“Does Global Scholars Canada have an internship opportunity?” asked Estela of her professor at Redeemer University, Dr. Peter Schuurman.
“No, we don’t,” was his reply that day, but then he said, “But we may just start one.” An idea sparked and was presented at the next GSC staff meeting.
“What do you think?” asked Peter of the staff. Anna, the Communications Coordinator, was instantly excited. Harley, the Finance Administrator, was already calculating numbers and logistics. We three part-time remote workers gather weekly to pray, plan, and prioritize the needs of GSC and its scholars.
Estela Kasaba now officially brings her energy and passion to our mission, and we are elated that she took this initiative. Her story connects her in many ways with our international vision for missional education.
Refugees from the Congo
Estela Kasaba is the oldest of seven kids, and she was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her early childhood, however, was lived out in Kigoma, Tanzania due to the war that was going on in the DRC. She lived at a refugee camp with her mother, her two uncles, and her younger sister, Alice. Her father was working in a different country; therefore, it was not until she was about two or three years old that she met her dad. She remembers being very scared of him initially because she did not easily warm up to new people. However, as time went by, she grew to love him very much. Her time in Tanzania was a very happy time for her.
It wasn’t until April 2004 that her family moved to Sherbrooke, a city in Quebec, Canada. Her three years in Sherbrooke feels like a dream, for she only remembers bits and pieces of her time there. She had a very hard time learning French, learning to read and write, and how to be “Canadian.” Despite the difficult transition, she grew fluent in this new language, she enjoyed learning, and loved attending afterschool programs where she could do her homework and play with other children. She had a teacher, Madame Suzanne, who really believed in her, and often told her that she was gifted and especially bright. Because of those kind words, Estela felt very encouraged to study hard, and try to understand this country she now called home. As she began to fit in and make friends, her parents decided it was time to move yet again in 2007. They sold some of their belongings, packed their bags, loaded their car, and off they drove to Brooks, Alberta. Her parents enrolled her into a French School – École le Ruisseau. Grateful to speak French freely at school, she turned her efforts to learning English.
Pictured: My father and I, in front of Nidaros Cathedral during our stay in Trondheim, Norway. (2017)
Faith in Higher Education
In her last year of high school, Estela applied to public universities, learning only at the last minute that Christian universities existed in Canada. She eagerly started to apply at Redeemer University in Ontario but stopped halfway because she thought it was too late to enroll for the fall.
The next day, however, the school called her and told her she could apply for free, so she immediately finished her application and set off for camp, still not sure she would be accepted. Mysteriously, Estela received a call from her mother saying that she had a dream about Estela studying at Redeemer University. A few hours later, she looked at her email, and to her great surprise, she received her acceptance letter. It wasn’t until she got home from camp that it dawned on her that she only had three days to pack for Ontario!
Initially she had applied at Redeemer University to study psychology and theology, however, she changed her major to philosophy and minor to history. Estela’s first encounter with philosophy was reading L’Étranger by Albert Camus in French class. She fell in love with the way Camus wrote, the depth of his thoughts, and the confrontational tone of the protagonist Meursault. Camus’s philosophy was daring, real, and grappled with similar things that resonated with Estela’s heart. She realized that what Camus sought to understand was the human condition.
She came to see that philosophy opens up a pandora’s box of varying theories, ideologies, and beliefs about humanity, God, and the world we live in, and aims to make sense of it all. “Philosophy is the root of everything!” she says. “If it wasn’t for philosophy and the professors who diligently pushed me to think outside of the box, my faith wouldn’t be this firm, and my love for humanity, their ideas, and ideologies wouldn’t be this deep.”
Deconstructing and Reconstructing
“Philosophy has helped me make sense of the doubts I had about God and my faith,” she added. Estela grew up in a Christian home, went to church every Sunday, and participated in church activities. She knew she always loved Jesus; however, she struggled a lot with the believing part. She was never encouraged to ask deep questions, or even express her doubts about God, free will, sin, hell, angels, and everything under the sun. She knew that a Christian post-secondary school would teach her to articulate for herself who God is, and develop her own expression of faith.
Studying from a Christian perspective has allowed her to deconstruct her previous beliefs and rebuild her faith with a new foundation. She realized that one of the reasons the Lord sent her all the way to Ontario was to learn and grow firm in her faith in Jesus Christ. Now as a Redeemer University graduate, she aspires to vocation in the kingdom. “My life is not my own, but the Lord’s,” she says. ‘I want to live for him, make him known, and use my gifts as an (future) educator to teach all kinds of students around the world.”
She has now completed her B.A. in philosophy, and she is looking ahead to her Bachelor in Education studies at Redeemer this fall. She says of her studies at Redeemer: “Christian education has enabled me thus far to develop a Christian worldview. It has given me a fearless attitude towards learning about other religions and philosophies.”
This growth in understanding turns her heart towards service. She wrote on her application for internship: “To know the world and still love it is one of the greatest things I’ve learned in these past four years. This shaped my dream of wanting to be an educator so that my future students could come to know the world and chose to still love it. Knowing all its goodness and ugliness compels us to be active in the world as salt and light.”
As for her opportunity to intern with GSC, she says: “I want to partner with GSC scholars and learn how they live out their vocations. I want to participate behind the scenes by making events possible, and helping build connections. I also want to see whether this could be a possible vocational path for me.” Estela will be coached in the work of the GSC office and simultaneously mentored in the worldview for missional education that drives our scholars in their vocations. Please join us in welcoming Estela, as you will certainly see or hear from her in further communications. We are deeply thankful to God for prompting her to urge us to bring her on board our mission.