Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Greetings from Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten

Dear Faculty, Staff & Students,

As the semester winds down, I want to thank all of you for being such good citizens of Ferrum College and for helping to create an environment in which we can teach, learn, study and enjoy extra-curricular activities in an atmosphere of civility and respect. As we celebrate the joys of this precious holiday, some of us may also burden ourselves with trying to choose the perfect gifts or bake the most delicious cookies. Because we don’t want to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas with unrealistic expectations, it becomes even more important for all of us to remember the simple message at the heart of the season: 

“Peace on earth and joy to all.”

We can make that message resonate throughout the campus and beyond through our kindness and consideration for one another and in so doing personify our enduring motto “Not Self, But Others.” And remember, it truly is the thought, not the actual gift that counts - even a lumpy gingerbread man tastes as delicious as a perfect one! Enjoy this time and have a blessed and holy Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Sincerely yours,

Jennifer L. Braaten

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ferrum Outdoors- A Look Back at the Fall Semester by Aaron Conover

The Climbing Wall
The sunlight hitting the trees and hills was at a noticeably different angle the other day as I was driving in the mountains. This got me thinking about the seasonal change that is around the corner and the transition from warm days to winter. It also reminded me of all the great adventures that Ferrum Outdoors had this fall so far.

We traveled for some of these adventures and for others students were able to play right on campus.  One of our most popular activities was the Night Zip Line. Participants donned harnesses and helmets to traverse the High Ropes Course then stepped off the platform into the darkness for their zip ride. Students had many other opportunities for being active including weekly bouldering wall, disc golf, trail running and mountain bike sessions plus the rock climbing tower.

Night Time Canoeing
The region around Ferrum offers a wide variety of outdoor-based activities and we did our best to take advantage of them. Philpott Lake had the water and the night provided the stars for an evening canoe trip and the following weekend we paddled kayaks down the James River. Then we switched out the lifejackets for trail shoes for a hike in Rock Castle Gorge.  The Radical Reels Tour, which is part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, brought us to the edge of our seats at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke with adrenalin filled films about mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking and longboarding, which made everyone ready for an even bigger adventure.

The Upper Gauley River in West Virginia gave us just that. This section has over forty rapids including five solid Class V’s making it one of the premier rafting destinations in the country. It can be paddled throughout the year but for a short time a release from the dam on Summersville Lake brings the water flow up to an impressive level and we got to experience it.

Kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay
You may notice there is a water theme going on. Well, it continues. Ferrum Outdoors partnered with the City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s outdoor department and we traversed over to Mathews, VA on the Chesapeake Bay for some sea kayaking during fall break. This location is unique because it allows kayaking in the Bay right from the beach and exploring the waterways that flow into it. A full moon paddle and one at sunrise topped off this excellent trip.

The Roanoke Outdoor Circus came to town and Ferrum Outdoors helped out and participated during the inaugural weekend of this completely outdoor recreation focused event. Activities included slack lining and bike trials shows, live music, sustainability activities, educational programs, trail running and mountain bike races, a city wide gear treasure hunt plus local vendors on hand providing equipment demos. We teamed up with members of the Recreation Club to manage the two campground areas that were on site. Everyone did a great job and enjoyed in the event.

We decided to wrap up the Ferrum Outdoors season with rock climbing and sailing. Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina has a large range of climbs that sit on top of what looks like a butte, which provides excellent views and an increased feeling of exposure while climbing. Pilot Mountain is one of our favorite areas to go and all the climbers pushed themselves until their arms and legs where spent.

Sailing on Smith Mountain Lake
Those who signed up for sailing were rewarded with a breezy and sunny day, the perfect combination.  Ferrum Outdoors is a member of the Virginia Inland Sailing Association on Smith Mountain Lake and their intercollegiate sailing program and they provided us with Flying Scot sailboats, instructors and the marina from which to operate. Flying Scots are fast, Olympic class boats that are responsive and stable and with experienced skippers and teamwork, we were able to put them through their paces.

We were sad to wrap up the fall but felt very fortunate to have had these opportunities. We appreciate the support of the administration, faculty, staff and student leaders that make it all happen. The spring semester is just as chocked full of activities so be on the look out for what is coming up.

See you out there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Support Ferrum Basketball at the Roanoke Tip-Tournament on Sunday, November 20

This Sunday, November 20, come support the Ferrum College basketball team during the Roanoke Tip-Off Tournament. Join other Ferrum fans in Roanoke College's Bast Gymnasium at 2 PM to watch the Panthers take on the Maroons. Then join us for the Post-Game Tailgate at Mac & Bob's (316 East Main St, Salem, VA) and meet Coach Tharp, Coach Fuller and the Team!

The Tailgate Party is $5 per person, cash bar. For more information about this event or to RSVP, please contact Ferrum College at 1-877-FERRUM1 or by November 16, 2011.

Thanksgiving Message from Ferrum College President Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten

Dear Students, Faculty & Staff,

It’s hard to believe that the end of the semester is in sight! I want to wish you all the blessings of Thanksgiving and safe travels to those heading out of town. The Empty Bowls event last Sunday, sponsored by the Art Department, was a great success. I’m reminded that the name “empty bowls” can also present us with the opportunity for a prayerful reflection on the bounty in which most of us share.

We want to congratulate the football team for finishing 7-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play, earning a USA South runner-up finish under Head Coach Dave Harper and his staff. We anticipate All-Conference honors for many of our players, which will be announced later this week.

Congratulations as well to our new women's swimming team and Coach Lindsay DeLaRosby on winning their inaugural home meet last Friday night at the Swartz Gym pool. The team posted an impressive 110-60 win over Emory & Henry, with over 100 fans in attendance!

Very special congratulations are also in order for Gilda Woods, Associate Vice President and Dean of Admissons, and everyone who had a hand in our most successful Panther Preview to date last Saturday! In our various capacities, whether teaching and learning in the classroom, working on musical productions and dramatic plays, or taking part in various student activities, we all make a great Ferrum College team!


Jennifer L. Braaten

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Take Back The Night by Courtney Joyce

Take Back The Night is an annual event on Ferrum College campus. As I helped plan this event, it moved me and made me realize how big an issue this is.
In many domestic violence cases there is more than one person impacted. Often, there is a child involved as well. So the violence is not only hurting the abused spouse or significant other, it is hurting the child.

This can affect children by making them turn to violence or act out in school. Domestic violence is not the only issue upon which Take Back the Night shines a light. It also recognizes sexual abuse victims.

Sexual abuse can happen at any age. In many cases, sexual abuse happens at the hands of someone that the victim knows. It is not unusual for the abuser to be a family member or a close friend. That often results in the victim not wanting to report the incident. Keeping these things to themselves only causes them more problems.

Take Back The Night is a great event for people to tell their stories, and see people being supportive of them. Several of the speakers this year will be telling their story for the first time. These speakers are amazing and the situations they have survived have only made them stronger.

I believe victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse become stronger as they realize they have a support system and people support the decisions they have made no matter what they are.

I encourage you to attend the Ferrum College Take Back the Night program Monday October 24, in Vaughn Chapel. We will have speakers and light refreshments.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The following is a letter from Ferrum grad and now Peace Corp volunteer Cristy Hickson. she has been in Moldova for a year now, and is clearly having a positive impact -- taking the Ferrum motto of Not Self, But Others to the other side of the world.


It’s summertime, and boy oh boy, am I happy! I LOVE Moldova in the spring and summer. There is new life everywhere: little chicks, baby goats, cows, and horses! I LOVE IT! It is so cool to see a baby horse attached to his/her mother who is pulling a wagon or to watch the mama goat encourage her baby to walk through the big, scary puddle that is separating the baby goat from the rest of his group. My tutor’s cat just had kittens, I could watch them play all day! Literally. And there is green everywhere, just absolutely beautiful.

It is hard to believe that I have been here a year, and that I will be leaving in a year. I am looking forward to coming home, but at the same time I know there is so much I am really going to miss about Moldova - my new friends and family, my students, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the singing and dancing at every party, my host mom’s sense of humor, the endless fields of sunflowers, and the kids all saying “good morning” to me as I walk through the village at six in the evening! Moldova has become my home away from home! I am going to make sure I enjoy every lasting minute I have here! I am hoping to come home a better and stronger person who lives a healthier life and who tries to live in the moment.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Moldova in March! In his speech, he discussed how the U.S. wants to continue it’s partnership with the Moldovan people and government to work towards democratization of not just Moldova, but the whole region. He also brought up the issue of human trafficking, a huge problem in Moldova. After his speech, he met with Peace Corps Volunteers and individuals who work for the U.S. Embassy in a small meet-and-great event; this was my favorite part of the day. He said our work in this country is very important and that we need to ensure three things in this country: 1.) a transparent government without corruption, 2.) an end to the human trafficking crisis, and 3.) free press. I don’t think I will ever forget this day!

One of my favorite topics to talk about with anyone who is willing to listen is the kids in my club! They have worked so hard this year and I could not be more proud! After their last presentation about diabetes, I asked them what they wanted to do next. They decided to prepare skits about the fact that we are all different and unique! I loved that they chose this topic. Their skits were awesome and the audience really enjoyed the whole presentation. Check out our blog and website, and

On April 16th, everyone was encouraged to come together to clean Moldova in an event called “Hai Moldova”. I worked with the Principal at my school to organize this clean-up event in our village. Every student participated and I think they really enjoyed it! It was really cool to see everyone work together towards a common goal. The village looked great after the clean-up, I could not believe how much trash we ended up collecting. I am certain we will do this again next year, and I am hoping they will continue it after I leave.

By far, in Moldova, Easter (Paștele) is my favorite celebration! Most people head to the church between 10pm-3am to pray and give thanks, they then head home, grab the food they have been preparing for the past week, and head back to the church around 4am. Everyone forms circles surrounding the church, each family prepares a display on the ground or in a basket which includes special sweet bread, red colored eggs, wine, a lit candle, and the food they have been preparing for the past week. The priest then walks around the circles chanting and blessing the food by splashing droplets of holy water over the people and their food. Everyone is supposed to eat the blessed food first thing in the morning for three consecutive days. It was such a beautiful ceremony, I didn’t take any pictures of it this year (a big mistake!), but next year I will definitely take pictures.

The Sunday following Easter is known as Memorial Easter (Paștele Blajinilor). On this day, people go to the cemetery with food and wine to remember those who have passed away. Everyone surrounds the graves of their loved ones and eat, drink wine, and tell stories about the person who they have devoted this day to. Many people even bring tables and benches. The priest also chants and blesses every grave on this occasion; he does this by pouring a dash of wine alongside every grave. I visited my host mom’s husband and son. Her husband died 13 years ago, I believe he had liver problems; her son died as a young boy, he drowned in the bath tub. I loved listening to her talk about her husband and son, she loves them very much!

I am involved in a group called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and I love working with this group. I helped organize a training a few weeks ago, it was a big success (in my opinion!). We invited Volunteers and asked them to bring 2-3 students from their school. We ended up having around 15 Volunteers and 30 partners, which was a great turnout. We talked to the participants about how to organize a summer camp. The girls I brought with me said they really enjoyed the seminar and they are looking forward to organizing a summer camp in our village. Our hope is that these girls will develop many skills, self-confidence, and will continue organizing events in their villages even after a Volunteer no longer lives there. I am looking forward to helping out with some of the camps other Volunteers are planning!

The last day of school was today! It’s so unreal how fast this year has flown by! As some of you know, we won a grant to paint a mural! Yay! So I will be working on this for a few weeks with my students. The new Volunteers will arrive on June 8th, so I will be really busy helping them feel welcome their first few days in country. I can’t wait to meet all of them! I will admit I have been Facebook stalking them! ;) Our summer camp will begin at the end of June, it is for girls in grades 5th-7th. I am most excited about this! And then we are starting a girl’s club in July, I am hoping it will turn into something like Girl Scouts! My Mom will also be here in July!! Woohoo! Other than these plans, I just hope to help my host mom in the garden, play with the kids in my village, travel around Moldova, and enjoy the nice, sunny weather!

That’s all! I didn’t write about everything, in hope that you will stay interested, I hope you found some of this interesting!

Love Cristy :)

Cristy Hickson
Health Education for Schools and Communities Volunteer
Peace Corps Moldova
Str. Grigore Ureche #12
2001 - Chisinau, Republica Moldova

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why is the soup in my wine glass? (And other questions of etiquette.)

The waiter brought the soup, a beautiful tomato gazpacho. Yet something was wrong. As each person was served, the well dressed guests at the table became more nervous. The soup was in a champagne glass, and for good measure, a grilled goat cheese sandwich served as a make-shift lid. What in the heck are you supposed to do with that?

Those are the types of questions Ferrum’s graduating seniors faced during the eighth annual Professional Protocol Dinner last night in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room.

Career Services Director Rol Walters figured out a long time ago that knowing which fork is for salad could be the final hurdle for graduating seniors entering the workplace. “These people have spent four years preparing for the job market, and we don’t want them to lose an opportunity if they can’t handle a business lunch or dinner,” said Walters.

So Walters teams up with Jack Sharlowe FMP, an expert on protocol, and Ferrum College Chef Bo Bernard. Chef Bo comes up with gourmet dishes that challenge even veteran business diners, while the Tuxedo clad Sharlowe guides students, staff and local business people through the minefield of potential mistakes.

“No more than two sugars for your coffee or tea, more than that is excessive,” he cautioned. “Don’t salt your food before you taste it. That’s pre-judging.”

Sharlowe also guided the group through the standard rules of how to carry on polite conversation without dominating the table. He gave basic advice on how to place the napkin in your lap, (diagonally and partially folded) and how to place your fork and knife on your plate to indicate to the wait staff that you are resting, but not yet finished with your meal.

Bite by bite, we finished our peanut butter and jelly (sliced grapes on cranberry walnut bread crouton with powdered peanut butter) our cucumber wrapped spring salad, and roasted Chicken Oscar – on the bone – with rosemary risotto. (I NEVER order chicken on the bone in polite company.) For dessert we enjoyed Baked Tart Tatin – a spiral sliced granny smith apple stuffed with caramel cream cheese served on puffed pastry. Beautiful and delicious, but hard to eat without using your fingers.

Oh – and the soup in the champagne glass with the grilled goat cheese? You set the sandwich on your bread plate. Since the soup is in a glass you may drink it or spoon it – making sure to dip the spoon away from your body.

Bon appétit.

To view more photos from the evening, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dessert Discussion: Christianity vs. Atheism

Public Relations Intern Meagan Hodges has been attending the College's Dessert Discussions. Here are her thoughts on the most recent discussion.

Dessert Discussion: Christianity vs. Atheism

Dessert discussions have been happening approximately every two weeks on campus in the Confetti’s Lounge located in the basement of Bassett Hall. This is a great opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and Residence Hall Educators to take part in meaningful conversations on key issues, such as “civility” and “racism in the media” in a relaxed setting. Desserts and drinks are served to get participants’ minds flowing, and this week’s discussion consisted of Christianity, Atheism, and chocolate tart pie. Residence Hall Educators Joseph Fridley, Demond Hairston, Toni Davis, and Professor of Mathematics Jobriath Kauffman facilitated the discussion and were joined by several other Ferrum students and other participants on Monday, April 4th, 2011.

Among the topics discussed were faith and religion, life after death, the existence of God, Heaven and Hell, and free will. Professor Kauffman opened with comments on “The Last Supper” and Jesus’ Resurrection from the Bible. On Christianity, Professor Kauffman’s view was that “You are a Christian if you believe that Christ is who he said he was.” Faith was defined in the discussion as “What you do not know and choose to believe.”

Opposing views were given to support both Christianity and Atheism, and some students proclaimed agnosticism, meaning that they believe God’s existence can be neither proven nor disproven. An issue these students had with Christianity was the problem of reconciling humanistic free will with God’s “ultimate plan.” Hypocrisy in Christians and churches was another reason given by students for not accepting Christianity. Also, some presented the view that the fear of death is the only real reason that people turn to religion.

Religion was also discussed in terms of cultural relevance. It was mentioned that “both Atheists and Jesus hated “religion” because of the wedge it drives between humans. Cultural references, such as the movie Dogma, were brought up, as well as the impacts that these influences have on religion today. Toni Davis, Residence Hall Educator, said that college is a time that many students are faced with evidence or other cultural influences that cause them to question the religion they were raised in. One student affirmed this statement by saying that she was “still searching” for religion or spirituality.

The session came to a close with Professor Kauffman telling his story of how he kept his faith through his college years. He left his family in Pennsylvania to go to college in Tennessee. Upon arriving, he met a fellow student from China who he instantly bonded with. This friend invited Kauffman to the local Chinese Ministry, and even though he could not understand the message, this was what got him back into the rhythm of worshiping and attending Sunday school.

Brad Barbour, a local man from Henry County, had been an active participant in the conversation all along. He worked on campus previously, found out about the discussion via email, and thought the topic was of such interest that he decided to come out. He said that “Real love is not a feeling, it’s a choice,” regarding the choice to accept Christianity, and he thoughtfully closed the discussion by stating that “Either side will never get anywhere by arguing.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

House Party is No Fun.

“Being pregnant isn’t as cute as I thought it would be,” said Ferrum College student Katie Duff.” With groan she added, “It’s also heavier.”

Katie is one of about 200 students who are learning first hand the consequences of their actions. She's wearing an outfit that makes her look and feel pregnant.

Other students were suspended from school, sexually assaulted at a party and learned they had contracted various sexually transmitted diseases. Oh yeah – some went to jail and others died.

It’s part of an exercise called, House Party put on by the College Department of Student Affairs.

“It shows students how close they are to life changing decisions, when they don’t even realize it,” explained Student Health Programs Coordinator Jill Adams, who heads the program.

Students begin the exercise by attending what looks like a keg party in the Panther’s Den. There is loud music, a pair of kegs in the middle of the room, and sorority sisters dancing and drinking from red plastic cups. It looks for all the world like an actual college party.

As the students mingle, volunteers pass out slips of paper that indicate what the student “did” after drinking too much and making bad decisions. “You have alcohol poisoning, go to the hospital,” said one slip. “You were charged with assault for fighting,” said another.

The first student went to a station manned by Ferrum Biology Professor Katie Goff, playing the role of doctor who informed the young lady that she had required CPR and nearly died after having her stomach pumped. She was dispatched to another station, where she would need to explain herself to volunteers posing as her parents.

Student Marcavious Rose, meanwhile learned that his assault charge, though dropped would still be cause to dismiss him from school. “We can’t take a chance on a student who has shown he is willing to do bodily harm to another student,” explained Vice President of Student Affairs Andrea Zuschin.

Down the hall there were even worse stories. Brittany Jones learned she had been sexually assaulted at a party after passing out. Claude Johnson walked by with a sign around his neck. It announced he’d contracted gonorrhea.

When asked about the exercise, every student said it made them realize how close they could be to making a life changing mistake. Volunteers, like Amy Pendleton of the Perinatal Education Center in Rocky Mount, who handed lifelike crying babies, to students who learned they’d become pregnant, said they would rather spend the time now, than helping kids learn, “once it’s too late.”

Pendleton drove the point home by setting the baby’s adjustable temperament to ‘irritable.” Said one student tasked with carrying, feeding and changing the crying baby’s diapers, “This is way harder than I thought.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chef Bo to Go

Chef Timothy “Bo” Bernard is about to take a nice trip to Philadelphia – all expenses paid by the Campbell’s Soup company. He is one of four finalists for a contest to see which food service chefs from across the nation could come up with a recipe worthy of taking its place on the back of the Campbell’s can.

He entered the contest, “on a whim,” he told me. “I saw this on-line contest and figured, ‘Why not?’”

Chef Bo’s recipe, called Frenchy Fusion Noodle Bowl, was offered to students today for the first time. Think of it like French Onion soup with linguini, bean sprouts, mushrooms, and lean beef. There are a few other ingredients, but discussions of things culinary require an expertise beyond my pay grade – if not my palette.

In a word, this dish is good. It’s filling and has more substance than the French Onion soup you might have before your meal. This was a meal in itself, though not as heavy as typical comfort foods.

Of course next week, the judges, who have more refined palettes will be deciding what they think. Campbell’s is flying Bo to Philadelphia where he will present his recipe in person. If he wins, Campbell’s will give him a $500 shopping spree in the Campbell’s store and perhaps will put his recipe on the back of a can – the one you buy in the store, or perhaps the 50 oz. food service size, used by chefs who cook for hundreds at a time. If he wins, Bo says he’ll bring back $500 worth of stuff for Ferrum College students.

If not, we have a new dish to eat at the dining hall. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spanish Fashion Show: Another Salute to Cultural Diversity at Ferrum

Ferrum College Public Relations Intern Meagan Hodges (below) recently joined other students in a fashion show -- presented in Spanish! Her take on the event is our latest blog.

The first annual Spanish Fashion Show was held Wednesday, February 23 in the Grousebeck Auditorium. Organized by Spanish Professor, Patty Suppes, along with her students in Spanish 102, the show was a lively way to showcase cultural diversity and help students feel more comfortable with speaking in a different language. She got the idea from a friend that does a show similar to this every year, and it’s a big hit at that college. Being a student in this elementary level of Spanish, I thought the fashion show was a “perfect fit” because we were learning about clothing and accessories at the time of the show.

Each student in the class chose an outfit and wrote a detailed description of what they planned to wear in Spanish. On the day of the show, students swapped descriptions so that they could present someone else as they walked down the stairs in the auditorium and onto the “runway”. Outfits ranged from the casual, to the formal, to the bizarre. Ferrum student, Sierra Hampton, wore an outfit suitable for a rainy day with boots and a rain coat. Another student, Jessica Goad, wore a beach-style dress with flip-flops perfect for summer. Ferrum Junior, Isaac Hawks, dressed as a lumberjack. It was exciting to see students’ creativity and style come out through their choice of attire, and to see them interacting with one another and the crowd in the Spanish language.

Overall, the turnout was a bit disappointing, but Professor Suppes plans to make the Spanish Fashion Show a yearly event. She hopes to see more and more students interested in cross-cultural activities and learning new languages. Students Elise Foster and Kristian Green said that the show was a fun learning experience, so hopefully next year more students will have the same reaction. Activities like these are among the many reasons that make me proud to be a well-rounded Ferrum student!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Break with the Choctaw

Ferrum College Dean of Chapel Wes Astin is spending spring break with a group of Ferrum College Students, on a mission trip with the Choctaw Indians. Wes has been sending daily dispatches and photos as the team lives the Ferrum College Motto, "Not Self, But Others."

Day 1

We started out day out with breakfast together before hitting the road. We went to Sterling’s home for a day of painting. Sterling is one of the elders of the Choctaw tribe.

During our lunch break the group learned about what is happening in the Choctaw community with the Chief who is in his third year in this position. the Chief is not popular with the Choctaw people right now.

At the end of our day of painting we returned to the Mission Center where we prepared a meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, and a Birthday Cake. We were blessed by having Howard, one of the members of John’s Memorial UMC, and members of his family with us to celebrate Howard's 25th Birthday. Following dinner all of the men (well with the exception of ONE of us) had a very intense and LONG game of basketball. The 25 year old, Howard, put a “hurting” on these young men!

All-in-all, it was a great day of mission and ministry!

Until the next post........

Day 2

Yesterday morning began with breakfast and morning devotions. Brad “Loops” Donahue, a psychology major, shared from I Thessalonians 5:17 (seek that which is good, rejoice always, and pray without ceasing.) The group shared how they experienced our new friend Howard on the basketball court the previous evening “seeking that which was good.” He is an awesome athlete and he was constantly making sure that everyone had their time with the ball even when he could have made every shot, every time! So often we want to show off our skills when our greatest skill is seen when we try to highlight others. Kind of sounds like the Ferrum motto in there somewhere, doesn’t it? “Not Self, But Others.”

We then returned to John’s Memorial UMC which is located on Tribal land where we spent a LONG day cleaning and painting. It was a very productive day as we completed painting every room and repaired the ceiling in the fellowship hall. Two of us will return this morning to finish a couple of small touch up points that needed to dry overnight.

We returned to the Mission site around 5 pm where several of the crew began grilling chicken, preparing veggies and potatoes for our dinner. Following dinner we left the site for the Tribal hospital where we visited one of the elders of the tribe and a member of one of the local United Methodist Churches.

David had a stroke a few weeks ago and lost use of his right side. He can’t speak but he is able to sing. So, we gathered around his bed (it was a crowded room with all of us and some members of his family) and we sang, we prayed for David, and we sang some more. This was a very meaningful evening.

After we said our good byes and good wishes to David, we returned to the site, where our friend from last year’s visit, Tisha, came and shared history of the Choctaw people and some updates on the tribal chief. Needless to say, many are hoping for a change in that role in the next election.

We ended our day with scripture and prayers and then we gathered in our small room where all 10 of us live and sleep and sat around and talked, and talked, and talked, until this old preacher decided it was time to hit the bed.

Day 3

Well, yesterday was another very productive day. We began with morning devotions and breakfast. This day we stayed at the mission site and did some much needed painting and cleaning.

Andrew and I returned to John’s Memorial UMC to finish up a small painting and spackling job that we were not able to complete the previous day. The rest of the crew stayed at the site and built a new door into the sanctuary of the church there, painted, picked up trash and repaired the trash receptacles that Rocky the Raccoon had destroyed in order to have his nightly feasts.

We took a couple of hours in the afternoon to return to the “Mother Mound” - the site the Choctaw people memorialize the start of all creation that gave this tribe life. From there we visited the site remembering the Freedom Summer Murders, when three voting rights activist came to Mississippi to investigate the burning of Mount Zion Church and were murdered. This was a very educational and moving experience for the team. It reminded us of the great price that many pay in living out the “Not Self, But Others” motto of Ferrum.

Upon our return to the Mission Site we continued some final painting and the Church & Community Worker, Steve, asked the group to paint one of the entrances with a mural of some sort depicting the group including the names of those here. So, as we continue in this covenant relation with this mission we hope to add to the names as the years come and go.

As we begin today we will finalize some painting, have breakfast with some of the folks at the site, load up and begin our journey back home.

What a Spring Break experience! We came to serve and, as always, our lives were changed forever!

Thank you Ferrum College for allowing me to be a part of such meaningful experiences.

Thank you to the many who gave financially so that these student’s could minister and be ministered to in such a meaningful way!


Wes Astin

Friday, February 25, 2011

Doughnuts the Ferrum Way.

So I'm walking in from getting my free Starbucks coffee at the bookstore, and lo and behold who is approaching me but two people offering the opportunity to try new doughnut flavors for campus.

Are you kidding me? Not only will there soon be doughnuts on campus, but the folks in food service are making sure they pick the ones that people actually want.

Now that's service. Correction. That's service the Ferrum College way.

Assistant Catering Manager Alyson Seidel and Vending Manager Chris Foley have already offered the new options to students -- in a taste test, and in the dining hall. This day they were offering members of the administration the chance to opine on whether the creme filled varieties are better than say the blueberry cake option. (They are!)

After tasting, we were asked to complete a survey. It asked which ones we like best, would be purchase the occasional doughnut, and what would we be willing to pay.

So far the favorite seems to be the raspberry jelly-filled with white icing. It is followed closely by the Bavarian Creme filled and the Long John.

All I know is that we will soon have a doughnut option -- The Ferrum way!