Academics

Something is missing…

This semester, I haven’t been in Concert Choir because of student teaching. Let me just say that during the time that Concert Choir meets each day, my students are just coming in from recess and then we have sharing bag, read-aloud, and reading groups, and there’s not much time to even think about how much I miss singing in the choir and being with those people.

Now it’s spring break, so I don’t have school, and the Concert Choir is on tour, travelling around Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, sharing their beautiful music with everyone who wants to listen. My sister is with them and all of my friends keep posting pictures on facebook. I’m realizing how much I miss choir and just how badly I wish I was riding around the U.S. on that tour bus with them. I’m realizing now how much of an impact that choir and those people had on my college experience. They say that “you never know what you had until it’s gone,” and that quote applies perfectly to this situation.

I got lucky and my family decided to take a little spring break vacation to St. Louis. We found out a week after we planned it that the Concert Choir would be singing in a huge cathedral there and that we could go see them! Their music was extravagant. Being able to listen to a full concert of songs that you know and learned is amazing, because you don’t have to listen to try to understand the words; you can just listen and absorb the music. Multiple times, the choir made me smile, laugh, and cry during that concert. It was simply wonderful to hear them sing in such a beautiful setting.

More Reflections From The Road by Kevin Coash

 

Tuesday Morning:

Getting ready travel to Bluffton, Ohio. Home to Bulffton University, a Mennonite LIberal Arts College with a population of 1,198 students. We get to sing with their College group, the Camerata Singers and then have a concert later tonight.

This quote speaks to the current modus operandi of the choir. We must always think ahead. The next note – the next phrasing – the next text articulation. We can’t move on to the next if we can’t get past the past. In the words of Sheldon Cooper (paraphrased) “Look ahead. You can’t look backwards, because that would just be remembering.”

But then – you sit around a hotel breakfast table with a group of choir members and talk and laugh and joke and tell stories and listen to stories and dream big dreams and you think, maybe it’s okay to think backwards on these times, or remember. Maybe starting the next Chapter doesn’t mean we completely abandon the one we just finished. See, if we carry this book – to – real – life metaphor, books are like old friends, waiting patiently on the bookshelf to be seen and read and experienced again. Books love to be picked up and laughed at and cried into and loved. If book are like people, then I would like to return, at least in my remembrances, to times like this.

Tuesday Evening:

So I’ve been thinking a lot about space. Maybe outer space, (planets) but more down to earth (cells) I’ve been thinking about the rooms and halls we fill and what, if anything, we do there.

Take the city museum.

A full city block made into a metal jungle gym that even the most cynical college kid could get excited about. Imagine hovering 10 stories in the sky praying that those metal bars could make it through. 7 college kids cramming themselves into a steel ball. All this why? Because it was fun and we were together.

Now see St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.

Dare I say, both of these places (City Museum and Cathedral) are wonders of architecture. But vastly different, right? I’m not so sure. The Cathedral with its high arches, marble statues, and wonderful sound – called us to something higher. That something that theologians have tried to define for centuries.

But the Museum called us higher too. It caused us to raise our voice maybe even in song. So perhaps these two places aren’t that different. Maybe that “thing” that’s so hard to name is at both. North-South-East-West.

 

Musings from the Concert Choir Tour by Kevin Coash


So I’m supposed to be writing a daily blog for the Concert Choir tour. It is hard to shut me up, but it’s also hard to write about bus rides and the same 20 songs every day. SO I thought I would dig deeper see if I could understand what this whole tour business is about. This is my first year, ya know. Is it really just bus rides and the same 20 songs, and if so, why do people get so darn emotional about it. If it’s something more, the curious cat inside of me wants to know that that is.

As I was thinking about this I was mindlessly and aimlessly scrolling through my facebook newsfeed, which more often than not is a call to remembrance than I’m a liberal in a conservative State, but I came across this quote of Bob Marley. “Live for yourself and you will live in vain; live or others, and you will live again.” I found this insightful 1) because Bob said it 2) because when you’re crammed on a bus with 50+ other people you truly have to live this.

Reminds me of my days at the Buddhist temple where my teacher kept saying, “Forget about the “I” put down the “I.” We as a choir, sophomore – junior – and senior members are all on this trek together, like it or else. We have goals and we have jobs and we are having fun. But we’re not doing this for ourselves. No music is for yourself, that would be in vain. We are doing this for our fellow choir mates. The emotional seniors who will never get to tour with the group again, we sing for you. Bill who puts in hours of dedicated work and his immense arsenal of talent, we sing for him. Dale and his dedication and support of this choir – who cries at every show, who loves each of us as his own grandchild, we sing for him. The small but vibrant and loving compassionate congregations that welcome us and bother to stay and listen to a bunch of college kids from Kansas sing, we sing for them. We sing for hope in a troubled world. We sing for love across mankind. We cannot accomplish any of these things own our own. It is everyone living for everybody else, at least just for these 9 days, that makes these things happen. Will we always be successful? – I hope not – Because it is only by falling that we can truly judge how far we have come. But we’ll keep marching (or riding, I guess) on, together, singing for others. Bringing music – a powerful thing – to them as a gift expecting nothing in return. And that is not a endeavor spent in vain.

 

Snow!!


Well this past week has been pretty crazy and non routine for the Bethel community.

With all the snow that fell upon us there was:

-Cancelled classes

-Snowball fights

-Snowmen/igloo/fort making

-Frisby in the snow

-And lots of gorgeous pictures!

On Thursday, a great number of students were out playing in the snow, bringing out the five year old’s in us again.

Unfortuantely with all of the beautiful snow also came cancellation of some activities. One being the Concert Choir singing at KMEA (Kansas Music Educators Association) on Thursday. The choir had been working very hard for the previous couple of weeks preparing the songs that we were to sing at KMEA. After all the work we put into it I was disappointed that we were not able to travel to Wichita to sing because it was a great privilege to be invited to do so. However, now the choir is looking towards and preparing for the next big activity: the spring break trip!

 

Another activity that was canceled was my tennis practices and a tennis match that was scheduled on Wednesday the day it started snowing. The men’s and women’s tennis teams were supposed to travel to Oklahoma to play Southern Nazarene (women) and Southwestern Christian (men). It was disappointing that we were not able to go because I was ready to play and love tennis trips! However because tennis is an outdoor sport (unless you are fortunate enough to have indoor facilities) our tennis season has been put on hold because of all the snow. We have still been working out and doing cardio but as far as tennis goes we’re at a standstill until we can get all of the snow off the courts! Hopefully we will be able to do this soon so that our season can continue on and we will not have to reshedule any more meets!

Our first possible home tennis meet (depending on the snow) is March 5 against Central Christian at 3:00pm. If that is canceled then the next home meet will be Friday March 8 against John Brown University at 3:00pm.

We would love to have you come watch and support our tennis program!

 

New year, new goals

Hello all! It’s been a while. Well. Interterm is over and we are three weeks into the spring semester. In the interest of not taking too much space telling you about Interterm when everyone else probably has, here it is: One class, one month. Some classes have no or very little homework, some have hours every night. It’s the equivalent of one week in one day, so it can get fairly strenuous. Exciting things that happened over Interterm include lots of basketball games, Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrations, and a feeling like we weren’t actually in school. The lack of convocation and music classes are to blame for that last part.With the new semester starting, the pressure is looming for us juniors. Most majors involve some sort of seminar paper or internship, so everyone is starting to plan research topics or contact potential student teaching placements. These beginnings are exciting because it’s more choices for us, the students. We get to explore a topic of our choice as a seminar in preparation for whatever we choose to do after college. It’s a point where student research at Bethel is an obvious strength. I’m in the process of exploring topics now, and it’s already exciting!

An Awesome Interterm Class

Hello friends!

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but I wanted to let you know about my interterm class Multimedia Production. While some of my friends went on trips over interterm, or took GE classes, I decided to give myself a break and take a fun class.

I love photography, so I jumped at the chance to use a camera, however this time it would be for videos. I also wanted to familiarize myself with Final Cut Pro X, the video editing program we used in the course. The most exciting part though, was the actual shooting and creation of the video. Although we did learn important concepts related to lighting, sound, etc. we all were anxious to check out cameras and get rolling.

After having learned the basics, my group and I drafted a proposal for our video project, created a script, and began shooting scenes. With the help of fellow Bethel students, who were rather willing to star in our film, we developed a unique and entertaining film. I was thrilled because I got to use my own DSLR camera for the project, which enhanced my videography skills and because it was fun to make our own movie! It was also neat to watch our classmates videos as well, they were also very entertaining.

This class was a great choice and I had several jealous friends who took hard classes. If you are interested in multimedia or just want to take a fun course, I would recommend this one if the opportunity approaches itself!

 

~Samantha

Interterm and the Liberal Arts Education

This interterm I chose to take a class through Kipcor called: “Practical Skills for Managing Interpersonal Conflict.” It was an intensive class that lasted four days, which started at 8:30am and went until 5:00pm. In this class we were trained in mediation and took a style profile test to learn more about what our “style” is in every day life and during conflict.

This class has been one of the most rewarding classes of my college career. Not only was I able to learn a lot more about myself and how to improve how I handle conflict in my personal and work life but also how to help other people solve conflict. In this course I really felt like I could connect the information that I learned to my life and use it to become the best person I can be.

This is what a liberal arts education is doing for me. Being able to take classes outside of my social work major requirements has helped me develop life skills and challenged me to think in different ways. I would not have been able to take all the classes such as choir, business, literature and the training through Kipcor if it were not for my liberal arts education. I was surprised at how much all the classes can tie in together. Aspects that I have learned in a business class like “Organizational Behavior” about motivation can tie into social work and what motivates people to change. Learning about my specific “style” in “Practical Skills for Managing Interpersonal Conflict” and learning how to be an active listener can connect with how I will relate and listen to people I am working with and what my strengths are in terms of those ideas in my career as a social worker.

When I first came to college I did not fully appreciate the value of a liberal arts education. The ability to participate in many different classes has opened my eyes to the benefits such an education can provide.

“The basic purpose of a liberal arts education is to liberate the human being to exercise his or her potential to the fullest.”

- Barbara M. White

Thoughts about Mexico

On Tuesday night, my Interterm trip to Mexico came to a close and I arrived back at home. Throughout this past week and on the plane ride home, I did a lot of reflecting and thinking about what I would and would not miss about Mexico, and what really irrited me about Mexico.

 

Things that I miss about Mexico:

-The beautiful flowers everwhere

-Seeing very colorful houses everywhere I look…greens, yellows, purples, oranges- you name it!

-The hospitality- everyone that shared with us was super friendly. People in the U.S. just aren’t that way.

-The food- delicious!

-The warmth! There is nothing like wearing sandals, swimming, tanning, and getting a sunburn in January!

-Being able to practice my Spanish all day, everyday.

-The delicious bakery that was right around the corner in Mexico City where we went every morning for breakfast. You just can’t find huge pastries for 60 cents in the U.S.

-Seeing how genuine everyone really was. These people know what really matters in life. They have so little, but are always smiling and work really hard to earn waht they have. They are so thankful for what they have. They are simply determined poeple who are caught in a bad situation.

 

Things that I don’t miss about Mexico:

-Not being able to drive my car- When you’re used to driving everywhere, not being able to drive for three weeks sucks. Then again, the drivers there are insane and there are so many people that I wouldn’t have wanted to risk driving there anyway!

-Putting ALL toilet paper in the trash can. You can’t flush toilet paper there!

-Being stared at 24/7 because of my blonde, curly hair. I got many kisses blown at me and a marriage proposal from men in their 40′s or 50′s because of it.

- Not being able to drink water straight from the tap. Since the water was bad there, we also had to brush our teeth with our water bottle, which was kind of inconvenient.

-The food- I definitely had a couple too many torillas, tortas, and the like. I’m ready for a break from Mexican food.

-Having people talk really quickly to me in Spanish. I usually ended up giving them a blank look and then apologizing to them, because while I speak some Spanish, these people talked so fast that I couldn’t understand anything!

 

Things that irritate me about Mexico:

-How corrupt their government is. Their last election was very, very rigged. The police are corrupt too. It’s ridiculous.

-How so many children do not get to go to school, because their parents (who didn’t go to school either) can’t afford it. So these children might end up like their parents when they grow up, selling their products on the streets.

-How the top 10% of the population controls EVERYTHING and 70% of the people in Mexico are in the “poor” category. These people in the bottom 70% are known as the informal economy. They do not have a steady job and often their wages are only 65 pesos (minimum wage). That is equivalent to around $6.00 in the U.S. That is for a whole day, not an hour.

-How people in indigenous mountain villages are victims of residual poverty. They literally make about $1.00 (U.S.) a day and that is literally only enough for food. 80% of the women in Tlamacazapa have never left their village, so they don’t know what exists beyond where they are at. They had no clue where America was or which way was North, South, East, or West. They spend their entire days weaving very sturdy baskets out of palm leaves, but then sell them really chep to the middle men, who in turn out out and sell them for lots of money in the big towns. They get ripped off, but they have no money knowledge. They can’t afford to send their children to school, so instead they start learning how to weave baskets at a very young age. Chance are, they will never be able to leave their community either.

-1/3 of the Mexican population has diabetes, due to all of the sugar they consume and all of the Coca-Cola they drink. However, they do this because their water is not safe to drink. The government won’t do anything about it. One of the villages we went to had no running water and people had to hike to wells each day to collect water. The water wasn’t even good water, because it was laced with arsenic.

 

There is so much more about this trip that I could share, but I will stop here. Overall, the trip was wonderful. I had an incredible time meeting people, hearing their stories, and exploring new cities.

Done For The Year!

As of Friday I am completely done with the fall semester of my sophomore year! The week of finals was pretty crazy and I sought out peace and quiet in the comfort of my home. I knew that I wouldn’t be as productive at school because I would be too tempted to talk to my friends. I also think that being at home and eating my mom’s homemade food beats studying in the library:).

Luckily all of my finals happened to fall on separate days. On Monday I had my Spanish 20 minute oral exam so all of the weekend before finals I studied and prepared for that. I had no finals on Tuesday so I was able to use that day to study for the written Spanish final on Wednesday. On Thursday I had my Organizational Behavior final and on Friday my final paper for Literature, Culture and Communities was due. I felt pretty good about all of my finals but will have to wait and see what the grades are to know for sure!

As much as I love Bethel and being on campus I was definitely ready to take a much needed break from all the classes and to be home with my family. It has been so nice to be at home with my family and do activities with them without stressing out about homework that I have to get done or having to get to bed early because of classes or tests the next day.

Although I am now relaxing at home, the anxiousness still isn’t quite over for me yet. I have been checking several times daily to see if my professors have entered my grades. Once all of them finally do I will be able to truly and completely relax and enjoy my Christmas break!

As school winds down for everyone and we approach the holidays, I hope everyone has a safe and merry holiday and a happy new year!

A Greek Thanksgiving

I know Thanksgiving was a week ago, but my fellow American students and I just had time to celebrate the holiday in the last couple of days. Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday that Greece celebrates (seeing as it’s an American holiday), they seem to understand the sentiment–being thankful for not only what has happened in the past but also the present, too. To celebrate, me and the 8 other students in the Greece study abroad program went over to our resident director’s apartment for dinner. To make us feel at home, our RD pulled out all the stops, cooking the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, gravy, and bread. She even managed to find cranberry sauce which is no small feat here! (It took us almost a month just to find super expensive maple syrup when we first got here. We only splurged once.) All of it was delicious and we were all reminded of our family Thanksgivings back home. For some of us, it was our first Thanksgiving away from home while for others being away from family wasn’t anything new. I’d been away from my family for Thanksgiving before, but being away from any kind of family, whether a friend’s or otherwise, still felt a little strange. Despite any homesickness that may have arose, we all made the best of the meal. There were happy dinner conversations, loud moments of laughter, and even a well-phrased, heartfelt prayer to start off the meal. After we were all stuffed, we just sat around talking and enjoying each others’ company. It almost felt like we were home. Although Greece doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (which I knew going in because that would be just silly if I thought otherwise) and we did get our fill of Thanksgiving cheer and tradition, I couldn’t help but notice a number of similarities between Greece and the U.S. at this time of year. Around this time of year in the states, Christmas decorations start appearing, lights go up, it gets chillier and people start to look cozier and cozier as they bundle up. Well the same thing happens here too! The weekend leading up to Thanksgiving, there was an explosion of Christmas in the shopping areas here. Stores were working on their window displays, icicle lights hang from all the shop entrances, strands of evergreen branches laced with holly line the windows. The Christmas season arrived without us even realizing it. (It really did happen over night almost. One day, nothing. The next, Christmas was everywhere.)I am absolutely loving my time here (though it’s a little more stressful now that I have a number of papers to write), but with only a little over two weeks left, it’s hard not to imagine going home. You get so used to what it’s like wherever you are, that when it’s time for it to change, you have to force yourself to remember how things were. I’m thankful that I am studying abroad this semester because I get to go home during Christmas. I get to connect how it’s celebrated in Greece with how it’s done back home. I get to transition home during one of the happiest times of the year, though summer is a pretty good rival time period. I’m also hoping Bethel will get some snow before interterm in January because the campus is enchanting when it’s blanketed in snow. What better way to come back to my second home in the U.S.?Having my Greek Thanksgiving has made me realize just how thankful I am for this experience and that even though I must say goodbye soon, there is so much my two beautiful countries share in common and that if I miss one and feel it fading away, I need only look for the similarities.