The Thoughts of a Graduating Senior

12 days.

After today, Friday, November 21, 2014, that’s how many more days of classes I have until my journey here at Trinity Christian College is through. My feelings as of this moment? Scared, uncertain, and nervous. While three and a half years seems like a relatively short amount of time (I’m a history student, remember?), it is hard to recall what life was like before I came to Trinity. And now, it is even harder to imagine what life is going to be like once I leave. It was a lot easier when all I had to do to get ready for next semester was decide on my class schedule. Now, I need to figure out where I am going to work and live, among other decisions. The Hunger Games-like midnight registration rush seems like a cake walk now!

At the same time, I am also excited to see what God has prepared for me. Even when the anxiety of the job search begins to overwhelm, when the silence after submitted applications and completed interviews is deafening , and when I am constantly glued to my email just praying for something to come through, I know that God has the best plan already lined up for me.

One journey may be ending in 12 days, but I am excited to begin my next one. If it is possible, I am both ready and not ready to leave this place. I am ready because I know Trinity has prepared me well and now it is time to move on. However, I am not ready because this place has been my home away from home—I am immensely grateful for my wonderful friendships with the students, faculty, and staff here at Trinity. Because of them, I am a very different person than who I was when I arrived on campus in August 2011.

I used this verse in my blog post last spring, and I would like to close with it again:

“Behold, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive Him; on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him; He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him.  But He knows the way that I take; and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:8-10

Whether you are a fellow senior approaching graduation, a freshman still adjusting to campus life, or a faculty member contemplating life’s many decisions, I believe that we all encounter “Where Do I Go from Here?” worries.  During these times, it is sometimes hard to see where God is leading.  The periods of confusion and darkness often seem longer than the moments of joy and clearness. God will continue to lead, though, even when we cannot see it.  And when we arrive at wherever that may be, the golden sunlight will seem so much brighter.

Blessings as you continue on your journeys!

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                           Hannah Wasco

Once a Troll, Always a Troll!

On the Edge of a Coin (Ben Hoekstra)

“I am a product of my experiences.”

Structuralism, determinism, cultural hegemony, these make me who I am. I am molded entirely by that in which I live, my culture makes me the man (or woman) I become. Were it not for that job or those friends, that teacher or those books, I wouldn’t be even remotely the same. We are flowers bending in the wind, stalks growing crookedly according to the tide of the times, growing towards the sun of cultural expectations.

This is what I hear.

“It’s my choice.”

Free will, change, individual responsibility, personal preference, these are my choices. I am molded entirely by what I choose to do, whom I choose to love, where I choose to live. Failure is a result of my choices, success because I made good decisions. Were it not for that hard work, turning that direction, paying attention to that role model, I would still be the same. I am inherently me, decided by my choices, my reactions to my experiences. We are redwoods, growing and spreading despite outside forces, free to move with them or withstand their fury, standing tall and alone.

This is what I hear.

Are these my only choices? Either put all blame on my surroundings, my parents, and my culture, or accept it all on myself? I am told I must believe either in the absolute endurance of my person, or the absolute fickleness of it. I am what I have done or I am what has been done to me. It is up to me or it is never up to me.

Brother, sister, mother, father. These cannot be our two options (though one of the two would say we do not even have the option). We cannot sail on one of these ships, for both have no hope.

The one, determinism, says that we are simply influenced. Therefore there is no hope of becoming better, of changing ourselves. I am what has been done to me. The child born into addiction has no hope of getting out, the boy born into poverty will stay poor, the woman who is objectified will stay an object.

The other, free will, says that we simply influence. It is all up to us- bettering the world, changing ourselves, saving others. Our financial situations, family structures, and emotional states all depend on what we choose. The poor are lazy, the rich are smart, the powerful are deserving. Nothing can stop you, you can do anything you put your mind to, obstacles are simply things to overcome. There is no hope of outside help- if you can’t do it, you’re just not trying hard enough.

How can we believe these? As humans, as Christians, we have to believe there is more than this. More than just our circumstances, more than just ourselves.

Determinism defies the existence of an eternal self. It says we are simply objects to be acted upon. Is there nothing that is inherently us? Inherently me? Does our choice, our action, have no real effect? This philosophy raises a generation that believes this is just the way things are- we naturally are moving towards the way things should be, progressing, evolving. No need to do anything about it.

Yet free will denies the existence of outside forces, of things bigger than simply you or me. It claims that we make our own reality, we make our own lives. Just grab on to your better life today. Try harder. You can do it.

But what if we can’t?

Perhaps there is another way. A middle ground. A place where we find both the reality of systemic outside forces and personal responsibility, a place where humans act and are acted upon, a place where we created culture and are formed by culture—this place can bring us hope. We hope to change the world, to be ourselves, and to do it together. Do not rush to blame outside forces, or take it all upon yourself. Reality is much more complicated, and much more hopeful.

Humbly,

A Servant

Naomi Tutu: On How We View Others

Last Monday, we were blessed to have Naomi Tutu, the third child of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, come and speak in Trinity’s Worldview Lecture series. I came expecting great stories about her father, in who I look up to so much. I came expecting to listen to passionate arguments against racism, on her struggles of being black and female in apartheid South Africa. I came expecting to be convinced that being a minority should not be an issue.

But instead, I was blown away by stories of her self-identity. Of how the issue at hand is not how minorities are treated, but how every human being is viewed. She talks about how it was confusing for her to grow up in the Church being told that “you are of infinite worth” and yet, even in a country that claims to be Christian, was told by society that “you are something less than human” because she was black and a woman.

Instead, I listened to arguments about how to view people. How we need to see people as someone of infinite worth in which my God dwells, instead of a white soldier or a potential terrorist. This challenged me specifically because there are so many times where I make assumptions based on first impressions, not just based on their looks but on how they speak, how they act, how they dress, etc. I believe this applies to our society as a whole.

The issue here is not being a minority, or that we are treating the minority badly. The issue here is how we view people as a whole. Are we viewing and treating people based on what we think? On our assumptions based on the first (or second, or third, or more) looks? How will we treat people differently if we view them as what God want us to view them? As someone of infinite worth, that Christ died for them.

So, here’s the challenge. Let’s reflect on how we view our peers, professors, faculty and staff, or even strangers. Are we viewing them the way God wants us to? Or are our views clouded by our assumptions and judgments? I believe that by viewing others the way God want us to, we would have a society in which “hate is not part of our faith” and a “world in which love, is the real currency.”

-Kezia Stephanie

Spring Honors Seminar

The Spring Semester Honors Seminar has been released! As followers of Christ in a complex world, being able to lead becomes increasingly important to our witness and work in this world. A major part of that leadership is the way that we communicate with each other. The Seminar this upcoming semester focuses on a specific aspect of this communication: our oral communication.

Communications 333 “Rhetoric and Leadership,” led by our own Dr. Mattson, connects his own specialty in rhetoric with contemporary sources on leadership, “giving students opportunities to voice communication’s role in practicing leadership and forming community on our campus and in civic and professional life.”

Three main practices of vocal communication that will be explored: attention, invention, and delivery. As Dr. Mattson reminds us, “It’s hard to pay attention. It’s challenging to invent fresh speech and action. And it’s daunting to speak with boldness. This course equips students to address each of these difficulties.” Since the course is based in communication, much of the homework is delivered through oral delivery. This not only gives a wonderful practice opportunity, but also gives a refreshing break from the typical paperwork in classes. Meeting times will be on Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00- and I think this is a class worth getting up for.

This course delivers skills for those who want to be a leader in any area of their lives. It is also perfect for developing the presentation skills needed in job interviewing and career advancement. I recommend it for anyone who is looking to develop their abilities to formulate and portray leadership to a world in need. Blessings in all your enrolling for the upcoming semester!

- Kaitlyn Claerbaut

Reading Day – Fall Reading List from Evan Tinklenberg

I’ve been tasked with creating a fall reading list for this upcoming Reading Day, though it doesn’t quite feel like fall over here in Seville. Sorry to those who are freezing, but I’ll have it worse in December.

I would encourage anyone reading this to use Reading Day as a prime opportunity to dive into a new book, I promise you can still sleep in. Make something of this day away from class; have an adventure, enjoy the company of some brothers and/or sisters in Christ, or, as this post is intended to assist with, delve deep into the words of some of the authors of the following books.

  1. Love Does by Bob Goff

If you’re seeking an inspiring, fun, and often giggle-inducing read, look no further than Bob Goff and his wise words to be secretly incredible with a love that does. This book is a worldview-adjusting collection of stories and personal memoirs that inspires lovers of Jesus Christ to allow their actions to speak louder than their words. An engaging read and it comes highly recommended from me and just about anyone from Hope College.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green/The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This one is a double-header of sorts, because I don’t expect either to be a new recommendation to many of you. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them! There’s a reason these books have sold millions of copies and spawned multi-million dollar films – they’re stinking good. Even if you’ve read them before, I recommend you re-read them, they’re worth it.

  1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Again, I don’t expect this to be some sort of revelation, but this is not only a classic musical, but quite an amazing book as well. I’m not ashamed to say it’s the first book that brought me to tears when I read it (the John Green entry above being another). If you are looking for an epic story that paints a very detailed, down-to-earth, yet glorious depiction of God’s grace, this is the book. It’s definitely not a short read, but you won’t regret it.

Honorable mention (as Honors students, we appreciate those): My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. This book is extremely well-written and expertly crafted. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Take Heart – a word from Ben Hoekstra

I do not know how you feel as this new year ramps up to a beginning. As you accelerate onto the speeding interstate that is a year of college, perhaps you feel excitement. Or perhaps you feel fear. As your willpower pedal hits the metal, you may feel a sense of hopelessness—who will do all that needs to be done? Who will lead, provide direction for you and for those around you? Who?

The Honors Program has this year taken up a new goal: leadership formation. We are called to be formed as people who will show the way, enabling God’s people to step into the chaos of this life. And so as we begin a year and look for leadership, we look to those who will lead. These are the people who will lead the Honors Program when you and I and our classmates have moved on into God’s glorious plan for us after Trinity. These are the new 2014 cohort: the Kappas. The freshmen.

Dr. Mattson asked that I introduce this new cohort.

kappas

It may be somewhat fitting that I introduce them. After all, I had the privilege of getting to know them as one of their FYF mentors. To those 2014 Kappas reading this, I hope my introduction does you all justice.
My friends, I do not have the ability nor the words to adequately introduce the 2014 Kappa cohort. But in my feeble attempt, I will tell you three things. First, that they are beautiful different from one another. At Trinity we would call that diversity, but it is really just a uniqueness. In getting to know each of them more deeply, I see children of God that have beautiful, challenging stories full of adventure and growth and so much of God’s handiwork. They are the kind of people I am proud to say go to Trinity.

Second, they are courageous. In their brief time here already, I have seen them try new things, reach out to strangers, meet to talk about God, and be open and vulnerable with people whom they barely know. They are brave.

Finally, the most important thing. The 2014 Kappas are a group that I have come to love as brothers and sisters in Christ. They have so much potential, so much that God will do with them. They give me hope.
voluntrolling
I challenge you that you meet these brave, unique individuals. Get to know them and their stories. For you Kappas, I challenge you to get to know those already here, who are ready to live life with you. And to all, I remind you of this—to hope. For God has done great things, and He has only just begun.

kappas 2014

Urgent Opportunity to Apply for Fulbright

Are you a junior this fall?  Are you a senior?  Look, folks! Open your eyes!  See in the message below that there are  20+ openings in Taiwan for ETAs (English teaching assistants).

 

Think about it:  you would spend a year in Taiwan upon graduation.  Taiwan.  Some Fulbrighters love it so much, they stay on another year.  What would you do in Taiwan?  You would teach English at the high school or college level. And, you know, English is a language with which you have some conversancy!  

 

How would you pay for it?  Well, Fulbright would.  They pay for transportation and room and board, as well as a stipend.

 

You want to see the world and not just be a tourist?  You want to be a traveler and a giver?  This is the program for you.  It’s a good, good way to spend the year or two after graduating from Trinity.  

 

When should you start applying?  This fall.  The fall semester is the best time for juniors and seniors (particularly seniors) to apply for this opportunity. 

 

 

 

Fulbright ETAs to Taiwan

 

 

20 + Awards Available

                                                                                    

 The number of ETA  opportunities to Taiwan have been increased.  Over 20 awards will be available for 2015-16.

 

Please refer to the Taiwan country summary on the Fulbright US Student Program website for additional program and application information.

 

 Walter Jackson

Program Manager

U.S. Student Programs

Institute of International Education (IIE)

809 United Nations Plaza

New York  NY  10017-3580

Tel: 212.984.5327

Fax: 212.984.5325

Email: wjackson@iie.org