(July 31, 2012)

Alumna postpones graduate school for mission work

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary alumna Christine Cumming '11 was accepted into graduate school and already enrolled in classes when she decided to forego admission for the coming fall semester. Cumming had recently served as a missionary in Morogoro, Tanzania, but felt a strong calling to return and finish the job she began.

Christine and students

Having since returned, she has continued teaching English and helping out with the music program for 70 students in grades 5-7 at Wesley Primary School.

"Participating in this mission is one of the most moving and eye opening experiences of my life," said Cumming. "Although foregoing admission to graduate school is a tough decision, I know that this is the right one for me and for the students of Morogoro's Wesley Primary School. Now that I know what's here and what I have to work with, it has been easier to develop some goals for myself."

Part of Cumming's work at the school involves preparing students for the National Exams at the end of seventh grade. The exam determines whether students can attend a government secondary school or will have to apply to private school. As private school is too expensive for many Morogoro students, those who do not achieve high scores typically do not attend secondary school.

Christine has always had an interest in helping others. While attending Centenary, she created March of the Maji to raise funds for the 410 Bridge Project and worked with Invisible Children, which helps build refugee camps in Uganda. These experiences combined with others helped Cumming develop invaluable leadership skills.

"During my time at Centenary, I had many leadership opportunities," said Christine. "I lead Centenary Women United Bible Study for 3 year and served as treasurer and president of Sigma Alpha Iota. These opportunities helped me build my confidence and grow into a well-organized, strong person, who is not afraid to take on challenges. Living and teaching in Tanzania is quite the challenge but totally worth it!"

Asked what called her to return to Tanzania, Christine answered:

"It is kind of a culmination of the whole experience. There are many days at the school where I just know that I'm doing what I need to be doing. When I am walking around—even though I stand out like a sore thumb—I just get this feeling inside that I belong here."

Christine is maintaining a blog, Tanzania Adventure in Missions, detailing her current work. She also continues to raise funds to cover the costs of her mission work. To give, visit Global Ministries.