The Augustana: Winter 2011

View from Summit Avenue

A Message from Rob Oliver, President of Augustana College

January was an interesting time at this wonderful place we call Augustana College.

J-Term, as we often call it, is traditionally an intriguing month on campus. Our students and faculty participate in Interim, a time of curricular exploration and enrichment that allows our students opportunities to study abroad, participate in internships and partake in special one-time courses that embody the liberal arts experience.

In early January, following a course on Egyptian culture entitled, “A Portrait of Egypt,” taught by Dr. John Pennington, 71 members of the Augustana Band boxed up their instruments, packed their suitcases and, along with 20 staff members and friends, boarded planes bound for Cairo to embark on a five-concert, 20-day tour of Egypt.

Students dubbed it as “the trip of a lifetime” even before they left.

Features in the Winter Issue:

It was, indeed.

During the group’s final week in Egypt, the first in an unprecedented series of anti-government protests broke out in Cairo, making our students’ return trip home a challenge to orchestrate. In the end, despite flight cancellations, Internet outages and uncertain cell phone signals, we collaborated with teams here in the U.S. and in Egypt to bring our group home. We praise God for the many blessings that made this possible, and can now breathe easier as a community.

The entire experience caused me to think a great deal about the idea of venturing away from home.

Home, as we know, is a place of love, warmth, security and peace. It’s where we can relax in the company of those we care about, let our guard down and be comfortable. Home is predictable, reliable and always there for us.

But, what would home be if we never left – never accepted the possibility of venturing into the unknown?

Consultant and author Tom Veblen explores the idea of trading the comforts of home for the unfamiliar in a force he labels Going Viking. To Veblen, Going Viking means much more than getting “into a long wooden boat with your sword and [your] friends and sailing out in search of trade and plunder.” He describes Going Viking as “to be venturesome, [to] explore, discover … to pursue hard, bold … or important undertakings.”

Here at Augustana, we work every day to instill in our students a responsibility to pursue hard, bold and important undertakings. Their accountability for making the world a better place is one of the most powerful lessons we hope our graduates will take away from their time here.

After her experiences in Egypt, I’m certain it’s a lesson senior Rachel Hurley, a member of the Augustana Band, will now live and breathe every day.
Hurley, along with other students, recently gathered at Augustana’s Chapel of Reconciliation to pray for the people of Egypt. Of our God, they asked:

“God of compassion, thank you for blessing us with the opportunity to see firsthand the love that the Egyptian people have for one another, regardless of religion. Guide them as they continue to break through these barriers and work towards a common goal of civil rights and freedoms. May their continued hope and acceptance of one another be an example to the whole world as many peoples search for peace and freedom.”

At Augustana, we often say that in order to learn about the world, you have to see it, breathe it, taste it and experience it. At the same time, in order to really understand how truly special home is, we need to leave it.

And so, we encourage our students to Go Viking – to take the risk to go, explore, discover, and learn about foreign places, different cultures, other peoples, and to take the time to hear and know their stories.

As we see in the growing numbers of students who express an interest in studying abroad, today’s young men and women are up for the challenge. They understand that in order to compete in a global economy, they must experience different parts of the globe firsthand. So, they muster the courage to go; they make new friends; discover new foods, new songs and new traditions. And, they grow in ways never imagined. They look forward to sharing their new understandings with those back home. And, they approach life with new perspectives, less fearful of the horizon.

Throughout this issue, you’ll read about Augustana students and alumni who have Gone Viking, including Monique Schmidt, class of 1998, who is teaching young women life skills at the Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda; and senior Maren Peterson who, in her four years at Augustana, has already studied in five countries and eventually hopes to work on economic development initiatives in a country like Thailand.

As we celebrate our Sesquicentennial, we continue to focus on doing all we can to ensure that our students receive the global perspective they need in order to make a difference in the world we all call home.

Yours, for Augustana,
Rob Oliver
President of the College


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View the Autumn 2010 issue of The Augustana