Oglethorpe Junior Wins Scholarship to Study in South Korea

Oglethorpe junior Joseph White was recently awarded a GAIN Scholarship by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) to study abroad. He’ll use the award to spend his spring semester in Seoul studying South Korea’s culture, language and politics. Joe will be the first Oglethorpe student to study abroad in the politically tumultuous country.

GAIN scholars are selected for their dedication to internationalizing their education. While in South Korea, Joe will fulfill the study abroad requirement for his international studies major, and will study North Korean politics as part of his politics minor. He plans to work in politics with an emphasis on Korean affairs, an interest that began several years ago.

Joe first got the opportunity to travel the summer after he graduated from Stars Mill High School. Most of his friends visited Europe for their pre-college travels, but he wanted to try something a little more adventurous.

“I went to Korea for about two weeks to visit a friend that was teaching English there. I toured around the area, didn’t do a whole lot of stuff I wanted to do, but did some of the major tourist highlights. But now I really want to get involved with their culture, their language, and even potentially some of their history.”

When he got the opportunity to study abroad at Oglethorpe, it was this location that called to him. As assistant to OU Study Abroad Director Dr. Jeffrey Collins, Joe spent this semester helping other students abroad.

“I make sure that their classes are going well, that they’re integrating into society, stuff like that. If there’s something wrong personally with them it’s easier to talk to a student than it is to talk to a teacher. I’m that buffer between student and teacher.”  Now, though, he’s ready to be in their shoes.

“The school [in Korea] is ranked one of the ivy league in the Asian Pacific. And it’s the only one that offers North Korean politics. That’s the reason I want to go there– to study Korea’s relationship with its fellow Koreans up north and how North Korea affects everything in that area. Especially because, South Korea being one of our main allies, if anything happens to (them) we’re obligated to engage and support them.”

He’s been preparing for the trip by studying the language on his own and working with his martial arts master, a fluent Korean speaker. His study of martial arts influenced his study abroad decisions tremendously. “I’ve been doing [Taekwondo], which is the Korean national martial art, for over 11 years now. When I went to Korea the first time, I got to visit the place where it all started. I want to spend more time understanding the theory and philosophy  of Taekwondo.” It’s this familiar, but exotic, culture that Joseph is excited to immerse himself in.

Joseph’s course load will be heavy on Korean language, which he hopes to speak by the time he graduates. His language classes will have a cultural immersion element that will give him the chance to speak, write and read Korean as well as visit with native speakers. “I want to work with the State Department with Korean affairs, because I love the country and I love the people and I respect them very much. So wherever I go, either DC or a national hub like Atlanta, I want to be able to work closely with Korean culture and maybe even business…and possibly be an ambassador to South Korea for the United States.”

“Joe White winning this scholarship to study in Seoul is a great honor for both to our university and to Joe,” said Dr. Collins. “The program is highly competitive, and it is the first time for an OU student to win a CIEE scholarship to study in Seoul.  It only indicates how global OU has become, and how we are now known and respected across the world for our academics and student engagement. I am terrifically proud of him.”

Joseph will leave for South Korea in the spring, and wants to encourage all interested OU students to consider having a study abroad experience of their own!

New Sophomore Tradition Celebrates the Legacy of Thornwell Jacobs

In early October, the Oglethorpe sophomore class gathered for the inaugural Thornwell Jacobs Legacy Celebration, a new annual tradition for the sophomore class. The event celebrated Thornwell Jacobs, Oglethorpe President from 1915-1943, who fulfilled a lifelong dream of restoring Oglethorpe to its present location on Peachtree Road in Atlanta.

Sophomore students gathered to learn interesting history and facts about President Jacobs and his mission from award-winning author and historian Dr. Paul Hudson ’72 . Later over dinner in the Great Hall of Hearst, students heard from Sophomore Class President Kurt Reynolds, Alumni Association Vice President Austin Gillis ’01, and Georgia State Representative Dar’Shun Kendrick ’04, an Alumni Association Board member who spoke about her OU experience and how it helped to shape her career and future.

Heifer International and Stormy Petrels Unite

Heifer InternationalLater this week, Oglethorpe University will be the first college campus to host the annual meeting of Heifer International, a nonprofit focused on “helping others help themselves.” The Heifer Sustainability Summit will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 12-13. It will showcase leaders in the field, and showcase Oglethorpe’s growing involvement in Heifer’s mission.

The idea behind Heifer International is simple: rather than raising money and donating it to the needy, Heifer uses raised funds to buy and donate livestock (cows,  chickens,  sheep, etc.) to  groups of people in need to help to increase their self-sustainability. Not only can they rely on the animals for renewable resources like wool, eggs or milk, but when the Heifer-gifted animal reproduces, the  resulting livestock provides even more possibility for income.  The self-sufficiency people gain from having their own source of income also helps to improve quality of  life. Suddenly, a family can go from surviving to thriving; a village can go from impoverished to self-reliant. The independence that comes with a Heifer gift is often even more valuable than the gift itself.  Heifer operates in more than 50 countries and has been a driving force against poverty worldwide since 1944.

The summit will focus on the needs of a world stricken by hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation, and Heifer’s current and future plans to help. Special guest speakers will include National Center for Civil and Human Rights CEO Doug Shipman, Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari, and Oglethorpe University’s own First Lady, Betty Londergan, the wife of Oglethorpe’s President Schall.

Betty and children in a Heifer-assisted country

Heifer International has gained quite a following at Oglethorpe, due in part to  Londergan’s involvement with the nonprofit. She is on a mission to showcase the benefits of Heifer’s work through Heifer 12×12, a blog project launched by Heifer International, which is taking Londergan to 12 countries in 12 months. Since January, she’s traveled to 11 Heifer-assisted countries, including Uganda, Haiti and Rwanda, and has shared her experiences through blogs and photography.

Heifer 12x12

Betty Londergan's blog highlights Heifer's accomplishments around the world

Thirty of Londergan’s photos will be on exhibit in Oglethorpe’s Lowry Hall in honor of National Photography month. The exhibit, titled “Unforgettable Faces,” will debut during the Summit’s opening dinner reception on Friday, October 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art and remain open through December 9, 2012. The photographs will be available for purchase to benefit Heifer International.

But, Londergan isn’t the only Stormy Petrel hoping to make a difference through Heifer. Sophomore Ruwa Romman and a small group of OU students were inspired by Londergan’s involvement with Heifer and decided to get active. They are starting the OU Heifer Club, the first on a college or university campus in the Southeast.

“Oglethorpe’s a good place to have a grassroots initiative [like Heifer],” said Romman. “They focus on self-sustainability, on passing on the gift… We hope to get a movement going. We can’t donate huge sums of money, but if we can donate $10 for chickens and help send someone’s kid to school, that’s still huge. It’s all about giving back.”

The OU Heifer Club will officially launch during the Heifer Sustainability Summit.

OU Sophomore Folds Origami “Cranes for Cancer”

According to ancient Japanese legend, folding 1000 paper cranes will bring good luck, and might even grant the folder a wish. Kevin Summerlin, the OU sophomore behind the new on-campus charity initiative Cranes for Cancer, definitely has a wish—that his paper-folding will “[raise] awareness about the importance of thoughtfulness and goodwill in helping people through hard times.”

Students can learn the Japanese art of origami while giving back by folding cranes to sell as symbols of hope and support for those suffering from cancer. Although origami is an ancient art, the idea that 1000 cranes bring luck is still popular around the world. From the paper crane-draped Ueno Toshogu Shrine in Japan, a monument to advocate peace between nations, to the true story of Sadako, a girl who folded cranes to be granted her wish for life after battling leukemia, the symbol of a paper crane is a harbinger of peace and luck in hard times.

Paper cranes hanging at the Toshogu Shrine in Tokyo

Kevin hopes to generate enough interest and awareness to form an origami club on campus, and eventually to raise money to aid cancer patients. His goal is not just to fundraise, but to be a call to action. Oglethorpe students trying to “make a life, make a living, make a difference” can support the Cranes for Cancer initiative by attending meetings every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Phase II lobby. All interested students are encouraged to come—from the newest beginners to the paper-folding masters—everyone is welcome!

Those who can’t make the meetings can help out by donating something a little out of ordinary—paper. Come fold cranes—for good luck and for a good cause!

Greekapalooza: Party for a Cause

OU Greeks come together to support The DRCC

Oglethorpe University’s chapter of Chi Phi fraternity raised more than $600 to benefit the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center at their annual charity event, Greekapalooza, on Friday, September 14.

Donations increased almost 100% over last year’s event, in part because Chi Phi offered a free benefit show played by local musicians, the Critty Upchurch Band, who played covers of popular songs at the Greek Row block party.

Edmund Smith, a sophomore brother of Chi Phi, says that donating to support the cause is important, but the bigger goal was to raise awareness for the DRCC. “Though we hope OU students never need it, we want people to know that there is a place they can go for help.”

OU Greeks watch the Critty Upchurch Band at Greekapalooza.

Not only did Greekapalooza raise money to help the victims of rape and sexual violence, it was also the first event of OU’s Fall 2012 Greek Recruitment/Rush. All of the Greek organizations at Oglethorpe attended to show support and to meet potential pledges.

“Greekapalooza is basically a great way for OU’s Greek organizations to come together, fraternize, and unite behind a great cause,” said Chelsea Reed ’13.  “It is the perfect kickoff for recruitment because it shows that Oglethorpe Greeks value community and philanthropy—both on campus and beyond.”

Photos by Robert Findley.