Archive | On Campus

Reverse culture shock

Written by: Heather Cox, Contributing Writer

If you pass Ali Dunn (jr) on campus, don’t be surprised if she avoids eye contact with you.

At least at first.

It’s not that Dunn is anti-social. Instead, she’s just heeding the customs of Aix-en-Provence, France, where she recently studied abroad for a semester—and where direct eye contact is viewed as verboten.

“As an American, if I made eye contact with an older woman on the street, she became offended, because I entered into her ‘personal space,’” recalled Dunn, who spent more than four months last summer in the southern part of France studying French. “I still catch myself not looking or smiling at anyone because I have become accustomed to the French way of life.”

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Ali Dunn spent a semester studying in France, and she has now noticed a difference in herself since coming back to school.

Dunn is among a growing number of Indiana Wesleyan University students who are taking their education outside of the traditional campus to study abroad, whether that’s on a short-term trip with Dr. Michael Buck to Scotland and England or a longer trip such as Dunn’s.

In the fall of 2011, just three students studied abroad. This fall, 16 students participated in semester affiliate programs, according to Sandra J. Emmett, IWU’s education abroad supervisor. This is more than 400 percent increase.

“We average about 12 [students] per semester now, where we used to average about three to five,” Emmett said.

But when those students return, they often struggle with what some call “reverse cultural shock.”

In other words, they need to make a lot of readjustments when returning to campus.

Amy Foster (sr) traveled to Orvieto, Italy, with Gordon IN Orvieto program during the 2013 fall semester. Foster took part in studying abroad to learn, explore, and live quietly for a semester.

“Coming back to campus was really, really hard,” Foster says. “The general culture of IWU felt very fake when I first came back.”

Before she left to study abroad, Foster thought the IWU culture was “the real deal.” It was hard for her when she returned, because everything then seemed fake. However, since this initial feeling after returning to campus, she is now able to distinguish the difference between genuine faith, and “fake faith.”

“Sometimes its easy to mistake a habit born of Christian phrases, music, and college culture as people being fake. What’s really happening is that they are following their own sort of liturgy,” Foster said. “What matters is whether or not they are acting in an intentional, God-fearing way or not.”

Katherine Fitch (sr), who traveled to Seville, Spain, explained, “I really struggled with sticking to a strict schedule and can’t casually show up thirty minutes late and everyone being okay with that.”

Not only is it hard for the students to readjust to life on campus, but they also have to deal with being “homesick” for their new “home.”

Dunn recalled her peaceful morning walks to school with views of the vendors setting up their fruit and vegetable stands for the day, and taking a daily newspaper from men who would pass them out on the streets.

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Katherine Fitch, who studied in Spain, had a hard time adjusting back to her strict schedule at school.

“My host family became my home away from home,” Dunn also said. “Leaving them was probably the most painful part.”

Foster added, “your definition of home is stretched across an ocean.”

It was also hard for the students because their friends and family couldn’t relate to their stories and experience on a deeper level.

Allison Manwell (jr), who also traveled to Seville, Spain, said even though she has friends and family who have been on missions trips in foreign countries, there is still something different about actually living in a foreign country.

Students have also expressed a frustration in the fact that there’s not a lot of help to readjust to campus life when they return. They said they almost feel like they were thrown back into their old life with no advice or warning as to how difficult it would be.

In regard to this returning “culture shock,” Emmett advises students to take advantage of the new requirements for students to participate in before they depart, including the Introduction to Cross-Cultural Engagement course and the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale assessment tool and coaching review.

There are also books, tools and resources in the Global Engagement Office to inform students of pre-departure and post-return information to assist them in preparation beforehand as well as processing and adjusting afterward.

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Amy Foster had a hard time adjusting to the “IWU Culture” when she returned from Italy.

There was also a “Welcome Back!” event held November 18 for those who studied abroad recently to assist them with reflecting back on their experiences, as well as participate in  workshops teaching them how to build a resume and how to use these experiences post-graduation.

Emmett’s personal advice for returning students? Stop by the Global Engagement Office or contact the Center for Student Success.

“We can provide lots of tips and ideas on how to use and process your experience,” she said.

For Foster, it was a conversation with a professor that best helped her navigate her return home.

“Nobody told me how hard it would be,” Foster said. “What finally broke through was when my advisor, Professor Ron Mazellan, told me that it was okay to mourn a place. Allowing myself to be sad helped me to heal.”

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How does social media use affect IWU students?

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yik Yak, Tinder, Tumblr and Instagram are widely used throughout campus. While there are benefits to using social media, the tendency for students to post questionable content can cause more harm than good.

These media offer some great benefits, such as the ability to stay in contact with our loved ones and receive news from around the world.

However, with the benefits there are downsides. Advancements in internet technology have given rise to major problems such as cyberbullying, online predators and the display of inappropriate behavior.

Many students are unclear on the university’s role in their social media, if the university can see and regulate it, and if they have the ability to take down anything they deem as unfit.

“If it violates a university policy, then the university can address an issue with the student,” Andrew Parker, vice president of student development, said. “The outcome of that pursuit could involve a simple conversation, or it could involve the student conduct process.”

In regards to the Internet and social media, the IWU handbook states:

“The internet has provided many advances and opportunities for students to connect in cyber-communities, not only on the IWU campus but also nationwide and globally. Students must be careful that the material that is posted on their accounts falls within University expectations. In addition, students need to be aware that the material on their site is open to public viewing … IWU monitors and filters all internet activity [on any computer hardware owned by IWU] and provides regular reports of internet use to the office of the Vice President for Student Development.”

With this in mind, while the university may not be hunting for social media posts that violate the handbook rules, they are capable of working with social media sites directly to remove inappropriate content.

IWU prefers to take a hands-off approach to social media, only getting involved when necessary.“The university attempts to use sound judgment in deciding which situations to address,” Parker says.

While social media keeps people connected, they can also create problems. For example, negative posts are frequently posted to Yik Yak regarding various topics including chapel and Baldwin. The tendency is to forget that even though posts written on social media are not directly spoken to the person, they still hold weight and have consequences.

“The negative impacts of social media are not unique to IWU’s campus. With so many different ways of sharing and viewing content, social media has a way of consuming us. It makes it harder for us to live in the moment,” Digital Media Manager Jay Filson said.

Social media is also affecting incoming students in a different way. IWU does not directly seek out incoming students’ social media accounts but do actively use social media as a way to connect and inform incoming students.

“We aim to meet students where they’re at. If they prefer to communicate with a counselor via a social media channel, we attempt to be present, reachable and interact with them in that medium,” Adam Farmer, Director of Admissions says. “Outside of this experience, we encounter a student’s social media profile rarely.”

IWU would like students to use social media with caution and remember that what people say can and does have an impact on others.

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IWU raising money for Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone

With countless individuals sick and dying, the severity of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone has caused The Wesleyan Church to take action.

General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church and founder of the Christian humanitarian program World Hope, Dr. JoAnne Lyon, has reached out to Indiana Wesleyan University in order to raise funds for a project named “IWU Cares.”

The project’s goal is to raise $30,000—enough money to purchase an ambulance for Kamakwie Hospital in Sierra Leone.

Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital is one of the few hospitals in Sierra Leone the government has put in charge of the Ebola situation. It only has two ambulances to transport the sick and remove the deceased Ebola victims all across Sierra Leone, both of which are old and need replacing, according to Dean of the Chapel Dr. Jim Lo.

The situation has become so intense that the hospital has began to ask workers to use their own private vehicle to transport victims of Ebola.

Lo believes IWU needs to be a part of this project because Christians have a responsibility for other believers who are suffering.

“If we say that we have around 3,000 people that are a part of the residential community and each person gives just ten dollars, we can meet this need very, very quickly,” Lo said.

Lo has reached out to the Director of Alumni Rick Carder to consider asking alumni to give to this fundraiser as well.

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Dr. Jim Lo is encouraging people to donate money to buy this ambulance to help those stricken with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

“We are talking about people helping people,” Carder said in an email interview with The Sojourn. “Through the community here at IWU, we believe that each one of us can do something and by combining those gifts we can accomplish so much.”

Lo recognizes not everyone is able to give large amounts of money for causes such as this, but encourages everyone to give by prayer.

“We [IWU] talk a lot about being world changers, and I recognize that not everyone can get out into the world to be the world changers that way, but one of the ways that we can bless other people in the world that are in need is by giving,” Lo said.

An offering for this project will be taken during chapel once a week starting Friday, Nov. 14 until the end of the semester. Student leaders will also be walking through the dorms to raise additional funds.

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Editorial: What are the ethics behind swiping and leaving chapel?

The new chapel swipe system has been a topic of conversation since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, begging the question: is it okay for students to swipe and leave?

This question has been argued from both sides. Indiana Wesleyan University has had chapel as a requirement since its founding, more recently with the option to use up to six chapel skips a semester.

This is the first year the integrity of students has been in question in regards to chapel.

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Students face a decision every time they swipe into chapel.

Chapel, which is held at 10:05 a.m., allows students to swipe their ID for chapel credit from 9:45 to 10:15. Over three different chapel days, I stood between two doors and counted how many people swiped their ID and left between 9:50 and 10:05. Over the three observed days, an average of approximately 187 people swiped and left each day. Keep in mind, this number only includes a percentage of the students that left chapel because only two doors were involved in the observation.

So how does The Office of the Dean of the Chapel feel about the number of students choosing not to stay for the chapel services?

“We decided to go with the one-swipe [system] because we wanted to show that we trusted our students,” Dean of Chapel Jim Lo says. “We went to the administration and then on to the cabinet and I presented that I believe that most of our students really are trustworthy individuals, so we wanted to give them more freedom.”

The major point Lo is trying to make is that the one-swipe system was not put in place because it was easier, faster or cheaper. While all of these things might be true, the one-swipe system was put in place to grant the students more responsibility, trust and freedom. I think that, as a student body, we are so focused on the thrill of getting away with something, that we have chosen to throw away the newfound trust and responsibility we have been entrusted with by the university.

The argument on one side is that swiping and leaving is a lie. You are not correctly representing Christ because you are allowing someone to believe something that is not true.

“We are a Christ-centered university, therefore we should strive to be more like Christ.” Timothy Loney (fr) said. “By intentionally deciding to not be at chapel, and yet swiping into chapel, you are not living up to the call of this university and more importantly, the call of Christ.”

The counter argument is, “What if I have homework? Or a big test? Can’t I praise God through excellence in my school work?” This is a valid argument, but we must remember to be respectful of the speakers who have given up their time to come share God’s word, as well as the students who want to hear it.

“This is an integrity issue, I have spoken to guest speakers, the thing that distracts many of them is when they see the students getting up and walking out,” Lo said. “It’s been very painful for them to see that because a message is already being given.”

While swiping and leaving can be viewed as an integrity issue, we must remember that we are still one body in Christ, even though attending chapel is now a personal decision, that does not give us the right to judge those who chose not to attend.

“Those who choose to stay for chapel shouldn’t look down on those who choose not to go. Just because we have chosen not to go does not mean that we are less of a Christian than they are,” Hannah Guerin (so) says. “Those who look down on others for doing what only they think is wrong might be the ones who need to be at chapel the most.”

While the actual percentage of students leaving chapel services is relatively low, it is important to keep the issue of integrity at the forefront of our minds. Skipping chapel might give us a “thrill”, but while we are missing out on chapel, we just might be missing out on God.

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