From China to Canada
Cecilia Zhang (‘14) grew up in China. Like many Chinese, she was taught there was no God. On top of that, her understanding of Christians was that they were quite arrogant. These reasons alone should have been enough to keep her away from Trinity Western. But God had other plans.
Zhang had always wanted to study abroad, so the idea of attending a university in Canada appealed to her. When an agent suggested Trinity Western’s BA in Leadership program, Zhang paused to consider. The program sounded interesting to her, and because she already had a degree from China, she knew she could transfer credits. Her family supported this idea because it was a Christian school, believing it would be safer.
Deciding to give it a try, Zhang enrolled in September, 2013.
A Different Kind of Life
Because she was an international student, she knew nobody at Trinity Western and felt quite lonely. But very quickly, she found herself captivated by the culture of the University.
“After I came here, I totally changed my mind about Christians,” says Zhang, who was blown away by the kindness she encountered on campus. “I was shocked by the environment. Everyone was so caring and willing to help.”
In the beginning, Zhang found conversations about Christianity quite awkward. But several professors challenged the way she engaged with the topic, and she desired to learn more.
“I took a class with Calvin Townsend that really woke me up to realizing I had a soul, and that I should care for it,” says Zhang. She was also challenged in a religious studies course by Joanne Pepper. “She gave me an assignment to interview Christians and ask them why they’re believers. With that experience, I found Christian’s lifestyles were so different. I remember thinking, if I want to be a group of people, I want to be this group.”
Chapel was another big part of her journey. Not having experienced anything like it before, Zhang found herself drawn to the people singing and worshipping God. She also found herself captivated by the guest speakers, and would often go back to her room to listen to the sermon online over and over in order to better understand what she’d heard.
After two years of asking questions of classmates and professors, Zhang converted to Christianity
Life After Trinity Western
Zhang says that her life now is completely different. “I’m more joyful and peaceful. I’m not so worried about stuff anymore. I just try to know God better and serve Him.”
The community she found at Trinity Western made a lasting impact and drastically changed the course of her life. Now, Zhang serves on the Alumni Association board, as a way to give back to the place she loves so much.
“I find the same experience in the alumni community,” Zhang says. “Everyone has a big heart to help.”
Another reason Zhang wanted to be on the board is that she hopes to be a representative for international students and alumni. “The community may be able to offer them extra help with their language, career, and their local experience.”
Knowing it was the testimony of other Christians that ultimately paved the way for her to find Christ, Zhang hopes to encourage others in the international community to get connected and to have a similar experience. “There are so many good opportunities,” says Zhang. “As alumni, we can connect and serve God. If we connect together, we can thrive together.”