Lebanon (MNN) — ABTS will offer an online residency program as COVID-19 precautions make the normal 2-week residency impossible.
Colleges need to get creative during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arab Baptist Theological Seminary is no exception. This year ABTS will offer the Cultural Analysis in the Context of the Middle East and North Africa module fully online.
“In a normal year, it would be one of the four core modules,” says Brent Hamoud, the program director for the Institute of Middle East studies at ABTS. He says the class usually takes place “via a combination of online learning, with a residency program in Lebanon. It would be 20 weeks online, then two weeks on site in Lebanon.”
Students in the residency must engage with the Lebanese culture remotely this year. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
The class, Hamoud says, tackles the broad subject of culture: how do we live and operate in the world and how do we form our identities? Hamoud says, “Part of the program has been field research and human subject research. It’s been going out and observing, interviewing, engaging with people.
“It’s unfortunate,” Hamoud says, “that we can’t have the residency this year. This is one of the highlights of the program, this opportunity to gather in Lebanon.” He says studying culture directly comprises a large part of the course, and students will have to simulate that over a computer this year.
Opportunities and Gospel hope
Still, with limitations come opportunities. Hamoud says, “We have lined up a series of lectures and presentations that will cover the material. [This format] actually bring others into the residency that wouldn’t have otherwise been part of it, because [they can] just log in and be part of the classroom. We can hear the voices of others. It’s created some opportunities as well.”
The point of the course, Hamoud says, is to learn how to share the hope of Christ on the ground in these cultures. “It’s making that jump that the residency would have facilitated. But now they’ll have to do this more on their own.”
Pray these students will be able to connect the things they are learning in their lectures with the individual cultures they live in. And pray that COVID-19 cases around the world would decline so that normal schooling and human interaction can resume.
ABTS students participating in the Cultural Analysis in the Context of Middle East and North Africa module. (Photo courtesy of ABTS on Facebook)