With the holiday season coming up I thought I would talk about the host family program and how host families can serve as an alternate place to go if you’re not able to go home. The program consists of single or married families who provide a home away from home, home-cooked meals, a place to go on weekends, and welcomes Bethel students to the community.
Students who sign up for the program fill out a survey and are then matched with a family that they feel comfortable with. Once a match is found the student and their family will meet the host family and start getting to know them.
While the host family program is primarily for out of state students, some Kansas residents such as myself have one. Although I live about an hour from BC, I joined the program to have a connection within the community and a place I could escape to if I ever needed to get away from campus.
My host family is very supportive of me playing basketball and they try to attend all the games they can. Not only do I have a fan base at games, but I also have the opportunity to meet new people. Through my host family I have made several new friends and have built a lasting relationship.
I am frequently invited over to have dinner and they encourage me to bring friends and we usually end up playing games while getting a free home-cooked meal. During the holidays many students are not able to travel home so a host family will sometimes offer to let them stay at their homes. This is an another added benefit of the program.
Not only is having a host familly nice because you build a relationship with them, but if they have other host students you get the chance to meet students you might not otherwise. I have made several friends with fellow students because we share the same host family.
Overall the program is a great service for students and a helpful way for them to make lasting connections within the surrounding community. Visit this link http://www.bethelks.edu/student-life/services/host-family-program if you are interested in joining the program or if you would like more information.
In this season of Thanksgiving I thought it appropriate to write a blog about the things that I am thankful for about Bethel. Thus I have titled my blog “A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart” which comes from Veggie Tales and one of their songs called “The Thankfulness Song.” (If you are interested in seeing/hearing the scene with the song in it here it is!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhcI-HXicwY
I am thankful for the new cafeteria; it is leaps and bounds better than it was last year!
I am thankful for the tennis team and am excited to being our spring season together.
I am thankful for the choral groups I am a part of and the tremendous music we make together.
I am thankful there are study rooms in the library available when I need a place of peace and quiet to study.
I am thankful for Mojos and their tasty drinks and delicious cinnamon rolls!
I am thankful Bethel is such a nice campus, small enough to feel like a close-knit community.
I am thankful for my wonderful roommate Allie and the fun times we have together, even if it is trying to motivate each other to study.
I am thankful that Bethel is close to home so I can still see my immediate and extended family often (and come home for laundry and my mom’s delicious cooking!)
I am thankful that my sister Miranda attends Bethel and that we are a part of choir and tennis together.
I am thankful for the professors and their dedication to their students and their availability to help on an individual basis.
I am thankful for friendships that I have built on campus along with closer relationships within my mod.
I am thankful for the beautiful scenery on campus, especially with the new landscaping they have completed thus far.
And last but definitely not least, I am thankful for simply having the opportunity to attend Bethel College.
I am not known for talking politics, but as elections in Catalonia are on their way I have gotten an unexpected urge to share my political opinions. I suddenly came to the realization that politics is not a matter done behind closed doors, but rather one that involves and affects everyone. I no longer believe that politicians are faceless individuals, with names not worth remembering and whose paths I will never cross: they are real people. And just like real people, their actions have real consequences in everyday life and I can no longer pretend that I do not care about their political decisions. At the University of Barcelona I have been taking a class titled Political System of the European Union. The class is small and engaging and because of it I have found myself listening to other peoples’ opinions and beginning to finally wrap my head around the world of politics. It has been fascinating to learn in class about the European Union and to be able to reaffirm what I learn with real life experiences outside of the classroom. I am after all a temporary citizen of the EU and, being caught in the middle of a historical moment for the region of Catalonia, I feel it is my moral obligation to share an overview of the political situation of my place of residence.
For those unfamiliar with the region of Catalonia (also Cataluña or Catalunya), Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain with four main provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. Historically, Catalonia has at times been its own principality and has been considered a part of Spain since the Second Spanish Republic in 1931. In 1937, in the midst of the region’s first thoughts of independence from Spanish rule, Spain fell under Francisco Franco’s regime and Catalonia suffered from a period of repression where freedom of expression was censored and speaking Catalan (a mixture of Spanish and French) became illegal. It would take Francisco Franco’s death and forty years’ time for Catalan nationalism to show its political face in public again. Today, there has been a surge in political movements seeking independence with visible impacts on the regions’ main cities. Public universities ask to install Catalan as the official language for higher education and general strikes exhibit the citizens’ discontent with the Spanish government. Many families speak only in Catalan and a radical younger generation has begun to reject the “Spanish” label and express its disinterest in being a part of the European Union. On September 11th of the present year (Catalonia’s national day) more than a million and a half people manifested on the streets, waving proudly the Catalan flag and asking for a democratic independence from Spain. The manifestation resulted in the convocation of elections to be held on November 25th that will determine the percentage of Catalans who wish for the separation of Catalonia from the Spanish state.
The coming election will define a key moment in the road to independence for the Catalan people but there is still a level of uncertainty surrounding the outcomes of the possible results of the election. If the polls show that the vast majority of citizens desire to become a separate state, the leftists parties will gain political power that could lead to beneficial negotiations with the Spanish government. Yet the minute Catalonia becomes an independent state will be the minute it will loose its membership to the European Union and if Spain’s secession of the territory is not friendly there is always a possibility that any request from Catalonia to re-enter it could be vetoed. And yes, Catalan taxes would be better off fulfilling the needs of the region instead of being destined to support Spain’s poorest areas, but they would also have to cover the social necessities previously covered by the EU. If, on the other hand, the election results do not reflect the need for independence, the Spanish government will feel pressured to put out any remaining political manifestation seeking the separation from Spanish rule and will have to implement policies directed to the percentage of Catalans who fail to take on the Spanish identity. But what can the Madrid government do to unify two regions separated by different languages, levels of religiosity, state governments, distances, industries and cultures?
The next few months will be critical for the writing of Catalan and Spanish history and as a student from a Mennonite college I cannot help but feel inspired by the peaceful approach to independence by the Catalan people. If the Catalan effort for independence fails, then we should at least applaud its democratic take on an often times violent path. Maybe someday Catalonia can serve as a model for places like Quebec or Scotland and even change the social construct of placing the value of a state in the strength of its government and not the character of its people. Nations do not have to be homogeneous in the expression of their culture and ideas that do not reflect the righteousness of those in power do not have to become threats to authorities. The Spanish and the Catalans have coexisted successfully for decades and their example can teach us that identities should be built by that which is shared, not by that which separates us. People change through the natural course of their lives in the same way that identities tend to shift and there is only shame in forming new alliances if there is shame in discussing them openly with other people. A road to independence is a road that is conscious of the rights of others from beginning to end and is respectful of the weight that tradition tends to bring. May the Catalan effort keep true to its nature and may the Catalan message remain always peaceful.
Halloween as a college student is a bit different from high school. No longer is it uncool to dress up in crazy costumes and go begging for candy; it’s practically Christmas for us. The opportunity to eat large amounts of sugar and show off your creative prowess is something few let pass. I’m one who doesn’t have large amounts of creativity, so my costume was a last-minute pirate getup courtesy of Et Cetera shop.
Bethel’s Halloween celebration is centered around two events-a dance and Trick-or-Treat off the street. The dance is typically held on the Saturday night closest to Halloween night and is the major costume event for students. Student Activities Council holds a costume contest for scariest, most creative, best group, and best pair costumes. The faculty judges determine winners and dole out prizes.
On the actual evening of All Hallow’s Eve, Bethel students have the opportunity to give out candy to area kids in a safe environment. I did this when I was a kid and always had a great time because it’s a lot of candy with not a very long walk in between doors. I remember being scared out of my mind in the hallways of the residence halls because they would turn all the lights off and put cobwebs up. It’s just as fun to give out candy because kids are incredibly creative and incredibly cute.
Now that Halloween is over everybody is thinking of the best costumes for next year already, even though they won’t start on them until October 30, 2013. It’s still a good sentiment.
This weekend was a very busy weekend for choir members on Bethel campus.
On Friday the Concert Choir was invited to sing a few songs at the Día de Los Muertos service at the Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Being a Mennonite who grew up in a town with a majority being Mennonite it was a very good experience to be able to be a part of – in attendance and in singing.
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