The Liberal Arts

From China to Wheaton: TESOL and Intercultural Studies

Posted October 28, 2015 by Natasha Zeng M.A. '16

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It was October 1, 2014. After a seemingly endless copy editing session with the staff of Huntington University’s campus newspaper, I clicked into my email box to filter through my messages. It was there that I found my acceptance letter from the Wheaton College Graduate School.

“Dear Natasha, I am pleased to inform you that you are being offered admission to the Masters of Arts program in Intercultural Studies and TESOL …”

I rubbed my eyes. 

I couldn’t believe what I saw. 

Wheaton is my dream school. Back in 2007, I went to Franklin Graham’s four-day festival at Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong. At the time, I didn’t know who Franklin or Billy Graham were, and I wasn’t aware of their connections to Wheaton. Amazed by how jam-packed the auditorium was, I saw that 423,335 people from 800 different churches attended the event. After my experience at the festival, I found out my longtime family friend Jana Hoobler M.A. ’06, who has been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for over twenty years in Zhuhai city and Macau in China, was a Wheaton graduate. That’s how I heard of Wheaton for the very first time.

Coming from a journalism background at a small private Christian university in Indiana, I never once thought about coming to Wheaton until my junior year, when one of my professors  presented the top three TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) programs in the nation, which included Wheaton. Later on, I took my TESOL class about listening and speaking with professor Virginia Clough Yang M.A. ’11, who also went through the TESOL program at Wheaton. Next thing I knew, I made my decision to apply. 

I love Wheaton not only because it offers one of the best TESOL programs in the nation, but I also love the fact that we get to celebrate cultural diversity. I get to interact with people from all over the world—whether they are from Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Brazil, or Mongolia. They have shown me a world of excitement, mystery, and uniqueness.   

I also appreciate how TESOL applies educational theories into everyday life. By listening to Dr. Alan Seaman and his experiences in Southeast Asia, Dr. Cheri Pierson and her Ph.D. studies in Europe, and Dr. Pam Barger’s upbringing in Chicagoland, what I am learning is more than just how to teach—I also learn what to teach, whether it is using technology or books, social media or print media. 

I love Wheaton not only because I can further my education, but also because I get to grow in Christ. I am starting to see and understand that we are all parts of God’s ministry. God has planned everything one step ahead for me. He knows Wheaton is the right place for me to equip myself physically and spiritually. Seeing all the internship opportunities ahead of me with organizations like World Relief, ELIC, Wycliffe, Pui Tak Center, and other resources in the greater Chicago area, I am excited to explore a career that can blend TESOL and journalism together. 

Natasha Zeng M.A. ’16 is a student from Zhuhai, China, studying intercultural studies and TESOL at Wheaton College Graduate School. Photo captions (from top): A group from the English Language Institute of China (ELIC) came to study at Wheaton College Graduate School during summer 2015; Every year, Wheaton’s TESOL department offers a field trip to Little India, Chicago. In fall 2015, the group went to South Asian Friendship center and went for Pakistani food; Wheaton’s TESOL department provides a variety of internship opportunities based in Chicago.

Art, Business, 12x12

Posted October 21, 2015 by Philip Christiansen '16

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Wheaton College’s Art Department hosts an annual exhibition, 12x12, showcasing student art no larger than twelve inches in any dimension. This year, I submitted a portrait of Charlotte Hallstrom ’16 originally taken for Digital Photography with Professor Greg Halvorsen Schreck during the fall of 2013. 

In addition to displaying a striking portrait, I wanted to depart from the traditional display medium of a print on matte or glossy paper. Instead, I decided to have the portrait printed on a 12-inch metal sheet, which resulted in a number of unique visual nuances. When the print is viewed in person, lighter areas of the photo—Charlotte’s hands and face—are transparent, revealing the underlying grain of the metal, while darker areas take on a reflective quality that almost puts you in the photo when seeing it head-on. 

While the theme of this year’s 12x12 competition is “Work: Curse or Calling,” I don’t seek to influence the viewer toward a particular vein of thought regarding vocation. Charlotte’s positive yet not-wholly-defined expression allows the viewer to project emotion onto the piece and leaves room for speculation about its purpose. 

Though Wheaton’s community was the strongest draw for me as a prospective student, I have so enjoyed the opportunity to study art alongside my business/economics major. Wheaton’s art professors certainly exhibit some of the stereotypical quirkiness you would expect from a university art professor, which creates a flexible and laid-back classroom environment. This unique environment fosters openness and a level of discussion not typically found in other courses at Wheaton. All in all, from performing drawing stretches during breaks with Professor Leah Samuelson to critiquing work over homemade scones in graphic design with Professor Jeremy Botts, art classes at Wheaton will regularly challenge, shock, and remind you to take yourself just a little bit less seriously.

Philip Christiansen ’16 is a senior studying business/economics with a minor in art. Photo Caption: Christiansen's 12x12 entry of Charlotte Hallstrom '16.

Choosing a Topic for Your College Admissions Essay

Posted October 13, 2015 by Jeff Camp '18

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I can remember my angst toward writing a college application essay. It felt like I was being asked to sum up the whole of my existence in 500 words. Colleges wanted to know: what makes me stand out from other applicants?

That’s a pretty scary question. So I decided to answer an easier, more subjective question: what excites you? Here are three tips on how to make that question work:

1) Brainstorm things that motivate you to go an extra mile.

My father once told me that life is a lot easier if you spend it doing something you like. I enjoyed Biology a lot in high school, so I shadowed doctors, observed surgeries, and volunteered in hospitals. I thought being a doctor and solving biological issues would be fun for me, so I pursued science. Anything that brings you joy is worth doing.

2) Leave room for imagination.

The essay is your time to shine. The danger is to write an essay about what you want to do vocationally. By writing an essay about an end goal (i.e. a job), you put limitations on yourself. Instead, write about what excites you. If you write an essay about what excites you, it leaves room for imagination. If you like something, declare that you like it. Much of higher education is driven by the motivation to get a good job, but at Wheaton College there is a bigger focus on becoming a life-long-learner. The emphasis is more on the “Life of The Mind.” Francis Collins, the brilliant scientist, Christian, and head of the famed Human Genome Project, had no idea what he wanted to “do” in life. However, he did know he enjoyed chemistry. So, he studied chemistry.

3) Explore not who you are, but who you want to become.

When I wrote my college essays, I explored not who I was, but what I wanted to become. To do well in college you need to enjoy what you are doing or else you will get burnt out. Write about something you believe in, not something that will resemble another student’s essay. Be distinctive by being honest. Be authentic rather than striving to be unique.

Jeff Camp ’18 is a sophomore from St. Louis majoring in chemistry. In his free time, he enjoys photography and coffee brewing. To apply to Wheaton College or to refer a student, visit the admissions website.

HoneyRock: Wheaton in the Northwoods

Posted August 4, 2015 by Katie Mann '18

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During my time at HoneyRock, while taking a philosophy class with Dr. Fletcher, I learned to fully immerse myself in my community. In two short weeks, I learned a lot of things—here are three of them: 

  1. I found that removing technology from my daily routine allowed more space for God to show up in my relationships with others. Spending more time in the outdoors canoeing, hiking, and around bonfires and less time on my phone meant more opportunities for real relationships to grow. Through many different activities, I created lasting memories with my classmates and friends. Whether it was mountain biking after a rainstorm, laughing on the ski boat, shooting a gun for the first time, or playing soccer in the pouring rain, I will always remember the adventures I had and the people that experienced them with me.
  2. HoneyRock provides a unique place for group learning. My philosophy class taught me to learn in the context of community. To set the tone before class started, our class participated in team-building activities for an afternoon. Although group projects have not always been my forte, working closely with my classmates on projects further developed my understanding of philosophy by examining issues through others’ point of view. HoneyRock became a place where I could discover far more from others than I could from simply reading a textbook.
  3. My appreciation for God’s creation grew through HoneyRock’s pristine Northwoods setting. I have always loved nature, and watching a bald eagle soar over our group as Dr. Fletcher wrapped up our last class together was nothing short of amazing. Lying in my canoe watching an incomprehensible number of twinkling stars and the soft moonlight resting on Long Lake reminded me how great our God is. There is no better place to work on philosophy than hanging in a hammock the next tree over from a friend while overlooking a picturesque view of the lake. HoneyRock has become “a place apart” for me where I have seen and experienced God through His people and through His creation.

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Katie Mann ’18 is a sophomore applied health science major who participated in Wheaton in the Northwoods, a summer study program at HoneyRock: Wheaton College’s Center for Outdoor Leadership Development. Share your summer Wheaton experiences using the hashtag #MyWheaton.


Wheaton in the Holy Lands: A Circle in the Sand

Posted July 22, 2015 by Jillian Hedges '17

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I remember what it was like, sitting in that classroom on Wheaton College’s campus in May with the 43 unfamiliar faces I'd be spending six weeks abroad with. Six weeks traveling across Israel, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. The air of mixed excitement and uncertainty was prominent, as Dr. Chris Vlachos stood at the front of the room giving a pre-trip lecture on the climactic moment of Jesus' ministry when He looked upon His disciples and asked:

But who do you say that I am? 

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Then the waves were crashing along the shoreline at Caesarea Philippi. The air was warm and the sun bright. We sat upon the rocks and the passage was read once more. The 43 faces around me were more familiar now—somehow the late hours together and sweat from a blazing Israeli sun cultivated a kind of friendship that couldn't be bought. And being there with them, the question seemed to ring louder, as if it were being asked not of the disciples but of us. In a world that denies, twists, and confuses His identity,

Who do you say that I am?

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It was not asked of a single person, but to the whole of the group; an open question in need of response. I imagine them looking around at one another, letting the words hang uncertainly in the air. Perhaps the answer was what all of them were thinking. Perhaps it had not yet occurred to some of them. But it was Simon Peter who stepped forward with the bold reply:

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

It was the last event of our last day: the Scavi tour underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Those 43 were no longer simply faces but beautiful souls with whom I'd experienced the journey of a lifetime. We went below, 12 at a time, to a small room containing an even smaller box that held the purple-stained bones of an elderly man who died in the first century, the bones more likely than not of Peter: the first person to openly declare Jesus as the Christ. The passage from Matthew 16 was read once more, closing the six-week long circle. Wheaton to Israel to Rome, the lingering question remains. In our speech, in our actions, in our lives;

Who do you say that I am?

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Jillian Hedges ’17 is a Communication (Media Studies) major who traveled abroad with Wheaton in the Holy Lands this summer. Photo captions (from top): He is the Christ, the son of the living God (Enxi '17, Daniela '17, Abby '17, Jillian '17, and Caitlyn '17 in Caesarea Philippi, Israel); His provision abounds like a stream in the desert (Arad, Israel); Lifting up our voices in the most incredible places (Abby '17, Casey '17, Peter '17 and J.R. '16 in Metora, Greece); Finding peace where there should be none (Judean Wilderness, Israel). Photos by Dan Chung ’17. Tell us about your summer experiences abroad using the hashtag #MyWheaton. 

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