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.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Alumni Photo Shoot Supports Adoption Effort

This coming Sunday and Monday (November 17th and 18th), open studio photography sessions will be offered in Gordon College’s the Bennett Athletic Center. The sessions will provide an opportunity for students and faculty to have head shots or group photos taken by a professional photographer—alumnus Danny Ebersole ’11—at a significantly discounted rate. 

With the growing popularity of professional networking websites such as LinkedIn, as well as the increased presence of online resumes, quality photographs are of growing importance in cultivating professional opportunities. 

The two sessions will be open to all. Those interested are encouraged to book a session via email (, though walk-in appointments are also welcome. 

The sessions will run Sunday from 1–5 pm and Monday from 3–7 pm. Come by and get some high quality images with no hassle. For a payment of $40.00, clients will receive full-resolution edited files to share freely online or to print. Short family photography sessions are also available upon request for a suggested donation of $140.

All the proceeds from these sessions will benefit Danny and his wife, Brandi-lin ’10, in the process of adopting their first child. You can learn more about the shoot, read couple’s story and follow their journey through "paper pregnancy" at their blog.

Photo: Danny and Brandi-lin Ebersole


Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Adirondack Adventure: Quad Break at La Vida's Base Camp

By Nora Kirkham ’16

Just six hours away from the stacks of textbooks and coffee-stained paper of semester midterms are the Adirondack Mountains, sloping in the mist of a crisp New York October. This quad break weekend, thirteen Gordon College students and two staff members returned to La Vida’s base camp at Lake Clear to engage in a variety of service projects with the rangers of the Adirondack State Park.

For the past three years, the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership has drawn together campus volunteers for a weekend of service at the program’s New York base working alongside the park rangers in the Adirondacks.

The Adirondacks themselves are known and beloved by many students on campus who have taken on La Vida’s college summer expeditions, worked as wilderness trip leaders—called “sherpas”—or served with the program’s support staff. Seven students were participants from Gordon’s WILD semester. The annual service trip offered this group of La Vida supporters a chance to give back to a program and a landscape that had impacted them significantly. In volunteering, the students all had a common purpose and interest: practicing environmental stewardship and experiencing fellowship rooted in a place.

The weekend projects ranged from building and clearing trails on Hurricane Mountain to digging privy holes at campsites on Pollywog Pond. Volunteers both hiked and canoed to their work sites, and the last day of the trip was spent hiking the breathtaking Phelps Mountain in the High Peaks Region.

I was one of thirteen volunteers on the service trip and can honestly say I couldn’t have spent quad break weekend in a better way. In one short trip, I was able to experience the simple pleasures of community and vastness of God’s creation. After weeks of running through the cycle of coursework and commitments, this Adirondacks service trip was a definite breath of fresh air. While at times it was hard work, the projects our groups took on introduced us to new skills, and we finished each day with the satisfaction of making even the smallest differences, on the trail and in the growth of friendships.

Photos: (1) Some of the volunteers enjoy a sunny afternoon in a field, (2) taking a lunch break on the peak of Phelps Mountain, (3) preparing to work on the Hurricane Mountain Trail. 

Nora Kirkham ’16 is a sophomore history major at Gordon College and a writer in the Office of College Communications. Raised in four continents, she is a 'Third Culture Kid'. Her interests include history, art, literature and sustainable development. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Positives of Playing Screwtape

Chloe Eaton ’15 reflects on her experience playing Screwtape in the Theatre Arts Department's production of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, adapted by Associate Professor of English Mark Wacome Stevick and directed by Professor of Theatre Arts Norman M. Jones.

“You first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed, because he enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends. In the second place, you allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there—a walk through country he really likes, and taken alone. In other words, you allowed him two real positive Pleasures. How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet?”


Playing Screwtape in Gordon’s production of The Screwtape Letters has been filled with more “real pleasures” than I can count. It is always a blessing to work with professor and director Norman Jones, from whom there is always more to learn. Taking inspiration from the production's scenic, lighting, sound and costume designers and getting the chance to tackle the script’s wonderful language have also been great pleasures.

One of the greatest joys of working on this piece has been the large cast and crew I have had the privilege of seeing almost every day during the process. Each member is concerned not only with giving their best to the work, but also with creating an amazingly positive and supportive environment.

There have certainly been challenges: balancing a busy schedule filled with rehearsals, the pressure of doing justice to the words of C. S. Lewis and Mark Stevick, the discomfort of finding myself guilty of the often invisible sins Lewis so wisely points out, acting challenges, etc... In their own way, though, these challenges have been joys, as well—chances to learn and grow.

Lewis wisely recognizes that true pleasures of this kind connect us with our Maker in ways that make the other side tremble. I know I speak for all those involved when I say that I have relished the opportunity to enflesh this particularly important and eternal story.

—Chloe Eaton, '15

Performances of The Screwtape Letters continue this week, October 29–November 2, 7:30 p.m, and tickets are still available, if you have not yet seen the show! Click here to purchase your tickets.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Leading in Tomorrowland

“Somoclobat, Social Mobile Cloud Big Analytical Data—it’s the word that describes everything going on in IT today.”

Not every day do you get to hear one of the biggest players in IT (information technology) share his excitement about upcoming tech trends. Typically, it’s the kind of talk we expect from the friend we go to for all our computer needs, or during the conversations reserved for that one time of year when the next iPhone, with all its thumb-scanning tricks, is announced.

But recently during Convocation, President D. Michael Lindsay invited Pat Gelsinger onstage for his latest Conversation with the President. Gelsinger is CEO of VMware, a world famous cloud-computing and virtualization company based in Palo Alto, California. Gelsinger was previously President and CEO of Boston-based EMC, which recently bought VMware. Gelsinger’s three-decade tech career took off right after college when he received a call and free plane ticket to California from Intel, where he was offered a job as a technician. Before he knew it, Gelsinger had risen through the ranks to become the first Chief Technology Officer in the industry and the youngest VP in Intel’s history.

This year, Forbes named VMware one of the most innovative companies. They are on route to become one of the key players in cloud-computingthe next step after the information revolution that will allow us to finally use our online info across a plethora of up-and-coming platforms (e.g. Google glass) and virtual software.

Gelsinger entered the tech industry 30 years ago, a time when computer science was not even a discipline. “We had mathematics and we had engineering, and out of that through this emergence of the computer came the entire new discipline of computer science.” He expects there may be another discipline waiting to be revealed, “I see very much over the next 20, 30 years the area of data science will emerge as this entire new curriculum, a combination of mathematics, statistics, and probabilities, etc.”

As Gelsinger was keen to explain, data is becoming the much-sought prize in the tech industry treasure hunt. He shared his vision for an emerging trend, Big Data. “10 years from now, imagine the following: You wake up in the morning and your biometric sensor will have noticed a heart irregularity while you were sleeping. By the time you get out of bed, it  will have communicated with your cell phone, uploaded the information to your doctor, rescheduled your morning, made a doctor’s appointment so you could get an exam, and loaded the routing to your car to get to you doctors appointment.” In fact, on his wrist that Friday, Gelsinger wore a biometric sensor similar to what he described. The device allows him to use his iPhone to record everything from sleeping patterns to water intake. But, as he noted, this is just the beginning, “Not only will the device record your info, but by the time you get to your appointment, your doctor will have already taken your biometrics for your DNA patterns and tested it against every body of your demographic group with similar DNA patterns and already recommended a set of actions for you to take. That’s the world of Big Data that we’re moving into.”

Big Data is the thread that stitches everything else—cloud, social, mobile—together. These three different elements, drawn together by Big Data, make up what Gelsinger calls “Somoclobat”—Social Mobile Cloud Big Analytical Data.

The big question regarding Somoclobat: What are the implications for privacy?

“I think every aspect of technology, as it advances, opens up new questions around privacy, around ethics and so on.” Gelsinger responded, “Should we individually be concerned? As individuals, probably not; but collectively, a whole lot.”

In answering these questions about emerging technologies and speaking about his leadership roles, Gelsinger also noted how his faith has been essential. As he described to President Lindsay, “You have, as president of Gordon College, this school as your congregation, and I at VMware have a 15,000 person congregation to take care of. With this congregation, I think one of the most powerful things as a leader is to have an intentional relationship with people, and looking for opportunities to pray with them.” For over 16 years, Gelsinger led a Bible Study at his home church at Singing Hills, and still is involved as a Sunday school teacher where he is witness to what it means to prioritize career, family and spiritual demands. 

He entreated students to follow through with the call of Christians to be the best possible employees on the market, because God expects nothing short of excellence in all that we do. With the coming revolution in Big Data, Gelsinger noted the need for more Christian men and women to enter the workplace and use their witness for good. “I think the genetic aspects of DNA mapping, etc. will probably be some of the biggest socio-political issues of the next decade.” Gelsinger is being used in the tech industry to bring about tremendous change through his Christian leadership. Gordon College, we too can be the faithful men and women leading in tomorrowland. We begin today, by bringing the greatest impact possible in the community God has placed us.

Photo: President D. Michael Lindsay and Pat Gelsinger discuss the implications of cloud-computing. The entire conversation can be found here.

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. 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Where Faith and Science Overlap: The 2013 Herrmann Lectures

By Nora Kirkham ’16

“If someone declares science and religion do not overlap... don’t believe it.”

These were the words of Owen Gingerich, professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University as he concluded his lecture, “Was Hoyle Right?” at the 2013 Herrmann Lectures on Faith and Science at Gordon College. This year’s distinguished guest lecturer spoke on three topics—“Was Copernicus Right?” “Was Darwin Right?” and “Was Hoyle Right?”—across three consecutive evenings from October 8–10.

Along with his post as professor emeritus of astronomy and History of Science at Harvard, Dr. Gingerich serves as a senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory. Author of over 250 articles and essays, Dr. Gingerich was among the first people to win the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa prize for excellence in teaching.

I met Dr. Gingerich amidst a swarm of students, guests and faculty discussing the various topics pertaining to faith and science before his last lecture on Hoyle started. With a cup of tea in hand, I listened as he laid out his lecture’s most important point: science and religion—the magisteria—do in fact overlap. Steven J. Gould, he explained, had proposed a theory that science and religion can be friends so long as they stay out of each other’s domains. Yet what if they could work alongside each other, even overlap?

Dr. Gingerich’s lecture on Hoyle that afternoon addressed this question. Sir Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer who first coined the term, “Big Bang”—a theory he actually opposed. In his research, Hoyle inevitably was confronted with the question of God’s existence and His role as creator of the universe. While Hoyle initially seemed to reject the idea of God as Creator, Gingerich explained that Hoyle’s findings brought him closer to feeling that “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics.” “How can the magisterium of science cope with the idea that there is purpose in the universe?” Gingerich asked. “Either there are monstrous coincidences or there is purpose. That is the atheist’s dilemma.”

Three respondents to Gingerich’s lectures attended the conference: Randall D. Isaac, a physicist and executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation responded to the first lecture, “Was Copernicus Right?” Gordon’s own Stephen G. Alter, professor and Department Chair of History made his comments on “Was Darwin Right?” Edward B. Davis, distinguished professor of the History of Science at Messiah College discussed “Was Hoyle Right?” Davis encouraged students to join The American Scientific Affiliation, a 'network for Christians in the sciences,' which offers free membership to college students.

This year’s lectures concluded successfully, having created yet another opportunity for students and faculty to join together with some of our era’s greatest thinkers, pursuing God’s truth in a mysterious universe.

Named in honor of the biochemist Bob Hermann, the Hermann Lectures on Faith and Science are a Center for Faith and Inquiry event held annually at Gordon. Next year’s lecturer will be Dennis Alexander, an esteemed microbiologist from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

Nora Kirkham ’16 is a sophomore history major at Gordon College and a writer in the Office of College Communications. Raised in four continents, she is a 'Third Culture Kid'. Her interests include history, art, literature and sustainable development. 

Photo: Harvard astronomy scholar Dr. Owen Gingerich speaks on the intersection of faith and science during Gordon's annual Herrmann Lectures.