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Taylor student prepares to move abroad after graduation

Claire Heyen serves with One Collective

Ethan Rice | Echo

As the end of the school year draws near, the class of 2019 is preparing for their next steps in life, and for one senior, that next step will take her to the other side of the globe.

In early 2020, public health major Claire Heyen will be traveling to Central Asia to serve with One Collective, a worldwide Christian nonprofit focused on community development and transformation. It is a journey she never could have predicted choosing, but one that began taking root years ago.

During the J-term of her sophomore year, Heyen traveled with a group from her father’s school to Jordan and Israel. After going on many international trips, this was the first Heyen felt an emotional connection to the culture.

“I had never missed a place so much,” Heyen said.

This was the beginning of feeling a newfound passion placed in her heart for ministering to Muslims in the Middle East. Soon after, she was traveling abroad once again, this time with the Taylor Sounds to Athens, Greece. On this trip, she served alongside fellow students in a refugee camp, getting to talk to the people in the camp and learn their stories. Her experiences there further convicted her of God calling her toward these communities.

Senior Claire Heyen is looking forward to living in Central Asia.

Senior Claire Heyen is looking forward to living in Central Asia.

Heyen, needing to complete a summer practicum, began to search the internet for opportunities to work within her major for a group in line with her new goals. It was through many hours of Google searches that she was connected to One Collective. Soon she was on her way back to the refugee camps in Greece to intern over the summer of 2018.

At the end of the summer, the organization first broached the possibility of a future position, but Heyen was reluctant to pursue it. She would have to raise her own funds to support herself while overseas, a financial hurdle which made her uncertain.

“I feel really uncomfortable support raising,” Heyen said.

Wanting to avoid this, she began looking into other organizations, such as the Peace Corps. Since it provided a stipend, it would not require the same fund raising activity.

As time passed, the One Collective position remained in the back of her mind. She recalled at one point her family stopping at a restaurant which served food from the region she would be placed in. At last, she submitted her application and was accepted.

“It’s my dream and here it is right in front of me,” Heyen said. “Money is such a small thing to God, it shouldn’t be the reason for the decision. That’s putting God in a box.”

She is now preparing to begin fundraising as she looks ahead to making the move to Central Asia at the beginning of the coming year.

Heyen will be working as a Women’s Health Coordinator in the communities One Collective is working with in the region, focusing on providing clean water to people living in rural areas. In this role, she will be visiting homes and working with locals to educate women on sanitation and hygiene when dealing with water.

The journey to arriving at this moment is one that Heyen believes has taught her a valuable lesson in relying on God’s faithfulness and overcoming her fear of not knowing what to do with life.

“I see how God orchestrated all of this,” Heyen said. “When I tried to make my own plans, that is when I was most stressed. When I release control, that’s when things start to happen.”

Anyone interested in supporting her fundraising can contact her at claire_heyen@taylor.edu.

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