Adviser works to bridge Bethel cultures with music, dance and relationships

As he’s begun working on how to bridge cultures at Bethel, Caleb Lázaro has found one of the most effective tools to be salsa dancing.

Lázaro just finished his first semester as Multicultural Student Union adviser -- not a new position, but a greatly expanded one.

“I came into a program that had been largely focused on fellowship,” Lázaro says. “We’re now trying to get at it from more angles -- trying to find diverse ways of engaging marginalized populations on campus.”

By “marginalized populations,” he says, he means “students from other cultures, particularly inner-city or large-city, unfamiliar with the dominant culture -- which is white and rural/small-town. They are often underrepresented here because of how they communicate, the music they listen to, a very different worldview.

“The Multicultural Student Union is a safe place to voice some of that.”

Though the formal MSU group that meets monthly is not large -- 9-10 at most -- one of their goals is “to engage all cultures on campus,” Lázaro says. To that end, they planned several events during the fall, including the salsa dancing, when Lázaro’s sisters, Daniela and Myriam, came from Colorado Springs one weekend in September to lead dance instruction.

About 60 students showed up for salsa, cumbia, merengue, bachata (a traditional dance from the Dominican Republic) and open dancing with recorded music.

The public event for October was a mini-concert at Bethel’s Fall Festival, with a half-dozen students performing in their preferred styles, ranging from gospel to hip-hop to slam poetry.

Lázaro sees music as an essential way to foster student communication. “Engaging with the musical culture that comes from being in an urban context has been important to us in the MSU,” he says.

Learn more about Lázaro’s work with Bethel’s diverse campus.

Art professor assembles exhibit at Wichita museum

Rachel Epp Buller, printmaker, art historian and Bethel professor, says that workers -- what today might be called “the 99 percent” -- have long been a compelling subject for artists.

Epp Buller is the curator of a new temporary exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum (WAM) through March 17, “Occupy Art: Protest and Empathy for the Worker.”

Though the parlance of “occupy” and “the 99 percent” might be recent (the “Occupy Movement” was born just over a year ago on New York City’s Wall Street), the fact of artists commenting on workers’ struggles and successes is not.

“Occupy Art” consists of about 70 paintings, prints and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection, spanning a range of about 150 years.

At a conference earlier this year, Epp Buller spoke on research she had done in Berlin under a Fulbright Fellowship on Alice Lex, an artist from post-World War I Germany whom the Nazis censored for her political views.

After hearing Epp Buller’s talk, Stephen Gleissner, current curator at WAM, asked her if she would be interested in organizing an exhibit from the museum’s collection.

The museum owns several prints by Käthe Kollwitz, a German printer, painter and sculptor from the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, best known for how she depicted the condition of those who suffered from the results of poverty, hunger and war.

Learn more about the exhibit.

Bethel signs its first nursing agreement with Hesston College

As Bethel’s online RN-BSN program moves closer to going live, a new agreement will ease the transition for graduates of nearby Hesston College.

On Dec. 6, Bonnie Sowers, director of Hesston College’s associate degree in nursing (ADN) program, and Sandra Zerger ’66, Hesston vice president of academics, came to the Bethel campus to sign the agreement along with their counterparts Phyllis Miller, Bethel director of nursing, and Brad Born, vice president for academic affairs.

The agreement “streamlines the process for Hesston ADN graduates entering into Bethel’s RN-BSN program,” said Rhonda Williams, Bethel RN-BSN coordinator.

She added that Hesston nursing graduates are guaranteed admission to Bethel’s program as long as they meet the criteria of graduating with an associate degree and a GPA of 2.5 or higher as well as passing the RN licensure exam.

Bethel and Hesston, which are sister schools within Mennonite Education Agency of Mennonite Church USA, have long had a general articulation agreement to facilitate students transferring from Hesston, a two-year college, to Bethel to complete a four-year degree.

Learn more about the Bethel-Hesston nursing program agreement.

Regional NAACP president to speak at annual celebration

Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP for Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, will be the featured speaker for “Remember the Dream,” Bethel’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

The program will take place Monday, Jan. 21 -- the King holiday, on which all Bethel classes are canceled -- at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium.

In addition to Lytle’s address, it will feature the winners of poetry, art and essay contests, along with special musical performances by Bethel students.

The program is free, and there will be a freewill offering taken for the Harvey County Homeless Shelter.

Lytle, a former newspaper journalist who worked at the “Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel,” “Virginian Pilot” (Norfolk, Va.) and “Colorado Springs Gazette,” among others, is now a certified diversity trainer, facilitator and consultant for school districts, colleges and universities and nonprofit and other organizations.

She served as president of the NAACP Colorado Springs Branch for eight years before assuming her current position with the organization.

Learn more about Lytle’s address & Bethel’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

16th annual Kansas Day celebration at Kauffman Museum

On Saturday, Jan. 26, from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Kauffman Museum will hold its 16th annual Celebrate Kansas Day! event. This year’s theme is “Kansas Symbols.”

With attendance topping 1,000 the last two years, Celebrate Kansas Day! has become a regional favorite for all ages, especially families looking for an outing and a way to celebrate their state’s heritage. There will be make-it-and-take-it crafts for children, presentations, demonstrations, popcorn popped over an open fire, a bake sale, flea market, silent auction and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Kansas Day is a free event supported by a North Newton Community Development Grant. Come join the fun!

Threshing stone exhibit rolling to a stop

John Thiesen ’82, co-director of libraries at Bethel and representing the Mennonite Library and Archives, will speak on the topic “What’s a Thresher? Bethel College’s Symbolic History” at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at Kauffman Museum.

Thiesen will review the history of Bethel’s use of threshing stone symbolism as a marker of identity. He will also show graphic design variations of the threshing stone from the 1930s to the present.

Thiesen’s lecture will be the final program in the Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum series to complement the museum’s special exhibition “Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact & Icon,” which will close Jan. 20.

The museum store will continue to sell the book “No Threshing Stone Unturned” by guest curator Glen Ediger ’75, North Newton.

Affirm Bethel’s vision with a gift to Phonathon 2013

“At Bethel College, we welcome with open hearts, stimulate personal and spiritual discovery, transform through the power of community and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

That is the vision statement adopted by the Bethel College Board of Directors in spring 2012. It is also the focus of this year’s phonathon in February.

With support from alumni and friends of the college, Bethel strives to give its students the best academic, spiritual and community experience possible. Recently, generous donations have funded a number of initiatives:

  • The new, state-of-the-art James A. Will Family Academic Center
  • Renovation of the Schultz Student Center lobby, hallway and cafeteria
  • Making Franz Atrium in Krehbiel Science Center into a comfy lounge
  • Additional scholarships for all kinds of students
  • Enhanced materials in the library and elsewhere
  • New initiatives such as the Multicultural Student Union

Continued giving, including through Phonathon 2013, will make more new projects and improvements possible.

Materials will be mailed soon. Alumni may use a response envelope to make a commitment or send a donation, may e-mail their response to alumni@bethelks.edu, or may give to the phonathon online at www.bethelks.edu/gift. Volunteers will make telephone calls to those who have not responded by Friday, Feb. 1.

Bethel welcomes donations of any size. Affirm the college’s vision with a gift to Phonathon 2013.

Choir to tour Midwest in March

The Bethel Concert Choir, under the direction of William Eash, professor of music, will sing in 12 settings throughout five Midwestern states on this year’s choir tour during spring break, March 15-24.

The choir will give a evening concert in Topeka Friday, March 15; sing in St. Louis Saturday evening, March 16, and Sunday morning, March 17; give evening performances in Cincinnati and Bluffton, Ohio, Sunday and Monday, March 17 and 18; sing in Goshen, Ind., Tuesday morning, March 19, and in Elkhart, Ind., that evening; participate in and sing after a Catholic Latin mass in Chicago Wednesday evening, March 20; give an evening concert in Normal, Ill., March 22; and return to Kansas to sing in Mission Saturday evening, March 23, participate in worship in Kansas City Sunday morning, March 24, and give the traditional home concert on campus that evening.

Mark your calendar now if you live or plan to be in any of those areas that week. See future issues of “Thresher E-View” for details. Local alumni and friends should watch the mail for invitations to the concerts and related events.