Spiritual Life

#MyWheaton: HoneyRock's Summer Leadership School

Posted May 25, 2016 by Christiana McGann '18, Malena Sweers '17

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This summer, junior Christiana McGann ’18 and senior Malena Sweers ’17 are heading up to HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, where they will participate in Summer Leadership School (SLS). Below, they share a bit about why they chose to spend their summers in classes, training, and as paid cabin counselors in a dynamic summer camp program for young people. 

Q: Why did you sign up to do HoneyRock’s Summer Leadership School (SLS)? 

Malena: I signed up for SLS because I wanted to be a part of the worshipful community at HoneyRock, members constantly inviting each other to love God as we participate in His creation together. When I transferred to Wheaton the spring of my sophomore year, the group of students who welcomed and loved me most had all been involved at HoneyRock, most of them with the SLS program. Their stories and high praise of the summer at HoneyRock moved me to keep the program in mind. At the start of this past fall semester other components moved around too, and I became the first SLS recruit of the year! 

Q: What is SLS all about? 

Christiana: In addition to being a leadership program, SLS is a unique ministry experience that demands learning and adapting as you go. That being said, the preparations we have received, in the form of various meetings, CPR training sessions, and my personal favorite—the winter retreat at HoneyRock we took this February—have only heightened my excitement. I had my first glimpse of HoneyRock during our retreat. Throughout that freezing weekend, I tasted for myself the sweetness of “a place apart.” The weekend involved zany team-building activities and times of solitude. We reveled in the exhilaration of snow-tubing and in various star-gazing treks on the frozen lake. And of course, I will never forget the infamous polar plunge. There is nothing quite as bonding as a dip in freezing waters during the balmy month of January. As we huddled for warmth beside a crackling bonfire, I recall feeling a strange sense of kinship with my fellow “crazies.” The weekend left me eagerly anticipating the summer to come. 

Malena: SLS is a program that equips college students like myself to guide campers entering 4 th through 9 th grade through a couple weeks of outdoor adventures, and to teach us how to be present with them to help process camp experiences. “SLS’ers” prepare with classes and training for five weeks before campers arrive. I am grateful for this time counselors have to become familiar with each other, learning how to build one another up when either joy or exhaustion prevails. 


Q: What are you most looking forward to about this summer? 

Christiana: The greatly anticipated SLS will be a summer full of thrilling stories and adventures to tell. I cannot wait to savor nature in a place of quiet, to hike and stargaze to my heart’s content. There’s something unique about the breathtaking view of a hike or the immensity of an array of stars. These are times in nature where I palpably feel God’s presence. I also look forward to reflective and quiet times to sit with and ponder hard questions. I want to meet God in a fresh way that renews my delight in the Lord. Finally, I cannot wait for the relationships I will find at HoneyRock. The people with whom I will interact, both campers and those I work alongside, will be sure to challenge me in ways that I can’t envision. In short, I’m at the brink of a summer of memories and crazy experiences that will create friendships like nothing else. In the words of Ellie from Up, “Adventure is out there!” 

Photos (from top): Christiana (at left) and Malena on Chrouser Lawn at HoneyRock in May 2016. Photos credit Alexander Lee ’18.

Learn more and apply to HoneyRock’s summer programs and camps on their website.

#MyWheaton: Amazing Grace

Posted May 19, 2016 by Robin Kong '16

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“Ordinary” is not necessarily the best word to describe the past couple of years at Wheaton College. The College suffered from multiple incidents and divisive responses about such incidents from society. Seeing the media quite frequently bashing on my College that I love was definitely one of my lowest points of this year.

While mourning and being heartbroken for the College and its separations, I wondered if there was any fundamental belief that could draw an absolute and complete agreement from anyone on campus.

Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To give hope to those who, like me, mourn for the separation of campus, I decided to produce a musical project based on the message of the unity of Christ. The mission statement of project was simple: get students from very different places of Wheaton – the Conservatory and the football team, for instance – to sing about the same thing – the grace of Christ.

With the short amount of time I had left in the school year, I had to move quickly. First, I contacted my friend Adam Lindgren ’16 and asked for an all-voice arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” I could not find a better song or better arranger to represent the message of unity through voices. Next, I reached out to multiple people and asked for their musical participation on this project. I contacted the presidents of different organizations on campus and asked for a participant from each group as a representative. Each artist, by participating on this project, supports the purpose of this project by representing his or her group. Last, to be able to advertise the final product to the student body, parents, faculty and staff members, I came up with the name of this project – Project UNITY. 

During the journey, I was blown away by the number of participants and the amount of willingness of each and every musician who was on board. I was able to record 30 artists, and though my time at studio was sometimes quite exhausting, their enthusiasm and passion constantly reminded me of why I started this project in the first place. With a total of 80 hours in Shea studio with lots of encouragements and help from different friends, I reached the end of the journey last week and launched the final product of Project UNITY ("Amazing Grace," above). 

I thank my advisors, helpers, and musicians who were with me this entire journey – this mix is meaningful not because of its quality, but because of its message behind it, and this message could not have been delivered if it weren’t for them. I thank Wheaton College for providing me such an awesome opportunity to witness Christ during this entire process. Finally, I thank God for bringing us unity, and giving us an ability to praise and sing for His glory. 

RobinKong-Wheaton-College

Each singer who participated on this project represents the organization or club that he/she is involved in: Student Government, College Union, Gospel Choir, Swing Club, Resident Life, Track Team, Diakonoi, Discipleship Small Group, Men's Glee Club, Football, Concert Choir, Arena Theater, Amplify, Summer Ministry Program, Phonathon, Women's Chorale, Mu Kappa, Thundertones, Koinonia, the Wheaton Record, and many more. Adam Lindgren '16, Lucian Taylor '17, and Brian Porick '98 recorded, mixed, and mastered the project, and artists who participated on this project include Aly Vukelich '17, Matt Zuckermann '17, Andrea Artis '16, Emily Lengel '16, Josh Knowlton '17, Sola Olateju '17, Jenny Ruda '18, Peter Fenton '17, Peter Desrosier '16, Joshua Buzz Aldrin '16, Lydia Saldanha '17, Brittany Blue '16, Emma Camillone '18, Catherine Hall '18, Luke Goodman '18, Katherine Harrison '18, Kiersten Williams '18, Emma Baker '17, Elizabeth Bretscher '19, Eugenia Kang '16, Sarah Han '16, David Batdorf '16, Elliot Franklin '17, Austin Odling '18, Lucas Anholzer '18, Calvin Brown '16, Jeff Burge '17, Charles Nystrom '18, and Kirkland An '17. 

What I Learned During My Four Years at Wheaton College

Posted May 4, 2016 by Katherine Braden '16

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Just four years ago, I was a bright-eyed high school graduate headed to Wheaton College, and I had big goals: make lots of forever-friends, get all As, find my one true love, and come out a “stellar” Christian. 

Some of those things did happen, but more importantly, I realized I am not defined by my accomplishments. My worth is not determined by grades, for learning goes deeper than the letters printed on my report card. And my value is not decided by the number of friends I accumulated, the guys I dated, or the prayers I cried when failure and rejection were close companions. Wheaton College has, instead, taught me that the most important thing about me is that I am loved by a merciful and gracious God.

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Wheaton College is a flawed place made up of flawed people redeemed by our loving Father’s grace. For me, it has been a safe place to question, grieve, rejoice, and confront my fears and guilt. I have mourned with my brothers and sisters over systemic injustice as part of the Shalom Community, found myself humbled in the immersion of a different culture during Wheaton in England, and discovered solace while walking alongside literary giants, realizing we both seek the same truths. 


It seems surreal: in just a few days I’ll say a teary-eyed farewell to professors and classmates, receive my cap, gown, and diploma, and consider myself an official alumna of Wheaton College. It has been such a privilege to learn and grow at Wheaton College. So thank you: to the professors, classmates, friends, and staff who have shown me the love of Christ stretches deep, and far, and wide. Thank you for the books I have read, the finals I have studied for, and the papers written. Thank you for the challenges, the tears, the laughter. I can’t imagine spending the past four years anywhere else.

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Katherine Braden '16 is an English major with a writing concentration and a minor in community art. She has edited the #MyWheaton blog from August 2015 through May 2016 and has been continually blessed to hear and share stories of her classmates' Wheaton experiences. 

Photo Captions: Katherine on the English moors during Wheaton in England; Katherine (second from left) with housemates; Katherine with Shalom House Community. 

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.

Wheaton Passage: From Separation to Integration

Posted September 14, 2015 by Charlston Ong '19

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honeyrock-campfire 

Technology is an essential part of our lives. Well, for my life at least. So when I found out I would not be able to update family and friends during Passage at HoneyRock, my heart sank. However, as the days went by, I was really glad that we didn’t have access to electronic devices. 

When we first arrived at HoneyRock, it was late in the night, and tiki torches illuminated our path to a campfire on top of a hill. Worship music started playing softly and everyone started singing. The stars lit up the night sky and with a glow stick from our cabin leaders, we headed to our cabins to settle in. That is where I met the members of Cabin 18 for the first time. It felt overwhelming to me coming from Singapore, which has a totally different culture from United States, but as the days went by, the friendliness and the closeness of our group helped not only me but also the group integrate into Wheaton’s community. 

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We were so close that we even had to remind ourselves to go in pairs to sit with others at different groups during meal times, instead of sitting together. We also met Cabin 12, our sister cabin, and bonded over games and activities. Besides getting to know these two groups of people, I slowly opened up and interacted with others at HoneyRock. I would say the absence of technology helped us “live in the moments” of camp and also helped us connect to God on a more personal level. Even the professors helped to break down barriers, which helped tremendously. As Passage came to a close, tiki torches illuminated our paths to the closing ceremony once again, signifying the end with more worship songs around a campfire. Our closeness as whole camp of people was evident. It felt like it was still going to be evident when we arrived back on Wheaton’s campus. 

The members of Cabins 12 and 18 still make it a point to greet each other and have meals with each other on Wheaton’s campus. I am really glad that I attended Passage—the eight days of fun and adventure really eased my process of integration into the Wheaton Community. This is an experience I will never forget, and I wish I could do it all over again. 

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Charlston Ong ’19 is a freshman at Wheaton. Find out more about the Wheaton Passage program at HoneyRock. Photo captions (from top): Fellowship around a campfire at HoneyRock; Members of Cabins 12 and 18 get ice cream in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, and gather at the Loberg Lodge cafeteria; Charlston (front, center) and fellow members of Cabin 18 arrive at HoneyRock.

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