BIFL (bif-uhl) stands for Basic Issues of Faith and Life. BIFL is a 400 level Bible course that all seniors are required to take sometime during their final year at Bethel. In a sense, I guess you could say that it is the senior exit course. This class meets twice a week for 2 hours each day to discuss books and topics, and then figure out how we can apply them to our lives today. Professors take turns teaching the course each semester.
There are two main things that BIFL is known for…1) the BIFL Oral Exam and 2) The Credo Paper. Yesterday was my oral exam. I was really nervous going into it, primarily because of the fact that I didn’t know what to expect. All of the people who have graduated in past years that I talked to told me that it really wasn’t bad, but hearing that didn’t exactly ease my nerves.
Here’s a brief rundown of how BIFL Orals work: Each year, professors meet together and pick a book of the Bible to cover and one additional book that all seniors will read. (We read many other books as well, but those selections are up to the individual professors who are teaching the course that semester.) The Orals are designed to be like a conversation between two students and two faculty members. They ask us questions about the book of the Bible, which in this case was Hosea, and the book that we read, “Fidelity” by Wendell Berry. A lot of the questions that the faculty members ask are related to themes in the books or how we can apply these books to our lives today. The Oral exam is a pass/fail deal, and you must pass in order to graduate from Bethel College.
Yes, I know. This all sounds really intense. That’s exactly what I thought too. However, now that I look back on my experience yesterday, it wasn’t too bad. Sure, there were questions that were tough and that I didn’t exactly know how to answer, but that’s the goal. The faculty want us to be critical thinkers and learn how to communicate our thoughts effectively. That’s part of the Bethel goal.
Walking outside yesterday I saw the beautiful colors of fall beginning to decorate our campus. There is this gorgeous tree outside the mods that is shedding gorgeous bright yellow leaves as we speak.Yes, it is finally fall and I could not be more excited. Along with the wonderful weather and colors that fall brings it also brings many exciting and fun festivities to the Bethel campus as well. The first one is fall break. Fall break was much needed for me, although I did not do anything particularly exciting or eventful, just being able to relax at home was just what I needed to get me rejuvenated to finish out the rest of the semester. The other exciting festivity was Taste of Newton and Fall Fest weekend. Taste of Newton was tasty (haha) as always, that included delicious verenika and apple dumplings. Fall Fest was especially busy for me this year because I am not a part of SAA and Student Senate (I wasn’t last year) and so along with those new titles came more responsibilities with helping with booths on Saturday. Although the day started off not looking promising with the early morning rain and the clouds looming over, it turned out to be a wonderful day for the event. After helping with the booths I was still able to walk around and enjoy food, samples, the photo booth and other entertainment.
In the evening on Saturday then was the football game. Although it was sad to see them lose, it was fun to be in the stands with the students watching together. It was also a great honor at half time for the women’s tennis team to be recognized on the field for making it to Nationals for the fourth year in a row this past season. Other teams and individuals were also recognized: the men’s golf team for their award of the team’s overall GPA, as well as individuals from tennis, golf and track for their individual achievements.
This year has seem to have flown by so fast (which is partially why I am behind on my blogging, yikes), and I know it will continue to keep picking up speed, but I am so thankful to experience the fun and beauty of the fall along the way.
It is the middle of my second month living in Barcelona, Spain, and although I have shared with you a general account of my impressions of the place, the report of an individual human experience has been missing. That is why today I will tell you the story of Jan and Magdalena: two Spanish people I met during my travels who have given me permission to share their life stories. This account, I hope, will help us understand the difficult time Spain is living in its history and offer a particular point of view on some of the current struggles of the Spanish people.
Magdalena was born in a small city in southern Spain in the middle of WWII and was three years old when the war ended. By the time she was five, her older sister—who suffered from sudden visual impairment—and her mother, traveled together to Madrid to seek treatment. It had been a year since the pair had left, and Magdalena’s father decided to send Magdalena north to live with his sister. Magdalena lived with her aunt for several years while her father struggled to move his shoe-making business to the capital. At the age of thirteen, her family was reunited in Madrid and Magdalena began working as a seamstress.
Now I don’t talk about religion and my personal beliefs in depth very much. I don’t like to mainly because I think what a person feels regarding religion and God is extremely personal and more often than not points to our differences as people rather than the much larger number of things we share in common that bind us together.
However, because Bethel is one of what feels like the few colleges that is active in the religion it is associated with, lists discipleship as one of its four central values, and has played a big role in my faith life the last few years, I’m going to broach a subject I often avoid.
Before I came to Bethel, I quickly and with little thought identified as Quaker whenever someone asked me what religion I was. Throughout my childhood I regularly attended the Friends meeting in San Antonio, Texas where I’m from, but as I got older and entered high school, my attendance dwindled. By the end of high school, I was going to meeting maybe once a month and other than the yearly Quaker retreat, wasn’t really interact with Quakers my own age. So when I started Bethel, I felt like a fish out of water to be surrounded by and have so many friends with a strong faith in God, Jesus, and Christianity.
Throughout my years at Bethel, there is a program that has become very near and dear to my heart. College Buddies is a program where the Bethel College SCAN program pairs up with the Harvey-Marion County CDDO (Community Developmental Disability Organization). Once a month, Bethel students meet with adults who have developmental disabilities in the Bethel College Mennonite Church basement for an evening of socializing, laughing, doing crafts or games, and eating snacks. We also work to break stereotypes that are associated with developmentally disabled people.
As a freshman and sophomore, I participated in College Buddies (then called Circle of Friends), and after two years I was asked to be the leader of the group. I am so passionate about this program. I love it’s mission. I love the college students that are willing to give up an evening out of their busy schedule. I love the community members that come with smiles on their faces and stories to share. I love how these people look forward to this day for an entire month, just as I do. I love their hugs and handshakes. It is an incredible program and an amazing way for Bethel College to reach out to the community.
Last Thursday was our first meeting of the year. We did some get to know you activities, created acrostic poems with our names, and had snack. I think a good time was had by all. Other activities this year will include pumpkin decorating, a Holiday Bash, Valentine’s crafts, a newspaper fashion show, and a Bingo night.
|<< <||> >>|