an organization called Church in Action, visiting churches in five cities and working with refugee families. They also did activities like cleaning and painting.
What are the TAG opportunities for this year?
During spring break, there will be a trip to Wasilla, Alaska. Students will assist with food distribution and building community alongside Frontline Mission, a Nazarene Compassionate Ministry. Our first summer trip is to Colombia, South America, where we will be hosted by a Trevecca graduate and serve with students from other Nazarene universities throughout the U.S. There will be all kinds of opportunities including evangelism, teaching English and helping with a children’s ministry. Our final trip is to Africa, where students will be immersed in a unique language and culture and form connections with locals.
What advice would you give to someone who might be intimidated by the magnitude of certain aspects of a long-distance trip, like fundraising or the idea of entering a new culture?
Don’t be overwhelmed. Many students before you have accomplished this, so we know it will be possible for you too. We hold a fundraising training to teach students how to ask people to contribute and the right ways to present that request. You’ll be surprised how many people want to give and be a part of your story. We also provide cross-cultural training, so you learn what to say and not say and how to navigate a new environment. This year, we are also providing training on how to deal with anxiety and events that may be triggering. You will not be dealing with anything alone, you will be trained and supported.
What is your hope for those who participate in TAG?
My hope is that they are impacted, and when they come back, they don’t forget what they experienced. I want them to be able to use their new knowledge and growth wherever they go. I also want it to give them a taste of missions so they can respond if God is calling them to do more of that in the future, either in the form of another trip or something long-term. Ultimately, I hope they take what they have learned and love their neighbors well.