Wheaton in Germany 2015: eight students and a professor traveling Germany and Austria for two months, soaking in the culture, history, language, and daily life of Germany. We have already learned enough to fill a book, but here are three of the most notable lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. Speaking exclusively in a foreign language is both fulfilling and challenging.
An integral part of the Wheaton in Germany program is language immersion: we communicate almost exclusively in German, with only one hour of English per week. It’s so encouraging to speak German with Germans (and my fellow classmates) and realize that I can actually carry on a substantial conversation. I’ve also encountered some unexpected challenges. I had no idea how many English idioms I use until I realized that common phrases like “running errands” or “that hits the spot” don’t translate directly into German. In addition, it’s surprisingly difficult to switch back into English: it takes me a while to adjust to the particular bent of the language and abandon German mannerisms.
2. German culture is not monolithic.
There are many different facets to German-speaking cultures, so abandoning stereotypes and actually learning to know the history and background of particular people and places is crucial. There are strong cultural differences and allegiances within state boundaries that become even stronger across borders. We spent this weekend in Vienna, and it is a city unlike any other German-speaking city I have ever been to. It straddles the boundary between East and West, and feels much more exotic to me than Munich. Because German culture is so diverse, we Americans need to be particularly sensitive as we begin to unravel its intricacies.
3. Our home is with Jesus and the community of believers.
My mom always said that home is where family is, and that doesn’t mean only biological family. As believers, we are deeply linked with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the opportunity to stay with German host families during our trip, and I have found that in spite of cultural differences, we share a deep bond through our shared faith. And so after only four nights with a German host family, I feel as if their apartment were home, since they welcomed me so sincerely as a sister in Christ. It’s a powerful reminder that our ultimate home is not any one place on earth, but in the kingdom of heaven.
Kate Fredrikson ’17 is a junior studying English Literature with a German minor. Photo captions (Top): Wheaton in Germany students on an alpine hike in Garmisch; (Above): On a tour of a cloister on the Fraueninsel on the Chiemsee (left), and one of students grabbing a quick meal in Augsburg. Let us know about your summer experiences using the hashtag #MyWheaton.
Hearing one’s home language is like coming home. I saw how home was created here at Wheaton for me during my past four years on campus through friendship, love, knowledge, brokenness, and family. For a short moment, in preparation for a prayer I was asked to deliver at Baccalaureate on the day of graduation, I thought, How could I welcome ‘home’ many of the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and all who will be present?
Beyond making that day a homecoming, we inhabit a world where, though set apart by seas, walls, fences, and enmity, we are all made in the image of God. A habit as simple as listening to another language is the practice of asking, “How are you made in the image of God?,” then loving the answerer and their answer.
Therefore, I wrote my prayer as follows:
Thank you, Lord, first and foremost for your son. Your love has redeemed us and given us hope.
Gracias Senor (Spanish), for the breath each morning, clothes on our body, roof over our head, and food to eat for the last four years.
Krap kun Prajaow (Thai), for movement through dance, and sports, and stillness, because you have given us our bodies.
Ashkulallah (Arabic), for music, because with our hands and the breath in our lungs we can praise you. For colors, shapes, and lines, because you created.
Diu Merci (French), for the privilege and burden as we sit here as college graduates, or soon to be college graduates today, remembering those who cannot.
Slava Bogu (Russian), for bringing us all to the awareness of our brokenness, and how we cause pain and suffering as individuals, communities, institutions, and nations every day.
Xie Xie Shangdi (Mandarin Chinese), for staff, family, faculty, and friends, with whom we struggle together, pray together, rejoice together.
Terima Kasih Tuhan (Indonesian), for your providence through finances, fiancees, friends for life, and memories that lead us to smile, and to solitude.
Vielen danke zu Gott (German), for in our failing, grace was shown.
Gam-sa Hap-ni Da Junim (Korean), for the community where we have learned to be the church and Christians truly, truly, as we said before us the nations, to all the tribes and tongues we go.
And thank you so much, God, for all the ups and the highs, stories of woe and woo, when we look back and look now into the future we will know and be satisfied. It is well with our soul.
The article above is a description of and transcription of a prayer delivered by Joohee Uhm '15 at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Photo (above): Joohee with friends celebrating commencement outside Blanchard Hall on May 10.
At Wheaton, I've learned to begin questioning from a place of faith. Faith is a matter of managing the tension of seeing only in part, while knowing that we will one day know as we are fully known. If we're being honest, however, there's a lot more gray area in the journey of faith on this side of heaven than we would like to admit. But faith trusts that following Jesus doesn't promise answers for everything—though it does offer enough.
I've come to learn that “knowing in part” naturally requires a willingness to be wrong, and the ability to say “I don't know.” I think back to the past couple of years where Dr. Winnie Fung M.A. ’14 (one of our economics professors), in particular, has given me countless opportunities to be wrong—and my grades can attest to this. But through her challenging us, I have learned to a greater degree the beauty of being able to say, “I don't know,” while also making sure to seek and hold to answers where God has provided them.
The second key to questioning well is hope: Maintaining that hope is not, never was, and never will be an individual effort. I can recall countless times of being encouraged and challenged by friends at Wheaton, at just the right time. I might even go so far as to say that it is only due to the community of believers that my faith has not only remained intact, but has become stronger while I've navigated the challenges of questioning.
And the greatest theme that should guide our questioning? Love. Here, I owe a shout out to my mom, who has asked me the same, simple question over these four years: “And how are you living it out?” Isn't this the most annoying question as an enlightened student who is going to change the world, but can't quite do it just yet? Saying this question brings back a flood of frustrating memories. Yet I am so thankful for this question, as it has taught me to never lose sight of love in the process of questioning. How do the questions I ask and the answers I've arrived at lead me to love better? For questioning in the absence of love naturally leads to cynicism.
In closing: questions are unavoidable. But how you answer questions—how I answer questions—determines what kind of people we will become, and what our witness will be. In the past four years, when it comes to questioning, I've learned the beauty of faith (that God has revealed himself enough), hope (God hears us when we pray, and questioning is to be a communal effort), and love (the process of questioning begins and ends with love).
The article above is an adaptation of a faith and learning testimony delivered by Jordan Heres ’15 at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Photo (above): Jordan, fourth from left, with family and his fiancée, Ingrid Dyk '15 (also in cap and gown), at 2015 commencement.
“Wonder” was the defining feature of my journey with faith and learning at Wheaton. I remember sitting at HoneyRock during Student Development Week last summer with the Chaplain’s Office as Clayton Keenon led us in a discussion of Ephesians 4. As we processed through what it could look like to be the body of Christ this year, it was incredible to hear how the diversity of fields of study contributed to our conversation. We had communication, Christian education, business, and music majors—and each one had a slightly different perspective. And then we got to verse 16 of chapter 4: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
I had read it so many times before, but this time the seemingly opposite worlds of the Northwoods and the human cadaver lab came crashing together, and I marveled at how my Applied Health Science classes illuminated Paul’s words and brought them into sharp clarity. I’ve felt those ligaments that Paul uses as a metaphor: They are incredibly strong; crafted by the Creator to withstand the jumping, playing, and working of our bodies. And far from being simply memorized anatomical facts, I was given a space to apply my learning to my faith and my experience of the truth of Scripture.
Even deeper than a concept of faith and learning as “application,” I’ve increasingly found ‘faith and learning’ at Wheaton to simply be an acknowledgement of the way life is, whether we recognize it or not. If our minds, our souls, these earth and skies, have been spoken into being by Truth Himself, and every piece of it is by Him and through Him and for Him, then our learning is itself an act of faith in that Creator. In that light, my Wheaton education has been an education in rightful, mindful worship. To converse about the theology of embodiment in a human physiology class; to discuss the sociology of Marian imagery in a cross-referenced art and biblical and theological studies class; to read about the anthropology of epidemic diseases; and yes, to connect Pauline metaphors with my anatomy class—each of these have been training exercises, strengthening my mind to engage in worship with all of its might.
So here at the end of my four years at Wheaton, the word that comes to my mind when I hear the phrase “faith and learning” is wonder. Wonder at the Creator, who spoke Truth into being and who invites us to think, to learn, and thereby to worship.
The article above is an adaptation of Catherine Holt ’15’s faith and learning testimony delivered at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Listen to her full testimony in video posted above. Pictured above with family at 2015 Commencement (far left).
I was hesitant as I walked through the doors of the Billy Graham Center for my interview with Wheaton College’s doctoral program in clinical psychology in January 2014. Is this place a good fit for me? I asked myself this and many other questions as I walked toward the conference room.
As the interview process commenced, my hesitations and doubts quickly moved to excitement and hope as I talked with current Wheaton College Graduate School students and faculty. The students had passions to serve the underserved, and were being placed in positions where they could pursue this work. I talked with professors who conduct clinical practice and research that aligns with the school’s mission. As my interviews drew to a close, it was clear to me that Wheaton’s mission statement was not merely words—people were living these words out in their practice, profession, and daily lives.
Once I was accepted to Wheaton’s Psy.D. program last spring, I immediately became a part of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) when I arrived in the Fall. HDI is a college-wide interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to helping the vulnerable and underserved, across a wide spectrum of relief and development challenges. I specifically wanted to join this research lab because it offers opportunities to do trauma and relief work both domestically and abroad—work I was involved with prior to coming to Wheaton. Specifically, I was able to plug into the work HDI is doing in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. One of the main goals of this lab is to create and implement a trauma curriculum for the refugees in order that they might continue this work within the camp. Our group has been traveling to the camp twice a year for the past two years, and this spring, over spring break, I was able to join the team as we conducted both a trauma and theology workshop for pastors and leaders within the camp.
Opportunities that continue to challenge and stretch me both personally and professionally are what initially drew me to Wheaton. During my time with the resilient members of Kakuma, I was struck by the suffering and pain these people have experienced. One pastor told us, “Trauma is our lives…”
There is so much need in a place like Kakuma, and it can seem like such a hopeless place. But our HDI training gave the community some hope, and helped set them on the path toward healing.
This is the reason I chose Wheaton. Not merely for their rigorous academic program, but also because I am given an opportunity to help bring hope to the suffering in unique ways.
I look back to the day over a year ago when I hesitantly walked through the doors of Wheaton, wondering what it had to offer me. I now walk through the hallways excited about the ways it enables and equips me to serve others. I interact daily with students and professors who are living out our call to love and to serve, and I am challenged to do the same.
Marianne Millen Psy.D. '19 is pursuing a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at the Wheaton College Graduate School. Visit their websites to learn more about the Graduate School and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute’s global programs. Photo captions: Top: Marianne and her interpreter Nicholas Gagai leading the trauma healing workshop in Kenya. Middle: Mama Cecilia, a Congolese Refugee, writes notes during the training while refugees from South Sudan discuss in a group behind her. Above: The Kakuma Team gathers together outside of one of the UN’s compounds. From left: Benjamin Andrews, current Psy.D. student, Dr. George Kalantzis, associate professor of theology and director of the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies, Dr. David Boan, co-director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Marianne Millen, and Mark Schoenrock, partner from International Association for Refugees (IAFR).