There's more to life at Bethel than classes & seminars

Beyond the green is a place students to share the joys and hardships of being a Thresher.

  • Mudslam, AKA The Dirtiest Volleyball You Have Ever Played

    Mudslam, AKA The Dirtiest Volleyball You Have Ever Played

  • Mod Life: Finding Fun Amidst Stress

    Mod Life: Finding Fun Amidst Stress

Concert Choir Tour 2015

Concert Choir Tour 2015

The choir's annual spring break tour took them into churches of various denominations in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, where they experienced amazing hospitality from an equal variety of people.
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Bethel in bloom

Bethel in bloom

It seems like we just turned around and suddenly it's spring all over the Bethel campus.
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Spring Fling 2015

Spring Fling 2015

Above is a photo from 2015's Bubbert Awards fun. The Bubberts capped off Spring Fling week, which also included Ultimate Trivia, laser tag, Capture the Flag and Bethel Olympics. Plus an Iron Chef Cook-off with a secret ingredient...
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The end of another school year

The end of another school year

Wrapping up, finishing up and moving out, as another school year ends. Our bloggers appreciate coffee, friends, beautiful coffee, summer plans, study breaks and ... coffee.
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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.

Interterm in Mexico

Mexico Interterm Group

Our time in Mexico thus far has been wonderful! There are 10 students and two professors (Ada Schmidt-Thieszen and Hamilton Williams) on the Social Work/Social Justice trip. We are currently in Cuernavaca, where we will be until January 17.

We started our trip with an overview of the QUEST program. We are staying in the guest house here. We have spent two days at La Estacion, which is a Squatter Settlement that is home to 6,000 people. It is one of the poorest areas of Cuernavaca. The first day we were there, we visited in homes with residents there about their lifestyles. Today, we went back again to volunteer our time by helping with their breakfast program and the Women’s/Community Center, painting, and helping in the Kindergarten across the street.

We have also taken a QUEST around downtown Cuernavaca where we spent a day living like the bottom 70% of the population do. We were given an amount of money that are equivalent to their wages and had to visit markets to collect necessary food items. We also visited many local downtown landmarks, like the Cathedrals and the People’s Market. On January 6, we went to Xochicalo, which are ancient ruins. We spent the day climbing on and exploring large structures that were built thousands of years ago.

We had the opportunity to try a Temaxcal (Sweat Lodge) that is located on the QUEST grounds. It is a way of cleansing the body in a natural way by being in touch with the Earth and nature.

Gerardo, the QUEST Mexico director, also arranges for us to hear many speakers as they tell their stories about immigration, working as a domestic worker, and much more. Yesterday, we drove to a small village to meet with a traditional healer who creates and prescribes natural (plant) medicines to those who come for her services. In the afternoon, we went to Casa Hogar, which is an orphanage. We learned about how they operate and then spent the afternoon singing, playing soccer, talking, and laughing with the children there. These kids range from ages 3-18. In Mexico, adoption is not really allowed, so these kids will be in there until they turn 18, which was difficult for us to hear.

We are having a great time and are learning a lot. We are definitely not ready to come back to the cooler temperatures!

-Kristin Unruh and Jennifer Scott

The Heart of the People

Today marks two weeks since my arrival in the United States after my study abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain. I am back in North Newton and have been welcomed by family and friends with inquiries about the time I spent away. Their faces, filled with anticipation about the stories I will share and the wisdom I have brought, illuminate at the very mention of Barcelona and I have come to realize how much I am glad to see these people. Because of them, I know now that my value as a person is a reflection of the love and care I have received from others along the way. I am, in a sense, what people have made of me and am more than willing to embrace Bethel as my place and its community as my people. As many of you know my hometown is in Mexico in a city called Xalapa in the state of Veracruz. It is a city of 500, 000 people, known as “the city of flowers,” and it is full of the colors, smells and tastes typical of a green city an hour away from the coast. When I first arrived at Bethel I had doubts about my decision to move to the United States and feared that others would misinterpret my Mexican culture. I grew up with Mexican and American traditions, you see: a hybrid that would always make me feel like I was caught between two worlds, lost between two spaces. I felt pressured to claim a single identity in order to belong, and sadly at times, pretended to be someone I was not. My world was turning and I feared that at Bethel I would never find a place in the heart of its people. Studying abroad in Barcelona brought back similar feelings of displacement.

Although I had been removed from my environment before, I had never been completely detached from family and friends and I soon found myself lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces. As happens in nearly all major cities, people in Barcelona relate to one another through a series of family, work and proximity relationships, which sometimes takes years to consolidate. Lacking the latter, I struggled as an outsider to form bonds with the Barcelonans and suffered at the beginning from the withdrawal of the warmth of human contact. Coming from a Latin American culture and having lived in a small town like North Newton made it hard for me to adjust to the city ways of a metropolis like Barcelona where people forget to smile to one another and avoid the helpless stranger. Once, during my first week in Spain, I was at the subway on my way to school when a toddler unexpectedly got a hold of my index finger. I stared down at the smiling toddler and until tears started rolling down my eyes did I admit to myself that I had been desperate for human recognition.

The human mind works in unexpected ways and my newly found desire to win myself a place in the heart of the Barcelonan people freed me from the fear of failing to do so. I looked back at my time at Bethel and realized that I had never before questioned the value of offering my friendship to those around me, that I had never before considered myself unworthy of receiving love and attention. What had changed since my departure from Bethel? Why had I let myself believe that a city of millions was not interested in my value as an individual? I have been asked to evaluate my study abroad experience by several residents of North Newton. I have been asked to pinpoint every emotion, share every impression and write down every adventure from my semester abroad: I cannot. A city cannot be described in a few words because words can only begin to emulate the essence of the human condition.

I could never communicate how grateful I am to have reached a broader understanding about myself and my surroundings and how appreciative I am towards the Bethel community who loved me first and got to know me second. I could never stress how meaningful it was to have lived through the humbling feeling of not speaking the Catalan language, of finding myself lost in translation and not sharing a culture. Life in Barcelona taught me I can connect with those with no apparent relationship to my person and whose lifestyle I can only begin to comprehend. I carried a successful life outside of the familiar and my sense of accomplishment is a feeling not even the loudest of voices can undermine or suffocate. I am proud to have exposed myself to the unknown because along with the people I met and the stories I brought, the company I kept and the wisdom I sought, I managed to achieve what not even time can make fade: I captured the heart of Barcelona by capturing the hearts of its people.

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!

Christmas Gala

Last night was the annual Christmas Gala. It felt a little weird having it in November, but that’s how the schedule fell this year. Gala is a night where most of the student body gets dressed up and eats a fancy dinner in Memorial Hall, which is turned into a winter wonderland for the evening. There were icicle lights hanging from the ceiling (which is an impressive feat considering the height of the ceiling), trees everywhere, and a nice little picturesque setting on the stage ready for photographs of everyone in their fancy clothes. I went with a group of friends and we all ate dinner together before going to the jazz concert. Jazz I and II give a fancy concert on Gala every year, and they are phenomenal. It’s also great because a lot of people come to the Gala concert who don’t usually come to jazz concerts, so it gets a different part of the student body excited about music. After the jazz concert there was a reception at the president’s house. There were cookies and hot chocolate and Santa Claus was ready for pictures. I didn’t take advantage of the Santa pictures, but the hot chocolate really hits the spot at that point. There were also horse-drawn carriage rides outside of the president’s house, but I’ve never gone on one because the line is always really long. Gala is a really fun way to celebrate the end of classes. Now we just have to get through finals week! Merry early Christmas!

Giving gifts and saving money too!

Seasons Greetings everyone!

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re a broke college  student like me, you might appreciate some gift advice. We all want to get that perfect gift for our loved ones, but sometimes we just don’t have the necessary funds.  With so many people to find gifts for, you may need other options rather than purchasing one for each.

There is a solution though, instead of buying expensive gifts for each person on your list, consider making a homemade one yourself. Most people are not going to want you to break the bank for them, but they will appreciate the time you took to make a personalized gift.

If you feel you’re just not that crafty, don’t worry there are many websites that have easy step-by-step instructions for making gifts. Pinterest is a great place to start, there are thousands of DIY ideas that you could use. Don’t rule out baked goods either, a nice food basket with cookies, candies, and other knick knacks is an inexpensive way to show someone you care.

Be sure to think about the personalities of each person, this has a large impact on the things you can include. Pay close attention to their hobbies and interests to get an idea of what items they might like.

Truly meaningful gifts don’t have to be expensive, they just need to show that you’ve taken the time to think about the person. Happy Holidays and good luck with your gift giving!


Holiday times

Last week was Thanksgiving break, which really means the last veil of sanity between us and finals has now past. Thanksgiving, while a welcome break, just gave us a little taste of what’s to come over Christmas break.The dorms were closed over the break, so all students except those on the basketball team had to leave campus. Some, like me, were lucky enough to get to go home and spend some time with family. Others stayed in the area with friends or other students.Break wasn’t all relaxation, though, since we came back to only one week of classes. This is the time for final projects and preparation for final exams. Students are writing papers, studying like mad and trying to keep a little sane. This time of year is full of holiday gatherings, and since we only had one week of class after Thanksgiving everything has been crammed into this week. There’s movie nights, bingo nights, the tacky sweater party, gala, departmental Christmas parties, and of course, more studying. There’s plenty to celebrate.

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.

Messiah sing

Today was the last Convocation of the semester, which in the fall is always the Messiah sing. The tradition of gathering in Bethel College Mennonite Church for an hour of singing Handel’s Messiah with the community as the chorus goes back a quarter century. The music department supplies most of the work for this venture. The chamber orchestra and Karen Schlabaugh on the harpsichord supply the accompaniment, student conductors lead most of the pieces, and students perform the solos. It’s always fun to hear different people singing the solos, some of whom don’t frequently do solos in for events like this. I’ve had the privilege to play in the orchestra for this tradition the past two years and it has turned into one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. It’s a fantastic piece of music to play because we don’t play any of the really difficult parts and since everyone in the room is either conducting, singing or playing it’s very low pressure. In the midst of preparations for finals week, it’s a great way to let go for a little while and enjoy the holiday spirit.

Career Night

Career Night is an event that is put on by the Student Alumni Association and Alumni Director Dave Linscheid. Members of SAA contact various Bethel alum, who agree to come and meet with students for a night and share about their jobs and where their path took them after Bethel. This year I think there were approximately 50 alum who agreed to come back. The event is set up in Memorial Hall. There are tables all around and alums each have a designated spot. Students sign in and get a map of all of alumni that are present and what their careers are. Students may pick and choose to talk to as many alumni as they desire; however, most people choose to only talk to people that are in the same career field as the one they are studying. There are alumni present from many different career areas such as forensic nurses, doctors, marketing specialists, news casters, teachers, dentists, lawyers, engineers, and many more.

As an incentive for coming, each student who has three signatures from alumni that they talked with gets their name put into a drawing for prizes such as Bethel merchandise and any sort of freebies that the alumni bring from their jobs. Often there are many shirts, umbrellas, mugs, and this year I even won an insulated tote/cooler. Pretty cool! There is always pizza and pop afterward too!

I love this night! It’s a lot of fun connecting with alumni who are in the same field as me. Since I will be graduating soon with an education degree, it was fun to get tips for my first year of teaching and things like that. I found Career Night to be well worth my time.