Little Gidding Group PicFDSC00574all 2017 marks the 20th “England Term” study abroad semester, a signature program of the Bethel University (MN) English Department. Initiated in 1979 by Daniel Taylor, England Term has been conducted by eight faculty members over the years. Our trips have seen one birth (Nate Taylor, 1979), one attempted elopement (unsuccessful), and at least one romance leading to marriage. The blog site is the product of the students on this 20th trip, which began on August 20. Find their work by clicking on the categories listed on our home page. We hope you’ll follow us.

Pictured above are our 18 students on a visit to Little Gidding, the site that inspired T.S. Eliot’s poem of that name.  My wife, Judie, and I have led four previous trips. In 1991, our students were using audio cassettes; the 2000 group had switched to CDs; by 2009 our students had iPods, and in 2015 our group used their phones for social media. As technology has changed, so have the challenges for institutions like Bethel, that seek to form young people of faith. England Term enables us to address these challenges in unique ways. Judie and I do these trips because they provide the best teaching environment imaginable: we read Wordsworth in the Lake District and Eliot at Little Gidding; we encounter people of faith both ancient (St. Aidan of Lindisfarne) and modern (Arab Christians in London); we get theatre instruction from aspiring London actors and see Shakespeare at the Globe.

But above all, England Term is about relationships — with texts that come alive in their authors’ settings, with other students who become friends, and with God, who reveals himself in ways that are challenging and comforting.

We hope you will follow us as we reflect on the literature, faith, history, and the cultural elements we encounter until our return on December 5. It’s the goal of this blog, written and edited by students, to serve the wider Bethel community and thereby the larger communities of which we are a part.

Daniel Ritchie
Professor of English