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Family lives and works abroad to bridge the gaps between cultures

Family lives and works abroad to bridge the gaps between cultures
Brogan family members gather at a friend's home in Austin. From left are Philip,10; Susannah, 8; Alex, 7; Eve, 12; David; and Tina.

The Rev. David Brogan has witnessed firsthand the energy and enthusiasm of youth who travel outside their hometowns to help those in need.

"One year at Faith Church we had a group of adults and youth who went to Poland," said Brogan, youth minister at Faith Church in Austin. "I saw how much the youth from the church were changed by interacting with people from another country and another culture, and I hoped that someday my own children would get to have this same type of experience."

In August 2010, an opportunity became available for David, Tina and their four children — Eve, 12; Philip, 10; Susannah, 8; and Alex, 7 — to work with an outreach team in Birmingham, England.

The Brogans were able to give their children the cultural experience they had hoped for by moving to Birmingham and working with the The Feast organization.

The Feast, a Christian charity based in Birmingham, works to promote community cohesion between Christian and Muslim young people.

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Brogan said that because Birmingham is the second largest city in England, people from a variety of cultures are drawn there to work.

"The Feast organization works on three primary goals, which are to build friendships, explore faith and change lives," he said.

Besides teaching a women's English class, Tina Brogan worked with women’s groups that gather in the community center attached to the Anglican Church the family attends.

"There is a Moms and Toddlers group made up of woman and children who are Christian, Hindu and Muslim," she said. "We have discussion groups that allow us to learn about each other's culture and faith backgrounds."

The Brogan children have enjoyed meeting new friends with diverse backgrounds.

Eve Brogan said she and her siblings got a lot of attention because their classmates treat them like celebrities.

"Some of the kids thought that because we are from the U.S, we might have met celebrities like Justin Bieber," she said.

Philip Brogan said his favorite part about living in England is riding in the double-decker buses.

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"I like to sit near the front on the top section of the bus because when you go down a hill it feels like you are on a roller coaster," he said.

After spending summer back in the United States, the Brogans are getting ready to leave for a second year of outreach work in Birmingham.

During the next year, David Brogan will work on expanding The Feast by reaching out to more churches in and around Birmingham and inviting more youth to be part of the programs.

He said the family feels privileged for the support that family, friends and Faith Church of Austin has given to them to allow them to have this kind of opportunity.

Judi Needham, executive administrator at Faith Church, said the work that the Brogan family is doing fits with one of the church’s goal to reach out to others around the world. Over the years, Faith Church also has supported outreach work in places such as Haiti, Poland and New Orleans.

Tina Brogan said the school year in Birmingham is divided differently than in Austin, and her children will be in school again this year during the Fourth of July celebration in the U.S.

Philip Brogan said, "It was strange being in school on July Fourth last year, but I drew fireworks on my school papers that day."

 

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