Hannah Schundler from the USA, learned about LCC through Gordon College. She came to Lithuania in 2017, and currently, she is the Discipleship Coordinator in the Spiritual Life Office. Hannah decided to come to LCC once she found out about the Christian Liberal Arts aspect of the university. She studied International Relations and Higher Education, but traveling to India, spending a semester in San Francisco and later in Latin America, has actually been beneficial for her current job here at LCC. Hannah is enjoying her work, spending time with students and learning from them, which is the most inspiring aspect of LCC for her.
Hannah, why did you decide to work at LCC even though you could have gone anywhere in the world?
During my studies at Gordon College and later at Taylor University, and after graduation I was involved with a lot of different ministries for college students, cross-cultural missions, and I was very intrigued by the idea of working in an international setting. The biggest attraction for me to LCC was the Christian Liberal Arts style of education, which is one of a kind in this area. In the United States, it is pretty common to have such colleges and universities; even within one state there can be a large number of similar style schools. Another attractive point for me was the opportunity to work among such a diverse student body, ethnically, culturally, and spiritually.
As a Discipleship Coordinator, what does this position entail?
My role involves a lot of different pieces. I work with a lot of our Spiritual Life programs. I oversee the ALFA program, work with the Vilnius mission trip, and I oversee the student leaders who lead Bible studies, retreats or seminars. I also meet with students one-on-one to discuss issues of faith, purpose, worldview or integration. At LCC I get to be involved in research about student spirituality and faculty/staff faith integration. These are a few things I have been involved in, and I love working with the programs. I love mentoring students here at LCC.
When you came to Lithuania in 2017, did you expect to have such a diverse experience?
I actually have a weird personal connection to Lithuania. When I was still a baby, my parents went on a trip with me to Eastern Europe. Originally, my father was from Germany, so they came back to this part of the world when I was born. They traveled to Slovakia, Eastern Germany, Poland, and Hungary. But the real connection goes back even further. My dad had a nanny from Klaipėda, which at the time was known as East Prussia. I had not been to this region until I decided to come work at LCC. There are a lot of interesting connections for me, none of which influenced my choice of coming here. However, it is interesting to look back on my life and see different pieces of the story coming together. Perhaps God knew I was going to end up in Eastern Europe. When I actually moved here I felt a strong calling to the university. I trusted that feeling and trusted I would find a home here in Lithuania. I enjoy working at LCC, but I also love living in Lithuania, getting to know more about the culture, traditions and history. I wish I had a Lithuanian heritage because I admire the people and culture here.
How has life in Lithuania and work at LCC impacted your personal growth?
I think it is always powerful to be in a setting where there is so much diversity. Being an American, obviously, I am a foreigner here. It is a tremendous experience to be an outsider and to be more aware of my own culture. It makes me more aware of those considered outsiders in my culture and how I can be a better native. At LCC I enjoy the opportunity to talk about faith and worldview. This is a place with so many different traditions, backgrounds, and religions that it opens up various and rich discussions. It has made me think about my convictions and beliefs. It has challenged and deepened my faith, and these things often go together. On both personal and faith level, I have really grown. Another aspect of LCC which amazes me is hospitality. I love how everyone is open to inviting you in their lives, and how LCC shows its hospitality to expats working here. I have also tried to model that with students I work with by welcoming students into my life, my home, into creating spaces like ALFA courses or Bible studies where there is a space for everyone to join the conversation.
During your studies, you spent a summer in India, later a semester in Latin America, and a semester in San Francisco. What was the motivation behind traveling to those geographically and culturally different locations?
I feel like one thing has led to another and it is interesting to see how one experience opened doors to the next. In the last years of high school, I did a short term mission trip to New York City. The trip really opened my eyes to different social issues like poverty, racism, and discrimination. Even though I started my education to become a doctor, I still wanted ministry and mission trips to be a part of my path. This is partially the reason why I went to India. In India, we worked with organizations that fought against the abuse of women, against cast systems, and children who were being sold into prostitution. It was interesting to see how different organizations and how different faith groups addressed these social issues. The trip to India led me to spend the next year serving in an urban port in Boston, where there were a lot of refugees and immigrants. I really saw how God was showing me different social issues happening around the world. Even though all the trips seem to be disconnected, my passion, skills, and desire to be a part of the restoration, part of serving led me to where I am now. I feel that in all the places I have worked, they have always been pointing to a bigger picture.
What are your plans for the near future?
I plan to definitely stay at LCC for the next two years. This is just the beginning of the journey. I really thrive here in this place. It is a gift to work at LCC. I have been impacted by so many students, and they inspire me every day. Compared to what I am receiving from them, it seems like I have so little to give back because there is so much they teach me. I love living here in Lithuania. I love working at LCC. It is so much more than just a job. It is a calling that is enriching and inspiring.