The Transformative Study Abroad Experience—Photogallery

View Photogallery

Victoria Van Hofwegen ’14 of Tolleson, Arizona, said that from a young age she knew Trinity was “the place” for her. “Overall, what drew me in was the sense of community when I was on campus even though it was far away from home.”

Lastsemester found the communication arts major even further from Arizona and from Trinity’s campus while she studied abroad through the College’s Semester in Ecuador. While she experiences spiritual growth living on campus with other women of God who encourage her in her walk, she experienced that growth on a different level in Ecuador.

“Being completely apart from your family and friends, what you know, and what you’re used to makes you a thousand times more dependent on God,” said Van Hofwegen.

Why study abroad?

Although Van Hofwegen had done some traveling overseas, she desired a more intensive and mission-focused experience. She also wanted a change and the chance to dive into a culture very different from her own.

Internships are a major part of the study abroad experience.

Van Hofwegen worked at a daycare at Zambiza, Ecuador, that cares for the children of people who work at the facilities that separate all the trash of Quito. The daycare, started by Emergency Response, provides important developmental time and attention to children.

The communication arts major’s passion for missions grew as she helped the employees of Jungle Kids for Christ, a Christian elementary school in Misahualli that focuses on children who are “fatherless” or considered “at-risk.” Van Hofwegen and others taught VBS as well as completed a two-year house building project.

A transformative experience

“I have been transformed by this semester,” said Van Hofwegen.

“My eyes have been opened to part of the world that I never really new about. I learned how to be more adaptable. I finally am realizing that God has a plan for me, and it’s going to be way better than any plan I will ever make.”

All of these lessons came through living, studying, and serving in Ecuador. From gaining insight into short- and long-term missions to operating in a often unpredictable culture, Van Hofwegen brings that life learning back with her to Trinity.

“I am more comfortable when things do not go as planned, and I can have a good attitude toward the next plan,” she said. “I have the capability and knowledge of living in community constantly.”

Back “home” at Trinity

Although one of the reasons Van Hofwegen chose Trinity was for the “homey feeling,” she said, “I never thought I would feel so comfortable at a place so far away from my real home. But now that I have been living here for 1 ½ years, Trinity is another home to me.”

Van Hofwegen enjoys living in the dorms and has been living in South Hall, “a building that truly understands the idea of community.” She is looking forward to her move into Tibstra Hall this fall.

Her friends and roommates make up a large part of that community. “My friends at Trinity have shown me what true friends are. I know that I have a great support system, and they showed me that while I was in Ecuador. I always enjoy hanging out with them on Saturday nights, or just doing homework with them in the same room.”

For more information about the Semester in Ecuador and other off-campus programs, visit