Student Activities

BreakAway: Learning to Serve

Posted March 16, 2016 by Grace Gibbs '18

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Last spring break I traveled to Savannah, Georgia with a BreakAway team of eight students and two Wheaton staff leaders. We spent our week working for Habitat for Humanity, stocking shelves in a food pantry, tutoring at a local elementary school, and repairing and painting houses. On our off hours we toured the city of Savannah, walking down cobbled streets, trying local seafood, and visiting Tybee Island. 

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The service was rewarding, the friendships strong. Even though it was only a week long trip, God worked both in us and through us. We were able to encourage the woman whose home we repaired and painted as well as a local Christian couple. This couple had an amazing house, and they would allow students serving in the Savannah area to stay with them. They told us about the summer their house caught on fire and burned to the ground. Though they were devastated, they praised God that neither of them were in the house at the time. This couple’s faith was evident as they encouraged us to always trust God. They helped me thank God for both the good times and the bad. 

It was a privilege to participate in BreakAway, to join in God’s work, and to see how he is already working. BreakAway reminded me I only need to bring a humble and willing heart and allow Christ to work through me.

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Grace Gibbs is a sophomore and serves as Trip Logistics Coordinator on BreakAway cabinet. BreakAway is a spring break ministry that allows students to serve in teams in different parts of the country for a week. To learn more about BreakAway, visit their website.

Photo Captions: Grace (right) paints a house on BreakAway with her fellow team members; the Savannah, Georgia 2015 BreakAway team; BreakAway cabinet 2016. 

My HNGR Experience in Nicaragua

Posted March 11, 2016 by Kelly Wilson '16

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Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources program (HNGR) was in large part the deciding factor for why I came to Wheaton. I have wanted to do HNGR since I first heard about it as a junior in high school and met with former director Dr. Paul Robinson to learn more about the program. Last year, after much preparation and growth, I departed for my HNGR internship in Jinotepe, Carazo, Nicaragua to work with an incredible organization called Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua, which is a part of the Luke Society, a network of integral health-based Christian ministries directed and operated by local people. San Lucas serves rural communities in the dry-tropical, coastal region of Carazo to promote health and well-being by working in food security, water & sanitation, and risk prevention and management with a specific focus on women and children. 

As an environmental science major with a passion for agriculture and soils, I worked with the food security team, shadowing and being apprenticed by two caring and intelligent agronomists as they facilitated agricultural workshops with small-holder farmers, worked to plant, weed, and water the crops in San Lucas’s Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies Experimental Center, and responded to a crippling climate change induced drought caused by El Niño. This drought and the way that my host organization and the farmers in the communities where we worked responded to it characterized life in Nicaragua for me more than anything else. Never before have I spent so much time thinking about, asking about, and praying for rain. Rain means life for subsistence farmers who have no other means of income or sustenance but for the basic grains they are able to cultivate on their small plots of land. When the rain fails to fall, everything is lost: seed, food, water. Drought devastates and the most vulnerable suffer. I learned though, that drought does not have the last word – life does. When all else failed, faith sustained. Together with the farmers and coworkers I befriended, I learned how to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not be in want” with trust while lacking the basic necessities for life.

Kelly Wilson '16 is a senior studying environmental studies. Learn more about Wheaton's HNGR program on their website

Photo caption: Kelly working in the field with Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua during her HNGR internship in Nicaragua in 2015.

Wheaton Shark Tank Winner: Flourish

Posted February 24, 2016 by Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16

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The first time I realized I wanted to start a business was last year. I was sitting in my microfinance class as my professor explained that even if a woman was forced into prostitution through human trafficking, she could still be stuck with a criminal record and have difficulty finding work outside of the sex industry.

The injustice of it was hard for me to stomach. I had to do something for those women.

I've dreamed of designing dresses that are made sustainably for years, especially as I become more aware of the horrific labor practices used in the fashion industry. When I heard about the need for jobs for survivors of the sex industry, I saw how my love for clothes and heart for disenfranchised women could actually fit together beautifully.

Over the next year, "Flourish" took shape. The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence. I read all I could on the issue but wasn’t sure what to do next until Anna Morris, the Director of Student Alumni Board, suggested I participate in Wheaton's Shark Tank last fall. I figured it was time to put all of my research to use and really develop my dream. By participating in Shark Tank, Flourish came together through a series of events, people, and “lightbulb moments” that the Lord wove together over the years.

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Winning Shark Tank was huge for me.  To have other people get behind this dream has been really humbling and encouraging. It’s one thing to have a crazy idea to combine fashion with social justice and another to have someone believe that you can do it and offer you resources to help make it a reality.

I don’t know what comes next, but I sincerely believe the Lord will continue to connect me with the right people and put me in the right places to grow this vision. I’m eager to see how He will provide for Flourish in the coming months.

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Presented by the Student Alumni Board and Opus, Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition among Wheaton College students modeled after the eponymous television show. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 was announced the winner on February 18th. 

 

Photo Captions: Mary Elizabeth after winning Wheaton Shark Tank; Mary Elizabeth presenting her company Flourish at Shark Tank last Thursday; Mary Elizabeth with friends at the Chicago Art Institute.

 

2015 Student Video Competition Winners

Posted November 25, 2015 by Zack Johnston 17, Larryon Truman 16, Matthew Adams '17

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For this year's 2015 video contest, we asked students to capture their Wheaton experience on video in less than three minutes. The videos were judged on originality, creativity, production quality, and reflection of Wheaton's Mission and Community Covenant. Here are the three winning selections:

Zack Johnston '17

"Our Wheaton"

"I really wanted to get at the heart of why I, and a number of people I know, are at Wheaton. There is a lot of talk about how it's a great education and you have tons of opportunities afterwards and we always have some really impressive Wheaton alum come speak for graduation or chapel or lectures or what have you... But their success isn't really my interest. I love that all that and more is true about Wheaton, but in actuality, I'm much more interested in the person sitting next to me than the person on stage or their accolades.

My original inspiration was the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. The idea is that God makes beautiful things out of each of us, and I genuinely consider it a privilege to be a part of or even merely a witness to the part of that process here at Wheaton." -- Zack Johnston '17

Larryon Truman '16

"Worship is a Lifestyle"

"My roommate, Conner Vick, and I wanted to portray worship as a lifestyle and more than just singing songs. Worship encompasses every aspect of our being, and we are able to glorify God by honoring him through the gifts He has given us. Through this video, we wanted to encourage the student body to be mindful that we can worship God in our day-to-day activities." -- Larryon Truman '16

Matthew Adams '17

"Feet of Wheaton"

"As a dancer, my feet help me communicate my passion and love for music! Through this video I am able to show the diversity of things feet do here at Wheaton. On top of that, these feet are effecting change for Christ and His kingdom which is truly beautiful!” -- Matthew Adams '17

Learn more about the winners on their author bio pages and check out last years winners here. Stay tuned for our student photo contest in Spring 2016. 

Arena Theatre's Caucasian Chalk Circle

Posted November 13, 2015 by Max Pointner '18

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“The war is over! Beware the Peace!” declares a character in Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” Arena Theater’s production of Brecht’s play emphasizes the playwright’s quest for peace and justice in the face of war.

Brecht is known for his usually heavy plays, and he was a pioneer of modern theater, advocating for art which encouraged social change and action. He does not try to entertain, but to provoke thought. He weaves humor over his weighty topics, yet is not afraid to momentarily show the audience the darkness he dances around.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” perfectly captures the ambiguity of a war zone: the audience is faced with both the menace and grandeur of battle, the invasion and desperate plight of the insignificant. Even the resolution of the play is overshadowed by unanswered questions: does war further justice? Does justice further peace?  As an actor, these ambiguities are a space for work.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” calls for over 70 characters and Arena Theater’s current production is populated by only 18 actors. We are all playing many roles, attacking problems from several points of view. Many of these characters are terrible people: selfish, deceitful, filthy. It is the actor’s job to humanize them, and I find myself asking, “How is this person better than I?”

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I am forced to be patient, generous, and even merciful with these characters as I simultaneously use them to tell a story while also authentically advocating for them in their own risky worlds. Perhaps it is this mercy which can further peace in the world as we reach out to “the least of these.” 

Brecht keeps his story moving through song and Arena’s production pairs the confrontational, driving energy of hip-hop music with the playwright’s need to be heard. Beats and textures dominate the soundscape as characters and musicians fall in and out of rhythm with Brecht’s songs and dialogue. 

Working with composer Elliot Leung '17 and director Michael Stauffer, we fit words to music to stage in a daunting feat of multi-media manipulation. We decided to end the play with a prayer. 

I adapted the tune of this “Dona Nobis Pacem” from the end of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8, composed shortly after WWII. The tempestuous symphony plots the end of a turbulent war and concludes in a major key, but deep rumblings of twisted musical phrases continue beneath the tranquility. The peace is not so peaceful after all. To reference Isaiah, though: we cry for peace! There is none. Perhaps as Christians we are the peacemakers of the world. Brecht certainly begs us to be.

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Max Pointner '18 is a sophomore art history major and part of Arena Theatre. To learn more about Wheaton theatre and the play Caucasian Chalk Circle, visit Arena Theatre's website.

Photo Captions: Lauren Gathman '17 and Olivia Wilder '16; Max Pointner '18 and Wilder; Gathman, Travis Shanahan '16, John Ingraham '18

Photo Credits: Paul Vermeesch '18 

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