Wednesday, January 25, 2012

National Reporter Points Students to Dr. King

“Balm in Gilead.” “Precious Lord.” Those were a few of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite hymns, according to Adelle M. Banks, a national reporter at Religion News Service (RNS), a Washington-based wire service that covers religion and ethics. Banks referred to her most recent RNS story as she visited two Gordon writing classes and met with students throughout the day yesterday, only a week after the national King holiday.

A native of Newport, R.I., and graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., the award-winning reporter talked with journalism and writing students about her many experiences covering religion as it relates to public life. She also provided numerous professional tips to better reporting for students considering careers in journalism. On Tuesday night, she addressed a larger crowd of students in the Ken Olsen Science Center, discussing issues of racial reconciliation, Dr. King’s legacy and the opportunities and responsibilities today’s students have to continue serving his dream for justice.

Banks was the Hearst Professional in Residence at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in April 2009, and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Religion Newswriters Association. This evening, January 25, at 6:30 p.m., she will be the guest speaker at Second Church of Dorchester, where Gordon's Global Education Dean Cliff Hersey ministers. Banks’ topic? “Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Favorite Hymns and Continuing Impact.” All are welcome.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Green Chemistry Commitment Summit

As Boston welcomed its first blanket of snow yesterday, it also brought together a group of scientists and educators for the Green Chemistry Commitment Summit at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Boston. The summit included leading edge educators and programs from across the country.

This day-long event also featured keynote speakers who discussed the implementation of a Green Chemistry Commitment for academic chemistry departments around the country. Among the presenters was Professor Irv Levy, who spoke about the green chemistry program at Gordon College. "At the root of the green chemistry education community are the individuals, like our students, who are making positive change for a better future," said Levy.

Though Levy was asked to speak about Gordon as a model program, he also talked about the student culture on Gordon's campus. "Our students have a significant role in the success of this program," said Levy. "They have brought, and continue to bring, positive change as a result of their green chemistry outreach—in my life, in the institution and the community."

Photo: Irv Levy is a professor of chemistry and computer science at Gordon College and a founding member of the Green Chemistry Education Network. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Scientific Affiliation and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He also serves on the Faculty Advisory Board for the Green Chemistry Commitment.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Water is Life

Kevin Herr '09 shares reflections on his time in Haiti with Water Missions International, and the organization's ongoing work to bring clean water and the gospel message to people in need around the world:

I stood there, waiting for water to flow out of the tap. It wasn’t coming. The crowd grew restless—mothers in line pushed to get in front of each other, kids ran around yelling. Everyone was waiting. Some had been in line for hours, hoping to fill their buckets with clean water to bring home to their families.

My wife and I, both Gordon graduates, had been living in Port-Aux-Prince, Haiti, for over a month at that point, and we were just starting to get accustomed to our surroundings. We had come with Water Missions International, a Christian engineering ministry. I primarily assisted with the Community Development Department, attending community gatherings and meeting with local pastors, while my wife, Janice, taught the Health and Hygiene curriculum.

We were delayed that day due to a broken section of pipe in need of replacement. One side of the long pipe was attached to a submersible pump that went down into a bacteria-filled well. The other side of the pipe went into a small building that housed a Living Water™ Treatment System (LWTS™). The LWTS™ is Water Missions International’s patented water system, capable of purifying disease-infected water at a rate of 10 gallons per minute through a process of filtration and disinfection.

In Haiti, it is common to hear people say, “Water is Life,” and it’s true. As I stood there in front of the anxious crowd, waiting for the new pipe to be installed, I understood what water truly meant to these people. I could never imagine an American family waiting in line for hours just to get a drink. But this wasn’t a new experience for these Haitians—they didn’t have access to safe water before the 2010 earthquake, either. Driving down the road, I would frequently see people collecting water from dirty streams or run-off ditches.

Worldwide, this lack of safe water causes the death of one child every 15-20 seconds. But that message, on its own, has a hole: Safe water is certainly a staple of healthy communities, but true transformational development will never take place without Jesus at its core. Providing safe water to these populations allows us an incredible opportunity to tangibly share the love of Christ. Many times, I, or one of our Haitian staff, would hold up bottles of clean and dirty water while sharing the gospel message—the correlation between the safe and the Living Water is so clear!

Janice and I were blessed to have spent two months in Haiti. It’s been over a year since we returned, and I now oversee the Church Engagement Program for Water Missions International. When I speak with churches, I can communicate with confidence the direct impact that their involvement has on people’s lives, because I’ve seen it first hand.

My passion for international missions developed during my time at Gordon College, where I participated twice on Mexico Outreach trips and then led a trip to Guatemala with World Focus. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s incredible, the work that the Holy Spirit does inside of your heart when you leave your comfort zone and rely on him. If you give him the control, there’s no telling where you might end up. 

Kevin and Janice Herr (both ’09) live in Charleston, SC. Kevin and Janice graduated from Gordon College with Business Administration and Biology degrees, respectively. Kevin is currently working on a church initiative called Water Sunday (recently featured in a front-page article at the Christian Post)—one Sunday for churches to dedicate to educating their congregations about the global water crisis.The goal is for 50 churches to host Water Sundays in March 2012, raising enough funds to bring safe water and the Living Water message to 25,000 people worldwide.To learn more about how your church can host a Water Sunday, visit their website here.

Water Sunday from Water Missions on Vimeo.

Photo: Kevin and a Haitian boy work on the Living Water™ Treatment System.


Friday, January 6, 2012

A Really BIG Move

A sea of red plastic moving bins were spotted in academic buildings on campus this week as faculty from two departments began their move to a new wing of office space on the third floor of the Ken Olsen Science Center.

The new wing now hosts faculty offices for the Department of Psychology and the Department of Kinesiology. Also opening this week is the new Psychology Observation Laboratory, which will serve as a space for the Counseling course and for small-class lectures and seminars. For faculty member Kaye Cook, professor of psychology, settling in the new space entails moving 33-years of scholarly work. Cook has spent just over two decades in an small office stacked with books and journals on the third floor of Frost Hall. For 21 years the office served as the writing space where Cook authored two books, contributed two chapters, ran four grants, wrote 27 scholarly papers, prepared countless presentations, and advised several hundreds students. “During that time, I acquired more great memories than books, and I’ve got a lot of books!”

Also moving this week are faculty from the Kinesiology Department. In a department that hosts 6 concentrations within health professions, the move is a big step in fostering a more centralized community for their students. “With offices and labs in the Jenks building, Kinesiology was somewhat fractured from the Natural Science Division,” said Sean Clark, associate professor of Kinesiology. “Faculty and students in Kinesiology missed out on the day-to-day interactions and conversations that characterize community within academia.” The move to the third floor of the Ken Olson Science Center will now connect the Department of Kinesiology with colleagues and students in the Division of Natural Sciences, as well as psychology. Clark, who serves as department chair, hopes the move will “provide for broader and better communication within the Division and expand on ideas for interdisciplinary connections.”

Though the new wing is open and faculty are starting to prepare their offices for the start of the spring semester, the Ken Olsen Science Center still has additional construction before the building is complete, including a botanical studies green house, a bioenergetics lab, a biomechanics lab and a neuromotor control lab.

Photo 1: Professor Cook unpacks books in her new office in the Ken Olsen Science Center. Photo 2: movers in Frost Hall carry thousands of papers, files and books to the new suite of faculty offices.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Break in the Mission Field

Winter break can be a time of rest, relaxation and recovery after the end of a long semester. But quite a few Gordon students are cutting their hibernation short: They're packing their bags and flying off to serve others around the world. Over the next week, student-led missions teams will travel to Haiti, Mexico and Northern Ireland.

In Haiti, students will have the opportunity to work with Partners in Development (PID), a faith-based organization involved in many aspects of development, from medical clinics to child sponsorship, small business lending and housing creation. The Gordon team will work with Hatian masons, building homes and helping to complete various other construction projects at nearby sites, all while learning about Hatian culture and the broader work of PID's development efforts.

Students traveling to Tijuana, Mexico, will be the latest in a long line of Gordon trips to the Mexican border city, building upon an already strong relationship between Gordon and the Tijuana community. Gordon volunteers will work with several local churches and orphanages, providing everything from Bible lessons to manual labor.

And while Gordon students continue to strengthen those established bridges, others will be building new ones in the United Kingdom. This group will travel to the New Lodge area of North Belfast in Northern Ireland—where ethno-political tensions run particularly high—to partner with 174 Trust, a Christian community engagement organization. Working with 174 Trust, they will serve the community through various work projects, as well as offering daycare services and after school projects with local children.

Sponsoring short-term missions trips has been a staple of Gordon College's Chapel Office, understanding that these service projects "represent unique opportunities for individuals to grow in their knowledge of God, the world, self, and others."

We pray for safe travels and transformative experiences for all involved in these trips. All of the groups will return just days before returning to campus for the Spring semester.

Photo: Gordon students from the 2010 Haiti trip pose for a picture with some local children.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Making an Impact for Widows and Orphans in Zambia

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was one of the most widely-praised initiatives of the George W. Bush Administration. It was a sweeping commitment—over $15 billion towards AIDS relief across the globe. And while it's easy to hear of broad policies and grand numbers and be unaffected, its impact is still being felt in communities like Ng'ombe, Zambia, where Linda Wilkinson '78 works with widows and orphans affected by HIV.

In 2005, Linda founded Chikumbuso Widows and Orphans Project, which serves this marginalized community with "free schooling for the children, as well as adult training and capacity building, income generation activities and community building programs."

The initiative has grown steadily since its birth, directly impacting the lives of dozens of at-risk individuals in Zambia—thanks in large part to the free treatment options they were able to access through PEFAR.