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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.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.52.38 AM

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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Ebola: Take a chill pill

There is one topic everyone is talking about since the beginning of the school year: Ebola. It seems to be what anyone is talking about now: on the news, in the classroom, with friends at lunch. But what exactly is it and what should you know?

 First identified in 1976 in Africa, Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals while the fifth causes illness in some animals but not humans, according to a CNN article.

The disease first came to the United States in September from a man who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, TX. He is the only man who has died in the U.S. from that disease.

 Symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. The disease can appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure. It spreads through direct contact with blood or body fluids, objects such as needles and syringes and infected apes and monkeys, according to the CDC.

World Ebola Map

The areas shaded in orange represent the countries with confirmed Ebola cases. Graphic courtesy of Kelly Reed.

 If students worry about contracting Ebola, keep in mind: only one person has died from this disease in the U.S., as opposed to a yearly average of 23,607 deaths from 1976-2007 of influenza.

An article on Vox.com says the only way to get the disease is if one touches the saliva, blood, urine or feces of someone who has the disease.

 “The risk of Ebola to students at IWU is so close to zero, I would say it is zero,” Dr. Philip Renfroe, assistant professor of health sciences and physician at the health center, said.

 “Don’t panic,” Denise Brehmer, assistant professor of nursing, said. “If anyone is exhibiting what they think might be [Ebola], they need to go get checked out further.”

 Though it’s rare students will contract Ebola, they can use this as a reminder to stay healthy so they don’t contract other sicknesses that are more common this upcoming winter.

 “One basic rule … if you have a fever, stay [in your dorm room],” Renfroe said. “Don’t [go out] for the sake of other students. [You] should seek medical attention.”

 Renfroe challenged students not to fear this outbreak but to pray for the ones who are sick.

 “I think because of IWU’s unique commitment to being a faith-based community, this is an opportunity for us to engage in significant prayer,” Renfroe said. “We can read in the Bible when there have been times where plagues have struck humanity. In the midst of those plagues, its been the role of the church to be the means of providing compassionate humanitarian care.”

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Is studying abroad really that expensive?

Wendy Brown (jr), center, travelled to Italy for a study abroad program, paying slightly more than a regular semester at IWU.

Wendy Brown (jr), center, travelled to Italy for a study abroad program, paying slightly more than a regular semester at IWU.

Photography major Wendy Brown (jr) had a life-changing experience in Orvieto, Italy, last spring, studying art at a Gordon College facility and raking up 18 credits in the process, all of which counted toward her Indiana Wesleyan University degree.

Brown paid about $1,000 more than a semester’s tuition at IWU–a cost that was more manageable thanks to an outside scholarship she received. Even without the scholarship, she said she would have paid it all.

“That experience is worth every penny,” Brown said. “I would have paid $4,000 [more than IWU tuition]. I didn’t have to, but I would have, looking back. I think it’s invaluable, the experience you have.”

Contrary to what many students may think, the cost of study abroad programs is not much more than a semester at IWU, Education Abroad Supervisor Sandy Emmett said. According to Emmett, costs aren’t the problem concerning students as much as a lack of financial aid.

“Everybody needs to be on the same page when they’re talking [about studying abroad],” Emmett said. “It doesn’t cost more. … It’s just more out of pocket for the students.”

The average semester study abroad program costs about $16,000-16,500, Emmett said. This year, a semester at IWU, including room and board, is $15,907.

Since students receive IWU credit for courses they take abroad, they are charged at least full tuition at IWU, which currently stands at $12,051 per semester. Students also pay the remainder of a program’s tuition cost (if it exceeds IWU’s) as well as the program’s room and board and additional fees.

Students also pay a $50 IWU Global Engagement fee, which covers pre-orientation and application processing fees.

The cheapest semester abroad trip is the Uganda Studies Program at about $14,601. The most expensive trip is the Los Angeles term at Azusa Pacific University, totalling at about $20,823.

IWU carries over federal and state financial aid into these study abroad programs, Emmett said, but the same doesn’t quite go for institutional aid.

Students who have been approved and accepted into a study abroad program can apply for the IWU Global Studies Grant, a pool of funds the Board of Trustees has set aside for education abroad programs, Emmett said. This fund is distributed among students in fall, spring and beginning this year, May and summer programs.

“I would love to give every student the same amount that they would get here. That would be wonderful,” Emmett said. “We just don’t have that amount available to us.”

Brown received about half the amount of her academic scholarships, which were not too large to begin with, she said. To compensate, she applied for about 15 outside study abroad scholarships and received one or two.

Director of Financial Aid David Solms said when IWU hands out academic scholarships, it is actually just “discounting” the price of tuition for students who bring academic merit to campus.

“When a student chooses to go and study at another institution for the semester, we are not in the business of discounting [those costs],” Solms said, “but the institution does want to be able to help students.”

This led to the creation of the Global Studies Grant. As more students study abroad, however, the funds are more thinly distributed among students. Solms said he is “hopeful” that as more students express an interest in education abroad, there will be more resources available.

According to Emmett, the number of students studying abroad for a semester has grown, jumping from three in fall 2011 to 16 in fall 2014.

Director of Global Studies, Dr. Jim Vermilya, outlined two proposals the Global Studies Committee has worked on to address students’ financial challenges with education abroad.

The first proposal, recently approved, extended the IWU World Changers Scholarship and Global Studies Grant to May and summer IWU-run programs, Vermilya said via email to The Sojourn. These were previously available to semester trips only.

A second proposal is now in the works that would request tuition costs for IWU-run travel classes and abroad programs cross over into some in-country expenses for the class. This, in turn, would decrease travel costs for students.

According to Vermilya, the proposal “has been received positively” and “is currently under review.” He expects an answer by the end of the semester.

“The ultimate hope is that … more students will have an option of doing education abroad,” Emmett said. “In the long-term look, this is going to open up education abroad to a lot more students.”

Until then, the Global Studies office continues to give students a list of resources on how to receive outside financial aid.

When preparing for a semester abroad, Brown said “you really do have to think through every little thing.” One must consider passport payments, visa payments and additional costs surrounding those.

“It is intimidating at first, but when you really get down … and look at your options, it’s … actually very doable,” Brown said. “Don’t write it off right away.”

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IWU business helps prevent trafficking

Two summers ago, Brittany Hobson (sr) trained Indian women in jewelry and craft making through the Kolkata City Mission. This summer, she went back and brought home 600 pieces of jewelry, made by three women over the course of a year.

Hobson is now “testing the markets” at New Under the Son, the Barnes Student Center’s newest business, located next to Wildcutz. The business sells crafts from around the world, giving students hands-on business experience as well as supporting international artists.

One of Brittany Hobson's trainees shows her jewelry-making skills. She was one of three women who made the 600 crafts Hobson brought home.

One of Brittany Hobson’s trainees shows her jewelry-making skills. She was one of three women who made the 600 crafts Hobson brought home. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

“The ultimate objective is for us to be able to have goods in there that are helping people get out of human trafficking,” Dr. Harriet Rojas, Division of Business chair, said.

When Hobson returned to campus, some of her friends in Rojas’ small business management class told her about New Under the Son, initiating a partnership between them.

KCM, where Hobson worked, is a Christian organization that helps prevent Indian women from entering the sex trafficking industry. By selling the 600 pieces of jewelry Hobson received, she hopes to get the three artists working full-time in the jewelry business.

“They’re itching for more work, and they need more money,” Hobson said. “If [this partnership] continues, that would be awesome because then we know that we have constant money coming in.”

This is New Under the Son’s first year of operation, replacing The HUBexchange. It is a “completely different” type of store, Rojas said, partnering with other entities at Indiana Wesleyan University, like the Bastian Center for the Study of Human Trafficking.

New Under the Son collects most of its goods from students and faculty traveling abroad. In some cases, the business department supplies students with money to buy crafts and bring them back for the store.

It already features items from India, Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti, China, Kenya, Vietnam and Mexico.

“We have purposefully tried to buy things that are not high-end because we know that most of the student clientele would not be able to pay for those things,” Rojas said.

After paying the supplier for the goods, there is a “very, very minuscule” markup to cover business costs, Rojas said.

Student manager Kassie Watts (sr) said the goal now is to find more items that men would buy, since most of the crafts are jewelry.

Watts, a business administration major, gets practicum and internship credit for managing New Under the Son. The business’s staff consists of the 30 students in Rojas’ small business management class.

For these students, New Under the Son, as well as Wildcutz and IWU Mart, are lab experiences.

“Every entity on campus, every major, has some kind of a lab experience [where] they allow their students to have that practical work,” Rojas said. “That’s the same thing that we’re doing with the stores.”

Five businesses have operated in the location next to Wildcutz since it opened in 2006. The benefit of New Under the Son, Rojas said, is that with the word “new,” the products can adapt in years to come.

The businesses have done well in the past, Rojas said. They have even generated enough money to produce scholarships for business students for the first time this year.

According to Rojas, New Under the Son made $100 within the first week of sales.

“Obviously, we want [the students] to be successful,” Rojas said, “but … if perchance they happen to lose money one year, they’re not going to have to declare bankruptcy.”

Aside from teaching management and financial skills, these business “labs” teach students how they can be successful and still maintain their faith—a key concept in Rojas’ classes.

“You don’t have to wonder about whether or not your faith can be lived out,” Rojas said. “You can be called to be a business person, just like you can be called to anything else in terms of Christian service.”

Faith Neidig (alumna '14), back left, and Brittany Hobson, back right, pose with three of women they trained in jewelry-making. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

Faith Neidig (alumna ’14), back left, and Brittany Hobson, back right, pose with three of the women they trained in jewelry-making. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

New Under the Son serves as an example of integrating business and faith, Rojas said, since students run a business and support trafficking victims at the same time.

“[It’s] a God thing that we can all be connected,” Hobson said about business students and students traveling abroad partnering together. “All of our gifts are being used.”

Rojas hopes to post pictures and stories about the artists next to their items so that students know who they are helping when they buy something.

New Under the Son hopes to establish concrete hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rojas encouraged students to contact her if they know of any international organizations who do similar work and could possibly partner with New Under the Son.

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