“What Providence taught me is that my mission is not to ‘fix’ other cultures around the world. My goal is to be in relationship with them and learn from them as they learn from me. It won’t be easy, but the best things in life never are.” –Teah Goossen
It is often said that ignorance is bliss—that what one chooses to listen and respond to can define the kind of person one becomes. Many choose to live lives of bliss because brokenness is too much to handle. The opposite mindset, however, can inspire one to positively impact the world as brokenness cannot be overlooked.
This was case for alumna Teah Goossen, who graduated from Providence University College in 2016. Her Sociology professor, Dr. Dennis Hiebert, lectured on the “the wounds of knowledge,” and Teah was impacted more than she expected. Recently returned from a year of ministry in Zimbabwe, she explains, “What you do in response to the struggles you have witnessed in this world determines who you are.”
Teah’s story began with limited exposure to the international world. Born and raised on a farm between the small Manitoba towns of Blumenort and Landmark, she recalls living a simple, quiet life. After high school she began looking into attending Providence. “I wanted a smaller university because I liked personal connections, especially with teachers,” she recalls. Still unsure of her course selection a week before she came, she eventually decided to major in Social Sciences.
When asked what impacted her most during her time at Providence, Teah answers without hesitation: “The international student population!” She spent much of her time getting to know international students while living in dorm and over shared meals in the cafeteria. One conversation she had with a student from Zimbabwe played a major role in her decision to move there.
After earning her degree, she began researching mission organizations. The program that caught her eye was Mennonite Central Committee’s SALT (Serving and Living Together). What she found most appealing about this option was that it was an exchange program. A young person from Zimbabwe would come to Canada while Teah visited Zimbabwe.
Her placement found her at the Sandra Jones Centre, a crisis centre that focuses on teens who have been abandoned, abused or orphaned. For one year, Teah worked as a Donor Relations Coordinator, investing time with residents and teaching art classes. She witnessed pain that shook her. Children who came to the centre were abused or abandoned. “Even babies found in bushes came to us,” she remembers. A sign posted outside the center reads, “All who enter here will find love.”
Teah has been making calendars to raise funds to pay for the children’s school fees since she moved to Zimbabwe. Last year she raised $4,000 and hopes to raise $6,000 this year. She wants to continue her work in the vulnerable sector, providing women and children with safe housing. “My goal,” she says, “is to travel and hope that everywhere I go I can be a little bit of light to someone.”
(Photos: Teah Goossen, left, and co-worker Jacqui Martin, right)