Meet Sarah Van Jonesmith. She’s a new student at Dordt College this semester and just about as international as international students come. Although Van Jonesmith may not look like your typical international student (her skin is pale white and her accent is a normal Midwest-sounding one), she is still an outlier for many reasons.
First, Van Jonesmith is only about 5’2’’, so she stands as tall as most Dordt students’ third grade siblings. Her physical features also stand out in a Dordt crowd because she lacks the long, straight blonde locks and sparkling, vibrant blue eyes the majority of the good Dutch Dordt girls boast.
Van Jonesmith’s second international claim is her lack of Dutch heritage. Although Van Jonesmith’s last name may sound Dutch, she admitted changing her last name upon coming to Dordt. “My last name is actually only Jonesmith,” Van Jonesmith shared. “I added the Van so that I wouldn’t seem so foreign to the students on campus, but I’m not even Dutch. My dad moved to America from Great Britain to attend Yale, met my mom—a dark-haired German—there, and never returned to Europe. Van Jonesmith’s parents’ alma mater also qualifies her in yet another category of international students.
The final characteristic of Van Jonesmith which makes her international is causing quite a stir. Before attending Dordt, Van Jonesmith had never attended a Reformed church. Her theological and denominational background is even more severe: Van Jonesmith had never heard of the Reformed faith before beginning the college search and stumbling across Dordt. Calvin and Kuyper were just as foreign to Van Jonesmith as Van Jonesmith is to Dordt.
Fortunately, despite the cultural barriers Van Jonesmith has had to face within her first semester at Dordt, she has enjoyed the experience. “I have learned so many new things and met so many new people,” Van Jonesmith said. “I cannot imagine a more cross-cultural experience than coming to Dordt as a brown-haired, dark-eyed, English and German non-denominational Christian. This has truly been a blessing.”
Kristin Janssen, Staff Writer