Monday, November 9, 2015

Wartburg West Students Say Good-Bye to Their New Friends by Jessa McAvoy

Greetings from Denver! My name is Jessa McAvoy and I am a 4th year Biology major interning at Denver Health. We have two weeks left here in Denver Colorado and it feels like I just got here.

As our time here in Denver is coming closer to the end, we’ve already had to say some rough goodbyes to our Augustana friends. We have had a chance of a lifetime to meet some very incredible people. I shared my Denver Health internship experience with an Augustana senior, Alyssa Kendell, who is also a pre-medical student. We have seen some very exciting and also shared some sad moments at Denver Health. From finally realizing what path we were going to take, to sharing our first operating room experiences, there was no other person I would have wanted to share this with. All of us became great friends and I am so thankful that they get to share this opportunity with us!

With only two weeks left in Denver we have been trying to fit as much in as possible. Last weekend we visited Echo Lake to experience the mountain snow, and now planning a short day hike in Breckenridge this weekend. Our internships are also winding down and getting prepared to say goodbye to all of the wonderful and very helpful people I have met at Denver Health is going to be very hard. I have had so many amazing experiences our here. From climbing Mt. Bierstadt to traveling to Salt Lake City for the Parliament of World Religions and volunteering at Network Coffeehouse, I wouldn’t change anything about my experience out here. I am looking forward to returning back to campus, but I will never forget this amazing opportunity that has changed my life!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Attending the Parliment of the World's Relgions by Alison Rachel Leonhart

This past Thursday a group of Wartburg West students made their way out of the apartment building by 7am, not because they wanted to be up early, but to hit the road to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Salt Lake City!

First, a bit of background for those of you who are not familiar with the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The first was held in Chicago in 1893, and exactly 100 years later the second Parliament was held again in Chicago. Since then, every five years the Parliament has been held in various places around the world, including South Africa, Spain, and Australia, and this year had returned back to the States. This gathering focuses on interfaith dialogue and bringing people of different faiths together to work towards solving the world’s troubles. Big themes of this year’s Parliament included women’s rights, climate change, and war, hate, and violence.

Now let me tell you, people watching at the Parliament was better than people watching at airports. People from all over the world and of all different faiths were gathered making for a fascinating learning experience. Upon first walking in the convention center there were Tibetan monks making a sand mandala and Jains praying in a small temple. During the lunch hour, a group of Sikhs served a free lunch to everyone, a practice called Langar. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, were also present and hosted a Sacred Music concert in the Tabernacle on Sunday.

Throughout the four days that our group was there, we all went to sessions throughout the day ranging in topics from the Ideology of Wealth, Inequality, and Compassion to Youth and Religious Extremism to How to Effectively Use the Traditional and Social Media to Promote Interfaith Work.

Attending the Parliament revealed to me what I appreciate from my own faith tradition, the differences I appreciate in other faith traditions, and the similarities between them all. I also tapped into my feminist theologian side by going to the Women’s Plenary and attending sessions on women’s various roles within religion. As a person who is interested in going into further religious studies both the things I listed above were helpful in figuring out the ‘what the heck do you want to do in the future’ process.
Other students reported the Parliament to be eye-opening to all the different types of religions that were out there, especially with the hands-on aspect of learning about faiths from the people that practiced them. Another insight was listening to a message of peace and justice coming from people of all religions. So often violence within religions is what often makes the news, but to see that it is possible for people to believe different things but come together as a whole for the good of humanity was refreshing.

As a side note our group also went on an excursion to In-N-Out and Salt Lake garnering an appreciation for fast food, the beauty of the Salt Lake landscape, as well as some great photo ops J

Overall this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that I will remember for years to com

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wes Westervelt Shares His Student Teaching Experience!

I’m glad to say I have been fortunate enough to do my student teaching placement here in Denver, Colorado, through the Denver Public Schools and Wartburg West. I recently completed my high school placement at East High School, and am now working with an outstanding teacher at Skinner Middle School. 

This program offers an excellent opportunity for students to do their student teaching placements within a renowned school district putting them in position to become outstanding educators in an urban environment. I feel an experience like this would not have been possible in Iowa for me personally, mainly because of the teaching method used here for foreign languages and additionally with the large student populations. Within my placements I have learned how to effectively teach high school and middle school students in Spanish. I love that with the methods they use here in Denver, students are given the skills they need to be able to use their second language in real time. The system we use is called CI or Comprehensible Input, and is backed by the research of Dr. Stephen Krashen. The main principle of this system is learning a language as a child would learn his or her first language, utilizing a multitude of gestures, pictures and a lot of repetition. As said before, with this system students can finally use their skills to actually use the language and communicate with others versus learning about only grammar and the linguistics of a language. It’s truly amazing to see the results that these students get with only a few weeks of teaching them using simple principles that actually work.

Overall, I’m glad to have been able to do my student teaching placement in a district that truly values students being able to learn skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. I would not trade this experience for anything, and I am enjoying my time here in Colorado!