Caitlin ‘America’ Culleny, 2007

Dear Whitley,

I am so grateful to have had the study abroad experience that changed my life forever. Even a short semester had such a huge impact on my life. Lifetime friendships were made, and even living half-way across the world hasn’t squashed them! Facebook was really just getting started when I arrived, and it has kept me in touch ever since. Email, while almost old fashioned, has allowed me to keep up on the goings on of other Whitley world travellers. Air travel has made it possible for me to see other Whitleans, and given me the opportunity to share life on this side with them. Phone calls- there isn’t a distance much longer than NJ to Melbourne, but a long distance call is not too difficult once you get time zones figured out. Finally, snail mail. It gets the job done. All of these things have really made the term “lifelong friendship” a reality. Memories from that time of my life, and relationships that were made, are the greatest souvenirs I could have taken back with me. Thank you, Whitley, that 10 years later I can still look back and say, “I had the time of my life.”

What surprised you most about Whitley?

The unity and pride.  There was something special about being a part of Whitley. There was a sense of belonging. I also felt accepted and respected for my faith there, even while others didn’t hold to the same faith. How beautiful it was to see Whitleans attending fellow Whitlean’s baptisms, because they were family. As a 21 year old kid on the other side of the world, I would have felt lost in any other college. Whitley was supportive. Whitley was warm and welcoming. Whitley was family, from students to staff.

Tell us about your most epic Whitley adventure/anecdote

There are too many to name, with just O-week alone. I remember not loving O-week until it was over. Then I loved the way it brought us together. I can’t ever hear our fresher song “Footloose”, even after a decade, without immediately flashing back to dancing around the city streets of Melbourne, me an introvert forced into extroversion- and it was awesome.

Tell us about how Whitley has helped guide your life and career…

The study abroad experience helped give me the confidence I needed to work in missions and allowed me the opportunity to continue to stretch my limits as I served in Puerto Rico.

Glo also helped me to learn to walk out my newly found faith as I was away from my familiar surroundings.

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