Allwein Scholar Travels to Bosnia on Mission Service Trip
Nicole Flohr ’21 is one of very few students to be granted Lebanon Valley College’s most prestigious scholarship. The John Bowman Allwein Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship with an annual stipend that students use for research, internships, study abroad costs, or anything that benefits their undergraduate experience.
An accomplished student and athlete, Flohr was president and salutatorian of her high school in Greene, N.Y., where she also was president of their National Honor Society chapter. At LVC, she plans to compete on the Dutchmen’s swimming team. She also plans to be involved in service, even getting started before her first day of class.
Flohr was able to use her first-year Allwein stipend to cover the costs of a dream experience—a mission trip to Bosnia with her church. This past summer, she spent 10 days in Gradacac, Bosnia, building a new home for a family in need. As a global studies and politics double major, this trip was a huge opportunity for Flohr to travel and experience life outside the United States. “My pastor stressed the importance of going with the flow before the trip, and being open to new experiences, people, and customs,” she said.
With no prior experience in the country, Flohr was warmed by the generosity and welcoming attitude of the Bosnian people. They displayed hospitality to the mission workers by insisting on providing them with gifts of clothing, jewelry, and handmade doilies, as well as feeding the workers every day while at the worksite.
Families that her church had previously built homes for visited the workers every day. Flohr said, “We had come to give them a safer home, but they gave us so much more in return.”
Highlights of the trip included being immersed in the community of Gradacac, from learning how to prepare traditional dishes with the families, to spending an afternoon at a lake hosted by the owner of a scuba club. Flohr was able to spend quality time with the children and adults of these families outside of working on the house by playing with them and learning Bosnian words. This was enough to form unforgettable bonds for her and the families.
Flohr says that her trip to Bosnia solidified her confidence in her passion for her major. “One of my majors, global studies, requires students to study abroad, so I am excited to take another international trip to a Spanish-speaking country next time, since the language is another of my interests,” she said. “Serving in Bosnia made me realize I can have a great experience in a country, despite not having mastered their native language.”
So what’s next after LVC? Flohr hopes to work for an international organization or for the government, though her recent exploration into international travel and service could provide new pathways.