Big Hope 2: Stories That Move, and “All You Need is Love”

   

As a newbie to the UK, I was filled with so much excitement when we were en route to land. When we arrived, I heard the accents of our lovely student greeters and immediately fell in love. There’s something about experiencing a new culture that makes me feel so alive. Being in an entirely new setting always brings me back to the feelings of being a child. Wandering around in awe as everything around me is so fresh and unfamiliar. For example, today we went to the Lake Districts as my day trip. We were driving in the biggest bus down the tiniest roads, and I would look to my left and see what seemed like painting after painting. Where I grew up, all I saw was flat land and boring buildings. Here, there were deep valleys, mass greenery, and waterfalls that reminded me of how crazy cool of a Creator we have. A quick food-for-thought, witnessing the Lake Districts provoked the notion to never set limitations on any dreams and/or aspirations. God made the biggest and most imaginative things come to life, and through Him, we’re able to do that too.

Along with all the beauty, I just had so much fun. Today especially, the company made the long bus rides and overall experience so memorable. I spent a great amount of time with two students from China. We exchanged slang, language, and dance moves, but we also spent time discussing experiences with race and stereotypes. We talked about the difference of being Asian living in America and Asian living in Asia. It was, in an odd way, comforting and exciting for me, because I don’t often get the chance to have those kinds of genuine conversations especially in the States. We were able to connect in such an immediate and purely joyful manner, all because we both made the decision to travel and be intentional in getting to know one another.

Generally speaking, those kinds of intentional discussions are what made this trip so enjoyable and fruitful for me. My favorite part has simply been meeting people I would’ve never met otherwise, and learn from their diverse experiences and outlooks on the world. In particular, I loved my learning track and the people I worked with. I was in Stories That Move which sheds light on the realities of discrimination. Our team decided to use stories as a way to give people a platform to speak up about their experiences and what they want our society to do to combat such prejudices. We collectively believed that personal stories was the most powerful way in communicating the importance of ending discrimination. As a part of our project we went to the Slavery Museum in Liverpool to interview people who may have stories of their own they’d like to share. We had a successful trip and came back with their experiences, both direct and indirect, regarding stereotypes and unjust judgments. Along with their stories, we took portraits of them to give a face to their voice. We then did the same procedure with our own narratives and experiences. Finally, we made a Facebook page to give people the platform to share their stories, and we got our first story by someone yesterday! This project was incredibly encouraging because not only did it shed importance on the life of each individual, but it reminded me of the importance of mine. I was reminded that my story and voice has a place, and should be used in order to empower the present generation, and those to come.

I’d say the anthem of this week was “All You Need is Love”, as it was performed in the opening and closing ceremonies, the final concert, and hummed among others while walking from session to session. It’s safe to say this will be stuck in my head for weeks. The meaning of this song reigned true among many of those I met in this Big Hope 2 conference. Whether it was through laughter, inclusion, or purposeful conversation, I’ll always be grateful to those who shared their love with me this past week. No matter how cliché, overused, and  undermined the word “love” sounds to many, it’ll always be a profound and effective one to me. It was love that was behind many of the conversations had where people shared bits of their lives with one another. It was love behind people’s intentionality and desire to be present. It was love behind people’s passions to see this world become a better place. Love was the driving force of what made this conference come together in all the good ways that it did. See, I think people have forgotten about the power that comes when choosing to simply love. In this conference, the goals discussed such as world peace, equality, freedom, and human rights are only going to reign victorious when people choose to foster the radical and profound act of love. When we do that we’ll see a people who look at one’s identity before racial stereotypes. We’ll see people be first responders in places of violence and oppression. We’ll see a world that actually values selflessness and compassion, when we take love seriously.

 

— By Jillian Chang

Big Hope 2: Global Citizenship

The Big Hope 2 has been one of the best experiences of my life so far! I loved coming together with passionate and fun-loving people from all over the world to discuss global issues in the city of Liverpool. I felt so alive, motivated, and inspired during the whole week and my heart was fuller than it had been in a long time. This conference reaffirmed my beliefs and passion for cultures and global challenges. The speeches and discussions inspired me to be an active global citizen and to work for the common good, but my favorite thing was my learning track. Everyone got to choose a learning track, which was like a mini project, from 27 different options. I chose “Global Citizenship, Education, and Faith” and got to work on that one during the week.

The track was led by six Italian professors who were all eager to work with our group and share about their culture. Our group was probably the biggest one at the conference with around 25 students from different countries. I was fascinated by all the diversity represented in our classroom from language to skin color to religion to gender and more. Below you can see a video of our group saying “hello/good morning” in our native languages!

We focused on defining the concept of global citizenship based on our experiences and ideas. First, we all showed pictures and videos from our countries that were related to our idea of global citizenship. Then, we wrote down the themes represented in our pictures like family, faith, music, food, nature, and others. I enjoyed seeing how no matter where we were from, we all valued the same things even if it was to a different extent. It reminded me that our common humanity unites us despite our differences.

One of the days, we went down to the city center together and had a blast! We first went to a museum, and then we got a walking tour of the city. We were amazed by the beauty and history of the city and took advantage of it by taking lots of pictures together. It was such a fun day and it brought us closer together.

The other days we worked on a project to show to the rest of the groups in the conference. Since we were a big group, we made four projects which included a presentation with a video, two songs, comics, and a handmade symbol. I worked on the presentation and had a lot of fun putting everything together and combining all our ideas. I was also glad to help as a translator for the group coordinator who only spoke Italian and Spanish. We finished our projects on time and presented them to the rest of the people at the conference, and we even got to perform a song at the closing concert!

Looking back, I am so grateful I chose that learning track, but most of all, I’m thankful for the people who were in it. I learned a lot from them and now I have new friends in different countries! We befriended each other on social media to keep up with our lives; yet, I really hope I get to see them in person again. My main takeaway from the learning track and the conference in general was that our common humanity should go over nationality and anything else that distinguishes us from each other. We are all global citizens and our race is humanity. This does not mean we should abandon our other identities. It means we should recognize that we are also members of the world community; therefore, we all share the same global identity and are responsible for our community. For the years to come, I aspire to be an active citizen wherever I am, celebrating diversity and seeking solutions to global issues at a local and global scale. You can do that too!

— By Biana Reyes Alvarenga

Bianca is third person in this photo, left to right

 

Big Hope 2: Women in Leadership

The Women In Leadership discussion panel was impassioned, thought provoking, multi-layered, and empowering. I do not recall how many times I found myself saying “wow”, while nodding my head in agreement and clapping. The women on the panel were incredibly intelligent, experienced, relatable, and funny. I left the discussion feeling ready to take on the world. Thank you, Angela Samata, Dr. Abhaya Gurumurthy, Professor Cindy Hamilton, and Professor Lesley Regan for being role models to us during this convention, as well as to thousands of women globally.

Each speaker took on a different role/topic to discuss, with the help of their differing backgrounds to enrich and guide the way. Angela Samata, the chair of the survivors of the bereaved by suicide organization, discussed with us on a  professional level about the means she went through to create her organization, which started with just her and two others, but she was also very personal and open with us. She became a widow at age 32 with two kids who were at ages 3 and 13 at the time. They are now 18 and 29. Before attending this discussion panel I did not know that around 6,500 people commit suicide in the UK per year, so obviously organizations like hers are needed and greatly appreciated. Three key points she left with us were: 1) She achieved nothing alone. She said that you are only a leader if people want to follow you. Because she was able to cultivate the proper qualities of leadership, she was able to gather around her the right people needed to achieve their collective goals. During this talk she also said, “don’t assume all women are for you. [Sisterhood] doesn’t automatically exist.” 2) Don’t be afraid to say thank you. This is something we can all put into practice on a day to day basis. 3) Write down personal achievements in order to defeat “imposter syndrome”. This means doing whatever it takes to shut down feelings of inadequacy and answering questions like “Why am I here?” with “Because I deserve to be!”

The second speaker on the panel was Dr. Abhaya Gurumurthy, assistant professor at Christ University Bangalore. She was also later one of three teachers in my Storytelling, Identity, and Community learning track class. When introducing herself Dr. Gurumurthy shared a few stories of women around the world who “accidentally” became leaders, empowering themselves as well as other women to get things done and making positive impact for entire communities. One story she told us was of a woman named Mariama living in Guatemala. A Coca-Cola company had moved into Mariama’s town and ended up exploiting their resources like water. So, Mariama, a widow around the age of 15, took a group of women to the front doors of the factory holding water jugs in protest. This small act was able to shut down the factory and bring back resources for the community. With this story and others, Dr. Gurumurthy was able to show us how women are usually those who would take up social justice problems dealing with things like natural resources, education, alcohol abuse and misuse, driving etc. Women are always creating ways to help, even if they do not intentionally seek out to become leaders.

A third speaker was Cindy Hamilton, a retired professor from Liverpool Hope University. She is currently working with Dr. Gurumurthy by making documentaries themed “Empowering Women, Articulating Women”. Professor Hamilton gave us several tips on what makes a leader. Some of what she said includes: seeing vision and possibilities and then being able to articulate them, looking at the talents around you, activating them and using them towards a common goal, not commanding authority, and working with others and relying on others because they want a better future. Ms. Hamilton also brought up that there are different styles of leadership that do not need to keep us in a box simply because we are female. She talked about a way of leading that was “not exactly a feminist way of leading, but a way that was not patriarchal”.

The last woman on the discussion panel platform was Professor Lesley Regan. She teaches at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is also head of the NHS trust at St Mary’s Hospital. With her medical background, Professor Regan kindly taught us a little bit about what she did ranging from helping women through miscarriage, abortion, still births, etc. She was very intelligent, bold and opinionated saying things that needed to be said like, “if you make them [abortions] difficult to access they just go underground. They don’t go away and then women die”. She worked to make sure that women around the world not only received disease intervention, but also the knowledge on how to live healthy lifestyles so they could take care of themselves. Her talk with us included many topics she’s dealt with like the gender imbalance in medicine. She had three main key points — three groups of people to have alongside your journey. The first being mentors, male and female. The second being people who believe in you and inspire you. Lastly, Professor Regan said it was important to have challengers. These people are not there to belittle you or make things difficult, but instead to motivate you to do better and achieve more. I found Professor Regan to be quite funny and one memorable quote was “never waste a good crisis, which is usually on a Friday afternoon after lunch… Always turn it around”.

— By Ernesta Cole

Make Your OWN Change in This World

This trip was one that will live in my memory for a long time, if not forever. This trip gave me new friends, new experiences, but most importantly new insights on the world and myself. A trip like this isn’t offered every day, and I was very aware of that as I was going to the Big Hope 2. I was excited to be going somewhere where the discussion revolved around topics that I was interested in and passionate about, and I couldn’t wait to meet people from all over the world who thought like me and were interested in the same things as me. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I came to the Big Hope 2, but by the end of the trip, I realized it was very different from what I could have expected, in a good way.

This trip highlighted just how different we all are. Don’t get me wrong; obviously I know people are different and have different interests, but I went into this trip expecting to meet people who thought like me and had similar dreams as me. I was expecting to hear from people who went out and did exactly what I wanted to do in the future and to teach me how to get there. I realized I was expecting someone to show me how to make a difference in the world. I wanted to have a clear guideline for how to leave my mark.

What I got instead was inspiration from speakers who went out and tried something new in the fields they were interested in. I got insight into the magnitude of problems of the world, but also how everyone is interested in tackling a different problem. Today was the last day of the conference where we got to present some of the things we learned and took away from the conference and seeing the variety of topics and even ways of presenting the projects reminded me of how different we all are but how equally intelligent, creative, and passionate we are.

What I got from this conference was that we can all make our own difference in the world. No one is going to think the same way you do or be interested in the same things you are. No one has lived your life and gained the same insight you have. I always wanted to make a change, but I doubted my abilities. Who was I to make a change? The people I met, though, showed me that everyone can make a change. It is about pursuing what you are passionate about and looking for solutions based on your knowledge. It is about working with others while acknowledging your differences and using them as an advantage. You can make a change. Don’t wait for someone to tell you how or what to do. Know yourself and acknowledge where you have come from. Use that knowledge to work with other people. Make the change that only you can do in this world.

— By Monica Teuthorn

Big Hope 2: A Lovely Day in Liverpool

After an action-packed last day of the conference where we were able to showcase the projects and discussion that we were having in our learning tracks, spend some last meaningful moments with new friends, and have the most incredible dance party I have ever been a part of, we all got up and gathered to go into Liverpool for a day of exploring.

Waiting for the group to head to the bus!

We said some last goodbyes at the entrance to the school, and then walked to the bus stop. Many of us had the opportunity to meet and get to know a student, Jason from China, who walked with us all the way to the bus and waved goodbye as 20 Americans filed onto the top of a double-decker bus. He was just one of the many people that we got to engage with from all over the world and will be someone who we talk about as we see each other around campus, sharing memories and laughs as we recall this week for a long time to come.

We arrived in the center of the city of Liverpool and all split off to see different parts of Liverpool that interested us. Many of us started the day at the Albert Docks, which instead of being torn down were converted into a center of town with world class museums, including the International Slavery Museum and exhibits on the Titanic, Lusitania, and smuggling people and products across international borders. After filling our minds, we decided that it was time to fill our stomachs, and I joined a group of people that was headed into the city to find some cheap ethnic food! We settled on Lebanese food, and smothered our plates of meat, bread, and French fries with copious amounts of a tasty garlic sauce.

After our delicious lunch, we headed to a part of town that was known for its architecture, which looked more stereotypically European than much of the town where we had been. It housed the older museums in Liverpool and the public library. On our way there, we ran into some people who had set out tables on the street, offering free coffee, tea, and various sweet treats to people passing by. We stopped because, well, we’re college students who were offered free coffee; what can we say?! We placed our orders and talked to the men who were providing the food. Finally as we were getting ready to leave, Ethan (who is shown third from the left in the picture below) said that they were from a local church and that they wanted us to know that we are so loved by God. That started a conversation going and we talked to him on the street for a while. He offered to pray for us and we asked if he would pray for safe travels home the next day. We stood together on Bold Street, warmed by cups of coffee and tea, and asked God to protect our group as we traveled back across the ocean. Ethan wished us goodbye and reminded us again that we are each so loved by God as we parted. We smiled as we walked away and I was reminded that God’s vision for the church was for it to be global. It was so cool to be connected, even if briefly, with Christians across an ocean who are being the church by loving their neighbors and total strangers.

As we continued our walk, we joked and laughed as we impersonated sculptures, were surprised by the architecture of the gorgeous public library, and enjoyed the opportunity to just explore older parts of the city. There was one prominent building in the center of the square which we had not been able to the find the entrance to. Out of sheer curiosity we kept looking around to find the door and when we found it, we slipped in. There were only two options once we entered the building; to follow the path we knew nothing about or to leave. Naturally, we chose to continue. 😉 We turned a corner and ended up in a dimly lit hallway that had some informative signs on it and a couple adjoining rooms open to enter. One by one we looked at each other, realizing that we were in an old prison! A few minutes later, the damp cold, punishment devices, and stark cells had gotten to us all and we continued our self-guided tour further into the massive building. As we followed the one-way path, we were taken up winding staircases, through courtrooms, down hallways, and eventually into an incredible Great Hall! This is one mistake-turned-adventure that I will not forget soon.

We had no idea where we were, so we stopped for a picture!

As we made our way back, we popped in and out of vintage stores, coffee shops, and bookstores. We met up with the rest of our group and all headed to a Moroccan restaurants for dinner. I’m not sure if they were prepared for 25 Americans but they provided a space for us to share stories from the week, eat great food, and spend some quality time laughing before we all split up to say goodbye to other students and finish packing.

After a long and exhausting week of being confronted with hard questions where it seemed that there were no answers, this was a rewarding day spent reconnecting with other Hope students and spending time around Liverpool. This surely will not be a week that we forget soon after we return because how can we? We were confronted with people’s stories who were not just brought to us through a screen, but that were actually in flesh and bone, sitting in the chair next to us. Stories of arranged marriages, stories of people living in places of unrest, and stories of people from places of extreme poverty and extreme wealth. And there we were. 25 Americans. 25 people with stories of their own to contribute to the conversations and wow, there were many. So we did what we were invited to do and we invested in the people and the conversations happening around us. One day, I sat in a discussion forum where we were invited to ask questions and I smiled to myself as almost every person who took the microphone to ask a question started with, “Hi, I’m _______ and I’m from Hope College.” I watched and experienced frustration with cultural barriers. I belted out “All You Need is Love” in a huge circle of people from around the world in the city of the Beatles (the blog post title is a nod to this song). I watched dance moves and songs from 40+ countries get shared. I watched belly laughter and serious conversations and tearful goodbyes. But I was left with this. We are people of Hope. Not only is it our school name but it is our desire; to see Hope shared with hurting people and in hopeless situations. So as I discussed tough issues, met new people, and as I process what all of this means now that I am home, I am encouraged knowing that Hope was woven through it all. I have Hope, Big Hope.

-Sophie Rossmiller

 

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13

Big Hope 2: A Whole New Perspective

As each student pulled themselves away from their beds and into the dining hall this morning they were greeted by an array of tired smiles. It has become clear from body language and conversations that most delegates are filled with the quiet contentment of a job well done. This has been a difficult week. A purposeful, driven, and enriching week which will not soon be forgotten, but difficult nonetheless. The root of the difficulty, at least personally, has been considering everything in a broader context outside of that which comes naturally in my native culture. This has been manifested in discussions about poverty, racial discrimination, political disarray, and unnecessary deaths, as well as remembering to ask for the nearest toilet rather than restroom. At no point in this week has it been possible to consider solely my own culture as a white, heterosexual, Christian male from the United States because the world looks so different for anyone who does not fit into those same categories.

I was reminded this week how profoundly impactful the United States is to the rest of the world. Economic, religious, cultural, political, and scientific changes in the United States are echoed across the globe. From layoffs occurring in India as a result of the Recession, to churches being burned in Pakistan as a result of tweets written by a Florida pastor, I was directly reminded of the world’s interconnectedness. That is not to say that the U.S. is the cause of the world’s problems; in fact, it would seem that this is far from the truth. Delegates and speakers from countries around the world told me about the problems, corruption, or prejudices which occur on a daily basis in their home countries. As I listened to their stories I could hear the same desperate frustration in their voices that I hear from Americans discussing hot-button topics such as immigration, racism, and gun rights where the consensus is that something needs to change while the perfect answer to these problems seem to be a long way off and quite difficult to see.

The realization of the extent of the problems first struck me after three days into my learning track where we discussed problems in the education system and what must be done so that the best education can be given to all students. As we sat in our small classroom, it finally dawned on me that there was no answer the professors leading the session were expecting. The material we covered could not be simply dropped into a multiple choice question were the right answer could be given by filling in a bubble dot. Rather, this is a question facing humanity as a whole, and in a room filled with professors, graduate students, teachers, and myself, all that was clear was that no universal answer to this question seems to exist.

I hope to not misrepresent the Big Hope 2, however; because despite the sad stories and the global issues, this conference was anything but disheartening as the theme of the conference reflected the name of the institute: Hope. As I listened to the keynote speakers and panelists during the discussions I could not help but be impressed by their credentials. I heard from Baronesses, Right Honors, Reverends, Excellencies, Sirs, Colonels, Fathers, Professors, and more. These distinguished individuals took the time out of their surely busy schedules to address us and to encourage our compassion, leadership, and most of all, willingness to create change for the better in our own communities. For most of the conference I fell into the trap of simply listening with awe and admiration at these individuals, regarding what they have done in their pasts and amazing in their own sense; however, the final speaker changed this thought process entirely. Sir Christopher Stone reminded all of the delegates that it is the young who have the greatest ability to change the world today. The speakers at the Big Hope 2 were great individuals with good hearts who want the best for everyone but it will be our generation who will be inheriting those positions and we still have time to live our lives just as richly as our speakers lived theirs.

This conference did not end with the answer for ending war or hunger or pain. In a world so broken by sin it is hard to imagine a place where such problems could be ended entirely, yet hope remains. It remains in the belief that people across the world are much more similar than they are different. It remains in the understanding that a smile and laughter are universal languages. And it remains in the fact that we all want more love in the world. As the Big Hope 2 ended tonight and the delegates flooded into the campus student space this point became even more clear. Individuals across geographical, religious, racial, political, and economic background joined together in a night of singing and dancing from music from across the globe and the friendships that were formed at this conference simply blossomed. In this moment, the problems of the world did not go away but any barriers between delegates did. I suppose that’s what this conference was hoping to accomplish albeit on a global scale, and while I know that when I go back home I will undoubtedly be reminded of how broken this world is, I can still retain the memory of tonight where perhaps God allowed us delegates a quick peek at how He envisioned community.

By Bradley Dixon

 

Big Hope 2: Friday – Education Session

We had multiple speakers come in on Friday to give us some fruit for thought, like Phil Jennings the General secretary of the UNI Global union. He quoted Nelson Mandela by saying “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” His talk was followed by a discussion on the topic of education, where I got to listen to seven impressive people talk about their views on this topic.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

I believe education is the key to peace because it is the greatest tool we have for stopping strife and resolving almost every issue currently plaguing the world. I think to truly understand and respect one another we need the will to take the first step and experience the different cultures that are present all around us. I think overall I am having a great time broadening my views on current issues in the world and experiencing all sorts of different cultures and perspectives, and I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to do this.

 

By Kenneth Munyuza

Big Hope 2: First Day Thoughts

Hey, everyone! Quick life update: I’m spending this next week in Liverpool, England, at a global leadership conference called The Big Hope 2! 400 students have traveled from all over the world to attend these leadership seminars together! I was given this opportunity through my Social Work academic advisor, Dr. Feaster, and am traveling with 20 awesome students from Hope! I couldn’t be more excited for what I’ll learn in the coming days and thought I would share a bit about our first day here. What I’ve learned today has already challenged me to think deeper about how to be a better leader, and overall, a better person!
While there weren’t any seminars today, there were a few comments made during our opening ceremonies that I took note of…

A quote was shared from Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensberry— “I believe in the sun even when I cannot see it, and I believe in love even when I cannot feel it. Love isn’t feeling, it’s DOING.”

Rev. Michael Lapsley stated that, “every story needs a listener.” Also, “whether religious or not, we are all simply trying to figure out WHY we’re here.”

And His Excellency Karma Ura said, “half a tree isn’t visible, it’s underground. Half a person isn’t visible — you cannot fully understand them unless you see their roots.”

As someone who wants to work with people, I LOVED hearing this messages this afternoon. It motivated me to have an open mind to new friends, new discussions, and even new food! I’m happy that some of my closest friends are a part of this group, but I’m also eager to see what new friendships develop after this conference!

 

By Madelyn Mikitka

Big Hope 2: Keynote by Sir Chris Stone, CEO

Monday, June 18th, I was moved. I walked into the sports hall like any other day going to listen to another keynote. Well, this was not any other keynote.

In the past we had some good speakers with good work positions and big titles. Their talks were not necessarily engaging, nor did they did interact much with the crowd; they basically preached their message and left.

On Monday, however, in came Sir Chris Stone, CEO of GEMS Cambridge Education. Not only was he the CEO but also, ascended to this position from being a high school teacher.

The reason I was so moved by the talk was not only because of what he talked about but the way he did it. He started off his talk in the center of the room, moved around the audience to engage everyone. He was funny. He used images to get his message out, took off his jacket to be a bit more informal to the young audience he was targeting and finally, he used funny videos to keep us engaged.

This parrot image is a mind trick. If you look carefully you can see that it{s actually a man with pain on him that is positioned to look like the bird.

Mr. Stone’s keynote was about inspiring hope in the youth. The last technique Mr. Stone used, which was remarkable, was that he finished off his keynote with a poem* by Jonathan Reed. The poem read all these terrible hopeless words; however, when read from the bottom up, read only inspirational and hopeful words. That is what I learned from the talk. I learned not to look at things one way. There is always another angle that we just need to find.

Below are some wise words Mr. Stone shared that I saved:

-Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.

-The last to see that you’re boring is yourself (doing the same routine everyday).

By Luis Kayiteshonga

 

*Poem mentioned above by Jonathan Reed:

I am part of a lost generation.
And I refuse to believe that
I can change the world.
I realize this may be a shock, but
“Happiness comes from within”
Is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy”
So in thirty years, I will tell my children
They are not the most important thing in my life.
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
Work
Is more important than
Family
I tell you this:
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
But this will not be true in my era.
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
Thirty years from now, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my divorce.
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making.
In the future,
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.
And all of this will come true unless we choose reverse it.

Backwards:

There is hope.
It is foolish to presume that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It will be evident that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
No longer can it be said that
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
In the future,
I will live in a country of my own making.
I do not concede that
Thirty years from now, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my divorce.
Experts tell me
This is a quick fix society
But this will not be true in my era.
Families stayed together
Once upon a time
I’ll tell you this:
Family
Is more important than
Work
I have my priorities straight because
My employer will know that
They are not the most important thing in my life.
So in thirty years, I will tell my children
“Money will make me happy”
Is a lie, and
“True Happiness comes from within”
I realize this may be a shock, but
I can change the world.
And I refuse to believe that
I am part of a lost generation.

Big Hope 2: Day 5

After four days at the Big Hope 2, it is still hard at times to believe that there are students from 40 different countries here. We have done a lot of listening and learning through the seminars and discussions, but today was our day to finally get a bit of a break as we went on a variety of day trips. Along with about 10 other students from Hope College, I went to the quaint town of Chester, and old Roman barracks. So yes, the walls surrounding the city were built about 2,000 years ago, though they were later rebuilt and strengthened after the English Civil War in the 17th Century. We walked along these walls to get to (what was left of) the Roman Gardens and amphitheater. the walls leading over part of downtown Chester.

The walls leading over part of downtown Chester. The wide roads were almost exclusively for pedestrians, and downtown, the first floors of all buildings were filled with shops while the upper floors are residential.

        My favorite building that we visited was the Chester Chapel. It is a massive structure filled with discreetly located chambers, mysterious staircases we weren’t allowed to investigate, an actual garden in the center of the chapel, and on this day, a slew of antsy schoolchildren preparing for the Chester Mystery Plays – a huge festival put on by professionals in the area as a cultural celebration.

        The greatest moment of the day was eating lunch by the docks on the River Dee. There we encountered a grey-bearded man fully adorned with a leather jacket, and artfully wielding an accordion. A couple of girls from our group began chatting with him and he soon opened up to us and talked about some of his experiences, which included him learning to play the harp in South America. As we selfishly deprived the locals also catching lunch of  their entertainment, he finally asked if any of us played musical instruments. Between the seven of us we had one saxophone and one viola player. “Ah,” he responded thoughtfully, “no young people play music anymore.”

        As some of us were meandering our way back to the bus, we found a local couple with a corgi – ok fine, we found Colin the Corgi and then noticed the couple. Anyway, we started talking to the couple about Chester, the World Cup, and how we ended up in England. It turned out that the guy had gone to Liverpool Hope, the university who is hosting us, and they were incredibly open and friendly. Like most of the British we have come across in the region, they made the extra effort to ask us questions and make us feel welcomed. I think I speak for us all by stating that this conference has taught us a lot, but the people we have been surrounded by are truly what have opened us up to fully take in all that the Big Hope 2 has to offer.

 

By Caleb Miller