Interterm at Bethel this year is slightly different for me than it has been for the last couple of years. Two years ago, I took a travel trip to Costa Rica, last year, Jerusalem. So this year, I’m staying on campus. Kind of anticlimactic, right? Especially since five of the eight girls in my mod are on travel trips to Africa and Europe. While it’s definitely true that Interterm on campus is not quite as hustle-and-bustle as walking through an African village, visiting the Dome of the Rock, seeing the birthplace of math and science, or sharing a space with monkeys and brightly-colored birds, but there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with friends and learn something at the same time!
The three girls remaining in my mod (myself and two others) are all in the same class over Interterm – Basic Issues of Faith and Life (BIFL), taught by Patty Shelly. The class is the capstone class required of all seniors for graduation. Each year, a rotating staff of instructors from several disciplines decide on a central text for all seniors and additional texts for their own respective classes. This year’s central text is the book of Acts from the Bible and “Rise of Christianity” by Rodney Stark, a book which details several sociological principles which may have helped the early Christian church rise to a majority religion in as little as 300 years. Several of my close friends are also in the same class, and we have had many lively discussions in the mods and across the tables in the cafeteria. I think perhaps the thing I enjoy most about BIFL is the cross-section of students. As a senior, most of my classes are with either Bible and Religion majors, Pre-Med students, or Biology majors, which is not a particularly wide variety of Bethel students. But in my BIFL class, there are 10 majors represented: Nursing, Biology, English, Natural Sciences, Psychology, Bible and Religion, History, Art, Social Work, and Music. The vast majority of these students are ones that I have never had a class with, and there are many in the class that I have never talked to for longer than five minutes, if at all. Because of the wide variety of students in the class, there is a pretty broad spectrum of belief systems, from devout Catholics, Mennonites, and evangelicals to theists and “God skeptics.” That sort of array is very conducive to discussion in which everyone can participate.
Interterm isn’t “all work and no play,” however. Though I do spent quite a bit of time reading, I still have time for some quality time with my friends. In the last few weeks, we’ve had a few multi-episode “Chuck” marathons, followed by a made-up game involving couch pillows, been ice skating in Wichita, had tea parties with friends in Voth Hall, watched a movie sponsored by Bethel College, eaten at a pancake feed at the Bethel College Mennonite Church and watched several basketball games in Thresher Gym. It’s been a pretty full Interterm on campus. If you’re interested in hearing about the travel trips, students in Africa and China have been posting nearly every day on this blog and students in Europe are posting at http://bubbert.blogspot.com/.