Encounter Scheme FAQs
On page you will find Frequently Asked Questions about the Encounter Scheme. Please read through this page carefully, and if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Encounter Coordinator. When you are ready to apply head over to the Application Information page for Key Dates and Deadlines, the Application Form, Information on References and, Tips on filling in your Application.
Am I eligible to apply?
Please see the Encounter homepage for our full criteria. Our main requirements are that:
- You are between the ages of 18 and 40, or a mature student;
- You have a Cambridge connection;
- You are going on a placement of at least four weeks;
- Your placement will be with an active Christian community in a culture other than your own, with a named contact who will be hosting/supervising your placement.
Conditions for receipt of the bursary itself are:
- Attendance at an Induction Day pre-placement, and a Debrief Day on your return;
- Submission of a 2000 word reflective report on your experiences.
What counts as a Cambridge connection?
We interpret this very broadly. You could have grown up in Cambridge, attend a church in or around Cambridge, or be a student or graduate of one of Cambridge’s universities. If you’re not sure, contact the Encounter Coordinator to discuss your situation.
I’m not a Christian. Can I still apply?
Yes. We ask that applicants be open and willing to spend time in a Christian community in another context but recipients themselves need not identify as Christian. You will have to fill out the same application form as everyone else, which does ask questions about Christian mission. But there have been successful applications in the past from people who do not identify as Christian. Indeed, some of these recipients found that spending time with Christians in other parts of the world opens up new ways of looking at the church in Britain.
How much are the bursaries for?
The maximum amount for a bursary is £1000, though the average award is generally smaller than this. In general, we would expect our bursary to cover no more than two-thirds the total cost of your trip. We set this limit for two reasons. Firstly, we want to be able to fund as many meaningful bursaries as possible. Secondly, we think it’s important that you have a wide range of supporters who will be interested in your travel and looking forward to hearing about it when you come home. If you need help thinking about how to raise the additional money, contact our Encounter Coordinator who can give you some pointers.
Where can I go and What can I do?
Pretty much anywhere to do anything! The key criterion is that you spend time with a Christian community in a culture other than your own. For many people, that means travelling to another country, but there are many diverse cultures in the United Kingdom as well.
Participants are expected to engage in some form of mission during their placement (service, environmental protection, social development, justice and peace…). Do read our ‘What is Mission‘ page and use the Five Marks of Mission to help you reflect on what you feel called to do on placement.
Many of our bursary recipients link their placement to their occupation. The Encounter scheme allows you to experience your vocation in a completely different culture, which can be incredibly formative when you return home. For instance, we have funded ordinands travelling abroad to experience the global church, medics working in Christian hospitals, teachers helping at a school in another culture, and a lawyer working with an international Christian law charity.
I'm interested in creation care. Can I apply for a grant?
Absolutely, that’s great news! Care for the environment is not an optional extra for a few concerned Christians on the fringes of the church; it is an integral part of our mission as God’s people.
Applications are welcome for part-funding from individuals who have already been accepted to work in one of A Rocha’s field study centres outside of the UK (Canada, France, Kenya or Portugal). CCCW will be offering 2 grants for placements with A Rocha.
I’m interested, but I have no idea how to begin or where to go. Can you help me?
Absolutely! While some applicants come to us with a well formed idea in mind, many others have an interest in cross-cultural immersion but no idea where to begin. The Encounter Coordinator can draw on the Centre’s large network of contacts around the world to provide some options to get you thinking.
To begin with, you may want to think about these questions:
- Your skills and interests. What can you offer and what skills would you like the opportunity to develop? (Music, sports, English, a passion for justice or the environment, working with children or young people, medical skills, teaching skills…)
- Are you willing to be challenged in aspects of your faith and culture?
- When others do things differently to what you expect, are you able to remain open and non-judgmental?
- Do you speak another language?
- Is there a part of the world you are particularly interested in learning more about?
Placements can often be established through church or personal links, or through mission organisations, with people who already know the environment you are planning to visit.
I don’t have four weeks to travel. Can I go for a shorter trip?
In addition to being transformative and energizing, cross-cultural encounter can also be bewildering and confusing. In our experience, very short experiences do not provide opportunities for the kind of learning and growth that we hope to see in our recipients. As a result, we stick pretty close to four weeks as a minimum. If you have an idea but are having a hard time seeing how it can meet the four week limit, contact our Encounter Coordinator who might be able to help you plan your trip.
Can I go with a friend or in a group?
We prefer you to travel alone, ideally, in order to experience immersion in a context where you are dependent on the hospitality of other Christians, away from the comfort zone of your friends, or even your own language. Do confirm your personal circumstances with the Encounter Coordinator, however.
What is the role of the placement supervisor?
Your supervisor will act as a mentor and point of contact during your placement. You should both be prepared to meet regularly, and it will give you the opportunity to discuss your experiences, ask questions and raise any concerns. Even though you are likely travelling as an individual, you will not be completely with pastoral and practical support.
I received an Encounter bursary already. Can I apply again?
In general, individuals are only ever granted one bursary. But if you think your situation is exceptional, contact the Encounter Coordinator.
What will I be expected to write for the Post-Placement Report?
Your 2000-word report should include:
- A description and analysis of the context you were in;
- An evaluation of your intercultural experience;
- Reflection on how you will apply your experience to your future plans/lifestyle.
You are welcome to be as creative as you like with your report, and we particularly encourage you to include photos to make your experiences come alive.
Do write your report as soon as possible after the end of placement, while your thoughts and memories are still fresh. Collecting notes, diary entries or a photo journal whilst on placement may help you recall particular emotions and events.