The Avodah Program
Avodah is a Hebrew word meaning work, worship, and service.
In order to equip students to effectively engage the diverse local and global community, Providence sponsors Avodah Experiences. Avodah is a Hebrew term rooted in the biblical framework that all of life should be lived as a spiritual act of worship for God’s glory in light of His delivering us from our bondage to sin (Deut. 10; Romans 12:1,2). Because our perspective on work and worship acknowledges Christ’s Lordship over all creation (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 1:15-20) the college offers a broad spectrum of Avodah Experiences.
Avodah Experiences emphasize a holistic view of education giving practical application of theoretical teaching in the classroom through day trips and extended cross cultural immersion experiences. The purpose of the program is to understand kingdom service and culture — including the people, worldviews, artifacts, traditions and languages. The Avodah Program is built on the program learning outcomes that guide the academic curriculum at Providence.
Los Angeles Opera: Il turco en Italia (The Turk in Italy)
This Italian, comedic opera was written by Gioachino Rossini in 1814. The story centers on a Turkish slave girl who moves to Italy after being rejected by her master. A variety of relationships/desires ensue with a comedy of errors in each of the relationships. The opera exposed students to fabulous, talented vocalists as well as classical opera.
Study of Scientology
Scientology is one of the most famous, least understood religions in the U.S. While held to devoutly by people like Tom Cruise, it is also feverishly made fun of by media/the broader culture. This excursion sought to understand the religion by visiting Scientologists in Pasadena and Hollywood. We focused on a variety of resources, both academic and cultural, to better understand the religion and worldview.
LA Philharmonic (directed by John Williams) and “Music of the Movies” at the Hollywood Bowl
This event brought together four unbelievable musical elements: the LA Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl, John Williams, and the great music of movies. This was perfect for our students who love orchestral music, but was also a great experience for everyone who recognized the impact of music on movies.
The Getty Center/J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. With beautiful gardens and architecture, this serene setting is sure to please any person who loves art and will create, at minimum, an appreciation of art for those unfamiliar with this sort of experience.
Study of Journalism in Los Angeles
Newspaper and radio journalism has changed drastically since the invention of the internet. This excursion focused on these types of journalism through visits to the Los Angeles Times and the local NPR station, KPCC. Students will be challenged in their thinking about how information is synthesized and delivered as well as the economic difficulties journalists face in contemporary society.
Study of the Port of Los Angeles
Each person consumes a variety of goods each day of their lives. In our global economy, where do those goods originate? What’s the process they go through before they arrive in homes, business, and communities? This excursion focused on the flow of goods into Southern California through the LA Port including the physical plant, the computer tracking systems, and security issues. The Los Angeles Port is the busiest port in the United States and one of the busiest in the world.
Study of Fashion in Los Angeles
Human beings express themselves in a variety of ways. Many times this is most evident in cultural goods and artifacts. But, what do those cultural goods say about our culture? This Avodah excursion focused on the fashion industry, analyzing clothing production, styles/design, and the language of fashion, especially in marketing clothing. Students will also explore how Christians should be involved in this area of culture and society. Is there a Christian perspective on fashion/clothing? The trip included a trip to the Fashion District in Los Angeles, a lecture from a student currently studying fashion at Fuller Seminary, a visit to a marketing firm, and other meetings.
Study of Water
Water is one of the most precious resources in California. Southern California owes much of its success and growth to the reclamation of water from other parts of the state and nation. This excursion focused on the contradictory, complicated, and totally fascinating history of water in California. It also included a trip to Pasadena’s Monk Hill Water Treatment Plant.
Recurring Avodah Excursions
Mexico Cross Cultural Study
Mexico has a rich culture and history. Unfortunately, because of the threat of tourist traps, many people don’t ever visit the country. This excursion will push students to think critically about the Mexican culture as well as ministry in this context through personal interactions with the Mexican people as well as missionaries and pastors on the ground there. Students will focus on how to communicate well in a cross-cultural context. Students have the opportunity to attend church services while in Mexico. This Mexico trip is led by a native Tijuanan. Providence students visit many sites around Tijuana, including an art museum, local neighborhoods, Avenida Revolucion.
Tour of California’s Natural Beauty
This excursion is required of all students enrolled in Earth Science. Students travel for four days throughout much of the state of California, taking in some of the greatest natural beauty known to humankind. Led by Dr. Larry McHargue, students see a variety of landforms such as volcanoes, mountain ranges, lakes, and earthquake fault lines, which directly correlated to the content of the Earth Science course.
Study of Skid Row
Skid Row was created in the late 19th/early 20th Century as a place for the homeless and desitute. Known for its crime, violence, and drug use, this area has been a source of problems for the city of Los Angeles for 100 years. The area is populated not only by the homeless, but many of the city’s missions which focus on helping the people. This excursion focuses on this geographic area making an effort to understand the dynamics that create the Skid Row culture, reviewing the historical, economic, and social issues present here. Through various constituencies present there, we seek to understand: leadership of the missions, people living there, politicians, and police. Time is also dedicated to service on Skid Row as well, probably through a local mission agency.
Musical in Hollywood at the Pantages
The Pantages Theater hosts classics of musical theater. This excursion is offered on a recurring basis.
Japanese Culture Study
Have you ever been to Little Tokyo? Do you enjoy sushi (or you would at least like to try it)? What do you know about Japanese customs? This Avodah is for students interested in the Japanese culture. The group travels through Little Tokyo, attending the Japanese American Museum, and eating Japanese food. Students interact with Japanese people to discuss their customs and culture.
Mt. Wilson Observatory: “A View of the Universe”
The Mt. Wilson Observatory, long recognized as a leader in astronomical research, has the world’s largest telescope open for public use. This evening astronomy session (from sunset to 1:00 AM) includes a fascinating guided tour of the universe—up close!
Jewish Awareness Weekend
Los Angeles has a vibrant and influential Jewish population, and this experience provides students with an up close view of this culture. They examine the religion, history, and food of the Jewish people. By looking at various aspects of Jewish culture, students have a great opportunity to see the distinctive features of their lives and faith. We know the history of the Jewish people found in the Bible, but what do they believe today? How is Judaism similar and different from Christianity? How should we communicate with members of the Jewish culture? This Avodah provides answers to these questions while building a strong foundation for a richer understanding of the Bible.
Practically, this program is implemented in two phases: Avodah Excursions and Avodah Immersions. Avodah Excursions are day trip excursions into the Southern California culture. They are foundational learning experiences for this unique program and provide students with a taste of the diverse community in which we are placed. The second phase builds upon that foundation by granting juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in extended cross-cultural immersion experiences of 1-3 weeks. These trips occur primarily during summer term, but may also take place during the academic year.
All traditional students are required to complete three Avodah Experience credits as a part of their Core requirements. Each Avodah Excursion is worth ¼ academic credit; each Avodah Immersion is worth one academic credit. Students must participate in one Avodah Excursion per semester during their time at Providence (eight total); traditional students may participate in as many as two excursions per semester at no extra cost to them (16 total). Transfer students complete the requirement at a pro-rated level depending on the number of credits they transfer into Providence (contact the director of student life for more information). The Avodah Immersion may satisfy the college cross-cultural experience graduation requirement. (Please see the Cross-cultural Experience Policy for more information.) Avodah Excursions and Immersions will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Any combination of Avodah Excursions and Immersions can be used to meet the Core requirement of three Avodah Experience credits.
Expenses for the Avodah Excursions are considered part of the academic program of the college and thus have been included in tuition. Students may attend two Avodah excursions for each semester they attend Providence. Excursions beyond their limit may be attended on a space available basis; however, students will be charged a fee per additional experience to cover the expenses. The extended Avodah Immersion trips will be funded through a combination of tuition, student deposits, and individual student fundraising.