The Voice: Fall 2002

The Voice

Campus capsules

Dordt offers help to quit smoking

Dordt College, in conjunction with the Sioux County Tobacco Coalition, recently received funds from the Iowa Department of Public Health to start a smoking cessation program on campus. Dordt will soon hold “Freedom From Smoking” classes, an eight-week program that will be open to Dordt students, staff, and the general public. The funds are being used to train facilitators for “Freedom From Smoking” groups, buy materials for the program, and to buy medical products proven to help people quit smoking, such as nicotine patches or gum.

Students learn about Hungary and Ukraine

This summer, eight Dordt students had a unique opportunity to experience a different culture. From May 21 to June 13, they lived in Hungary and the Ukraine, teaching ethnic Hungarians new skills and working with gypsies. But this wasn’t a missions trip; as part of Gen 272, “Serving and Learning in Hungary and Transcarpathia, Ukraine,” these students’ most important job was to learn.

“The purpose of the trip was to have the students experience another culture, and learn about it,” says Ron Vos, professor of agriculture and instructor for the course. Vos adds that many mission trips don’t allow participants to really experience the culture they are working in, since they tend to dominate the culture of the people they intend to serve. “The goal for our trip was service, but also learning,” he says.

Earlier forms of the course were geared mainly toward agriculture majors. This year, the eight students who went were from a variety of majors. According to Vos, the varied skills of the group were an advantage.

The group spent their first week in Budapest, Hungary, getting visas and experiencing urban life in Hungary. Then, they traveled east to the Ukraine, where they taught adults and students at Hungarian Reformed Schools, sharing their knowledge of agriculture and North American experiences. Later, they spent three days in Munkacs, Ukraine, interacting with the gypsies that lived there and teaching them some Bible stories through mime.

“We really came together as a team,” Vos observes. “We each had our individual strengths, and we built on those.”

Film buffs join forces

This summer, a small group of Dordt students took their love of film and put it to work. With the help of Chris Rehn, professor of business and a film buff, they made their own original film.

The students, Rehn, and other Dordt professors started meeting together in the summer to watch and discuss films. According to Rehn, “We chose films that weren’t really mainstream Hollywood movies.” Among these were Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, and Orson Welles’ classic Touch of Evil.

Later, they began discussing the possibility of shooting their own film. Sophomore Jack Maatman wrote a script and directed the film, and junior Reuben Vander Kwaak shot it with a digital camera.

The film, according to director Jack Maatman, “is about how different people view the same event. Three people comment on a scene, and talk about what they think it means.”

Although they have finished shooting, the film isn’t done yet, says Maatman. The students are currently in the process of editing it and fine-tuning the finished product. They hope to show it on campus and maybe enter it in a film festival.

Retention is high

This year, Dordt enrolled 355 new students—277 freshmen, seventy-five advanced freshmen, and three sophomores. In addition, there were thirty-nine transfer students, and a record high student retention rate. Dordt’s total enrollment for the 2002-2003 academic year is 1347 students.

Ag department receives grant

The Dordt agriculture department, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota, received a $10,000 grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The grant will allow them to study a potential new crop for the Midwest, called the Illinois bundle flower. Dr. Donald Wyse at the University of Minnesota was the primary author of the grant proposal, but Dordt will administer the grant and do much of the research.         

According to agriculture professor Robb De Haan, research into the Illinois bundle
flower will hopefully contribute to the development of more sustainable food
production systems.