Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Student dances for love in PRIME experience

Joy Hersey

"I believe that ballet helps girls develop etiquette, poise, and helps girls feel more feminine and learn respect of authority. ... It was also an avenue for me to love them."

A history of ballet helped bring the gospel and English-speaking skills to the girls in one of the world's youngest countries.

Joy Hersey, a missions major and TESOL student, traveled to Kosovo for her PRIME experience to teach English to the Muslim girls in the capital city of Pristina. Leaning on her own experience as a dancer, Hersey was able to use her ballet skills, which she has been practicing since she was in elementary school, to teach her students dance — all while showing them the love of Christ. All of Hersey's classes were taught out of a small community center.

"I need to teach English, and I want to work with children,” she said. “My options came down to Kazakhstan and Kosovo. I had to Google where it (Kosovo) was."

Hersey was planning to go somewhere else entirely, but two months before she would leave for her PRIME trip, God moved her to Kosovo. A far change from the Africa trip she had planned prior.

PRIME is an internship experience designed by the ministry and missions department at Huntington University. The PRIME (Practical Research and Immersion for Ministry Effectiveness) program prepares students to enter the field of ministry after graduation. Students choose a location of their choice during the months of May through December after the student’s junior year. These students are then mentored by experienced ministry leaders.

In Kosovo, children younger than 16 cannot be taught the gospel without parental consent. The ballet classes opened the door for a ministry that built the relationships needed to get the consent to hand out Bibles to her students.

Fort Wayne Ballet, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based dance company, donated 50 leotards, 40 pairs of shoes, skirts and ballet posters to Hersey's class. This allowed for the class to hold a recital at the end of her PRIME experience. Hersey had danced for Fort Wayne Ballet in the past.

"I believe that ballet helps girls develop etiquette, poise, and helps girls feel more feminine and learn respect of authority. ... It was also an avenue for me to love them," Hersey said. "It gave me a chance to talk to the girls about how beauty is inward."