News November 2020 Perspective Online

GTE and the Pandemic

Despite the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Perkins students are encouraged to think ahead and consider registering for Global Theological Education Immersion programs in the second half of 2021 and beyond.

“At the moment, our risk assessment team at SMU is keeping in place restrictions on foreign travel until June 2021,” said Dr. Robert Hunt, director of Global Theological Education. “We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude as to what will happen, but we’re also encouraging students to register now, because these trips must be planned months in advance.”

Two immersions planned for early 2021 have been cancelled: the January 2021 Borderlands Immersion in McAllen, and the Spring Break 2021 Oklahoma Native American Culture Immersion. Even though both are within driving distance, it remains impossible to plan for safe group travel right now, Hunt said.

However, two international immersions are still tentatively planned for the Summer of 2021 — Memory, Religion and Politics in Israel/Palestine led by Dr. Susanne Scholz (June 2021) and the England/Wesley Immersion led by Dr. Ted Campbell (July 2021).  Registration for these Summer Term immersions closes January 30, 2021.

Two factors will ultimately determine whether the 2021 trips “make.”

“Will the countries be open to guests, including travelers from the U.S.?” said Hunt. “And will Perkins students and other participants be ready to travel again by then?”

The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine will also affect the timing.

Immersion trips scheduled for 2022 include two January Term programs: the Palestine/Israel Immersion, led by Hunt, and the Homeless Immersion in Waco led by Dr. Hugo Magallanes. A Spring Break 2022 to El Salvador led by Dr. Hal Recinos is also slated, as is a Summer Term 2022 trip to Asia and the Philippines led by Hunt.

Looking further ahead, to 2023, two January Term trips are planned: the Palestine/Israel Immersion (leader to be announced) and the Zimbabwe or Kenya Immersion led by Hunt. For Spring Break 2023, the El Salvador Immersion led by Recinos is also still on tap.

“Our students are enthusiastic; they want to go on these immersion trips,” said Hunt. “We don’t know for sure that they are feasible, but we still need to plan ahead.”

GTE Registration forms are available upon request to the director: Travel Stipends are available on the basis of need and availability of funds. Complete information is found on the GTE Registration Form. Students must have a valid passport to attend an immersion outside of the U.S.  For more information, visit or contact the Global Theological Education office at