Tags: Global and Experiential Learning, My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, The Arts
My 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?
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.
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.
Tags: My Wheaton, The Arts, The Liberal Arts, Video
Natalie Flemming ’18 is the embodiment of the liberal arts. A biology and art major, she thrives in both the lab and the studio as she seeks a thorough understanding of creation.
Natalie hopes to become a medical or scientific illustrator — to produce accurate and visually appealing sketches for textbooks and other publications.
"I think that inevitably studying both biology and art leads to a study of creation," she says. "And as we are able to study creation we can understand a little bit more about who God is by understanding the world he has made around us."
Natalie is also a member of the women’s club ultimate frisbee team and serves as a youth group leader at Wheaton Bible Church. Some of her works can be seen across campus, including a creative nail-and-string depiction of a monk displayed in the Smith-Traber residence hall.
Watch the video above to learn more about how Wheaton has allowed Natalie to combine her passions of science and art.
Natalie Flemming ’18 is a junior studying biology and art. Learn more about Wheaton’s academic programs here. Video filmed, produced, and edited by Andrew Suk.
Tags: My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, Student Activities, The Arts
It 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.
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.
Tags: My Wheaton, Campus, The Liberal Arts, The Arts
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.
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.
Rebecca Watkins ’18 is a communication major with a concentration in theater. To learn more about Arena Theater and upcoming performances, visit their website. To 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.
Tags: The Arts, The Liberal Arts, My Wheaton
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.
One 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.
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.