Brad SmithSociology major and Middle East studies minor
Although he’s traveled to nearly a dozen countries, it was Brad’s participation in Northwestern’s Oman Semester that influenced him to add a Middle East studies minor to his sociology major. Back in the U.S., Brad keeps busy by participating in Sunday Night Praise and Worship services, packaging food for the homeless as a member of the Justice Matters ministry group and, beginning his senior year, serving as a resident assistant for West Hall.
Growing up global
My parents were missionaries, so I grew up in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). During my time in Africa I also visited Botswana, South Africa and Kenya. As I grew older, I traveled to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I studied abroad in Oman the spring semester of my sophomore year, and I spent the summer of 2013 in France through Northwestern’s Summer of Service program.
When I first visited Northwestern, I spent about 20 minutes in Dr. Monsma’s office. He told me a little about sociology and a lot about the Oman Semester. Walking out of his office, I just knew that I wanted to take his classes. Northwestern also places a lot of importance on fostering community, so when I chose to room in West Hall, I immediately felt accepted.
During my semester abroad, I was greatly impacted by the genuine hospitality offered by the Omani people and their sincere love for strangers. My time in Oman has caused me to think about what hospitality really means and what it looks like. Because I've traveled and moved around so much in my lifetime, I've struggled to be content with where I am. My experience in Oman really challenged me to be present, admire the beauty of "place," and focus on what it means to invest in community over the long-term.
Keeping the faith
Traveling abroad has enabled me to see how religion is subject to culture. People who practice the same religion in different parts of the world practice it differently. The discrepancies in how people from all walks of life practice their faith has caused me to think about what is truly important in my own faith: to love God and to love others.
Home is where his heart is
I think one of the most important things I've learned about myself is that I'm actually kind of a homebody. So while I love traveling and I've been heavily impacted by the places I've been, no feeling compares to walking through the doors of West Hall and just being at home.