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Principia College offers students of Christian Science a unique one-year enrichment program that rather than offering a degree, as is the case in other similar college programs, focuses on character development and exposure to a new culture. Most participants are international students.
Malvin Janesch is a one-year enrichment student from Germany. “I was going take a year off after high school anyway, but getting international experience really looks really good on your resume,” Janesch said of his coming to Principia. “And more importantly, it makes you better and it helps you think differently.”
Janesch attended Principia Upper School for his junior year, according to the American system. In Germany, he would have been a sophomore. But Janesch returned to Germany for the remainder of his high school. He plans to return to Germany again after this year “because they don’t have international business administration here at Prin, and it’s better to get an education in Germany if you want to work in Germany.”
This year as an enrichment student, Janesch has found, “It’s fun, I have no pressure, I don’t have to get the best grades, but people want to know about me, and they actually care.” He advised everyone to have an international experience because, as he put it, “ at some point you’ll have to interact with people from different places and different cultures. It’s better to start caring now.”
The enrichment program at Principia is also geared toward serving those who have already graduated from college, but feel that a return to campus would be beneficial for their education and their study of Christian Science.
Joseph Ngei, affectionately known as “Mesh,” is an enrichment student from Kenya. He received his undergraduate degree in peacebuilding from Africa Nazarene University in Kenya prior to coming to Principia, and has already been accepted to a graduate school program at the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Pennsylvania. Prior to attending EMU, “I wanted to get international exposure at the academic level, as well a global perspective of what peacebuilding is all about, before I pursue my master’s,” Ngei said.
Ngei has dedicated his life to helping promote peace. Much of what has influenced him to pursue a career in peace building has been his experiences in Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa, which is also Ngei’s beloved community. He has served as a leader in Kibera for years and been instrumental in helping people better themselves.
Ngei has travelled around Africa, South Korea, and other parts of the world to learn more about his chosen career. Principia is a new adventure for him. “Everyone that I have encountered is very loving and caring, making it easy to bond and share C.S., which makes it more than a family.” When asked if he would recommend the program, he said, “I would encourage people to do the enrichment program. … I am always tempted to change my enrichment to a four-year program. You cannot have enough of Prin in one year.”
Spencer Binonga came to Principia from the Philippines. “I haven’t been to school for about 15 years, and I felt that going to school again would be great,” he said. “I love to explore new things in life, and so I thought of applying to Principia. We really came to know about the college when Marina [Byquist, international student coordinator,] came to the Philippines in 2011.”
“I worked in Saudi Arabia for more than two years, then went back to my country and had my own water refilling business for five years until May this year,” he continued. Though it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with English and work through some culture shock, Binonga said, “Even if it’s just a one-year experience, the impact to oneself can be great because of the uniqueness of the school. The opportunity to practice Christian Science and work for its cause is also great.”