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Dykshoorn looks beyond borders

By Julie Ooms

Dordt College senior Andrea Dykshoorn has a passion for the Middle East.

A history major with an International Relations minor, Dykshoorn has not quite decided what she’ll do after she graduates, but she knows that whatever it is will have something to do with international relations—hopefully involving the Middle East. The Abbotsford, British Columbia, native has applied to graduate school to study Canadian/Middle Eastern relations, but what she really wants to do, she says, is take a year and intern with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which sponsors many programs in Africa, particularly Egypt.

Andrea Dykshoorn

Andrea Dykshoorn

Dykshoorn also readily admits that her post-college plans aren’t what she expected when she came to college.

Her passion for the Middle East, she says, started with a class on the history of the Muslim world, and led to a semester abroad in Egypt in the fall of her junior year. Her career at Dordt is full of continuous encouragement from Dordt’s history professors. “The history profs here have done a great job of preparing me for different experiences, both in classes and by just sitting down to chat with me. I’m indebted to them,” she says. She’s also a member of Student Forum, and the editor of the Diamond, Dordt’s campus newspaper, experiences that have helped her work with people and learn to adapt to unexpected situations. These experiences helped her with her decision-making for the future after college, and prepared her for her time abroad.

However, Dykshoorn says, nothing could have made her entirely ready for what she would experience once she got to Cairo for a Middle East studies program. “We flew from Washington, D.C. to Germany, and then from Germany to Egypt,” she says, “and I remember being on the plane from Germany thinking, what did I get myself into? I’m tall and blonde, and people in Egypt…aren’t!” Her anxiety wasn’t helped by the many official papers she had to fill out once she reached Egypt, one of which asked, “In the event of unexpected death, do you want to be cremated?” Thankfully, she was able to overcome her initial fears, and the experience ended up being one of the most rewarding and guiding experiences of her college career. “It was stretching experience,” she said. “I learned to adapt. I’m no longer afraid to go into a different culture.” Her semester abroad also helped her realize that she could do something with international development outside of North America and its luxuries.

In Luke 12:48 Jesus says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” Dykshoorn feels these words weighing on her heart as she considers what her college experiences have prepared her for. “I think this verse isn’t just talking about material wealth or talents, but experiences as well,” she says. “Not everyone has had the opportunity to have the experiences I’ve had. Not everyone gets to talk to Palestinian refugees, or former Muslims who have converted to Christianity and been alienated by their families. I need to do something with these experiences.”