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As one Rounder said,

I lived four years in four months.

Growth on this trip is inevitable, and you can't avoid it. You'll be stretched to experience how big our God is while your faith grows. Reliance on Him will be your greatest joy at the end of this trip.

Amber Watson

As if academics, traveling, and adventure weren't enough, listen to Amber talk about her experience as one of the original Rounders and how it affected her spiritual growth.

Rounder Essays

Below you'll find some essays written by Rounders during their travels. Read their experiences and imagine how you might grow on the Around-the-World Semester®.

Spiritual Awakening

by Deanna Schooler

It only took one more night of frustration to find myself alone in tears. I had lost it. In the sanctuary of the Emmanuel Church, on one of the pews after a group bible study, I broke before the Lord and allowed my hand to release my tensions through words. These words scribbled into my journal read:

Am I too bigheaded? Too prideful? I feel inferior, unintelligent, and stubborn. I don’t like who I am, God. Why does it hurt so badly? The last few weeks have solidified my lack of self-confidence. I am faking Christianity. Don’t you know, Lord, how this hurts my self-esteem. I already have to prete…

Unexpectedly, from behind me, I heard these words whispered into my ears, “Can I please pray for you?” Very quickly and without conscious thought, I turned bright red and wiped away the tears that ran down my face. I lifted my face to see Artium, a 6’5” blonde Russian man. I was shocked, slightly confused, and most of all, nervous. I hadn’t an idea of what he wanted. Artium’s English is non-existent, so I knew that his buddy Alex had told him verbatim what to say in English before he had approached me. Without time to process what Artium wanted, his giant hand engulfed my cold forearm and he pulled me towards the sanctuary door.

“Alex!” Artium raised his voice, calling to his English-speaking friend. I’m not sure if more company reassured me or instilled more fear in me. I had one hundred butterflies in my stomach, and every muscle in my body seized up. I’d like to say that I completely trusted these men, but our friendship was only a few days old. We walked outside.

Goosebumps took over my body. Artium offered me his giant coat, and I gladly accepted it. I put it on and felt a level of protection cover me. I began to let my guard down. Alex struggled with his English, telling me that they wanted to pray over me. Artium spoke up in words I could not understand. Eager to find out what he said, I looked to Alex. “He says that while all of us Russians were praying together God told him to pray for you. The Holy Spirit moved him to come down and get you.” A warm sensation took over my body. At that moment, every doubtful word that I had written down and every negative thought I had about myself was disproved; Jesus’ faithfulness prevailed.

For about ten minutes, which felt like an eternity, the Russian men prayed together and all at once. Their mouths never stopped moving. At times, the three men would pray louder with more passion or slower with more emphasis. I found myself just listening at times or repeating the line, “God, you are good!” The power of the moment overtook me and I knelt dumbfounded before the Lord. At my weakest, God, through Artium, picked me up to reassure me that He is in every part of the good and bad, the hard and easy, the blessings and curses, and the pain and joy.

“Amen.” We lifted our heads and in the pitch black, only my teeth were visible. I could not stop smiling and no words, especially not translated words, would express my feelings. “This was just what I needed, Artium.” I said. Alex nodded, turned to Artium, and translated that phrase into Russian. Silence fell over us. Instilled in me was a newfound acceptance for change. A foundation for a new way of thinking and living began to structure itself and the Spirit was alive in me. This would be my motivation, my attitude, and my purpose for the remaining three months.


by Martha James

He made eye contact with me. Startled at his advance towards me and the taking of my hand, I let myself be pulled to the center. Encircled around us, our friends and some strangers watched in anticipation. I was confused as to why he chose me. I had not learned the correct steps. Anxiety pulsed through me as he placed his hand on my waist and asked for my right to accompany his left. I wanted to warn the hollowed floors beneath our feet of the hurricane that would soon ensue. I quietly reminded him that I did not know the steps. He looked at me with gentle calmness and replied, “Confidence, Martha.” After a brief moment of silence, interrupted by my deep breath, the music commenced. The tango tune coming from a small radio in the far corner prompted his first step. He led me forward, to the side, and then back, never losing focus. His eyes were locked on mine. In that moment, he guided me. There was no flaw in his movements. I felt secure.

God is asking for my hand every day. He desires to take me out of my comfortable state and solicits for my dependency. There is no hesitation in his strength as he holds me close. He knows every step perfectly and will not let me fall. I am graceful and elegant because of His determination to make me so. He whispers confidence in my ears and my anxiety compares nothing to His peace. I am overwhelmed by His longing to dance with me. He chose me. Without His presence I stand still, motionless, without hope. The act of dancing by myself or to my own steps is futile. Looking into my soul, he reminds me of the trust that I am lacking and therefore need. Nothing wavers His steps.

I hear the beckoning of my love. He wants to lead me into a place of peace and rest with careful precision and with my faith solely in Him.

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