Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

7-17-07

Contacts:

Michael Peterson, ISU student, michaeljp24@gmail.com

Kate Shepherd, ISU student, kapheira@gmail.com

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, kuester@iastate.edu

ISU student heads to Russia for week-long English, outreach trip

AMES, Iowa -- While many Iowa State University students are spending their summer vacations earning money or relaxing, one ISU student is taking part in an English-instruction, Christian-outreach trip to Russia.

Michael Peterson is part of a group from Ames' Campus Christian Fellowship traveling to Russia the last week in July. Peterson will be a camp counselor for students who are learning English at Orenburg State University south of Moscow.

The Ames group volunteers its time and raises money for the trip through private donations.

While the goal of the camp is to teach English to the students, the group also brings its Christian message.

"We are all committed to making a difference in the lives of the Russian students," says Peterson, who is going over for the second year.

The experience changes the lives of Iowa Staters as well.

Kate Shepherd, from New Hope, Minn., graduated from Iowa State this spring with a master's degree in Russian history, in part because of her trip to Orenburg.

"I was undecided about my major," she said. "I was thinking I wanted to study either medieval history or Russian history. After I went on the trip, it was definitely Russian history."

Shepherd says the missionary work isn't what many people think.

"When people think of missionary work, they think of people going over with Bibles and saying 'Believe this!'" she said. "It's not like that."

"What we do through our discussions is to ask the students about their beliefs and try to introduce Christianity," she said.

In fact, much of the discussions may touch on religion only briefly. Each year, the discussions center on a theme. This year's theme is super heroes, so discussions will be focused on this topic and religion will be brought into the discussion if the topic comes up.

Peterson, an Eagan, Minn., native who is a senior in meteorology and Spanish, will take away much from his experiences. He says he's returning because he enjoys the understanding he gains.

"My Russian friends who still keep in touch with me, the culture, the food, the experience, but above all to see good people and how they are living is what keeps me coming back," he said.

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"My Russian friends who still keep in touch with me, the culture, the food, the experience, but above all to see good people and how they are living is what keeps me coming back."

Michael Peterson