Spiritual Life

A Look Inside Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago Trip

Posted July 12, 2017 by Falecia Sanchez '18, Wyatt Anderson '19

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Falecia Sanchez ’18 and Wyatt Anderson ’19 traveled on Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip during summer 2017, and share some insights about their experience visiting Spain and hiking the Camino de Santiago trail in the blog post below. 

Falecia: After watching the movie The Way, visiting the Cathedral of Santiago, attending Pilgrim's Mass, listening to a Camino scholar lecture on the history of the Camino, and talking to pilgrims who arrived in Santiago de Compostela during the Wheaton in Spain study abroad trip in 2016, I found myself hoping to return one day to walk the Camino. Thus, when Professor Sharenda Barlar of the Modern and Classical Languages Department asked a year later if I would assist in her research of pilgrims on the Camino, my immediate answer was, "Yes!"  

Wyatt: This summer, we walked across Spain, along an ancient pilgrimage route called “El Camino.” We first flew to Madrid, and toured many of Spain’s northern cities including Pamplona, Roncesvalles, Leon, Santo Domingo, Burgos, and Astorga. In each city, we took in the history, culture, and cuisine, visiting everything from museums and cathedrals to restaurants. We then left from Astorga, and began the long walk of 273 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.

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Along the way we learned a great deal, though exactly what we learned varied depending on who we met and what we saw. One of the people I met was Tania, a middle-aged woman from Germany, who didn’t know what to think of religion after some deaths in her family. My friend Eric and I walked with her for 10 km. It is amazing the subjects you can cover in a 10k conversation. We talked about everything from siblings to faith, and we were all able to talk about what we believe and why. In the end, I gave her my fidget spinner, given to me by a man named Tony the previous day, and told her to pass it along to someone else in the spirit of the Camino.

Falecia: In the future, I hope to become a professor of either philosophy or Spanish literature, and Wyatt’s conversation with Tania is a perfect example of why this trip was a wonderful opportunity for me to apply the knowledge gained from my study of Spanish and philosophy at Wheaton. My Spanish courses have provided linguistic, historical, and cultural contexts to better understand and connect with Spaniards and other Spanish-speakers while my philosophy courses have provided a logical foundation to tackle the hard questions that many pilgrims on the Camino are asking, such as: What is my purpose in life? Does God really exist? If He does exist, why is there so much suffering?

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Wyatt: As a biology major, I paid a lot of attention to the woods along the Camino, and I think I found my biggest takeaway in the woods of Galicia. They stirred in me a nostalgia, but I had never seen them before. They reminded me of stories I read when was young, but I wasn’t sure which one. They reminded me of someone I once knew, but forgot. They reminded me of home, but again, I had never set foot there before. The conclusion I came to was that these longings betrayed my longing for God. And I recognized that my longing is part of His story of redemption that runs through all cities, suburbs, farmlands, and forests, if we only take the time to look.

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Falecia Sanchez ’18 is studying Spanish, and Wyatt Anderson ’19 is studying biology, Spanish, and chemistry. They both traveled on Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip during summer 2017. Photo captions (from top): Wyatt and Falecia in front of a statue of Santiago el Peregrino (St. James, the Pilgrim); a walking path along Molinaseca, Spain; Falecia overlooking the morning fog along the Galician mountains; The woods of Galicia.

To learn more about Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip, visit their website. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

Top 5 #MyWheaton Posts From 2016-17

Posted April 28, 2017 by Kelsey Plankeel '18

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It is Friday, April 28: the last day of classes for the 2016-17 academic year. Looking back, this year has been full of excitement and unique experiences for individual students and the campus as a whole, many of which have been featured in this very blog. Continue reading below to discover the “Top 5” student posts from the 2016-17 #MyWheaton blog, ranked according to readership.

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

Simona Andreas ’18 fulfilled her 6-year-old self’s dream of coming to America in 2014, when she became the first ever student from Estonia to enroll at Wheaton College. Though it is often challenging being the only student from her home country, Simona says her favorite part about Wheaton is “the people” and she is excited to have paved the way for future students from Estonia to come to Wheaton.

2. Why I Came to Wheaton

Wheaton College wasn’t even on Rebecca Carlson’s ’20 radar in her early college searches. However, when Wheaton began to frequently “pop up” through interactions with a church intern and various alumni, she decided to visit. Now wrapping up her freshman year at Wheaton, Rebecca says, says, “As a public high school graduate, I am still constantly amazed that, through the liberal arts curriculum, I am discussing how biology, elementary education, Spanish, and many other topics are ‘For Christ and His Kingdom’.”

3. The Study of Creation

What could Biology and Art possibly have to do with each other? Just about everything, according to Natalie Flemming ’18. A junior biology and art major at Wheaton, Natalie hopes to enter into a career in medical illustration after graduation. Watch this video to learn more about her liberal arts approach to the study of creation. 

4. Spreading a Message of Love

Graduate student Steve Gaskin M.A. ’18 worked as a traveling hip hop artist with The Impact Movement prior to coming to Wheaton. In his post, Steve recalls how one professor reminded him of God’s purpose for him at Wheaton, despite initial discouragement as a racial minority. Watch this video to learn more about Steve and his work for Christ and his kingdom. 

5. My First Semester With Christ at the Core

The 2016-17 academic year marked the first of the new Christ at the Core curriculum, a liberal arts curriculum designed to foster a distinctly Christian understanding of the liberal arts. Freshman Class Vice President Octavia Powell ’20 was among the first students to study under the curriculum, and she says her First-Year Seminar class, Relationship to Creation, spoke directly to her passion for environmental issues. Describing her Wheaton experience as “attractive, beautiful, and graceful,” Octavia is happy to report that Wheaton has been “insurmountably better” than she ever could have imagined.

Stay tuned for a series of summer 2017 #MyWheaton posts dedicated to showcasing Wheaton students' study abroad, internship, and curricular opportunities, and share your summer experiences on social media using the hashtag #MyWheaton.

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

Spreading a Message of Love

Posted March 31, 2017 by Steve Gaskin M.A. '18

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#myWheaton Graduate School | Steve Gaskin '17 from Wheaton College on Vimeo.

Steve Gaskin M.A. ’18 is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Biblical Studies and serves as a Graduate Resident Adviser and Adviser for the Orientation Committee at Wheaton College. As an undergrad, Steve majored in Sociology/African American Diaspora and minored in Theater & Drama at Indiana University. 

Before coming to Wheaton, Steve served as a traveling hip-hop artist with The Impact Movement, through which he was able to witness the Gospel being spread across the globe. He also helped plant a church in Chicago from 2014-16. 

Graduate Orientation marked Steve’s first day on Wheaton’s campus, and what very well could have been his last. He was discouraged by the lack of African-American male representation in Barrows Auditorium. “I felt like I couldn’t relate to anybody… I felt alone, I felt sad; I felt like this just wasn’t the place for me.” 

But his mood changed when one professor excitedly called out to him in the hallway, saying he was “so glad” Steve was finally there. At that moment, Steve knew God had a purpose for him at Wheaton and since that day, he has had a “peace” as he is constantly reminded that he is exactly where God wants him to be. 

Steve considers himself passionate, fun-loving, and a “reckless dreamer” and hopes to use the foundations of his faith and his artistic talent to reach people with a message of love, hope, and redemption. 

Watch the video above to learn more about Steve’s #MyWheaton experience.

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

The Best of Both Worlds: My Experience as a Conservatory of Music Student-Athlete

Posted March 24, 2017 by Alice Zhang '18

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My experience as a Conservatory of Music student-athlete has been a challenging and rewarding one. As a member of the swim team and as a double major participating in two Conservatory ensembles, I am fortunate to be a part of so many dynamic communities. 

Being a member of the Wheaton College swim team is one of the best decisions I have made. In my experience, the swim team is the most tight-knit and crazy community on campus, sewn together by numerous team activities, idiosyncratic inside jokes and pranks, and our fearless coaches. A highlight of mine as a Wheaton swimmer is competing in the CCIW Conference Championship in February. After months of relentless training, the team unites one last time and delights in each other’s athletic successes in a whirlwind of emotions. This experience is by far the best example of how the body of Christ is greater than the sum of the individuals. 

Managing these commitments requires a great deal of flexibility from my ensemble directors and coaches, and I have had to establish a balance between rehearsals, swim meets, and concerts early on. My teammates and fellow musicians have been very supportive of my endeavors, often filling me in after missed team meetings and rehearsals. I find that enlarging my perspective during the busy days is especially advantageous because it gives me a moment to see how God has blessed me with versatility and an ability to adapt in such distinct communities. 

For those interested in the athletics or Conservatory of Music programs at Wheaton College, I would encourage you to try one of these groups because I believe that participation in these groups is essential for a liberal arts education. I have discovered that the skills I have fostered in the pool, like discipline and mental toughness, are also integral parts of being a thriving student and musician, and vice versa. You will find that joining an extracurricular group—or multiple groups—will greatly enhance your Wheaton experience.

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Alice Zhang '18 is a Music and Economics double major and is also taking elective studies in business. She is an active member of both the Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra at Wheaton, and the 2016-2017 academic year marked her third as a member of the Varsity Women's Swimming Team. Photo captions (top to bottom): a Symphony Orchestra performance; Alice and fellow swim team members.

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

Spring Break at HoneyRock: African Music Immersion Week

Posted March 16, 2017 by Kathryn Jancaus '18

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aiw-honeyrockMy spring break at HoneyRock for African Music Immersion Week was a time of both refreshment and challenge. Physical and relational refreshment came from camp activities like tubing, canoeing, ice skating and taking walks with new friends. It was also refreshing to learn through doing as we constructed Xhosa musical bows and sang South African church songs in workshops led by ethnomusicologist Dr. Dave Dargie. We learned that body movement is viewed as a way of expressing sincerity in African music, and we practiced worshiping with our bodies in dance as we sang church songs. All together, a highlight of the week for me was physical refreshment and reconnecting with my body’s God-given capabilities for play, creativity, and worship. 

I decided to participate in African Music Immersion Week because I’m interested in world music, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back, I was surprised by both the joys and challenges of the experience. Our workshops challenged me to venture outside my comfort zone and to abandon self-consciousness about dancing, leading songs, and practicing clicks in the Xhosa language. Entering into study of South African history was also very challenging: as we watched films and heard stories from our professors about the oppression of Black South Africans during apartheid, my classmates and I felt the heavy weight of injustice. Dr. Johann Buis, the leader of our trip, opened discussion on the question: Why study past injustice when it is so depressing? Along with this, we discussed a more general question: Why study the history and culture of others? 

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Our response to the first question was: we study human wrongdoing on the societal level not only to lament for past events, but so that we become more sensitive and so we will care about promoting justice. Learning about South Africa’s past helps us to care about justice in this country and the world. And, to the second question we said: cross-cultural learning can be a way of showing Christ-like love. In his love for us, Jesus took on our humanity with all its struggles, joys, and suffering. We can imitate Christ’s incarnational love by showing that we value what is deeply important to other people, like the way Dr. Dargie has shown respect for the Xhosa people by learning and preserving their traditions. 

For me, African Music Immersion Week helped to affirm the value of studying arts, culture, and history as Christians. As I remember this week of learning, I hope that it will continue to help me explore how my studies at Wheaton can reflect God’s love for the world. 

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Kathryn Jancaus ’18 is majoring in Music History and Literature and minoring in Mandarin Chinese. Photo captions (top to bottom): The view from Kathryn's canoe during African Music Immersion Week at HoneyRock; Dr. Dave Dargie and Dr. Johann Buis talk with drummers Henry Williams, Joel Campau, and Hope Ross between songs; Kathryn enjoying the sunny weather with her custom-made bow during spring break at HoneyRock. Photos credit Savannah Norton ’19. 

To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. To learn more about HoneyRock and their gap year program, Vanguard, visit their website

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