Campus Partner Conversation

Conversation with John Kelsey, director of Paradigm at Oklahoma University in Norman. John and his wife are longtime friends of FOCUS and have been active with the organization since its inception. John says they have “volunteered, mobilized and served with every aspect of FOCUS. Our students, staff and alumni participate in all aspects of the FOCUS/GBI program.”

Based on both your personal experience with FOCUS and your experience working with FOCUS through Paradigm, what attributes do you believe make a student an ideal GBI intern candidate?

An ideal candidate has a desire to naturally speak of the important things, is a person of tremendous character, has a love for people, takes initiative, and is committed to excellence in their area of study.

What do you believe are the attributes needed to be a global marketplace leader today?

Building on the ideal GBI intern candidate, global marketplace leaders also exhibit wisdom, courage and perseverance.

If you could pack character traits, what would you tell a GBI intern he/she needs to take to the field to be successful?

Integrity is crucial. Also, make room in your suitcase for purity, mercy, a strong work ethic and selflessness.

What would you say to the parent of a prospective GBI intern if he/she approached you with a concern for safety and logistics?

This is a question I often hear from parents. They love their children and are concerned about their welfare. Our media highlights the negative, so there is a current of fear about overseas and the unknown. My response is that our Father wants our obedience first and foremost. He wants us to put our “yes” on the table, and He will put it on the map—wherever that may be.

Based on your personal experience with FOCUS, what do you believe are the lifetime benefits for a student engaging with GBI?

A student engaging with GBI can be a game changer. That experience has the potential to radically redefine the trajectory of that student’s life. Career, marriage, relationships and ministry for the next 50 years could reflect the heartbeat of our Father in the life of a layperson!

What is the direct correlation, in your opinion, between a GBI internship and deepening emotional maturity, values and intellect?

After working with university students for the past few decades, I have seen a decline in their overall emotional quotient. GBI places students in cross-cultural environments where they are working and enhancing their professional and personal skill sets. This has the potential to propel the student far ahead of their peers in the depth of their values and emotionally due to their unique experiential learning opportunity.

Consider a student who has the tough stuff to be a GBI intern. Now imagine a top business professional asking you why he should consider your student over another student who hasn’t had GBI experience and training. What would you say?

I would say that honestly, it is no comparison. Character is forged through adversity. Students who have sacrificed to receive training, serve others, live cross-culturally, and impact the lives of others both professionally and personally are a premium in the marketplace. While many students drank their way through college, played video games, or adopted a cause to protest, GBI students found real solutions to real problems in our world today.