While Richard Bass and Julianna Conrad are both students at Walla Walla University, they can't be found on our College Place campus as they are currently serving abroad as student missionaries. They decided to step outside of their comfort zones this year and serve as student missionaries in two very different countries.
Making the decision to take a gap year and volunteer abroad is not a simple one. However, Richard Bass, a senior business administration student at Walla Walla University, chose to do just that and is currently dedicating his time to volunteer work in Denmark. As Bass shared, what led him to go “serve and volunteer was just the opportunity to see something completely different” and get out of his comfort zone to “experience new things.”
Bass pointed out that by being a volunteer in Denmark, “I see how much I’m benefiting the people that I interact with rather than benefiting myself.” While some interactions require more time and effort to build a meaningful relationship, for others, simply having a conversation can make a positive impact on peoples’ day. Bass shared, “I’ve definitely seen the way that I have made a difference in their life just because of our different interactions.”
One of the most surprising things for Bass was the cultural difference from the U.S. Bass mentioned that “not knowing what everybody is saying most of the time is challenging in the beginning. And overall, just the culture here is a lot more slow-paced, I would say, than what I’m used to.” However, because most people in Denmark also speak English, communication and interaction with Danes was not a problem.
Deciding to take a year off and volunteer in another county can be hard. If this is something you are currently considering, then you should hear what Bass had to say about this. “I would 100% recommend it just based on the fact that it’s something that you’ll never forget,” shared Bass. By volunteering abroad, you will be challenged to step out of your comfort zone which will help you grow and develop as a person. 
Another student whose experience and mission work abroad are worth your attention is Julianna Conrad. She is a junior psychology major at Walla Walla University who is currently taking a gap year serving in Peru at an orphanage. Conrad shared, “I did a quick, short little mission trip when I was in high school and that just sparked something in me where I knew right away that I was going to do an SM year.” It can be challenging to find the right time to go abroad and serve, however, Conrad pointed out, “The opportunity to do it this year just seemed right.”
One of the most meaningful experiences Conrad had in Peru was getting to know kids at the orphanage. Conrad shared that “a lot of these kids come from abusive backgrounds, and it’s been really cool seeing them learn to open up to me.” It is meaningful to see how “now we are at the point where I’m not just this fascinating foreigner to them, I’m their good friend,” explained Conrad.
If you are currently considering being a student missionary abroad, then “don’t expect it to be easy because it’s not going to be.” Nevertheless, “be willing to learn from your SM experience,” mentioned Conrad. Being a student missionary abroad will make you really experience things and learn. “You can't have all the answers at the beginning. You just have to try. And it’s so rewarding once you do that.”