My Wheaton

Confronting Identity Through Traditional Dance

Posted November 18, 2016 by Serena Suh '18

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serena-suhIt is the night of the talent show. Over the past three months, I had probably practiced every second of my dance more times than the hours I’d slept this semester. The emcees call my name. I walk out and take my place on stage. With the audience, I watch a short clip of a young girl and her father in traditional Korean dress prancing merrily down a dirt path. It is a scene from Spirit’s Homecoming (귀향), a film dedicated to comfort women during the Japanese occupation in Korea. Although I am two generations removed from the colonial experience, the memory of terror and injustice still remains in painfully striking ways. I am a 1.5 generation Korean American (meaning I was born in Korea but moved to the states at a very young age), and therefore face the dilemma of belonging to Korea or the United States, yet I still feel a strange sense of familiarity to this history. 

This—Korea’s story of pain and resilience, my story as a Korean American—is the story that I wanted to convey at the talent show. 

However, it was not always so rosy for the few months preceding the show. There were multiple times when I doubted my performance. You see, Asian Americans have a history of being seen as an “other” in the United States. It has been manifested in so many ways throughout history. Especially as a person who has called the States my home, this is hurtful. The question arose: am I just perpetuating the othering experienced by so many Asian immigrants? Will my dance be received well by the audience? While talent show was a very fun experience, it also forced me to confront the questions of identity that I never really had before. In the end, I was able to perform that night with a calm heart. However, it was only through the conversations with different students, staff, and faculty that I confidently walked onto stage. Fellow students encouraged me to be confident and cheered me on as I spent hours in the dance studio; faculty and staff were affirming and comforting, reminding me that what I believe and who I am should be embraced. 

Although sometimes stressful, this experience has reminded me why I am still excited to be at Wheaton College. There are so many people here that encourage, stretch, and grow me in ways that I cannot imagine happening anywhere else. And so, inspired not only by the video of the Korean father and daughter, but also by the amazing support of my friends at Wheaton, I danced. 

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Serena Suh ’18 is a philosophy (integrated anthropology) and international relations double major at Wheaton. Photo captions (top to bottom): Serena performing a traditional fan dance at the 2016 Wheaton Talent Show; Serena and fellow Mac 4 floormates at the 2016 President's Ball.

To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

Finding Beauty in Form and Function: the Applied Health Science Major at Wheaton

Posted November 9, 2016 by Phil Bagley '17

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Coming into Wheaton, I was initially a bit unsure about which major to choose. However, I ultimately chose to pursue a major in Applied Health Science because I did not have my sights set on a specific career (though I was interested in science) and wanted a major that I could take in a variety of directions. What initially caught my attention about it was the diversity of subject matter and the direct applicability built into the major, and I have not been disappointed. 

There has been so much to be thankful for in studying the sciences at Wheaton. I have personally been blessed by the instruction of professors who are both deeply rooted in their faith and established in their field. From these professors I have not only learned the material, but also lessons for life. Probably my favorite example of this occurred in Human Anatomy when Dr. Townsend encouraged us to pray for the families of the cadavers who were undergoing an extended time of mourning between the death and funeral of their loved ones while they allowed us to interactively study the human body. This challenged me and my peers to look beyond our own studies and back to the good of others. 

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My advice for those who intend to or are already involved in the sciences at Wheaton is to maintain a sense of wonder. Allow your classes to give you an opportunity to truly appreciate God as the Creator. It can be easy to lose perspective when times are stressful, but if you work to consistently appreciate the opportunity that you have and the beauty in the form and function of the human body, you will be well on your way to making the most of your time here. Staying positive and–above all–thankful will go a long way towards maintaining not only the best frame of mind for learning, but also towards using your knowledge and gifts to the glory of God. 

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Phil Bagley ’17 is a senior studying applied health science, and has also participated in crew and served as an RA in Traber and Evans Hall. Click here to learn more about the sciences at Wheaton. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Phil and partners using ultrasound technology in the physiology lab; Evans Hall residence assistants; Phil and members of Wheaton crew.

How Arena Theater Helped Me Find My Tribe

Posted November 2, 2016 by Rebecca Watkins '18

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Coming to Wheaton, I was sure that Arena Theater was a community that I was meant to be a part of. As a missionary kid, I have experienced the feeling of having no idea where to call home, but this community of artists has given me that feeling in a real way. We sometimes call it finding your “tribe,” and that is exactly what I have come to find. I chose to participate in Arena Theater because I recognized that it was a tribe of people who truly care for each other, and I was hungry for that.

This year, I am blessed to be a part of Fiddler on the Roof, which is my favorite show. For me, the work is directly applicable to the world and to my life. Being from Ukraine and having experienced similar situations as the characters has opened me up to healing and appreciation for my story and the story of others. I am in the show and work as a props manager and in marketing. It’s a lot to have on my plate, but it is work that I love doing. These people–who I consider to be family–surprise me every day with their work on the show. Mark Lewis’ commitment to playing the main role and directing the show is inspiring. He carries the stories with deep empathy, just like he does with the stories of his students. As we all spend hours learning the choreography, meet about how to make fake cheese, and celebrate tradition together, we are participating in life together, like the village we are representing on stage. 

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Again, the teachers in this theater are a wonderful blessing in my life. Michael Stauffer shows me how theater can really heal the evils in the world, Andy Mangin teaches me about how capable I am to do what I have been tasked, Mark Lewis teaches Shakespeare to us willing and hungry students, and Heidi Elliot is a source of constant guidance. This doesn’t even include my fellow students and alumni who I have been guided by as well.

For students thinking about joining Arena Theater, I would like to again emphasize that the tools this program gives you are valuable. You learn how to be an artistic citizen. Whether you join the Workout ensemble, work on the set, take classes, or help with ticket sales, it is all equally valuable and good work. 

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Rebecca Watkins ’18 is a communication major with a concentration in theater. To learn more about Arena Theater and upcoming performances, visit their websiteTo learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Part of the cast of Fiddler on the Roof; Director Mark Lewis as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof; cast of Fiddler on the Roof eating dinner during a long day of rehearsals. Photos courtesy of Keenan Dava ’18.

My Wheaton Experience as the First-Ever Undergraduate Student from Estonia

Posted October 28, 2016 by Simona Andreas '18

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My decision to come to the United States for the first time as a 19-year-old was prompted by my dream as a 6-year-old kid. My dad told me that I was six when I first declared that I would one day move to America. When asked if I knew where or what it was, I simply shouted: “No, but I’m going!” 

I found Wheaton College when Google-searching colleges in the U.S., and I was surprised as I read about Christian colleges for the first time in my life. In Estonia, where I was born and raised, we have 1.3 million people, out of which less than 2 percent are Christian. This reality doesn’t generate many Christian educational institutions. It became clear to me that a Christian college was everything I didn’t know I was looking for. I knew Wheaton was the place for me because the vision and the mission of the school catered to my ambitions and hopes. 

When I stepped off the bus after spending a week in the Passage program at HoneyRock, I was disoriented, scared, thrilled, and very confused. The word spread quickly that I was the first Estonian to ever come to Wheaton and study in the undergraduate program. All of my classmates seemed very enthusiastic about the fact, even though most had no idea where the tiny country was located

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While I enjoy bragging rights both in Estonia and at Wheaton, it is at times challenging to be the first and only student from Estonia. For me, this means that I get to set the scene for the next Estonians to come after me. Even though it’s hard to find people around me who can relate to my background, I love bringing a new culture and a new perspective to my classrooms and relationships. For Wheaton, this means that their vision is reaching new countries and the student body is growing in geographical diversity. 

The best part about my Wheaton experience has been the people that I’ve met here. Coming from another culture, I wasn’t accustomed to spending time with my professors and getting to know them on a personal level. I definitely experienced some culture shock as a freshman when Dr. Milliner invited me to join his family for Thanksgiving at his house. Ever since then, I’ve tried to get to know all of my professors through meals or office hours. Every one of them has been very welcoming and highly influential in my life. It’s been fun to be immersed in the American culture and meet people from all across the globe. The friends I’ve made here have made my Wheaton experience truly amazing. 

Wheaton is unique in the way all parts of its community are connected and long for each other’s well-being. I am privileged to be a part of the family and I’m glad to say that I feel at home here. 

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Simona Andreas ’18 is a psychology and biblical and theological studies double major from Tallinn, Estonia. She is actively involved in Student Government at Wheaton as the EVP of Global EngagementTo learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Simona frequently visits downtown Chicago; Simona's hometown of Tallinn, Estonia; Simona taking photos at the Skydeck at Willis Tower.

Ministry and Healing Through Wheaton's Community Art Program

Posted October 19, 2016 by John Mark Daniel '19

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During my college search senior year I was looking at different art programs. I saw that Wheaton had a Community Art major, which was something I had never heard of nor seen at any other school. From the Wheaton website my understanding was that, basically, Community Art combines art-making and people. I knew then that this was what I was called to study and as I have learned more about what it means, I have come to love it more and more. 

I am currently in Community Art 1 and my favorite thing about the class has been the Wednesday class dinners. During these dinners, we continue our lecture from that day and ask each other questions. This has allowed us to become really close as a class and dive deeper into the topics through sharing our opinions.

My classmates and I are currently working on a mural project in collaboration with an English Writing class about writing for community art. The subject of our mural is zebras and stress. These two things may seem to have no relation at first, but let me explain. One day in class, a fellow classmate brought up that she learned that zebras do not experience stress like humans do, so they don’t experience the negative effects that stress can have on the body. So Professor Samuelson decided that the subject of our mural would be zebras. With the English Writing class, we collaged zebra masks and took a class photo which we are now painting. We hope that through this mural we can raise awareness about the health effects stress can have and that mental health can be a topic we talk about more openly on campus.

community-art-2One question that I have been working through is, how do we know when a community art project has been successful? I still do not have a clear answer to this and it is something we will be working through this semester. A lot of the topics we cover examine the different ways that a community art project can be successful. For example, last week we all shared what we would like to teach or heal through community art. So, if we accomplished what we wanted by teaching or healing, but the art project is not aesthetically pleasing, is it still a success? I think this can be a challenging part of community art and I am excited to learn more of how to approach it this semester.

If you are considering pursuing Community Art as a major, I would say to go for it. Community Art is more than painting murals with other people. The things I am learning in class have already been so useful in so many aspects of my life–you can apply the things you will learn in Community Art to anything you do.

I am happy that I decided to come to Wheaton because of the amazing people I have in my life now. I have made some of my closest friends here–friends that truly care about me and challenge me to be a better person.

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John Mark Daniel ’19 is a sophomore Art and Spanish double major. To learn more about Wheaton’s Community Art and Missions major, click here. Photo captions (top to bottom): John Mark Daniel's Community Art class posing with zebra masks in front of Edman Chapel; the Community Art 1 class working on the zebra mural together; current progress on the mural.

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