Parent to Parent: The Time Has Come

Amy Freehafer, Senior Academic and Career Advisor

It was six years ago when we dropped off our youngest for her first year of college. So many emotions and so little time to process them! It’s August 2019 and three weeks away from your child heading to Hope College; exciting and scary at the same time, especially if this is their/your first year. This post is to share some of my thoughts around this time and reflect a bit on what it was like for me. Take what feels helpful to you!

Our youngest chose an institution that was 506 miles away from home. It was the right fit for her but my mind spun through every negative scenario possible: What if she got homesick? What if she got sick and needed me? What if it wasn’t a good fit? What if people weren’t nice to her?… The reality was we would navigate it together even from a distance. It was just hard for me to see that. Thinking back on this time, this would have been helpful to hear:

  1. There are faculty and staff here at Hope who are parents. I’m one of them. We care about your student. You will never be able to take the “mom” out of me and that carries into the work I do. Trust that all staff and faculty WILL care for your child, not just as a student but as a person.
  2. Your child will have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment prior to coming to Hope. Talk to them about their results. Maybe take it yourself so you can share with each other. I found the language so incredibly helpful in understanding my daughter. It gave me insight into how she worked as a person which helped me speak her language when walking through challenges and successes.
  3. Give it some time. This is a significant transition for everyone. Your child wants to get out there and make their own decisions and that can be scary for both of you. Be patient and help them realize this is the first time in their lives they have had the opportunity to really make their own choices. They may feel like they aren’t good at it and that’s true; because they haven’t had much practice. Share how you make decisions not what you think the decision should be. Encourage them to connect with those of us on campus who also want to help them learn how to do this. It really does take a village if we want to do it well.
  4. Instinctively they may choose to do the opposite of what you say/hope and that’s okay. Even though I counsel around vocation, calling and career, my daughter needed to hear that from others who were “not her mom”. By encouraging her to reach to others, she came back to me for guidance on her own and that felt better to both of us.
  5. Tell them it’s okay not to have it all figured out! Be honest, we had very little figured out at 18 or 19 years old. Your student is coming to a liberal arts college where they will get a well-rounded education that will be marketable in any field. Encourage them to explore their strengths, interests, and what they feel potentially called to do. Give them the space to do that knowing it is a process we will support and encourage here at Hope.

This all sounds simple, but it isn’t. I had to fight with myself between what I knew my daughter needed and what I desperately wanted her to have. Be patient and have grace with yourself and your student. You will figure out this new chapter and relationship with each other!

We are…The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career!

One of the most challenging things that college students have to do is choose a career path. There are lots of options out there and many feel the pressure to ensure they are making the best choice possible. Which is why choosing a major, and later on securing a job, tends to make many students anxious. Enter…The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, Hope College’s new and improved hub for all things career! 

The principal goal of the Boerigter Center is to teach students how to engage in lifelong practices of career development by emphasizing discernment, preparation and pursuit.

Students will:

(Discern) Take steps to discover their strengths, interests, and values to help them find direction.

(Prepare) Find internships, alumni connections and other skill building opportunities to explore their path on and off campus.

(Pursue) Tap into the Hope network, polish their interviewing skills and take steps toward graduate school or the world of work.

We will accomplish this by renaming and re-imagining the efforts of our Career Development Center and closely partnering with Academic Advising and Alumni & Family Engagement for new and robust programming. With this in mind, Boerigter Center services will enable every student to graduate with:

  • A rich understanding of their strengths
  • Experiences in and outside the classroom directly connected to career preparation
  • An affirmed aspiration for an eventual career with clear, immediate next steps
  • A thoughtful understanding of vocational and life goals

Led by Executive Director Shonn Colbrunn ‘94, this new center is made possible by a generous gift from SoundOff Signal in honor of Founder and Chairman George Boerigter ’61 and his wife, Sibilla.

We are so excited to be up and running and look forward to meeting with you in our new location in DeWitt which will be completed sometime this fall! Until then stop by Anderson-Werkman or call 616.395.7950 to schedule an appointment today! 

The Best Two Years Of Your life – Join the Peace Corps

Image result for making a difference pictures

“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change” – Barbara Mikulski

Do you have a heart for individuals in third world countries? At a loss for what to do after graduation? Consider becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer!

What exactly is the Peace Corps? It is a volunteer program run by the United States government, offering opportunities to assist and aid people in developing countries to U.S. citizens above 18 years old. The program requires you to commit to serving abroad for 27 months. During these 27 months, you will have three months of training in the host country in which you will be serving.

The Peace Corps mission statement is as follows:

To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained Volunteers.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

You can work in different sectors within the Peace Corps. These include agriculture, education, community economic development, environment and youth in development. This could help you find your passion and help kick-start you into the right career path.

We asked Carissa Patrone some questions about own experiences in the Peace Corps. She is now a campus recruiter for the Peace Corps. This is what she said:

 I served as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) volunteer. I was teaching English in two public high schools in the mountains of rural Nicaragua from 2013-2015.

Why did you join the Peace Corps?

Ever since high school when I first heard about the Peace Corps I knew it was something I wanted to do after college. I loved the idea of going somewhere new, immersing myself in the culture and language and helping others. I had this idea in my head about what my service would be like, but it was so much more than that. Initially, I thought that I would be the one bringing new knowledge and skills to Nicaragua, but I learned so much more in the process.

What did you learn in the Peace Corps?

Not only did I learn how to teach English in a more communicative and dynamic way, train English teachers and engage students in the classroom. I also learned various skills that I can still apply to my life today. I learned how to creatively carry out projects in my community that focuses on my community’s needs and incorporating my own passions. I learned patience and flexibility, and that integrating into your community is key.

What life lessons did you take away from being in the Peace Corps?

Hay más tiempo que vida (there is more time than life) is the phrase that Nicaraguans often integrate into their everyday conversation. I learned to live in the moment and cherish a slower pace of life. I loved spending hours in rocking chairs over numerous cups of coffee with my Nicaraguan grandparents and friends. People are people, no matter where they are from, and the human connection is what is important. Even though my community members did not have much, they would share whatever they had with you and were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.

What are some of the challenges you faced in the Peace Corps?

Most of the challenges I faced during my service had to do with my own expectations. When I got to my site, I wanted to start projects right away. In order to reach my goals, I first had to build trust in my community. I went to all of the pulperias (like a corner store) and introduced myself to the store owners. Starting small, building trust and getting to know your community members and their needs is important before starting your projects and carrying them out.

Why would you recommend that people join the Peace Corps after they graduate?

I would recommend that people join the Peace Corps for various reasons. It a great opportunity to meet other people, see new places, immerse yourself in a new culture and gain unique skills and knowledge. More importantly, you will learn a lot about yourselves.

What is something that you absolutely loved about the Peace Corps?

I absolutely loved my community and how I became a part of it. I loved hearing my students yell “Cari” from across the river, spending time with my yoga group and walking around town taking in the scenery with my host dog close behind. My favorite part about my service was the relationships I made and the fact that those people have become my family. I’m looking forward to seeing them again when I go back to visit in March!

Displaying Nica Family.jpegDisplaying Yoga group.jpg       Carissa with friends and pictures of some of the students in Nicaragua. 

Rachel Hibbard is a student at Hope College and Peace Corps ambassador. We asked her some questions and this is what she had to say :

What draws you to the Peace Corps?

 I personally find it so important to give back to the world and connect with other cultures and Peace Corps makes that a possibility.

What is something that you think Hope College grads could gain from joining the Peace Corps?

  Perspective!! Most of us have grown up in pretty fortunate circumstances. Immersing yourself in another culture and realizing the lives that other people live every single day can definitely give you a whole new point of view. 

What advice do you have for students considering the Peace Corps?

 Get all the information you can, talk to a recruiter or get coffee with me. The more I learned about the Peace Corps, the more jazzed about it I became. Even if it is just one of  the many options you’re considering , don’t rule it out. It is such an amazing opportunity and a truly valuable use of your time after Hope.