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b2ap3_thumbnail_P1060365.JPGI find myself here packing up my things and I honestly can't imagine how it's time to get prepare to leave already. I've done so much this semester, seen so many things and had so many new experiences, that looking at myself now I can tell there's a difference between who I am and who I was when I arrived.  That girl was a tangle of nerves and uncertainty, and now I feel so much more confident in myself and in my faith, as well as so much more enriched by experiencing another part of the globe. It's an experience like no other, and I couldn't feel more blessed to have had such an opportunity.

I've been kind of MIA from this for over a month because I was exploring the rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland. I took as many pictures in three weeks as I have the rest of the semester combined, and it's a bit surreal to me that I've gotten to go all of those places- London, Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Inverness, Loch Ness, Stirling, Edinburgh, Dublin, Galway, and the long stretches of landscape in between. I met a myriad of new people from all over the world and saw places that some people only dream of visiting. It wasn't all butterflies and rainbows, of course, with chilly nights, strict money management, missing buses, getting lost, and getting sick. I'm happy for those parts, too, though, because if anything is a really good test of faith, traveling troubles are; like this whole semester, really, it truly was through God's grace that finding solutions to our problems were possible.

If anyone ever asks me, I would hands down recommend studying abroad. If not that, then just travel in general. You don't realize just how much more there is out there until you do; now that I've had a taste, I can't wait until I can head back out and see some other corners of the map. Study abroad makes seeing more places and spending more time, as well as learning more about the culture, more possible than simply traveling does. It also provides a setting where you grow and discover things about yourself almost as much as you do about where you are staying.  Still, though, even if it's just a trip for a week or two weeks, it is an intensely beautiful and astounding world we've been given, and if the opportunity presents itself, I can't imagine not taking the chance to explore it. 

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Dear fellow parent,

As we jot down these rambling thoughts, the calendar has turned to May 1. In many parts of the world, it is a day of celebration. We celebrate the rule of law in our beloved country, while others celebrate military might, but in America it has another unique meaning if you are the parent of a high school senior. It is Deposit Day! A day your son or daughter commits their enthusiasm, intellect, and more than a little of the family bank account to an institution of higher learning. 

As we initial that check, we parents reflect on the joys and tribulations that preceded this day…from trying to get the volcano just right for the elementary school science fair, to chaperoning the junior high dance, to faithfully making another batch of cupcakes—usually at the last minute—for today’s PTA bake sale. We also spent a lot of time waiting. We waited patiently for soccer and marching band practice to end, we waited outside the SAT center on a chilly Saturday morning, we waited to hear footsteps a little late on a Saturday night, and we waited for the letter in the big envelope that joyously announced that one period of waiting was over and that the Waynesburg University family would be welcoming a new addition to its campus come September. We hug our sons and daughters, call for the extra-large pizza, phone Grandma, wipe away a tear, offer a prayer of thanksgiving and of course, order the sweatshirt!

Once the euphoria passes, which it does all too quickly, the adult in us begins to hear the voices, the ones with all the questions. Did we make the right choice in Waynesburg? Can we afford it? Will our children be as cherished far from home as they have been in the confines of our home, congregation and high school?

Take it from us; the answer is a resounding YES! Yes, you did make the right choice spiritually, academically and financially. Our son is days away from finishing his freshman year. He has grown physically (when did he get taller than his father?), and he has been nurtured through challenging times by caring professors, coaches, mentors and a community of other young people who embraced him, cried with him, prayed with him and refused to let him falter. He has challenged his faith and found it worthy. He has learned that he has a lot more to learn both in and out of the classroom. He has grown from a wide-eyed, nervous freshman who found himself seven hours from home into a more self-confident young man of integrity and hope. His mother and I do continue to wait, to see what God has in store for him next year.

Congratulations, parents. Celebrate your children, and celebrate the learning, loving and caring community that is Waynesburg University.

Go, Jackets!

Jim and MaryAnn Simmons

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What a joy it was to see the Waynesburg community come together yesterday at the Relay for Life!  The devastating impact of cancer had touched almost everyone there, but it was clear that the compassion of the community was hewn from a far greater spirit than cancer’s destructive work.

Our Lord is with us to care for us every step of our lives. The world often wants to make us think we are alone and left to carry our burdens by ourselves. Yesterday was a beautiful example of the factb2ap3_thumbnail_cast-cares.png that none of us is alone, even in the midst of the darkest places. God has given us each other to help bear one another’s burdens.

I know the next couple of weeks will be intense for all of us as the semester draws to a close. During this time, I hope we can all look for ways to support and encourage one another. Cherish these last moments of the semester. Stop and tell a graduate how much they have meant to you and speak words of blessing to them as they prepare for the next phase of their lives. And when the burdens get too much to bear, know that you can cast your cares upon the Lord, for he cares for you.

 

Blessings,

Rev Carolyn Poteet

 

cpoteet@waynesburg.edu

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 “Why faith?” I heard some of my classmates ask towards the end of class. “Why not focus more on learning instead?”

I sat quietly in the corner of the room listening to the conversation between my classmates, and realized I had never really thought much about it before. Waynesburg University and faith had always gone hand-in-hand for me. It’s one of the many reasons I chose this school. But what is it that makes faith such an important element to a Christian campus like Waynesburg? That’s what my classmates wanted to know, and that was the question that kept drumming through my head for the rest of the day.

As my classmates began packing their things, quickly transitioning into various other conversations, I remained silent, thinking. Even as I exited the room, my thumbs hooked through the straps of my book bag, the question kept presenting itself to me. Why faith?

When I reflect back on my college career I remember weekly Chapel services, Sunday night student-led worship services, heart-to-hearts with professors—all things that have influenced my experience at Waynesburg. Everything I have learned throughout my four years here has somehow referenced back to my faith, causing me to grow in ways I never imagined I could.

So, why is faith so important? In my own words, this is what I came up with:

  • Faith is the foundation, not only to Waynesburg University, but also in many of our lives—it’s where things began. When we look back at our history, not only as a University, but also as a country, faith was the driving force that got us on our feet, something we proudly fought for and defended. With that foundation, even when the walls shake and crumble, there is always hope for restoration.
  • Faith is a source of joy, hope and love. I know how hard it is not to fall into the selfish, materialistic ways of society. What’s in it for me seems to be the mantra of the world today. Through my experience, this constant push to be perfect only leads to self-destruction, but when we focus our lives on faith instead, we realize just how perfect we are in God’s eyes. It’s not about what we wear, what we look like or how much money we have; it’s about finding ourselves lost in the beautiful, boundless love of Christ. Through faith, we can experience a joyful, hopeful, loving way of life, free of charge.
  • Faith pushes our boundaries. One of the things I have loved and hated most about my faith is that it challenges me to think beyond my reasoning and pushes me out of my comfort zone. Faith is not about being comfortable and it’s certainly not easy, but when we find ourselves wrapped up in it, the end result is nothing short of rewarding. When I find myself questioning anything, including my faith, I find myself learning. This is what makes the pairing of faith and learning together so endearing to me. A well-developed faith often comes through trial and error, much like learning a skill in the classroom. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t, but just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean the answer isn’t out there. Often times it takes patience and a willingness to accept things through a fresh set of eyes.
  • Faith gives us something to look forward to both today and in the future to come. When everything else seems to fall apart, faith is the crutch we are given to help us stand. God wants us to come to Him with our problems. He wants us to know that through Him all things are possible. With Him, nothing can tear us a part. Through our faith, we know God has promised us a future, even as we step into the unknown. This gives me the strength to get out of bed each morning despite my racing anxieties of what the future holds. For, I am a child of God.

 

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It's probably an understatement- and an overstated one in my posts, at that- that I really like it in Ireland. There is so much to like and it's an environment that has a lot that personally interests and excites me; the things I'm learning, the people I've met, the music, the culture, the history, the land. However, it hasn't been easy. It was a lot of work to get here in the first place, and when I got here, there was a lot I had to adjust to, but in a way I think that's probably better, and it has definitely helped me grow.

One of the hardest things for me was being on my own in a country where I knew absolutely no one. The people, both the other international students and the people from the University, as well as the locals I came into contact with, were all very nice, don't get me wrong. The thing is, I have never really been in a situation of this magnitude where I haven't had some sort of close-by support; emailing and messaging  people is great, but it's incredibly comforting to have someone physically there. At home I had friends and family, and even when I went to college freshman year, my roommate was a girl I was friends with from home. So for the most part, I've tended to have someone either with a stronger personality than mine who wasn't afraid to take the lead in new ventures, or at least someone who I knew would support me if I took that position.

Here, though, I had neither of those and had to fend for myself. If I wanted to go talk to someone, I had to make that step. If I wanted to go somewhere or do something, I had to do it, without someone to lead on and without someone as my backup. Not that I didn't make friends- I have several, and they have been such a blessing- but while we all do things together, we are all still having our own personal experiences. I also have to hold myself  completely accountable for my schedules, what I eat, when I do my schoolwork, the money I spend, etc. and I don't even have a roommate to tell me to turn the lights off and go to bed at a respectable hour.

It's been a little scary since I've always considered myself a pretty shy person, but I cannot express how gratifying it is to know you've personally reached for something you've wanted and were able to reap the benefits of that. And it really has been incredible. That's how I ended up here in the first place, that's how I made the new friends I have now, that's how I found the absolutely incredible church family I wasn't sure I'd have here, how I've seen new and wonderful things, tasted things I'd never even  heard of before,  and had all sorts of new experiences. If going away for college is a way to learn how to be independent, than studying abroad is that tenfold.

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