Harding Magazine

My summer spent...

By Jennifer Hannigan

When the last final exam is taken and the remaining dorm odds and ends are crammed into the car, students say their goodbyes and set off to numerous points on the map. While growing up, summer meant three months of blissful relaxation, cartoons and lawn sprinklers; however, University students find that the months of June, July and August can be more action-packed than a typical semester.

Between mission trips, studies abroad, jobs, internships and summer school, students’ time away from campus can be as diverse as the students themselves.

… white-water rafting in Colorado
raftingBeing able to navigate a class three river and successfully traverse rock climbs might not seem like normal summer job requirements, but they were essential for sophomore missions major Jonathan Sims who worked as a guide for Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting Co. in Buena Vista, Colo.

“There is no typical work day,” says Sims. “After a devotional, I would go down to the beach and get rafts ready for the day. When customers would arrive, I would fit them with life jackets and prepare them for our rafting trip. Sometimes, I would take as many as two trips a day down a 10-mile section of river.”

With an unusual job comes an unusual training experience. For Sims, it involved a five-day backpacking trip and a blindfold. The group of second-year guides were driven for an hour and then hiked for 20 minutes before they were allowed to remove the blindfolds. “When I opened my eyes, I was in a group with two other guides and an instructor,” he says. “We were then given four different maps and told to triangulate our position using our surroundings and our compasses. It took us two and a half hours to pinpoint our position.”

The group was then given a set of coordinates and traveled there to set up camp for the night. The next day, they hiked to their final destination and met up with the rest of their group. They camped for four more days, ending the adventure in an ice-pick-throwing contest. “It was a time of great manly bonding,” he says.

Through his job, Sims met a variety of people and was able to talk to them about Jesus. “I have met youth group kids to recovering drug addicts, the very rich and those from the inner city, Catholic priests and atheists. My favorite part of this job is that I get to spend time with and minister to people in an environment that takes them out of their element.”

Whether pushing people during a four-day backpacking trip or guiding a raft full of giggling children down the river, Sims loved every aspect of his job. “I would definitely do it again.”

… inspiring young athletes
Young studentsWhen junior accounting and finance major Karye Saegert joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school, she quickly connected with the organization.

Attending FCA summer camps, Saegert was influenced by the college athletes who served as her counselors. “Those young women had a great influence on making my relationship with the Lord stronger,” she says.

Now a college athlete on the Lady Bison tennis team, she spent her summer interning with FCA to mentor young girls like previous counselors did for her.

Saegert worked with five other interns, whom she now “considers family,” to organize day camps for 8 to 13 year olds across Arkansas, planning lessons, games and other activities for the campers. The team held camps in Lewisville, Fountain Lake, Beebe and Newport, Ark. The summer ended with a state camp for junior high and high school students at John Brown University in Saegert’s hometown of Siloam Springs, Ark.

While in Newport, she told the five girls in her huddle group about playing tennis at the University. “Their little eyes got so big,” she says. “One girl asked, ‘Can we play tennis today, Miss Karye?’” After the day’s activities were finished, Saegert and another intern played tennis with the girls and a few others for nearly two hours, taking them to Sonic Drive-in afterward.

“The next day, those few hours were all they could talk about,” Saegert remembers. “My girls clung to me everywhere we went. By the end of the week, they were referring to me as ‘mom.’ It is crazy what a difference you can make in kids’ lives in just four days.”

It wasn’t just the campers who were changed during the summer. Saegert also felt the effects of her time spent with them. “Throughout the summer, I developed my own unique faith. I have always had a good foundation but never had the opportunity to step out of the box and test it to know what I truly believe.”
… helping Nomba villagers tell their story
The images commonly associated with Africa often reflect poverty, sickness and civil war.

Nick with camera in a fieldHoping to change that representation, a group of four dedicated their summer to helping a village share their side of the story. “We felt that if video cameras were put into local hands, the images would be different,” says senior English major Nick Michael. The experiment was dubbed the Kujilana Project.

The team, made up of Michael, University students Kelsey Sherrod and Tyler Jones, and Samford University student Maribeth Browning, spent their first month in Africa exploring northern Mozambique, becoming familiar to the new surroundings. “There, we attempted to acclimate to the culture and did preliminary research on different types of development work,” says Michael.

In the second month, they arrived in Nomba Village and the Malo Ga Kujilana resource center. They began handing out cameras to people and teaching film classes to four locals, covering basic video techniques and local events, wrapping up with a showing of the final products.

“People in Nomba Village need to be loved through listening,” says Michael. “There is ingenuity and drive on the ground, but people need resources coupled with knowledge.”

Together, the group along with the newly trained filmmakers, conducted interviews with survivors of the country’s own War of Independence and Civil War. The footage was to remind the community of their heritage and to speak to viewers in the United States. 

During their final nights in the village, they held a screening of the finished projects. “Tayo, Victor, and both Lucias each introduced their films,” remembers Michael.

“Their pride is a memory I’ll keep for a while.”

The resulting product was a joint documentary, filmed by Americans and Africans, telling the story of the villagers who, until this point, had been unable to share.

Filming equipment was left to encourage the people to continue.

“We’re brainstorming a plan which would replay this summer’s camera project in other locations,” says Michael. “We believe that putting cameras in local hands, specifically in the developing world, offers opportunities for economic improvement, personal empowerment and global understanding.”

… hitting the books
While Searcy may not seem like the most glamorous place to spend a summer, sophomore Marissa Scott opted to forgo the beaches of a traditional vacation for books and studying. “I decided to take summer classes because I want to get my degree faster if I can,” she says. “I actually prefer how campus isn’t so crowded in the summer. It helps me focus.”

Marissa studyingScott, a nursing major, found the classes’ condensed format to be the best for her learning style. “I like to learn things fast, otherwise I get bored easily,” she says. “I would rather learn a whole semester’s worth of information in two weeks than spend 50 minutes a day for a whole semester on the same thing.” The smaller class sizes also helped her develop relationships with her teachers and fellow classmates.

Between taking psychology and math, Scott worked at the desk in her dorm, studied, and spent time with friends. “I had several friends that stayed and also met new people,” says Scott. She also got to know her roommate, Caleigh Cronan, better. “Without this summer, I don’t think I would know her as well as I do now. That’s another good thing about summer school.”

While many would see living in a small town during the summer as boring, Scott found plenty to do. “When you’re from a very small town like me, you learn to make your own fun.” One night, after finding that the gym was closed, Scott and her friends played an impromptu game of hide-and-seek instead of a typical workout, capping off the night with s’mores. “All of our running went out the window after that.”   

In keeping with her goal to graduate early, Scott has already made plans to stay for summer school next year.

… experiencing global business firsthand
Andrew in a top hatThe University’s overseas programs offer students the opportunity for hands-on learning in a new environment. In order to provide a specialized focus, several colleges have adopted their own overseas programs. Professional sales major Andrew Flesher was able to explore the business side of London with the College of Business Administration. 

The six-week program gave business students an inside look at major corporations across England. “We got to talk with upper-level people in different departments and learn how their business operated,” says Flesher. “We visited Murphy Oil, which is Murco there; Asda, which is their Wal-Mart; Tate and Lyle who manufactures Splenda; and Sky TV.”

As part of their visits, Flesher and his classmates were required to research each company ahead of time. “They could feel that we were involved and curious about the company. I learned a lot about how business differs there.

“It’s real world experience. It’s different because you’re being immersed in that culture, seeing it face to face instead of in a book,” he says.

Outside of class, Flesher explored the sites of London and spent the last two weeks of his trip free traveling through Europe. Goalkeeper for the Bison soccer team, he was especially interested in visiting various soccer stadiums along the way. “We took a couple of trips to different places in England. I took a two-hour trip to a soccer game one day after we were done with our classes. You’re never bored.”

For Flesher, Interlaken, Switzerland, was his favorite visit during European travel. Located in the foothills of the Alps, Interlaken offered outdoor adventures and breathtaking views. “We were driven up a mountain and went through a canyon on the way down, rappelling through waterfalls, jumping off cliffs into water pools, and sliding down rock formations. It was amazing.”

As a result of his summer abroad, Flesher feels the experience will help him in future interviews. “I can say that I sat in boardrooms at Fortune 500 companies in London learning about their business models. That will definitely set me apart.”

He would readily recommend the program to any business student. “Going to London and living that lifestyle day to day, it’s leaps and bounds beyond anything you could imagine sitting in a classroom.”


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