This year as an experiment, the Honors Program is trying–I believe the favored bureaucratic word is piloting–an online Interim Festival. I encourage you to scroll, peruse, relish, and respond! – cem
This January I fled the harsh Chicago winter temperatures for the balmy land of Costa Rica. Three other Trinity students, Professor Dr.Roose, his wife, Rosmarie, and I spent a week exploring and experiencing the small Central American country. Our seven days were filled with the wonder of creation and God’s hand in the diverse ecosystems of the land. In addition, we spent time twice a day with Max Lucado’s book Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms, a devotional that reflects on the truths of Psalm 23. On our first day, as we exited customs in San Jose we were met by Pedro, our guide, and Eddie, our driver. They joined us as we hiked through the rainforest, visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, and took a riverboat ride near Chilamate. They also made sure we made it safely to (and through) our whitewater rafting trip down the Rio Sarapiqui. After three days at the Selva Verde Lodge in Chilamate we traveled to Arenal where we had the opportunity to zipline over the canopy of the jungle. The series of eight lines, some almost a half mile long made for an exhilarating experience that was one of the highlights of the trip for me. That evening at our hotel, we were surprised to be greeted by a bull munching on the bushes outside our room. The following morning we left for the dry forest of Guanacaste on the Pacific side of the country. Here we enjoyed hikes exploring the forest, horseback riding, swimming and jumping off rocks near a waterfall, and relaxing in the hot springs. After two days we packed up again for our final destination: the city of Liberia. After one last short hike, we spent our last full day at the beach and in the hotel pool. The next day we said our sad goodbyes to Eddie and Pedro and boarded our plane back to the States. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience God’s amazing, creative work in another part of the world.
For interim 2012 I decided to take an interim class a bit out of the norm. I chose Professor Liz Chang’s interim called Love Relationships and Marriage: Examining Cultural Influences. In this course, we watched modern films and TV shows relating to society’s view of relationships. We then turned to scripture and three contemporary authors to gain the biblical view of relationships. Not only romantic relationships, but friends, family, and even relationships with a stranger were topics for discussion in the course. We learned to identify and understand the way in which society has defined relationships of all kinds and then shaped our own views based on what we know as God’s calling for us through his word. Addressing societal ideals verses biblical foundations was extremely interesting, and I would love for everyone to take this course.
This past interim, I was in the class “Chicago and the 1893 World’s Fair.” We studied the history of Chicago leading up to the World’s Fair, Columbian Exposition. We watched documentaries on important events in Chicago’s history, had lectures from Professor Bara (a Chicago native) and saw images of what the fair looked like in digital version. A highlight of the class was a field trip to downtown Chicago where we were able to see firsthand where these events took place. Our final project of the class had us thinking creatively. We had to design our own World’s Fair, including a main entertainment, location, theme, and new discovery. Overall the class allowed me to see and appreciate the beauty that Chicago has become despite its rough beginnings.
Sadly, this is the only picture I took over Interim. I suppose we were just so busy between play performances, tours, exhibits, and trying incredible food that I forgot to take my camera out! This year, I participated in an interim on Contemporary Chicago Theatre led by Dr. John Sebestyen. In all, we saw nine different performances of some phenomenal (and sometimes not-so-phenomenal) plays in Chicago; we also went to an exhibit on the history of Chicago theatre and took a tour of the Chicago Theater. This picture is of a very excited Dan Thayer and I when we realized the booth we were sitting in was the same place that Oprah Winfrey sits whenever she attends performances at the Theater–we are still pretty sure we are entitled to meet her now. Overall, this Interim increased my passion for theatre even more and I am thankful I was able to experience it with such a enriching group of people.
I recently traveled to England as a part of Dr. Cole’s interim, The Beatles in London and Liverpool. My paragraph summary for the Honors Blog follows in the next paragraph of this message. I’ve also attached a picture of my friends and me standing in front of Buckingham palace on a mild January London afternoon.
On January 4 we took off for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, our final destinations were London and Liverpool. Dr. Cole, along with his wife, Lois, Trinity’s own campus safety officer, “Constable” Norm Limback, and one of Dr. Cole’s colleagues, Chris Yadron, led a group of nearly thirty students to discover the native sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of the Beatles in the places that they called home. While much of our touring focused on Beatles attractions, like the Abbey Road zebra crossing, the Cavern Club nightclub, and the famous building where their rooftop concert took place, we also spent a great deal of time exploring basically every tourist attraction in London and Liverpool. Our days of touring were great, but nothing ended our nights better spending a little bit of time unwinding in an authentic British pub.
Some of my most memorable memories include, but are not limited to: sitting in the same seat that the Queen did during the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey, riding “the Tube” during the middle of rush hour by ourselves and not getting lost, getting our photo taken while walking across Abbey Road, and being separated from the entire group because I was buying ice cream—our tour guide made fun of me for doing that the rest of the trip.
I can definitely say that, without a shadow of a doubt, a good time was had by all. I learned about British culture and had so much fun at the same time—you can’t get any better than that, right?
(Our group standing under the Aqueduct, that is held together merely by the force of the blocks as it contains no cement.)
For Interim this year, I travelled to Spain with a group of five other students and a professor from the Spanish department. We spent most of our time in and around Madrid, as well as visiting a few smaller towns such as Toledo, Avila, Segovia and El Escorial. We stayed in apartments run by a Christian ministry and had the chance to attend two church services in Spanish. Even though I didn’t follow the sermons during the church services, I was amazing to see the similarities and differences between our church services in America to those of another country. One thing that really stuck out to me about church was that I knew the worship songs they were singing, but they had been translated into Spanish.
We toured many castles, museums and cathedrals, and we tried many new foods throughout our trip. What I enjoyed most about the trip was visiting the small mountain town of Segovia, just north of Madrid. Segovia boasts a medieval castle, a beautiful cathedral, and a Roman Aqueduct which dates back to the 1st century AD.
After taking the interim trip to London and Liverpool, I have decided that at some point in my life, I want to live in a foreign country. The United Kingdom provided me with the best vacation I’ve ever had, even though it was the opposite of relaxing. Becoming best friends with the bartenders at the First Class Sports Bar, walking across Abbey Road, singing Beatles songs at the Cavern Club, dancing like a fool, and bonding with foreigners are a few of my experiences. I recommend England to anyone.
This winter, interim was filled with knowledge and learning about a lifestyle I not only didn’t know much about, but desired to know more: the monastic life. We spent hours in CL 201 watching films, reflecting on reading, discussing how this applied to our lives, etc. Then, we finished up the interim with a 3-day trip to a monastery in Dubuque, IA, called “Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.” In the back roads and hills of Eastern Iowa, this cloister sheltered us and offered us seven Offices a day, where we prayed and sang, prayed and sang, and prayed and sang some more. We cooked, ate, and cleaned up after meals communally and enjoyed a “quiet life” together in the down time. One particular aspect of this life we lived that I found utterly stunning was the stillness and silence that we practiced. Dr. Reppmann told us to live a still life while we were there, which meant: not much loud noises, not much talking, quiet activities such as reading, writing, walking, and so on. I can be a very anxious and busy person. This stillness brought peace to me that I never even knew existed. Having “The Great Silence” after Compline and not speaking until Lauds the next morning was a challenge, for sure. Doing “lectio divina” in the early hours of the morning between Vigils and Lauds was an even more intimate experience, since it expressed silence and studying/reading/writing in community; those times had and will always have a special place in my heart. This picture shows the silence that was even expressed in the wintery surroundings of the monastery — I spent much of my time outside, breathing in the cold air and crunching my feet in the snow. It was lovely, peaceful, and still, just like the life we had hoped for, but so much more peaceful, still, and lovely than I could have ever imagined or dreamed.
Professional Sports Undercover
This year, I chose the interim course titled “Professional Sports Undercover,” led by the women’s soccer coach, Josh Lenarz. As a fan and player of numerous sports, I had no trouble choosing this interim, even with the cost in mind. So, after an uneventful and surprisingly fast registration process, I was in.
Our objective was this: to gain a glimpse behind the scenes of professional, semi-professional, and collegiate sports programs, both large and small markets, and see how upper level sports programs aren’t all fun and games. Professional sports are a business as well.
Throughout the interim we watched several ESPN 30 for 30 films, yet our main focus was touring sports venues and visiting those involved in the sports industry. For our first off-campus trip, we visited Northwestern University and talked with the director of marketing for NU athletics. We also watched a Northwestern women’s basketball game. The next day we toured Soldier Field, Miller Park, and visited the Milwaukee Wave, a professional indoor soccer team. In Milwaukee we met with the owner and president, as well as the head coach of the Wave. The financial discrepancy between large market teams like the Chicago Bears and a small market team like the Wave was incredible. Whereas teams like the Bears are dealing with millions of dollars, players on the Wave take up part-time jobs. We also attended a Chicago Wolves game, meeting the team president, and attended a Chicago Bulls game. Later in the interim we toured Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire, and met with a corporate partnership account executive. In addition to off-campus expeditions, those involved in sports visited us at Trinity; people like Trinity’s baseball coach (who has some experience with the major league), the head athletic trainer of the Chicago Bears Tim Bream, and FIFA referee Michael Kennedy. We also talked with professional tennis player and coach Todd Martin via Skype.
This interim was a lot of fun, giving us the opportunity to talk with people involved in the sports industry and also tour a variety of sports venues. To be sure, professional sports are a business.
I participated in the Love, Relationships, Marriage interim with Professor Chang. Throughout the course, we watched four movies, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Serious Moonlight, Love Actually, and When Harry Met Sally. We also watched random clips from TV shows or other movies and reflected and discussed them. Using three books, The Five Love Languages, The Meaning of Marriage, and Sacred Love, we learned what others viewed marriage as. We wrote daily journals about what we had learned and discussed what we thought of the day’s lesson. Overall, the interim was fun and I feel like I learned a lot about what marriage and relationships are meant to be about.
I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Haiti with about 18 other Trinity students. We spent a week at Mission of Hope, a wonderful organization to whom God has given an incredible vision for shining Christ’s light in Haiti. Throughout the week, we participated in both VBS-type activities with the children in local villages and various work projects in the surrounding area, from painting homes to digging trenches. On our last full day in Haiti, Mission of Hope sent us to a small Haitian resort as a “thank you” for coming. There I had the chance to swim in the Caribbean Sea and snorkel for the first time. It was an experience I never dreamed I would have, and the beauty is breathtaking. In just a week, I learned a great deal about faith from the Haitian people and my perspective was drastically changed. It’s a week I’ll never forget.
For my second interim course, this January I left the United States for the first time and traveled to Spain for 11 days. I was so privileged with the opportunity to visit a few of Spain’s beautiful cities including those of Madrid, Toledo, Aranjuez, Segovia, and Avila. The six of us stayed for seven days in a dorm in Aranjuez where we had the opportunity to observe a Spanish Christmas as well as the local culture and cuisine. We traveled often to Madrid by train where we explored this amazing city and saw many of its famous sights. We stayed for our remaining three days in a hotel in Madrid and traveled by bus to a few of the smaller cities in Spain, marveling at the culture and the history of this country. We attempted to speak the language and were helped by the professor traveling with us. We toured the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium, visited many famous museums including the Prado, toured a bull fighting ring, watched a Flamenco dance, visited a Christian Spanish school, and toured a castle and a couple of palaces. I was so blessed to take this Interim course with a group of students who made the trip amazing. This Interim helped me experience a culture, a language, and a history that is so different from my own; I am so appreciative to have had the chance to see another part of the world.
As a Senior, I took my fourth interim this year and luckily this was my first on campus Interim (not that we were on campus often). I took Dr. Sebestyen’s Interim entitled “Chicago’s Role in Contemporary American Theatre”. AS a Theatre major, this not only gave me the opportunity to take an Interim in my field of study but one that that offered lots of fun activities. As a part of the course, we went to 9 different theatres. We saw shows ranging from Elizabeth Rex at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre to Pirates of Penzance by the Hypocrites Theatre Company to the absurd comedy Penelope at the Steppenwolf Theatre. Each show offered something different and no two shows were similar. We were able to enjoy great theatre as well as great food on most of our outing days. This picture is of our group before we were able to experience an amazing full building tour of the historic Chicago Theater.
Over interim I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with eighteen other Trinity students to a town just outside of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. We worked with the organization Mission of Hope who is working to transform the lives of every man, woman, and child in Haiti. At first, I thought this seemed like a lofty goal but now I believe that some day, with the help of our Lord, they will accomplish it. My team and I had a wide spectrum of tasks during the week. We traveled to villages and played with kids, shared our testimonies, and put on a skit; we visited an orphanage for an afternoon and spent time with the kids there; we also painted houses in a community that was built for earthquake survivors. On the two year anniversary of this earthquake that claimed many Haitian lives, we dug a trench to bring water to this community of survivors. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to witness God’s work in a group of Trinity students and in Haiti. Not a day goes by where I am not humbled by the abounding blessings here and spurred to prayer for those that I met in Haiti. I think I can speak for my entire team when I say that our lives have been changed forever.
I took a graffiti interim course this past January and learned how to create a tag of my own. We didn’t use spray paint, but did get to use markers and pastels for our street names as we liked to call them. We learned about “tagging”, “bombing”, “pieces” and a “throw-up”, all referring to different ways of putting up graffiti and what to call either a signature or large piece.
We got to go downtown and visit a studio where we met a graffiti artist and we also watched multiple movies that highlighted graffiti in various ways. We were given the opportunity to make a stencil of our choice and then spray that onto paper, which was then to be displayed on the student board in the ARCC. I chose Max from the book Where the Wild Things Are. Overall, it was a nice introduction for the time I do spend nowadays in the ARCC for a sculpture class that I am taking.
Cooking, serving, loving, encouraging, strengthening, growing–that’s my interim! My interim, “Go Local,” blessed me in incredible ways. I strengthened relationships with professors and fellow students as I grew to understand the incredible misunderstanding of the homeless population through our readings of Under the Overpass. I even strengthened my cooking skills by cramming fifteen college students into the library kitchen to cook scotcharoos and other numerous things that were not nearly as good as my scotcharoos! 🙂 We packed food for starving children in Africa, served food to the homeless, and played some sick Bingo with the elderly. I’ll tell you what, you have never experienced competition unless you play Bingo, it gets intense in that room–biting words and shouts, along with spurts of laughter and excitement–that’s a real sport!
Yes, I went to a madhouse over interim… and I would love to go back. In case you were wondering, the madhouse I went to was the United Center, and I went there to go to a Chicago Bulls game. I took the Professional Sports Undercover interim class this year, and it was a great experience. This course was aimed at learning about a wide variety of areas in a wide variety of professional and NCAA Division I sports. This interim course looked at many areas of professional sports including training, marketing, finances, management, ownership, coaching, playing, and many more. We spent some time on campus listening to guest speakers and watching course related films. But for me, the best part of the trip was leaving campus. We toured Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears) and Miller Park (home of the Milwaukee Brewers); we went to Northwestern University for a night and also attended a professional indoor soccer game. But, my favorite part of the trip was going to a Bulls game. The atmosphere of the game was awe-inspiring, and it was cool to see all the intricacies in putting together a Bulls game. There were bright lights and signs, various forms of entertainment at every break, cheering fans everywhere, and of course there was the actual game as well. It was an interim that opened my eyes to the work that goes on behind the scenes to make professional sports possible. Being a business major, I was also interested in the business side of sports, which I hope to look into more in the future. This was an interim I won’t soon forget, and I hope I will be able to get back to The Madhouse very soon.
The interim I was a part of this year was Professional Sports Undercover. We went to a multitude of arenas, stadiums and fields to look at the business that is Professional Sports. The two pictures below are taken from the visitor’s dugout at Miller Park and the visitor’s sideline at Soldier Field. From this interim I got to see a lot of cool places, but I learned a lot about how sports are still a business and when it comes down to making money or providing entertainment the number one goal is still profit. I really enjoyed watching videos from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series as well and I learned a lot about many different aspects of the sports world in the process
Usually the photo is easier than the paragraph but as all the photos I wanted to choose were blurry. Even this one is blurry and so was the one of Reppmann cutting carrots (plus, I missed the photo op of cutting celery which, based off of all the videos we watched, is a very monk-ish thing to do). Anyways, this is part of one of our chilly walks from the guest house to the guest chapel at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.
What did we do during the “Contemplation in Action: Monastic Spirituality for Ordinary Christians” interim? Essentially, the seven of us sat around a square table in CL-201learning about the history of monasticism and how the Trappist and other styles of monks and nuns live today. During class we listened, we talked, we questioned, we watched videos, we prayed, we chanted a bit, we bonded, we drank tea, coffee, and jahe wangi, and we ate snacks. What happened outside of class was also educational. I think we all felt the calm of being on campus but not having all the normal responsibilities that one can only experience during interim. This allowed for time to actually read and sleep! We got to read books we selected from Reppmann’s library along as well as read books together. The best part of the interim though was our excursions. Not only did we worship with the monks at Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago and before supping together in the Reppmann home, we got to stay in the guest house at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey near Dubuque. These were three distinct days of my life where we got to observe and participate in a small way in a culture that is so different from our own (while we were in Iowa, nonetheless). I learned a lot about the huge role prayer plays (or should play) in our Christian living and was able to spend some quality time reading and reflecting on God’s word and world.
The interim course I took this year was called “Hollywood and History” led by Dr. John Fry. This was a really interesting course and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who appreciates history or movies. During the first week, we read “Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood” by Robert Brent Toplin. The book discussed the artistic liberties filmmakers take with historical fact, such as adding romance or simplifying characters. The author defended these liberties; bending the truth is worth the fact that it gets people interested in history. During the second week of the course, we watched five historical films (Valkyrie, The Patriot, Secretariat, The King’s Speech, and Apollo 13) and discussed their historical accuracy. It was really interesting to analyze these popular movies and find out which parts were true to historical fact and which parts were added by the filmmakers. This course shaped the way I now view historical films, and helped me to appreciate both the history and the Hollywood behind each one.
For Interim this year, I had the privilege of taking Professor Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein’s “Food Justice” course, which ended up changing my perspective on food more than I could have anticipated. We spent our time reading extensively about the food system and its effects, watching documentaries that revealed the terrifying origins of much of our food, and taking field trips to visit people and places that promote food justice. The things we saw, read, and experienced in this course made me view every bit of food that I put in to my mouth in a much different way. The act of eating, so often seen as simply fulfilling a physical need, is more than simply a physical issue and a physical choice; with each bite that we take, we are making a choice about whether or not to promote justice in our world. Choosing to consume food in a just way is not only about ensuring that we eat food that hasn’t exploited animals, but rather it is a choice that affects the livelihoods of farmers and farm workers, the store of environmental resources that we have been given, the corrupt practices of agribusinesses and factory farms, and in many ways, our own health and thus, the healthcare system.
Learning about the issue of food justice further opened my eyes to the multitude of ways that we can affect and promote justice in our world. Cultivating a lifestyle that is centered on justice is about so much more than seeking justice in my future career in social work; it is about seeking justice in every moment of my life. This constant pursuit of justice may even begin with something as simple as the next bite of food you or I take.