Bethel Magazine

Travel with a Purpose

Professor Karen Tangen's business trip to Romania incorporates community service.

Spring 2010 | Suzanne Yonker

For many professors and their students, travel means as much about focusing on God and others as it does learning business principles. Karen Tangen, associate professor of business and economics, and her students give 10 percent of their time to the community in which they study. One year, Tangen approached the mayor of Curtea de Arges, a small city in Romania where they were staying, to see how the group could serve the community. He asked the group to paint about 1,000 posts along a road. Laughing to themselves about the unusual assignment, the group obliged. Toiling in the dirt and 100-degree heat, they were soon surrounded by street kids who wanted to help whitewash the posts. Soon a crowd formed, watching these American giving back to their city.

Through a simple act of kindness, the group drew international as well as local publicity. Someone called the city newspaper, which ran photos and a front-page story. The BBC—in town filming a documentary on religious icons—also filmed a segment on the group. Though the purpose of the service project was to show God’s love in a practical way, “Anyone in that city would have done business with us because of the good will we created,” Tangen believes.