Volume 5 Number 3
By Kent Annan
A danger of being rich is starting to think of oneself solely as a benefactor. To be sure, a privilege of the wealthy is to give money and to provide resources to others, but there is also much to receive.
Princeton Seminary gives a lot to students like Tu Truong (Vietnam), Galina Draganova (Bulgaria), Kesari Godfrey (India), and many others from around the world who are on campus now and who have attended over the years. International students benefit from a quality education, access to great resources and faculty, a prestigious degree, and relationships meaningful to their hearts and their professions.
Why does Princeton invest teaching time, more than $500,000 in annual scholarship aid, and significant administrative resources to educate students from countries around the world? President Gillespie, when he welcomed the twenty-six international students from seventeen countries in this year’s student body (which did not include Ph.D. students), got to the heart of it: “I hope that when you return home, you will go back as better ministers of Jesus Christ.”
“It’s the parable of the five talents,” adds John O’Brien-Prager, director of professional studies, who oversees Immigration and Naturalization Service matters for foreign national students. “We need to share our staff, faculty, facilities, and financial resources because God has given this bounty to us.”
But the exchange is not one way. It is also hoped that American students will better understand the world and the church because foreign national students are on campus. Referring to a world map dotted with various colored thumbtacks indicating from what states and countries PTS students hail, Victor Aloyo, director of vocations, puts into words what many have experienced at Princeton Seminary over the years: “The presence of international students broadens the learning perspective for all the students. It deepens the flavor here—culturally, theologically, spiritually.”
Princeton has long benefited from the presence of international students. A Scottish student came to Princeton in 1913, graduated in 1915, went on to study in Spain, teach in Peru, and then, from 1936-1959, John Mackay served as president of Princeton Seminary. Toyohiko Kagawa, a Japanese student who went on to be an internationally known evangelist and social worker in Japan, graduated from PTS the same year as Mackay. (Japanese students were the largest percentage of foreign nationals at PTS during the early twentieth century.)
President Gillespie fondly recalls his own long friendship with fellow Class of 1954 graduate Paul Verghese (later Paulos Mar Gregorios). Verghese, an Indian who died in 1996, went on to become an influential church leader and Metropolitan of Delhi in the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East.
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