Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Study Abroad 2017: Joshua Sanders '18 in China

By Joshua Sanders '18


Study Abroad 2017: Joshua Sanders '18 in China

August 9, 2017: Hello all, this time from America! I’ve finally settled back in and gotten used to the time difference (and I’m almost over how sad I am about not being able to get awesome Chinese food every day). For the last two weeks of my China trip, I left the research laboratory and joined up with the United Nations Academic Impact “Incredible Three Gorges” Summer School for classes such as Chinese culture, mythology, songs, dance, language, and calligraphy (to name a few). Unfortunately, I passed all of my classes so I won’t be heading back next summer to re-take any of them (ha-ha). I got a Chinese name during the summer school classes, “成河人” (Chéng Hé Rén) meaning to become like a person of the river. I helped choose this name because of a traditional Chinese idea about water and rivers, “上善若水” (Shang shan ruo shi) meaning “the highest virtue is to become like water”. In Chinese culture rivers and water are seen calm and gentle, bending and giving way to stronger forces when needed but also being strong and carving through rock and tackling obstacles.

Throughout our time in the summer school program, each of the foreign students (two from Korea, three from Italy, and two other Americans plus myself) were assigned a volunteer who was a student at CTGU to help us and guide us. My volunteer, Jiang Nan, was incredible and was always happy to help us out or go out shopping, eating, or to KTV with us. She even helped me online shop for some gifts for others (and myself) online, and is shipping one to me that arrived after I’d left! All of the other volunteers were amazing as well, and at the closing ceremony before everybody left there were tears and hugs all around.

During the summer school, in addition to classes we went out on cultural outings, such as visits to the Three Gorges Dam (the world’s largest hydroelectric power facility), Zigui and Jiangxi for white water rafting (yes, white water rafting!), a tea factory to learn how to pick and process green tea, and a trip to a bijou factory. (Bijou is a traditional Chinese alcohol, the translation into English is “wine” however bijou is not wine, it is most certainly liquor… very strong liquor.) I have been and will continue sifting through all of the pictures I have to post some more to the Flickr album, but I took a lot of pictures and the volunteers took many as well and were kind enough to put them on a flash drive for me, so I’ve got hundreds of pictures and movies to go through.

My last night in China, I went out with several friends from the research lab I had worked in, and we ate dinner then went out singing KTV. Karaoke, which is “KTV” in China, is incredibly popular. In America, when someone says “karaoke” the mental image often conjured up is someone in a bar who got drunk and decided that karaoke was a good idea, but in China this isn’t the case at all. There are very nice KTV places with lots of individual rooms, and you and your friends can rent the room for a few hours. In the room, there’s often a disco ball or some laser lights, and a really nice tv set-up with a little tablet/display to pick songs to sing; KTV is comparable to making plans and going out bowling or to play mini-golf with friends.

Now that I’m back stateside (which almost didn’t happen on time because my flight from Yichang to Shanghai sat on the tarmac for two hours before take-off, yikes) I definitely want to stay for a while and finish my schooling but after I graduate from grad school (hopefully with a Ph.D) I definitely want to go back to Yichang and teach for a year at CTGU. I’ve spoken with some of the instructors at the school and with Dr. Johnson about it, and I’ve been told that it’s relatively certain that I’d be able to teach for a year, so that is definitely on my horizon. Until then, I’ll keep in touch with all of the friends I made in China and study hard so that I can graduate on time and get back to Yichang.

Thanks for reading and keeping up with all of my adventures in China, and more pics are on the way when I find the time to get through all of them! And again, I am incredibly thankful that I’m a Ferrum Panther, and that I’m in the Boone Honors Program. The professors, advisors, and everyone else in my Ferrum family help me be the student I am and do the amazing things I have been given chances to do. Without the support of my fellow Ferrum students and the professors and advisors I emailed and Skype called, I wouldn’t have made it through my time in China. It’s a great day to be a Panther.

Read my other blog posts shared in June 2017 and July 2017.



My Health and Human Performance Internship: The Most Humbling Job

By Ashley McAllister '18


The final week of my internship spent at a physical therapy clinic was full of reflection, good-byes, and many thanks from patients along with encouraging words as I continue on my journey.

During my last week I continued to learn new techniques including how physical therapists analyze a person’s gait. Taylor, the clinic’s physical therapy assistant, told me that there is a lot more than just “watching” the person walk when looking at someone’s gait. Everything goes into account, how their hips, knees, feet and even toes move as they walk. All of these things help a therapist determine how a person is moving. Taylor shared with me how during her schooling they used different techniques to look at each other’s gait during lab. One technique was sprinkling baby powder on the floor and having a person walk across it. This allows someone looking at gait to see which part of the foot a person is walking on and which toes they are using more. 

Overall, Taylor told me it takes a lot of practice to become really good at noticing the incorrect ways people move. I was able to watch a couple patients of Taylor's while she was observing their gait and I could pick up on how they were moving incorrectly based on their injuries. I felt accomplished being able to pick up on how the patient was moving and then being able to see the improvement after Taylor corrected them was a very neat experience.

As I continued to reflect on my experiences this summer I realize that you meet so many amazing people with many different backgrounds in this job field. For example, I met a patient whose life was completely changed after a terrible car crash. Despite their disability, the patient owns their own business and is one of the sweetest people I’ve met. It was amazing hearing their story and seeing how positive and hard-working they are. It was very humbling to meet and work with this person.

My last day was bittersweet, being told by many patients that I’ll do amazing things and hearing their good luck wishes with my future endeavors. It was really a confidence boost hearing so many people tell me I’m going to do great things in the future and to just have them wish me luck. I enjoyed my time at the clinic and I plan to check in with everyone I worked with. I am so blessed to have done my internship with this clinic. It was an amazing experience I know I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else!

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Most Fulfilling Prospect of My Life: The Fight for Educational Equality

By Trinity Welsh '16


Trinity Welsh '16 & Seth Chamberlin
August 2, 2017: Hi there! Recently, I began my new career as a teacher. It isn’t quite where I thought I’d go, but here we are! I’m writing as I sit outside of a Starbucks in Arkansas, a state that I never thought I’d live in. I started the summer having only worked in retail, ready to try anything new. I was pretty surprised when Teach for America extended me an offer, and I was thrilled when a high school in Helena-West Helena, AR, offered me a job before I’d received any training. I had no idea what I was doing, but I wasn’t about to say ‘no’. So, I packed my whole life in my car and drove to Mississippi. 

I stayed pretty tired-my summer was kind of like teacher boot-camp. I was up at 4:30 every day to eat and get coffee, and make my lunch, so that I could catch the bus for the hour-long ride to school in Marks, MS. My days at Quitman County Middle School were something I can’t forget. I was pretty homesick the whole time, but I won’t ever be able to forget my 8th graders. They were worth it. We were only in school until 1 every day, but in those few hours we came to know each other pretty well. I can tell you now, that there is nothing like watching a student become less concerned with popularity and more excited to show their brilliance, or watching children grow into classroom leaders.

After school, we tripped it back to Delta State University to spend a few hours in class ourselves, learning to develop classroom culture and cultivate working relationships with students, as well as devise strategy for classroom learning. We were finished by 6 every day, when we would take some time to eat dinner, work out, and lesson plan for the next days.

At the time, it felt like the summer would never end. But, tomorrow is my first day of work as a certified teacher, and there is nowhere else I’d choose to be. Helena is a school district that suffers from a lack of industry and funding. It’s a beautiful ghost-town. But it’s home, now, and I’m eager to fight for her survival.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I was a politics major, and it seems like I’ve been given the opportunity to affect change in areas where I am most needed. The fight for educational equality might be the most fulfilling prospect of my life. Our motto at TFA is “One day, all children.” I’ll meet my kids next week, but I started fighting for them in June.

Wish me luck tomorrow! It’s going to be a big day.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Study Abroad 2017 2: Joshua Sanders '18 in China

By Joshua Sanders '18


July 10, 2017: Greetings again from China! Today officially ends my period of working in the chemistry lab and tomorrow marks the first day of my UNAI CTGU Summer School classes.

(L-R) Dyes Methylene Blue, Crystal Violet,
Methyl Orange, and Sulforhodamine B. 
I found some really interesting data through my work in the lab. In this photograph, I show the four dyes I worked with this summer. The Methylene Blue (MB) and Crystal Violet (CV) are separated from the Methyl Orange (MO) and Sulforhodamine B (SRB) because the MB and CV are cationic dyes and the MO and SRB anionic dyes, meaning that the blue and violet dyes have a positive charge on the dye molecules, and the MO and SRB have a negative charge on the dye molecules.

The biochar I used in all of my research was suspected to be anionic as well (negatively charged.) This was supported by some of my data: the negatively charged dyes didn’t absorb at all on the surface of the biochar, following the old phrase “opposites attract”. Just like magnets, the negative charge of the dyes was repelled by the (suspected) negative charge of the biochar. Also like magnets, the positive charge of the cationic dyes was attracted to the negative charge of the dye.

Though I’m not sure exactly how my data will be used, I have given over all of my data to my research advisor here at China Three Gorges University, and will be told later on if any of my data will be used in any future research or publications.

Joshua Sanders in front of the only Christian church in Yichang.
Before he returned to Ferrum, Dr. Johnson took me to downtown Yichang and showed me around. We visited the only Christian church in Yichang and a popular public park near the Yangtze river, which was filled with people and families exercising and enjoying their weekend. We also went to Wuhan to meet two students, Dawn and Feng, who previously came to Ferrum College, and Pan Xiaojie, from the Wuhan Institute of Hydroecology, who visited Ferrum’s Smith Mountain Lake Water Quality Lab in the summer of 2016. During this trip, Dr. J and I visit the Yellow Crane Tower and had a meal at a crawfish restaurant. Crawfish have become incredibly popular in southern China over the past few years.

Tomorrow the summer school classes start, so I will have another update to send out as soon as I go on more adventures and meet other people who have come to study in China. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, and I look forward to sending out some more pictures and info before I head home. I can’t wait to be back stateside, and I’m definitely ready to be back at Ferrum for my senior year for classes this year. Until then, I’ll be learning, meeting new people, and having adventures. Until next time!

See additional photographs here.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

My Fulbright Experience: José M. Gutiérrez, Fulbright Spanish Language Teaching Assistant

Hi! It’s been a month since I came back home and the summer heat is making me miss Ferrum. Almost a year ago I found out I was coming to this place of the United States and the only thing I thought was that I was coming to the middle of nowhere. Now that my stay is over I cannot help feeling nostalgic, and not only because of the weather.

Back in September, I missed my hometown so much, but as time went by, I learned to appreciate this college. And it would have not been possible without the very nice people I met and the various activities offered by the college; it was especially helpful to go to the YMCA to adjust better to my new life. In addition, this semester I got involved in more activities. I went skiing and hiking with Ferrum Outdoors, and I also tried zip lining and rock climbing. I never considered myself and outdoor person but I must admit these activities made me realize how much fun I was missing.

I also went to the theater, had fun in the game club and the spring fling, participated in bowl making, enjoyed the choir presentation and the dance recital, and attended some Inquiring Minds presentations. I even had the opportunity to give a presentation about the Mayan culture and language. This college may be small but it has so many activities to offer that sometimes you need to choose between them. I can honestly say that I am glad I was sent to Ferrum.

Now, I must return to my English classes. It was an enriching experience to switch and teach Spanish in Ferrum. I got to compare beginner Spanish students here with English beginner students in Mexico. It made me realize the struggles that English students have or don’t have in Mexico depending on the aspects of language like pronunciation and grammar. My stay as well as the courses I took will also help me to improve my classes. Now that I have a better understanding of American culture and history, I feel more confident to promote it in my English classes back home. After all, language and culture are inextricable linked.

I can only be grateful for this experience and for all the wonderful people I met who made this stay even more enjoyable.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Study Abroad 2017: Joshua Sanders '18 in China


Greetings from Yichang, in the Hubei Province of China!


Joshua Sanders '18 and Dr. David Johnson in China.
My name is Joshua Sanders and I am a rising senior at Ferrum College pursuing a B.S in chemistry. This summer I have been privileged to study at the China Three Gorges University (CTGU) in Dr. Huang Ying Ping’s lab thanks to the generous financial support of the Boone Honors Program. Additionally, I’ve had the honor to work in the same research group as Dr. David Johnson, professor emeritus of Ferrum College, who has been crucial in building bridges and making connections between students of Ferrum College and CTGU.

To be boring and scientific, I’m investigating the catalytic abilities of metal-doped biochar to degrade organic pollutants via Photo-Fenton chemistry. Regular human-speak, I’m looking at the ability of a cheap, easily produced, and environmentally-friendly way to clean up wastewater from pharmaceutical, textile, and industrial production facilities.

Biochar is basically organic material, such as peanut husks, sewer sludge, plants, and other organic stuff, which has been pyrolyzed (or burned and turned to carbon in a low oxygen environment.) Think of ground up charcoal powder, like the activated carbon you use in some aquarium filters, that’s been made from what would otherwise be trash or waste material.

In my case, the biochar was made from a plant that selectively absorbed copper from the soil, meaning it could help “clean” soil before being turned to biochar. An added benefit of a metal-doped biochar is that depending on the metal absorbed, the biochar product can be used in Fenton reactions. In addition to phytoremediation of metal-contaminated soils, the absorbed metal ion is used to generate other chemical species that can attack the pollutants and either absorb them from the water or turn them into less harmful molecules, water, and oxygen gas.

Biochar has become very popular recently due to its wide variety of applications including its ability to “scrub” pollutants from water, soil and air; produce biofuel; and reduce the amount of waste to be managed. Biochar is an attractive and interesting avenue to pursue in the field of climate control and environmental pollution control.

You can see more of my photographs here.