Friday, March 28, 2014

Beauty in Fugue - Deep Faith Week 2014

By John Buckley ’15

Lux Aeterna 2 by Makoto Fujimura

im age noun \’i-mij\ : a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing; especially: and imitation in solid form: exact likeness.

Before The Black Keys, or the swinging keys of jazz, were the black keys of Johann Sebastian Bach.

When Andy Crouch took the stage last week at the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel, so did the baroque-era composer. It was Deep Faith Week 2014, after all. Crouch was playing the "Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major," the tones striking a chord that came to string together the themes of the annual spiritual emphasis week. Consonance transforming through dissonance into beautiful crescendo.

“When you play through the arpeggio of the piece, you go through the harmonics toward the tension of the minor keys,” said Crouch as he took helm of the Chapel's grand piano. “Even dissonance is a part of God’s creation, even tension is part of what God intends as he calls us to be fruitful and multiply.”

Crouch is the author of CultureMaking: Recovering Our Creative Calling, the executive editor of Christianity Today, and (not of the least of these) a prolific writer. His pieces have appeared everywhere from Time to the The Wall Street Journal. He and his family, all classically trained musicians, live in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

As the keynote speaker for Gordon’s annual Deep Faith Week, Crouch encapsulated the week in this fugue. Beginning at the beginning, Crouch re-introduced us to the creation narrative of Genesis. God creating the good of the earth for the cultivation by the very good: us.

He was introducing the compelling themes brought together in his most recent book, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. Power is humanity’s special inheritance from God, to be as a tool for meaning-making. Crouch calls these image-bearers, “a special kind of creature that doesn't merely follow instinct, but has this kind of quest to make something of the world.”

But power must be redeemed. The narrative from Genesis is only Bach’s beginning chord—the 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th. You can't continue with the piece without dissonant chords. The composition continues as we forget our role as image-bearers and drift down a different harmonic path, one filled with tension. But it is all purposed as the same piece.

In our evening chapels, Crouch described how our power was forgotten, even abused. How we forgot the very good of humanity. How we began playing God and running to other gods. “We continued our talk about the joy and responsibility of bearing the image of Christ,” Said Gordon sophomore Mary Hierholzer. “Andy talked about how we have the choice between either living in full authority by abusing our power, living in full vulnerability by ignoring our power, or living fully in our vulnerability and authority.” 

Gordon students and staff responded to this call by turning to a time of prayer after one of the chapels. We were being reminded what it meant to live as Christ, to live like him in vulnerability and authority. “Being able to pray with student after student and connect with their deep pain but also say to them, 'God loves you and he cares for you and he wants to comfort you in that pain,'” said Gordon Chaplain Tom Haugen, “that was a real highlight for me.”

This moment was only a vignette of the week. Friday night, students had the opportunity to participate in a 12-hour worship service lasting into Saturday morning. The service welcomed several student groups representing a diversity of different student worship styles. Like the evening chapels, it brought a renewed call toward the gospel (even for the students who couldn’t stay up). Gordon senior Ben Boossarangsi collaborated with the groups to make it possible. “Deep Faith Week is a great way to spend an entire week diving into different ways, traditions, and spiritual questions we either wrestle or take something away from,” said Boossarangsi.

The week of spiritual renewal was as raw and transparent as it was thematically deep. The vulnerability that Gordon's community experienced grew out of the week's guiding themes of power, injustice, and idolatry. “I find at Gordon an amazing combination of engagement in the community and engagement in ideas,” said Crouch. “The questions I’ve gotten have been great, but also just the personal interactions have been incredibly encouraging.” The call as image-bearers doesn't end at Gordon. “My hope is that each one of us that leaves here,” said Haugen, “brings that into the world, that we’re here for a season but then we’re sent out as God’s image-bearers.”

In his last talk, Andy concluded the narrative of the image-bearers. Just like the arpeggio of Bach’s fugue, “The story is not just from good to very good. It’s from good to very good, to suffering, and then glory.” If you want to know where the real ending is, read Revelation 21. Instead of a garden God creates a city. The streets are of transparent gold, covering over the old blemishes of our image-bearing before the Cross. As Crouch succinctly put it, “God is not making all new things, he is making all things new.”

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God."
-Romans 8:19-21 (ESV)
John Buckley ’15 is a business administration and communication arts double major at Gordon College and the Presidential Fellow for Rick Sweeney, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. Depending on the weather, his interests are theology, photography, a good read of Sherlock Holmes, longboarding, or treasure hunting for lost historical artifacts.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Great Minds Think Together

By Hee-Kyoung Park

We’ve all heard about how “great minds think alike.” But as a new social enterprise competition at Gordon College is demonstrating, perhaps “great minds think together.”

The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) has set a stage for the great minds of Gordon College to come together with new ideas for business, non-profit or hybrid enterprises. Currently in its very first year, the CEL exists to provide a new kind of space for innovative thinking and world-shaping action at Gordon College. "The CEL is on a mission to animate deep convictions and to instigate impact in the hope that more Gordon students will dig deep, reach out and start something,” says CEL Director Dr. Carter Crockett.

Upon the announcement for its first annual Social Venture Challenge, the CEL put out a call for students to gather, share, and refine adventurous plans for these new endeavors . Leading up to their final presentations on April 23rd, experienced peers will help contestants to hone their ideas into a ten-minute pitch and a two-page executive summary. The top three proposals will receive $10,000 to split in order to set their enterprise in motion, and each team will also benefit from professional mentoring as they work to make their idea a reality.

In serving the adventurous thinkers who do not yet have an idea or a teammate, CEL headquarters acted as matchmakers during a mixer event late last semester, which served to connect them with other interested participants and share potential proposal ideas. The CEL has also been hosting a weekly event series every Thursday morning at nearby Gusto Café, where attendants have the opportunity to hear from a local entrepreneur and join in the discussion that follows. In all of its outreach, the CEL works to build up a community of innovation and ambition committed to developing the types of ideas that will serve the common good.

Dr. Crockett says this competition, specifically, encourages that community of students to be bold and to think creatively—whatever the outcome. “We should be less afraid of failing. In my experience, it can be good to fail fast, fail often and fail hard... Those unafraid to fail are the ones that learn the most. Enter the Social Venture Challenge, because the world may need your idea, and breakthroughs aren't discovered by those afraid to try.”

Photo 1: Dr. Carter Crockett (center right) collaborating with CEL instigation team members and a local leader.

Photo 2: Thursday morning conversations at nearby Gusto Café.

Hee-Kyoung Park is a student in the Graduate Education Program at Gordon College, studying elementary education and moderate disabilities. She loves working with children and youth, and enjoys nature walk, exercising, singing and playing the piano.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

National Recognition in Science & Green Chemistry

Last night in an awards ceremony at the American Chemical Society's (ACS) national meeting in Dallas, student Brittany Marshall '15, a chemistry major and president of Gordon's ACS Chapter accepted two awards: Outstanding Chapter [2012-13 academic year] in higher education; and recognition as a Green Chemistry Chapter.

The ACS national meeting attracts 12,000 chemical professionals and includes 1,066 student chapters at colleges and universities. Outstanding Chapter is the highest honor in higher education chapters by ACS. Only 30 chapters in the nation received both of the Outstanding Chapter and Green Chemistry awards and recognition. For the past two years Gordon has received the highest set of honors possible—fewer than 3% of student chapters receive those combined honors.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Harvard’s Model United Nations Delegates to the World

Gordon’s Model UN students had a very successful weekend at Harvard University participating in a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly, for which enrollment, guidelines and participation acceptance are set by Harvard. Gordon's delegation consisted of 18 students enrolled in political scientist Paul Brink’s International Diplomacy course.

The Model UN experience challenges students to think and work in new ways concerning an assigned country and the issues facing that society, and to develop skills required in international diplomacy. Class time is devoted to research, public speaking, practicing simulations, and strategizing. Though Harvard makes the country assignments, the Gordon team is able each year to send its top 10 picks. "We typically seek African states, because I want our students to get a taste of representing states that are not superpowers," said Brink, a native of Canada with extensive research in liberalism and pluralism. "This year, though, there weren’t many African states with delegation sizes large enough, and we received Saudi Arabia."
Brink calls the annual Harvard event "the Superbowl of Model UN competitions." Among Gordon's team successes this year, one special highlight was Dawn Cianci '14 (a double major in philosophy and political science) winning the Best Delegate award among students representing Arab League nations. "This recognition is a very high honor in Model UN simulation," said Brink. Cianci, a native of California, is the first Gordon woman to win a Harvard National Model UN award and one of a small handful of Gordon students to win such recognition from Harvard's awarding committees.

Over 3,000 college/university students participated in the Harvard competition this year; student teams from the U.S. and other nations represented 73 different countries. Last year, Gordon represented Tunisia. Other countries represented by Gordon students in the past include Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Gabon. Gordon also offers a Model UN Club for students interested in competing at international club level.
Photo: Best Delegate honoree Dawn Cianci.


Monday, February 24, 2014

New Chaplain Brings Gordon Lessons on Unity

By Sarah Tang ’16

This semester, Gordon welcomed a new member into its community. In a short period of time, he has already established many relationships with students, regularly meeting with them and mentoring them, ready for visitors to drop by his office any time for a conversation. This is our new chaplain, Tom Haugen.

Previously, Tom had served in churches in Atlanta, Georgia, on Boston’s North Shore, and most recently Zurich, Switzerland, for over 6 years. Why would someone living in beautiful Switzerland move back to the United States, I wondered. “I had sensed God asking me if I can dream big, what my dream job would be,” Haguen said. “And the one job that rose on top was to pastor a liberal arts Christian college.”

Tom prayed persistently and consulted his wife, who had attended Westmont College in California, and she told him he would be perfect for the job. Along with their three daughters, the family then decided to move back in 2010, having faith that God would provide them with the right opportunities.

For the next 3 years, Tom began working toward a Ph.D. in homiletics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In September 2013, the position for chaplain at Gordon opened up, and Tom went for it. He was chosen, and then began working part-time in November alongside then Dean of Chapel, Greg Carmer, who has since taken on the dual role of Dean of Christian Life and Theologian-in-Residence. To this day Tom says he still has Dr. Carmer on speed dial and has learned immensely from him.

“What excited me the most was the opportunity to invest in and pastor college students at a place in their lives where they are hungry for someone to teach them and point them to Jesus,” Tom continued to say, “being able to shepherd students to do what God has put on their heart through pastoral counseling and mentoring is exactly what God has put on my own heart to do here.”

Tom’s first task was to come up with a chapel theme for the semester, and as he prayed through the themes, one concept kept coming into his mind: unity. “I am committed to this: I believe that God has created us to be joyful beings glorifying God and enjoy him forever, and I want to bring this idea to campus through my genuine commitment to it and have it overflow,” Tom explained. Combining unity and joy with Tom’s commitment to preach through God’s Word, Philippians emerged as the perfect book to build the semester’s chapel program: Together as One: A Walk through Philippians. Written by the Apostle Paul, Philippians addressed the first congregation in Europe. In the text, Paul aimed to encourage and guide this church to grow as one in the name of Jesus Christ—just the same as Tom’s vision for the Gordon community.

The semester’s chapel schedule interweaves Tom’s series on unity with many other speakers and themed weeks. The seven separate messages on connection, purpose, humility, compassion, hope, joy, and contentment will work together to empower and motivate the campus to go through scripture together and trigger conversations and reflection.

In his sermon on Purpose, Tom focused on the teaching that God’s purpose is bigger than our circumstances. “Paul understood that hard things would come his way,” he preached, “But whatever happens, he says live a life that gives Jesus Christ the honor and the glory that he deserves; whatever happens, hold firmly to the truth of Jesus Christ; whatever happens, represent Christ well; whatever happens, allow God to use your suffering to advance the gospel; whatever happens, stand firm striving together as one, for the sake of the gospel.”

“I want students to come into chapel not knowing what to expect,” Tom said. He has done just that—whether through fresh expressions of corporate faith, like moments of silence for the student body to confess to the Lord together, or fun community experiences like a recent free t-shirt giveaway. And these small moments—praying together, noticing a couple classmates wearing the same t-shirt—will work to build the unity Tom is preaching about. Through his chapel sermons and outside of chapel, through Tom’s interactions with students, he is encouraging the student body to see the bigger picture of the Kingdom, together as one.

To watch follow Chaplain Tom Hauguen's chapel series on unity, visit the Gordon College YouTube channel here.

Sarah Tang '16 is a sophomore sociology and communication arts double major at Gordon from Hong Kong, China, and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She is a member of the Campus Events Council and works as a barista in Bistro 255. She is passionate about human trafficking and special needs orphans and has a burden for Southeast Asia.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MOMA Gallery & Pop Up Event—ACCESS, NYC

On Thursday, members of the Gordon community will head to New York City, where the Accessible Icon Project—an advocacy project to update the current International Symbol of Access—will go on display in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

As a thank you to Gordon College, a select group of Gordon College art students have been invited to an exhibit preview, and will observe as MOMA curators handle the final details prior to the gallery opening. Two faculty members, Brian Glenney (philosophy) and Tim Ferguson Sauder (art), will receive lifetime memberships as artists in MOMA's permanent collection as a result of their work as artists for the AIP icon.

Following the invitation-only viewing, the art students, under the director and curation of Peter Morse (manager, Barrington Center for the Arts), will create a one-day exhibit titled ACCESS in a New York City gallery on Saturday, February 15. The opening reception will begin at 5 p.m. at Ludlow Studios and the exhibit will remain open to the public until 10 p.m.

Throughout the trip Gordon alum Daniel Stevens '07, owner of In the Car Media—a video production company—will document events and travels of the Gordon crew by taking over the College's social media (SM) pages. Stevens will guest author Gordon's social communications Thursday, February 13 through Sunday, February 16. In addition to updates, he'll spread the word that on Sunday at 11 a.m., a Gordon representative will be at the MOMA entrance and will provide Gordon-sponsored free admission tickets (quantity limited) to anyone who says "Rush the MOMA 2/16." 


For twitter users, hashtag #RushtheMOMA216 will also provide updates through the weekend. 

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Photo: AIP co-founder Brian Glenney (philosophy) 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Audience with the Emperor

By Nora Kirkham ’16

The A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel traveled to imperial Japan on January 24 and 25, its stage transformed into a Japanese courtyard complete with rice paper doors and luminous red and orange lanterns. The occasion for this transformation: Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous comic opera, The Mikado.

The event was a collaborative effort presented by Gordon’s Theater Arts and Music Departments. Directed by Professor of Theater Arts Jeffrey S. Miller and Associate Professor of Music Michael Monroe, The Mikado featured both gifted musicians and skilled actors.

The comedic genius of Gilbert and Sullivan has been a favorite for Gordon’s winter productions in recent years, with the successes of 2011's Pirates of Penzance and 2012's H.M.S. Pinafore. The quick wit and improvisational freedom that infuse these scripts find a natural home amid the talents of Gordon’s Music and Theater Departments.

The opera follows the antics of Nanki Poo (John Cunningham ’14), the son of the Mikado (meaning "emperor," played by Ben Tuck ’16), who runs away from court to avoid marrying a frightening woman, Katisha (Mary Speta ’14). Disguised as a wandering minstrel, he pursues the young woman he does love, Yum-Yum (Christiana McMullen ’14), who is tied into an arrangement with the Lord High Executioner (Ryan Coil ’14). These characters’ fates become more and more entangled as the play progresses with quirky dialogue, song and dance. Naturally, the play was highlighted by impressive performances delivered by both cast and orchestra. The characters belted out a variety of ballads and humorous songs, and entertained us with their ability to improvise banter. Noble lords were played by Daniel Alvarado ’14 and Jonmichael Tarleton ’14.

Set in imperial Japan and first performed in 1885, The Mikado explores a ninteenth-century European fascination with Asia. Thanks to the production’s creative team, the stage was beautifully designed to reflect the culture of old Japan. The costumes, however, took on a contemporary edge. Characters sung and danced in an eclectic blend of colorful kimonos and modern Harajuku statement outfits, fluttering paper fans with Hello Kitty backpacks slung over their shoulders.

While the opera’s original object was to serve as a satire of British society, Gordon’s actors and directors were able to relate its content to a contemporary audience through minor script manipulations. One song in particular shed humorous light on Gordon’s core curriculum, Facebook and pop culture.

The Mikado’s cast and crew dazzled the audience with their sheer musical, theatrical and creative talent, and the play's finale was met with a well-deserved standing ovation. 

After the smashing success of The Mikado, we have Gordon's next theatrical production to look forward to: In April, Jeffery S. Miller will be directing Metamorphoses. Scripted by acclaimed playwright Mary Zimmerman and based Ovid’s epic poem, the play takes place in a real pool!

To view the full Mikado cast, orchestra and creative team members, visit

Photo: The Mikado, performed by Gordon College student actors and musicians, transported the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel to imperial Japan.

Nora Kirkham ’16 is a sophomore history major at Gordon College and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She loves Portuguese culture and plants.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Scot Spirit Ignites

By John Buckley ’15

A rampant lion was carved out of the bonfire wood, blazing. Students mustered their presence to the lawn, holding signs of their residence hall. Overhead, a blue and white balloon archway stood as the emcees took the stage. The students, athletes, faculty and staff of Gordon College came together on Friday, January 24, unified on the Frost Hall lawn for a special moment of celebration. “Scots! Scots! Scots! Scots!” senior Pierre Celestin led everyone in one big cheer. Those wispy polar vortex temperatures didn’t stand a chance. 

We were celebrating the perseverance, the teamwork, and the leadership of our athletes—those accomplishments that are symbolic of our history and our vision as a school.
The rally was orchestrated thanks to the dedication of several campus groups that joined together. “It was really born out of a desire to make something big that would bring together the winter and spring sports,” said Gordon College Student Association (GCSA) president Branden Figueroa ’14. Also among those responsible for putting on the event were Associate Vice President for Student Life Jennifer Jukanovich ’94, and Highlander Club Assistant Mechelle Brown of Athletics. “We recognized there was kind of disconnect between athletes and students,” Brown notes. 

“We have 20% students involved in athletics,” Jukanovich reiterates, “and we don’t always have this type of opportunity for them.” They saw the need, and did something to give students the rally they were waiting for. Though a common sentiment, “build it and they will come,” held true here. Thanks to the assistance of groups like Physical Plant, The Pit, and GCSA, the rally soon become a reality. 

The turnout blew everyone away. As Brown recalls, “The yelling, the screaming, the cheers—students felt like they were a part of something, something big.” That something big was a unique, timely recognition of Gordon’s athletic teams. Sophomore Men's Basketball player Udoku Obiora was among the many student athletes who took a break from their busy schedules to participate. “I thought it was a great thing the school did for the athletic department,” he says “It kind of brought back that school spirit we need so much.” 

Pierre’s brilliant rallying of the crowd led into inspirational addresses from GCSA president Branden Figueroa, Gordon’s VP of Communications Rick Sweeney ’85, President D. Michael Lindsay, and Jennifer Jukanovich. “I’m a big supporter of having more of this. I think we need to do more to show support for our athletes and teams,” says Sweeney.

“Athletics is an incredible unifier,” Jukanovich noted. “In a wonderful confluence of events, including the March on Gordon [a commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, held on campus earlier this month], and the Together as One chapel theme, there has been this culmination of different student groups seeking more unity and we’re glad that the rally was a part of that.” Men’s Basketball team captain and senior Shaun Roach echoed the power of the event, “Seeing all the athletes together gets people excited about our teams again. I think sometimes we can be too busy to care, but this reminds us to care.”

So will we see another rally in the fall, especially as Gordon’s 125th anniversary lies around the corner? 

“This is where we started, and this is where we can go,” Brown says. “We’re getting ready to put on the war paint.”

John Buckley ’15 is a junior business administration and communication arts double major at Gordon College and the Presidential Fellow for Rick Sweeney, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. Depending on the weather, his interests are theology, photography, a good read of Sherlock Holmes, or wiping out on his longboard. 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Fashion and Flourishing in Tanzania

By Sarah Tang ’16

For Rebecca Light ’03, her dream to live and serve in a developing community began with a missions trip. As a junior social work major focusing on social policy and community development, she traveled to Nicaragua with World Focus, adding practical service and a global perspective to her coursework. In Nicaragua, Rebecca saw communities working to enact change in order to combat poverty and oppression—and she felt the call on her own life to be a part of such work. Now as project manager for a new venture called Inua, a women’s empowerment project in Tanzania whose name means “lift up” in Swahili, Rebecca is putting this calling into action.

After graduating from Gordon eleven years ago, Rebecca worked at a Department of Children and Families (DCF) group home for adolescent girls on the North Shore and obtained her master’s in social work at Salem State University. Rebecca then spent five years with a small Cambridge-based nonprofit called On The Rise, where she worked with homeless women in a daytime shelter. During this same period Rebecca volunteered for a year as a co-organizer for the Boston Oxfam Action Corps, expanding her understanding of extreme hunger and poverty, women’s issues, lack of educational opportunities, and other global social justices. Experiences like these continued to solidify Rebecca’s passion for social justice and international development.

Rebecca’s ability to recognize and step through open doors of opportunity—as she had done for the past ten years—eventually led her to Inua. In the spring of 2013, Rebecca received the opportunity to volunteer in Tanzania. What began as a three-month endeavor became a seven-month stay, and then prompted the decision to move to Tanzania for another year to start the development project.

“I took the opportunity wholeheartedly… During my time in Tanzania, I have witnessed first hand many of the injustices and oppressive systems and policies I spent time discussing and learning about beginning with my time at Gordon and continuing through my experience volunteering with Oxfam,” Rebecca says.

Rebecca began a partnership with Sylvie Ofstie, an American with a background in fashion, design and education; and a local Tanzanian woman, Pili Mtonga, an accomplished tailor, designer, artist and educator. Together, these three women founded Inua as a community outreach to support women in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, through vocational training and educational initiatives.

The empowerment project is designed to equip women with the skills needed to pursue careers and generate income independently. In addition to tailoring, design and other crafts, the yearlong curriculum designed by Rebecca and Pili also offers English and computer courses. “Without access to education, young women often do not obtain job skills or a way to earn a sustainable income and often end up married and pregnant at a young age, thus continuing the cycle of extreme poverty,” Rebecca notes.

In an effort to ensure that the organization could be self-sustaining, Rebecca and Sylvie have also created a socially conscious clothing line, called naSuma, in collaboration with Pili and her tailors. Beautifully designed and tailored by the team, every piece of naSuma's collection uses traditional African fabric featuring vibrant colors. The pieces are designed in modern and flattering cuts and are very wearable but also unique—unlike anything one can find in stores. These items are sold on their Design From Bagamoyo Facebook page, the naSuma Etsy shop and in Pili’s shop in Bagamoyo, and the Spring/Summer 2014 collection will be sold in several boutiques in the US and Europe. Revenue from the project will provide a fair and sustainable source of income for the local tailors, and will fund Inua's operating costs.

To get naSuma up and running, Rebecca, Sylvie and their new member and business consultant, Ted Humphrey, have launched a fundraising campaign. The funds they raise will be used to ensure the clothing line pays fair wages, provide workshop spaces and material, and covers other administration fees. This crowd-funding campaign offers donation options ranging from fifteen dollars to a thousand dollars, and each option comes with “perks,” which range from special thank you message and update videos from the students of Inua to naSuma items such as totes, scarves and throw blankets.

You can support this Gordon alumna and her team in their work to empower women in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, by spreading the word or making a donation before January 15.

Photo: Rebecca Light ’03

Sarah Tang '16 is a sophomore Sociology and Communication Arts double major at Gordon from Hong Kong, China and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She is a member of the Campus Events Council and works as a barista in Bistro 255. She is passionate about human trafficking and special needs orphans and has a burden for Southeast Asia.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Coffee and Cross-Cultural Dialogue

By Nora Kirkham ’16

How to encourage students to explore conversations about cultural identity and international issues? Create the Global Village Café and give their imagination, experiences and ideas a voice.

Among the student programs geared towards fostering world-wide dialogue, the Global Village is a shining new avenue for students to engage in such discussions with their peers. Created by Gordon’s Global Education Office, the café is not a physical place or group but attributes its name to the atmosphere its dialogue provides. Its main goal is to encourage students to "step outside the Gordon Bubble." The café’s major launch took place earlier this semester in Chester’s Place with a discussion based on the popular TED talk, "The Danger of a Single Story" by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie.

The launch was sponsored by Global Education, the Office of Community Engagement and the student group Advocates for Cultural Diversity. Sipping on delicious fair trade coffee provided at the event, students watched the TED talk and then engaged in rotating student-led discussions. Chimamanda’s talk provoked thoughtful questions and dialogue.

The author of several critically acclaimed novels and short stories, Chimamanda recounted her story of growing up in Nigeria as a lover of English and American literature and the culture shock she encountered upon arriving to the United States for university. Chimamanda’s peers confronted her with a variety of presuppositions about what it meant to be African. Though she felt frustrated and alienated, Chimamanda eventually realized she herself had presuppositions about life in the western world and discovered how dangerous relying on a single story about a culture can be. The TED talk evoked questions such as: “How does the media affect our view of other cultures?” and “How does traveling abroad change our worldview?”

Seeking to address this latter question, Global Village Café held a second event later in the semester titled, “So You Want to Live Abroad?”, which featured a panel discussion with students who had lived abroad for part or all of their childhood. The purpose of this event was to clarify the term, "TCK," or "Third Culture Kid." As members of the International Student Organization, these panelists are American citizens who happen to have lived abroad and may or may not share a sense of belonging to one country alone. With a wealth of experiences to offer, these panelists shared their stories and struggles in hopes of encouraging students to consider thoughtfully their aspirations for an expatriate career.

The conversation is just getting started. With two successful events, the Global Village Café is serving as an eye opening catalyst for thinking more globally on campus.

Photo: Students dialogue as part of the year's first Global Village Cafe event.

Nora Kirkham ’16 is a sophomore history major at Gordon College and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She is a 'Third Culture Kid' raised in four continents and currently claims her home in Moscow, Russia. Her interests include history, international relations, literature and sustainable development. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Revealing Drew Hall: An Intentional Community

Drew's girls apple picking together
By Sarah Tang '16

When fall semester began and students flowed back onto the campus, they found many changes. There were brand new signs, new furniture in lounges, and a new coffee shop in the library. Something else changed as well, and that was Drew Hall. I have heard many times when people walk pass it saying, “Do people live in this barn-looking building?” The answer is yes. Drew Hall was intended to be an intimate residence hall with complete facilities just like any other residence hall—only smaller. There always have been students living in Drew; but this year saw a rebirth of sorts for the small red residence hall—an intentional community of 30 students ranging from sophomores to seniors now inhabiting the building, led by Resident Advisors Cody Larkin ’14 and Danielle Slomka ’15. 

Named Reveal, the community originated with an idea from Wilson and Drew Halls' Resident Director, Elizabeth Lyon, known more commonly on campus as Ebeth. “Ebeth had mentioned in conversation that she thought Drew could be used for a more intentional dorm, and Cody and I got really excited and started planning,” Danielle told me during our interview. “One thing led to a thousand other things and here we are,” Cody added. Over time, Reveal became the group of people always seen attending campus events together, walking to Lane Student Center for dinner together, having rubber band fights in their lounge together...

Students who’ve been accepted into the program benefit from not only weekly floor fellowship and floor dinners, but also Friday morning devotions, hall dinners every other week (at which three members of the community prepare a meal for the whole group), and monthly talks with faculty guests. Each student is also asked to find a mentor to walk him or her through at least the year. 

Drew's monthly faculty speaker - Root Beer with Barry Loy
Anna Hadorn ’16 commented, “I have never had one [a mentor] before, and it has been so amazing having someone who just listens to me talk, someone who knows how to use what I have to say to help me.” On the floor dinner, she added, “You are not required to go but most of the time I go just because I want to see everyone and I know they will all be there.” 

Jose Soltero ’15 had been living in Nyland hall for the past two years at Gordon, and when I asked him why he had wanted to apply, he said, “I knew that if I wanted to go further in my spiritual life, I would need to meet people who wanted the same thing. I now have people to keep me accountable with a common desire to grow as me, and it’s great.” 

Cody Larkin has been the RA in Drew Hall for the past two years. When I asked him how his experience is different this year, he said, “Being a RA is essentially cultivating a micro-culture on your floor, and this year, it became trying to make it a place where people can be themselves, living openly and vulnerably with one another in terms of faith, struggles, relationships, school work, family, etc...” 

Reveal’s other RA, Danielle Slomka, has found that listening to each person leading devotions and talking to each girl about how other girls have impacted them as the most rewarding experience so far. She said, “Each person adds such a different element and a lot of what we do is formed by everyone, rather than forming everyone around what we want to do or the programs we have in place.” Regarding the girls on her floor, she added, “Knowing the women on the floor genuinely want what is best for each other and are willing to give advice and be there for one another has been so rewarding.” 

“Reveal is not what it is because of its schedule but because everyone is invested,” said Cody. “Everyone is Reveal and it’s up to us to make it unique.”  The excitement and passion these two individuals have for the Reveal community is contagious.

At the end of the interviews, I asked each of the four to think of something they would say to the students who would want to apply next year. Jose answered and said, “Reveal is like that family cabin up in the woods, no one really wants to live without the newest amenities and in the middle of no where—although Drew is right by the library and it’s fabulous—but it is the people you are spending time with that brings you joy when you are there. I am with my family, and that’s what makes it a good time.” 

Sarah Tang '16 is a sophomore Sociology and Communication Arts double major at Gordon from Hong Kong, China and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She is a member of the Campus Events Council and works as a barista in Bistro 255. She is passionate about human trafficking and special needs orphans and has a burden for Southeast Asia.