“Home, Wherever I am” by Neslie Cavaro
“Congratulations! You have been selected by CSU International Programs to participate in the Architecture & Design program at the Denmark Institute of Study Abroad (DIS) for the 2016-17 Academic Year.” I just got home from choir practice when I read the email. Not even inside the house yet, I started receiving messages from friends and classmates asking which program I got accepted to. Besides our graduation, 4th year was the most anticipated time of our architectural education at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. As a part of our 5-year program, architecture students study abroad during this year whether it’s in-state in Los Angeles or out of the country in Florence, for a quarter or a whole year, with a group of other Cal Poly architecture students or by yourself. We all had to go through an application process, and the first thing I made sure of while choosing a program was that there was going to be a local congregation. The Copenhagen program was my first choice because I wanted to live in a different country for a whole year in order to fully immerse myself in the experience.
View of the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary.
It’s also great for architects because even though it’s a small historical city, it has a lot of emerging contemporary architecture. Professors always say, “Architecture is best learned by experiencing it.” While that is one reason I enjoy my major, before coming to college, I was interested in architecture because I always thought of one day being able to help the Church in its spread and growth all over the world through its beautiful houses of worship.
The performers and production crew during the INConcert held at Norway.
Along with God’s love and kindness, it’s also because of my parents’ love and support that I was able to study abroad. Even as a young child, they were always encouraging of what was best for my education, even if it meant that their oldest child, out of two, was going to be far away from them. From 2 hours away by car to 12 hours by plane, studying abroad was not only the farthest but it was also the longest I’ve been away from home. Back in Cal Poly, I could easily drive home for the weekend on the few occasions I don’t have much work to do. But even with Facetime or Viber, technology couldn’t help the 9-hour time difference. Combined with their love and support, it was also their spiritual guidance that reminded me to always put my duties first. My parents’ advice to me before I left for Copenhagen was to always pray. If ever I felt lonely, homesick, or stressed from school work, they told me to make sure to always call unto the Father for His help and guidance.
Neslie in front of the Copenhagen House of Worship after the 2017 Holy Supper.
My dad flew with me to Copenhagen and stayed with me for a week to make sure I was settled in. My parents wanted to make sure that I knew my way to the chapel –to God’s House –and reminded me that even though I was away from home, I’m never truly away from home.
With cousin Shalina Kroll, attending the pastoral visit and ordination led by Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo at the Local Congregation of Rome, Italy.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to study abroad because it not only helped me in my education and in my personal growth, but it helped me in my faith. During my year in Denmark, I was registered in the Local Congregation of Copenhagen in the District of Northern Europe. I was able to continue my duties as a choir member and a bureau member for INC Media. Although the congregations are spread out in different countries, it was easy to drive, take the train, or fly in between cities to gather for district activities.
During the Choir Gathering in the Local Congregation of Bonn, Germany, Neslie was able to meet up with her aunt, Imelda Padillon Mariano, from the Local Congregation of Paris.
With my duties and public transportation, I was given the chance to meet brethren from other countries. Coming from the small Local Congregation of Lemoore in the Ecclesiastical District of Northeastern California, it was a blessing to build friendships with brethren from the opposite side of the world who share the same faith, though we may not have shared the same language. In traveling, I saw the unity and love of the brotherhood through their hospitality and willingness to care for and help brethren especially those visiting their home country. As an architecture student, it was amazing to see the houses of worship all over Europe. The Iglesia Ni Cristo IS a global church and it’s not only evident in the brethren and in the language, but also in the architecture. Here, in the United States there are worship buildings in rural or suburban areas and in Europe there are also worship buildings in dense cities where old buildings have been adapted into houses of worship.
The Local of Bonn, Germany’s House of Worship.
There are many reasons and benefits for studying abroad. As a student, I learned about designing for people in the urban context and about spatial experience and materiality. As a person, I learned to be more self-confident and to better appreciate different cultures. As a member of the Church of Christ, I learned what it means to maintain the love of the brotherhood and strong faith. Wherever you may be in the world, you’ll always have your family in the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
Neslie with new friends, after the INConcert held in Norway: (Left to right) Lorraine Tuazon, Rachelle Tuazon, and Charlotte Parayaoan.
Neslie Cavero is a 5th year architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Choir Member in the Local Congregation of Santa Maria.