February 23, 2017 // 2:12 PM

Experiencing the World

Written by Juanita Fox

A visit to the Garden Spot Village Chapel shares a glimpse of the international community living at 433 Kinzer Avenue. Flags from Ireland, Vietnam, Guatemala, South Korea, China and various other countries line the walls, representing the many countries and cultures where members of the community have lived and served.

One of the blessings of living at Garden Spot Village is the international community represented, but also members of the international community that interact daily with residents. Since 2009 Garden Spot Village has hosted young people through the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) coordinated by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Jonas Da, a student from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in West Africa, and currently the IVEP intern, lives locally and serves at Garden Spot Village in a variety of ways.

Originally from a small town in the southern part of Burkina Faso, Da has spent the last three years studying English literature and German at the University of Ouagadougou. He joined the Garden Spot Village community in August 2016 and will serve here through June.

“I spend three days every week in Mountain View, where I help with activities, doing devotions, playing games, going to shop in the stores and teaching the cultural class,” he says. One day a week he works with the chaplain, visiting residents and doing Bible studies. He spends the fifth day supporting life enrichment activities, like movies and trips to places like the Flight 93 Memorial, Longwood Gardens and the Farm Show in Harrisburg.

When he returns to Burkina Faso this summer, Da plans to finish college and pursue further studies in business administration. “When I get home, I will share the experience I got here in the U.S. with people in my country,” he says.

In doing so, he will create just one more connection for Garden Spot Village around the world.