Cheers to the London Studies Program:  Students share their experiences
Apr11

Cheers to the London Studies Program: Students share their experiences

Trips across the English countryside plus top-notch theatre performances and fish and chips galore: the London Studies Program has it all. In its 11th consecutive year, the program is the only semester-long study abroad program that UMHB offers, and for good reason: UMHB invests every dollar they receive from the participating students back into the program itself. Dr. David Holcomb has been the director of the London Studies Program since its inception in 2007. In choosing the location, Dr. Holcomb said, “London is a fantastic place for study abroad to begin with. It’s rich with history and culture. It’s a great place for multicultural and international study, so you’re getting exposed to lots of different types of people. And, you’re not having the same struggles with language you would have in other places.” Although British people speak English just like Americans, it is not to say that there are no struggles with language or culture. “Talking on the tube is weird,” said sophomore pre-med and biology major Kristopher Hurst about the London Underground transit system. “I can always spot American groups on the tube because they’re just loud.” The differences in culture led students on this trip to learn a lot about the world around them and about themselves. “I’ve learned a lot about myself socially since we’ve been living in an apartment with 12 girls,” sophomore audio art major Bronwyn Taff said. “I’ve definitely developed another layer of empathy.” Twenty-eight students have accompanied their professors to London this last semester, and have lived together, studied together, and traveled to other countries together. “The 28 of us have grown so much closer, and I didn’t think I would be this close to people after 3 months,” Hurst said. “I never thought I’d have friends from Hardin-Simmons or Howard Payne, but we’re such good friends now.” Being in a group of such a small size for three months is a unique environment for most of these students. Hurst learned more about opening up through his new friendships. “I’ve really learned that being vulnerable with people is good. I want that to be a staple of my personality; I want to be vulnerable and make a community of vulnerability with others.” Dr. Holcomb hopes for positive changes in the students he sends overseas. “I have seen students who have a narrow and provincial view of the world, who after spending a semester [in London], really become more sensitive to the world and want to become world citizens, and have a little more appreciation for other cultures,” he said. According to Hurst, his endeavor was successful. “I’m not stuck in what I...

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Living in London- Week 1
Jan24

Living in London- Week 1

There are so many things that I never thought about in preparing to live in London for three months. Cell phone usage, power converters and which credit cards work internationally were all new thoughts to me. Here I was debating between which sweaters to take and whether to bring a swimsuit, while my financial security and ability to talk to my family were at stake. Luckily I have family members who are brighter than I am, and have prepared me more than I could on my own. For Christmas I received a converter, two guide books to London, sweaters, long johns, an identity-theft protection purse and more advice than I could ever want. In my other out-of-country experiences, I simply converted whatever money I had at the airport to the local tender or hoped that the vendors accepted american money. I learned that airports have some of the highest exchange rates (will cost more), and that local banks is the best place to withdraw money (with a better exchange rate). As far as phones go, extended international service is expensive. If I don’t want to pay a $600 roaming charge every month, a local phone or SIM card with a pay-as-you-go plan is easily the cheapest option. Most health insurance plans, including mine, are domestic plans. Meaning, they do not cover illness and injury in other countries. Luckily, London isn’t a third world country and has pharmacies for mild sicknesses and hospitals for more serious ones. At this point, I’m just hoping I don’t have to use either. Another complication involved in my specific study abroad experience is that I’m dating someone who lives in Temple. That means that we’ll be doing long distance for three months. Although he’s coming across the pond to see me in February, there will still be long stretches of time where we don’t see each other. All I can say about it is that I am grateful for modern technology, so I can still see him even from miles away. I’ve been here for five days, and still getting lost on the way to the corner store. I live in a flat in central London with 11 other Texas women, and so far, the biggest issue has been finding bathroom counter space in the mornings. I knew I wouldn’t be driving in London so I didn’t think that the opposite flow of traffic would be an issue, but I find myself looking the wrong way trying to cross the street every time I come to an intersection. The professors accompanying our group have exhausted us well. I can confidently say I’m sleeping in...

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New organization helps vets feel more at home
Nov16

New organization helps vets feel more at home

According to the Veterans Affairs office, there are 480 military veterans on the campus. That’s nearly 13 percent of students, faculty and staff. To celebrate those who dedicated their time to service, UMHB played Marches of the Armed Forces at halftime of the home football game on Veterans Day, and students wore red to their classes on Friday. Despite the high percentile of veterans, Mike Harrigan and Thad Imerman noticed a lack of social groups for veterans. With this absence in mind, Harrigan and Imerman formed Veterans Helping Veterans, a Bible study through the Baptist Student Ministries that’s dedicated to creating a group specifically for veterans and ROTC cadets. Harrigan, senior pastor of Fairview Community Church and senior biblical studies major, said Veterans Helping Veterans is a Bible study group for veterans, where they also discuss any veteran issues here on campus or in their lives. “We have experience and contacts with veterans’ administration, and hospitals, but we concentrate on the spiritual formation and spiritual health of the veterans. We want them to feel a little bit more at home here.” The organization’s founders understand the struggles of veterans because they both have served in the military. Harrigan spent 21 years in the Army and retired as a first sergeant, while Imerman was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant from the Army. They found the process of continuing their educational career difficult, and seek to aid other veterans who want to further their academic careers. “[The group] helps a lot in validating the experience. I had veterans coming into campus as transfers, not new students. There was no sit-down explanation of what benefits they’re going to get, that the VA provides for them…there was no real guidance given for these vets coming in. The camaraderie also helps with those still suffering from PTSD or separation from the military.” Through their connections and experiences throughout the VA and other benefits of the military, Harrigan and Imerman are able to assist newly discharged or retired veterans who are still adjusting to civilian life. Since veterans are nontraditional students, most of them commute from the Temple or Killeen areas to school each day, isolating them from traditional campus life. “They’re gonna feel sort of lonely,” Harrigan said. “This is another way to get our arms around them in that so they feel welcomed and a part of the program. It’s an easy way to create that camaraderie again.” Imerman praised the group for its ability to connect him with people he wouldn’t have otherwise met as a journalism major. “I’ve met four or five veterans I didn’t know, and an ROTC kid.”...

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Exploitation of personal loss is cruel and unjust
Nov15

Exploitation of personal loss is cruel and unjust

A lot of things change when your house burns down. The grief hits all at once, yes; but also in succeeding waves. Aftershocks of realization are as painful as the first wave as remnants of our loved and lost ones disappear. It’s not the financial loss that hurts. It’s the loss of pictures and second grade homework and childhood trophies. A home that housed Christmas celebrations, memorials, and birthdays is now unsafe to venture into—caution tape bars the beams where a door used to be. Ties to sentimentalities are strengthened when ashes are all that’s left of them. Shopping isn’t nearly as fun when it’s simply to have enough clothes to last a week. The loss of these things, however, pale in comparison to the loss of our beloved mutt, Killey, who left my mother’s side in the fire and never found her way out. We joke that if this hadn’t taken her, nothing would have, because she was so strongwilled and energetic, so bossy and loyal. She lost an eye to a porcupine and survived it, she was sprayed by skunks seven times and still chased black and white tails. Killey even licked a poisonous toad (only once), and has weathered winters in Michigan and summers in Texas, faithful to her family. I picked up the phone Wednesday, Oct. 25 to take a call from my stepdad. He is currently working for the state dept. in Israel, and feels much of the same helplessness I feel in being so far away from my family home in Michigan. His voice, normally so strong and logical, shook as he asked if I heard. “Heard about the house?” I asked. He paused, then: “Killey didn’t make it.” There wasn’t much to say after that. He told me to go on Facebook, and we watched our house burning down on the local news’ Facebook Live. I joined as the smoke billowed out from the roof and firefighters continued to submerge our house in gushes of water. The windows were all broken through, and the house was dark, too dark, for 3 o’clock on an October afternoon. Outrage sparked inside of me as the shaky video broadcasted our misfortune to 4.4 thousand viewers. The Petoskey News-Review received higher views from that live video than any other posts in the last month. As a journalist, I get it. If it bleeds, it leads, right? But there is a difference between sharing news and exploiting a family for views. They stood on our property, excitedly following firefighters and smoke, watching the views and the likes and the heartfelt condolences pour in. The News-Review made me...

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Missions-focused event inspires future missionaries
Oct26

Missions-focused event inspires future missionaries

UMHB’s 18th annual Missions Emphasis Week provides opportunities for missionaries and students to connect over global awareness, relationships, opportunities and service through a week of events, seminars and special appearances. Seek the City, this year’s theme, is based on Jeremiah 29:7, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…” The multifaceted theme, illustrated by cross-cultural events and seminars, focuses on working in the best interest of one’s community. MEW co-director Jamie Habermehl, senior education major, oversees the prayer subcommittee. “[Seek the City] applies to a lot of things. It could be here in Belton because that’s where we are, or when God calls you to another city or another country; pretty much wherever you are to spread the Gospel and seek the good of the city.” Habermehl is currently focusing on benefiting the UMHB community, but anticipates to wherever the Lord may send her next. “I seek to do the best I can to serve [UMHB] and do whatever I can for the people here.” Shawn Shannon, director of the Baptist Student Ministries, looks forward to the relationships fostered during MEW. “When I look up and I see a missionary talking to a student or I see missionaries from different agencies obviously brainstorming and the sparks are flying, I thank the Lord that our steering committee built a nest under the Lord’s leadership for that kind of stuff to land in.” Missionaries visiting UMHB seek their areas of influence in the same way, like Keith McDougal, founder of Agape Impact Ministries. Him and his wife Naan seek to care for orphans in the Philippines, which has an orphan population of 1.8 million. “We’ve been in ministries where people say they won’t care for orphans, so we stepped out in faith and trust in Him.” As McDougal’s second year at MEW, his goals are not to recruit students, but to educate them about the issue and about Agape Impact. “Somebody has to take care of these kids, and there’s young men and woman here that have a heart to care for orphans. If God brings one of those to us, that’ll be a beautiful thing,” he said. Habermehl looks forward to reconnecting with missionaries that she’s met at previous missions emphasis weeks, like Mike Kahil. “[Kahil] does bible translating for regions and people that don’t have a bible in their language,” Habermehl said. “I’ve gotten to meet him over the past two years and we’ve gotten close.” When asked about the importance of MEW, Habermehl spoke highly of the week. “It shows students that missions is something they can do. I never thought of it before...

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