Crossing Cultures - Pathway International

September 9, 2013
Writer: Caleb Trujillo

Pathway is opening doors of opportunity on an international level. Thanks to Academic Start, students are now better-equipped with the needed skills and concepts to effectively pursue a professional degree.

From simple beginnings with just three sites in 2009, Pathway has blossomed to include more than 120 sites that dot the globe. Of those, 49 are outside the United States. Pathway 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.

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 Pathway 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.

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Most northern Pathway site:
Anchorage, AK (61.2167° N)
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Most southern Pathway site:
Soweto, South Africa (28.2661° S)

Pathway has grown tremendously on an international level. Multiple sites have been established throughout Central and South America, Europe, and Africa. “Academic Start 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 Pathway director. “Whether we bless 15 or thousands, we are changing lives.”

The first stated objective of Pathway is to “get the gospel down into students’ hearts.” This is accomplished through weekly gatherings, fellowship of other participating Church members, and courses taught within the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though Pathway is an educational experience, those who participate can grow spiritually and socially as well. And it’s not just the students who benefit from Pathway: institute instructors, family members, local priesthood leaders and Pathway 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, Pathway missionaries 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.”

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Pathway site with highest elevation: Toluca, Mexico 
(2,667 m or 8750 ft.)
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Oldest international Pathway site: Christiansborg - Accra, Ghana
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Pathway site with smallest LDS Church presence: Tirana, Albania

One requirement for international students to participate in Pathway 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. Pathway 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, Pathway 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.”

Pathway is opening doors of opportunity on an international level. Thanks to Academic Start, 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 Pathway 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.”