September 24, 2013
PathwayConnect has blossomed to include more than 120 sites that dot the globe for Fall Semester 2013. Of those, 49 are outside the United States. PathwayConnect has now entered 14 different countries and serves over 7,500 students worldwide.
So, what does all this growth mean? Lives are being blessed and prophecies are being fulfilled.
Moving the Blessings of Education
In his inaugural address at Ricks College in 1971, President Henry B. Eyring proclaimed, “We must also find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus… We will find direct ways to move the blessings of education… from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”
Think about that statement for a moment. In 1971, the Internet and cell phones were not yet available to the public, typewriters were still commonly used, and the Church had not yet officially begun preaching the gospel in Portugal, Ghana, Ukraine, and Albania — all countries that now have PathwayConnect sites. Through the blessings of technology and the guidance of the Lord’s hand, President Eyring’s prophecy, given over 40 years ago, is being fulfilled.
PathwayConnect has grown tremendously on an international level. Multiple sites have been established throughout Central and South America, Europe, and Africa. “PathwayConnect resembles the hope and excitement the gospel of Jesus Christ brings to people, regardless of their cultural mores, native language, or the alphabet they might use,” said Gene Hayes, International BYU-Pathway Director. “Whether we bless 15 or thousands, we are changing lives.”
A Program of Growth
The first stated objective of PathwayConnect is to “get the gospel down into students’ hearts.” This is accomplished through weekly gatherings, the fellowship of other participating Church members, and courses taught within the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though PathwayConnect is an educational experience, those who participate can grow spiritually and socially as well. And it’s not just the students who benefit from PathwayConnect — institute instructors, family members, local priesthood leaders, and service missionaries are impacted as well.
“There are so many times since we have arrived in Tirana that the Lord has directly helped us,” said Elder and Sister Winder, service missionaries assigned to BYU-Pathway serving in Tirana, Albania. “This is an inspired program. It will bless the lives of anyone involved in it, and most especially these young people who need to cement their testimonies in the gospel, because every lesson is gospel-based.”
Teaching English Internationally
One requirement for international students to participate in PathwayConnect is successful completion of an English proficiency exam. These language requirements ensure the covered material is understood. All students who are learning English as a foreign language have additional help through speaking partners. PathwayConnect has created the Speaking Partner Program as a dual-purpose service. The program ensures that those who need practice speaking the language have a resource available to them in the form of an English-speaking Church member. For those English speakers, it is a simple and effective way to serve others.
“Is a weekly 30-minute conversation in English between two strangers enough to change a life? In the Speaking Partner Program, it will change both lives,” said Josiah Carlson, PathwayConnect Speaking Partner specialist. “Despite thousands of miles between them, students and volunteers meet face-to-face online to exchange precious perspective, friendship, testimonies, and yes, English.”
PathwayConnect is opening doors of opportunity on an international level. Students are now better-equipped with the needed skills and concepts to effectively pursue a professional degree.
“I know that this program is indeed inspired,” said a PathwayConnect student in a response to a survey question about the program. “Over the past three semesters, I have been challenged and stretched, but I have also been blessed. My experience is impossible to describe with words, but the closest I can come to explaining it would be to say that my life during this program has been filled with a greater sense of light. It really has been difficult at times, but it has been worth every effort.”