By Luverta Reames
Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, India, Nepal, Ukraine and Romania: Samantha Allen has been to them all.
Allen, resident director (RD) of McClain Hall, just completed the World Race – an 11-month, 11-country mission trip.
Allen began her new position Aug. 1, only 24 hours after she got back to the United States.
“Sunday morning, I said goodbye to my closest 33 friends, my fellow participants in the World Race, and Monday morning I was here sitting in a meeting,” she said.
The World Race partners with a different ministry or organization each month.
The group’s purpose is to help the ministry in each country in whatever way they can.
In the Philippines, Allen and her team worked at a dumpsite church, which is a church located in a landfill area, and with a nearby school.
“The streets were covered in sewage so that the children weren’t able to get to school,” Allen said. “The team shoveled the sewage into hundreds of trash bags.”
In Nepal, Allen met an 11-year old girl name Sara who she said broke her heart.
“Sara was an orphan full of life, spunk and energy. She was very mature for her age,” Allen said. “All the other kids looked up to her. She had to be stronger for the 10 younger kids and she didn’t have much of a childhood.”
Allen said the World Race taught her how to deal with people and become more flexible and open for change.
“Fundamentally, my relationship with the Lord is stronger [after the race],” she said. “It’s more of a desperate authenticity. No more saying He’s the center of my life. He really is.”
Now Allen is working on transitioning to her new life as a first-year RD at Olivet.
“I haven’t had a lot of time to process the past 11 months,” she said. “I saw a paralyzed woman get up and walk. A lot has happened within me.”
Allen went through a unique application process for her new job. She did her interview over Skype while in Uganda, and she was hired in less than a week.
Allen credits her previous RDs and her freshman resident assistant (RA) with her decision to apply for the position.
“I know how impactful a Res Life staffer can be. I had three awesome RDs who poured into me and one great RA who encouraged me to apply for the RA position [while I was still a student],” she said.
Mary Margaret Reed, former RD of McClain Hall and affectionately known as MMR, was one who encouraged Allen to apply.
Allen is excited about her new position and wants to add a new flavor to the building and continue the legacy MMR started.
“For me personally, I want to get involved in [students’] lives whether [that means] attending soccer games or orchestra concerts. I’m interested in the girls,” she said.
Sophomore Caitie McCormack said she is impressed by Allen.
“You can tell she really wants to be in the resident’s life,” she said. “My old RD wasn’t like that.”
Allen has already spent hours in prayer for the girls and the RAs in her building.
Through her experiences around the world and at home in Bourbonnais, Allen has learned to always put her trust in God.
“I know God is good,” she said. “Even in the worst of times, I’ve seen too much to not believe God is good. That’s kind of what I rest upon.”