The Beginning: A Semester in Washington, D.C.

2017 has been a whirlwind of events thus far.

Inauguration Day 2017

Within the first week of January, I moved to Washington, D.C. for the spring semester. Before I knew it, I was launched into a new type of world, so it seemed. D.C. natives refer to the District as the “bubble” because it is remarkably easy to be wrapped up in the happenings of the District, while unusually difficult to see outside of it. D.C. has brought about challenges and discoveries. Inauguration Day revealed the tipping point of how both sides of the aisle perceived the new administration, and it was full of celebrations as well as protests. And when I had the opportunity to attend the Michigan Inaugural Gala through my internship later that night, I saw Democrats and Republicans dancing and laughing together, as one. While there are numerous things to discuss, there is one positive ideal that has stood out to me so far. People are intensely passionate about doing good here.

People are intensely passionate about doing good here.

Often times, Congress, organizations, and D.C. in general manage to obtain a skewed reputation from the public viewpoint. Whether it involves politics or not, there are controversial topics and far-reaching decisions discussed each day in the district. However, I am able to see that each of these organizations, representatives, senators, companies, etc. truly attempt to make this nation a better place. Though they may have contrasting ideas on how to go about change in this country, the partisan lines are easier to look past once realizing that these people simply care about others and the country they live in.

Every Wednesday, our class meets with different organizations or companies and we are able to catch a glimpse of what each one does. For example, we have met with organizations, such as World Vision, as well as think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation. Each of these organizations want to do good for those around them, and it is refreshing as well as motivating.

As I continue to learn and explore the city, I am captivated by it more and more. Walking past the neoclassical architecture, the White House, and more has yet to get old. I am challenged to my core in copious ways that I had not imagined, but am growing immensely because of it.

Cheers to new adventures full of learning!

On the steps of the Library of Congress, with the Capitol building and the Washington Monument in the background.

From Michigan to Vienna: Beaver Brewing Company

Photo Credit: Beaver Brewing Company

David Beaver ’98 is working to take craft beer in Vienna, Austria to a new level. David established Beaver Brewing Co. in 2015 after being inspired by another alumni owned company,  New Holland Brewing in Holland, Michigan. He helped out at NHBC in the early days and is trying to take what he learned to Vienna after noticing what he sees as a missing aspect of microbrewing in the city. David recalled about New Holland, “Theirs was the first craft beer I ever had and I learned a lot about beer through their beers.”

NHBC and BBC glasses, pictured together. Photo Credit: David Beaver

With a grand opening in 2015 at Liechtensteinstraße 69, Beaver Brewing’s mission is to produce quality beer and food at a reasonable price. They aim to bring the microbrewery experience to Austria through an American menu, craft beer, and events hosted weekly, including live music and local artists.

David first connected with Vienna as a student on the Hope College Vienna Summer School program, founded in 1956 by the late Dr. Paul Fried ’46, who was a member of the Hope history faculty and Hope’s first director of international education. The program has been led since 1976 by Dr. Stephen Hemenway of the English faculty. Nearly 3,500 students from more than 200 colleges and universities have enrolled in the summer school since its beginning.

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David Beaver ’98 with Dr. Stephen Hemenway at Beaver Brewing Company in Vienna.

For more information on Beaver Brewing Co. check out their Facebook page or website. For more information on Vienna Summer School check out Hope’s opportunities to study off campus.

70 Years and Counting: Arcadian Homecoming

image3Brotherhood, memories, and friendships were celebrated at this year’s Homecoming for the Arcadian fraternity. October 21st through the 23rd was a time of reflection and happiness as active members connected with Chi Phi Sigma alumni. The brotherhood is made up of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and they were able to all come together as one group to celebrate the fraternity.

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It has been 70 years since the fraternity was founded in 1946, and Jerry VanHeest was one of the founding members. He described his favorite part about this year’s Homecoming was being able to meet new brothers, and though they were different, they all shared one common thing. One of his favorite memories during his time as an active member was coming up with all of the songs, the crest, and the many activities that go into making a fraternity. VanHeest recounts that the friendships and the brotherhood are the aspects of the fraternity that he will always enjoy.

Paul Kieffer is an active member in the fraternity and gave his insight into what it meant to have the alumni back for Homecoming weekend.

“My favorite part about Homecoming is seeing Alumni that were in the fraternity with me and meeting alumni that have contributed to the fraternity in the past. It is a great way to make connections and get in touch with remarkable people I normally would not meet. This past homecoming we worked with the alumni to organize events such as a foosball tournament, a tailgate for the Hope football game, and a dinner celebration for the Arcadian Fraternity’s 70th anniversary.”

The alumni are extremely involved and continually contribute towards the improvements and events that the fraternity holds. As the fraternity continues to progress, the friendships and connections made between actives and alumni are friendships for a lifetime.

Make sure you check out their video.

Tippecanoe and Delphis Too!

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The calm before the storm.

The Delta Phi sorority went on their annual tradition of going on a canoe trip this past Saturday. The social chairs told us it was happening rain or shine, so all 79 girls piled into cars and began the trip to Grant, Michigan. There, we arrived at a canoe rental company called “River Rat Canoe.” As it turned out, the company was a kind elderly man, his house, his German Shepherds, and an ATV. We were in for a treat.

As two men piled the canoes onto a trailer, they told us to hop inside the bus. With the tires roughing up the gravel and the music blasting from the man’s iPod nano, we were on our way. We sang country music at the top of our lungs and before we knew it, we were seven miles away.

14225607_10207206976518494_2980772589209408082_nIt was all fun and games until I realized how far away we were. Seven miles driving distance?! We asked Josh, the bus driver, how long it would take to go back to where we parked our cars. Nonchalantly, he replied, “Oh, just about four hours!”

WHAT.

79 girls. 4 hour canoe trip. No food, no water, no phone service and extremely dark clouds in the sky.

Hesitantly, I stepped out of the van. The men putting our canoes in the water didn’t seem to worry about the dark clouds, so I reluctantly sat down in the canoe. I took a deep breath, and finally wasn’t so worried about the approaching storm.

That is, until it hit us.

It was a light rain, and my canoe partner and I were in the middle of the pack, so we heard the girls warn us that rain was coming. Then, without warning, a torrential downpour began. Screaming, laughing and a few tears were shed in the twenty minutes that our bodies were pelted with freezing cold rain. But it was so, so fun.

14333170_10207694352773923_6444823617156629373_nFinally, as we approached the end of the trip, everyone was pleasantly surprised that no one had tipped out of their canoe. We could see the end in sight, and everyone was getting really excited. However, I looked to my right, and there was my best friend Taylor. Her canoe was all the way at the edge of the river and had gotten stuck under a tree. As she was trying to push herself out of the canoe, her body flung forward, and the canoe pushed out from behind her. You can imagine what happened next. Shrieking with laughter, Taylor rises from under the water while holding onto the very branch that she got herself stuck under. I laughed and laughed and we made it back to the dock a minute after she tipped over. Maybe this post should be called, “Tippecanoe and Taylor Too!” …but we’ll keep that to ourselves.

Muddy feet, soaked clothes, wet hair…You may be thinking that everyone would be in a terrible mood, right?

Not a chance. As I looked around, all I saw were smiles and laughter. They turned a potentially awful day, into one of the best ones during my time at Hope College.

And that is why I love my sisters.

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Taking canoe by storm…before we knew about the storm!

That’s A Wrap!

Did summer fly by for anyone else?

In the blink of an eye, summer is over! This summer was filled with adventures in Holland. My first summer away from home was nothing short of memorable. The beach trips, exploring neighboring cities, and sunsets galore were perfection.

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Laughs with visiting friends.

Sadly, it’s time to kiss lazy summer days goodbye. However, there comes a certain excitement with the new school year. The freshmen move-in day starts the back to school jitters, and catching up with all of your friends starts to make it feel real.

In my now junior-level classes, “Syllabus Day” is now “You can read the syllabus at home, let’s start off with Chapter 1 in your textbooks!” Oddly, I’m okay with this. I am ready for the challenges and surprises and work that goes into a new school year. Living in the Delta Phi cottage has been a blast so far, and it only gets better. I can’t wait to tell you all about the adventures that happen in that house! But for now, I am comforted in the fact that I am back in classes, with my best friends, taking on junior year.

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Taken before the first dinner with all of the girls living in the cottage.

Building a Life

Rose (Summer)What makes a place feel like home? 

It’s 5:00PM and as I walk out of the Alumni Office at Hope College, I’m rushing to get to my 5:15PM workout class. There’s construction, so I know I’ll have to take a few back roads. My mind is on auto-pilot while driving and once I arrive at my gym, I set out the necessary equipment and sweat for the next hour. The class finishes and I hurry home to put the chicken that I’ve been wanting to cook all day in the oven. My housemates are already there, singing along to the music in the kitchen while cooking. We discuss our days and laugh about the embarrassing events that occurred. After that, we decide to watch the sunset at Holland State Park before bed time. Driving to the beach, blasting “Uptown Girls” by Billy Joel, my heart is filled with happiness and I can’t help but beam with joy. By 10:30PM, I am reading Jesus Calling and crawling into my comfortable bed. With a few minor tweaks, this is how my day usually goes.

So why did I just tell you my daily routine?

Because I’ve built a life without even realizing it. I’ve made a place my home and set a beneficial routine. And I think that this is such an important step in a college student’s life. This life didn’t simply pop into existence by accident. This life took planning and intentional steps. I am developing my emotional, physical, and spiritual state each day. The friends that I surround myself with, the workouts that I (sometimes force) myself to go to, and my walk with the Lord take importance in my life. And it feels really, really good.

Maybe this is what everyone calls ‘adulting’.

Summer Send Off: Then and Now

Rewind to July of 2014. 

As an incoming first-year student at Hope College, I was a ball of nerves and excitement. Being the type of person that needs planning and order, not knowing what was to come when I stepped onto campus in the fall was a rattling concept. Thankfully, Hope College does a picnic called a “Summer Send Off” in four different areas: Naperville, Mid-Michigan, Southeast Michigan, and Southwest Michigan. Since I am from the Lansing area, I went to the picnic held at Patriarche Park in East Lansing in the summer of 2014. About 10 of my high school friends were also coming to Hope, so we all arrived together. Even though I was with the people I felt most comfortable around, I couldn’t help but be nervous. I was moving away from an area that I had lived my entire life, to a town where I had visited only a couple of times. Coming to Hope was more or less a leap of faith for me, as I hadn’t even gone on an official campus visit. From the very beginning of the picnic, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be. The people from Hope College that hosted the picnic were friendly and I didn’t feel completely clueless anymore. I had no idea how to do this whole college thing, considering how I was a first-generation college student, with no real guidance in this adventure. But after the picnic, the countdown was set for August 24, move-in day, and I couldn’t have been more excited.

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Fast forward to now: July of 2016. 

Packing up the orange and blue Gatorades into the cooler and putting everything into the Hope van, I would soon be on my way to the first Send Off picnic of the summer. Ever since August of 2014 (Yes, two weeks after I stepped onto campus!) I have worked in the Alumni and Family Engagement Office, the very office that hosts the Summer Send Off picnics. I couldn’t help but look back on the time that I was so nervous about a simple picnic. Now, I am greeting the incoming students as they arrive, and making them feel at home before they even come to campus. Hope College has a way of doing that. As I stood under the pavilion, looking at all of the students that were listening to the Orientation Directors, I couldn’t help but look back on the time that I was sitting in their exact place. A feeling of peace and thankfulness washed over me. The leap of faith that I once took in 2014 brought me to a state of joy, contentment and peace in 2016.

If only these freshmen knew what they were in for.

Great Golf Outing, Better People

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6AM didn’t seem too bad with this kind of early morning view.

The morning of the Bob DeYoung Golf Outing was crisp and bright. As the golfers came to register at the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck, each one had a smile on their face (whether they were morning people or not!) And as President Knapp gave his morning remarks, I couldn’t help but stop and think about how lucky I was to be in this place. By this place, I mean Hope College. This place and these people have one word to describe them: genuine. The students, my co-workers in the Alumni Engagement Office, and all of the people surrounding me are truly genuine. The smiles, jokes about golf scores, and laughs carried on into the afternoon round, making me more and more thankful with each person I interacted with that day.

I sat out on Hole #17, giving away some of the prizes for the On-the-Green Challenge, and was continually amazed at how great the day was. Every person that came up to me was cheerful, even though they may have shot their golf ball into the trees to my left. I began to realize that even if something were to go wrong in the planning of the outing, the golf outing would have remained great- simply because of these people.

Too often we take the people around us for granted when trying to make things perfect. Having the perfect grades, the best job, or an amazing wardrobe don’t really matter. At this golf outing, I realized that life is about the people and the relationships that we have made. And boy, am I thankful for these Hope College relationships.

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“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?” -Francis Chan

Sweet Summertime

Freedom, relaxation, and priorities. Three simple words to describe how I imagine this summer will be.

Pulling into the driveway and looking atIMG_2349 my new, adorable yellow rental house with a big white porch, my heart leaped with excitement. As I unpacked all of my things into my new room in Holland,  I began to realize that this was the first time that I would be completely on my own. Completely ‘free’. No more parents asking when I would be home, no more RA’s or residence halls, and no more roommates. Now, my best friends are my housemates, and I’m all alone in my room brainstorming how to cook all of the delicious meals my father did as I was growing up. Freedom is as much exhilarating as it is daunting.

Relaxation seems to be an easy thing to attain in Holland. The waves crashing into the beach, the strolls through downtown, and the tulips that seem to greet me wherever I go. Though I will be working, I can already tell that living here without having to worry about classes or coursework will be relaxing.

Finally, priorities. I should start thinking about how to plan the way my future roommate and I want to decorate our room in the Delphi Cottage for the fall semester. I have to start applying to internships for when I spend spring semester in Washington, D.C next school year. All the meanwhile working two jobs in Holland. It’s important to remember that while summer is fun and so many of my friends are living in houses all around me, I can’t forget about responsibilities that I need to focus on.

A carefree summer isn’t exactly what I have planned, but these three things sound pretty great to me. Check back in about four months from now. We’ll see how it actually went.

Cook Hall, Best Hall

“The quiet, anti-social dorm? You want to live there?”

These reactions were all too familiar just a year ago this time after room draw. And rest assured, Cook Hall is no longer considered a quiet dorm after this past year.

With our best friends living on the third floor, this residence hall became family. The pranks that were pulled (girls versus boys, of course), to singing into our hairbrushes while blasting music (and getting warned from noise complaints), created memories that were made in this hall are some that will always be cherished.

Tears were shed from the difficult times: that exam my roommate didn’t do too well on, or when my grandfather passed away. And then ear-to-ear smiles shown during the happy times: from the summer jobs that we landed, to my suite-mates acceptance into the London May Term.

As happy as it is that the boys are going to move into the Emersonian’s cottage, the Fraternal Society’s cottage, and other off campus houses, and the girls move into the Delta Phi and Sibylline cottages, there’s a bittersweet aspect to moving on knowing that we’ll never live in the same place together again.

In order to remember the little things that happened in the semester, we created a memory jar. Every time something funny or memorable happened, we would write it down and put it in the memory jar. On the day that we all move out, we’re going to read each one and look back on the memories.

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The Memory Jar

We laughed until we cried, and cried until we laughed. This place and these people. Cheers to the best year yet- junior year, we’re comin’ for ya!