Published Originally in the Winter/Spring 2012 Issue of Berea College Magazine
Emily Applegate, ’14
Amanda Lucas, ’09, the new Global Studies Coordinator at Piney Woods School in Mississippi, is sharing the gift of international education with her students. During their spring break, she and her class will spend one week in China, taking part in various service projects, including teaching English to students in the capital city of Beijing. While staying with a local host family, they will visit the Great Wall of China and the “Forbidden City.” Lucas and her students will then travel to the growing cities of Shanghai and Xi’an, immersing themselves in the country’s unique culture. They will try their hands at the Chinese martial art of Taijiquan, attend a Kung Fu Show and view a “Tang Dynasty Show” that will open their eyes to traditional dances, art and music. “What better way to introduce students to global power than to visit one of the world’s fastest growing economies?” she asks.
Amanda’s inspiration for the trip stems from the appreciation for international travel and service learning she gained as a student. “When I was a student at Piney Woods, I visited South Africa. At Berea College, I learned to be a servant leader,” she says. “The personal growth that results from such activities is invaluable.” She wants to share the same types of experiences with her students to prepare them for life after graduation.
Amanda credits Berea College for enhancing her commitment to service and believes that it sets an example “for the world to follow.”
“Everywhere I go, I brag about Berea because I know it helped prepare me for a more global world,” she says. Amanda’s professors and labor supervisors taught lifelong lessons that helped her grow into the woman she is today. She praises Dr. Jose P. Bey, Dr. Tashia Bradley, and Professor Andrew Baskin for “raising my consciousness, teaching me the value of knowledge and always learning no matter how much I teach others.”
Amanda is honored to be able to give back to the schools that helped her become the success she is today. “Piney Woods gave me the confidence and discipline I needed to become a graduate of Berea,” she says. “Without Piney Woods I do not know where I would be.”
Piney Woods, one of only four historically African-American co-educational boarding schools in the United States, is ranked among the top 10 boarding schools in the country. Its mission is comparable to that of Berea, centering on academic excellence in a Christian community with an emphasis on a strong work ethic, responsible citizenship and community service.
Amanda says she feels blessed to do what she loves in a place that she loves. She officially became Global Studies Coordinator in August 2011, after receiving her master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. She relishes the opportunity to plan international trips, programs and curricula in the mornings while teaching Global Studies classes in the afternoon.
Amanda is eagerly looking forward to traveling to China this spring break with her class. “I know this will be the trip of a lifetime and my students will return more knowledgeable, more open-minded and more prepared for a brighter future,” she says.