Archive for January 2016

Star Wars + MacBeth = Awesome at Alma College

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Spoiler alert: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is awesome. So awesome it’s made almost $1 Billion and almost made the world forget about Jar Jar Binks.

It’s got everything. A great story. Epic battles. Ambition and betrayal. And cool sword fights.

You know what else has that stuff? Shakespeare.

Spurred by the popularity of the movie franchise, Alma College on Feb. 6 is hosting “MacSith.”

No joke. It’s a marriage of Macbeth and Star Wars, complete with light sabers and Jedi robes. It stays true to the spirit of the original Shakespeare play, but reimagined a long, long time in a galaxy far, far away.

“Geeks love ‘Star Wars,’ and Shakespeare is universal,” says Mike Sheldon, production coordinator and instructor of theatre and dance at Alma.

“The Shakespeare-‘Star Wars’ integration works great.”

The show has run in Chicago for two years and has been performed at Comic-Con, the annual pop culture extravaganza in San Diego.

Tickets are $10 for adults and free for Alma students.

It’s unconventional, but it’s a nifty way to make Shakespeare more accessible to younger audiences and highlight that good stories — no matter if they’re set in space or Scotland — have time-honored messages and lessons that apply to everyone.

That’s because different approaches are cherished and cultivated at Alma College and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools encourage students to try new things, look at the world differently and chart their own path. They prefer community to crowds that just doesn’t exist at big state schools

With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Hope College Ranks High in Study Abroad Participation

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College is best when you’re both thrilled and a little scared. When you’re soaking in so much new experiences, pushing limits and challenging everything you thought you knew.

It’s a sensation that can come in classroom lectures during eureka moments. And it’s one that happens regularly during study abroad semesters, when classroom teachings are put into action and new paths are forged.

Few colleges give students more of an opportunity to explore the world — and themselves — than Hope College. The Michigan college recently was named in the top 40 nationwide for the number of students who studied abroad during the 2013-2014 school year, according to a report from the Institute of International Education.

What’s impressive is Hope ranked alongside much bigger schools, some of which have 10 times the enrollment as the 3,300 for Hope.

That speaks to the college’s commitment to allowing students to see the world.

“At Hope we recognize the value of study abroad as a fundamental part of an education, especially as we emphasize preparing students for lives of leadership and service in a global society,” said Amy Otis-DeGrau, director of international education at Hope.

“Off-campus study, and study abroad in particular, is an important way of providing students with an opportunity to engage with another culture and society, and to learn something about who they are as Americans,”

Hope students have access to more than 200 off-campus study programs in every continent except Antarctica. The studies study for a semester or a year at more than 60 countries, from Bolivia to Uganda.

“Studying abroad was the more valuable experience of my college career,” said Daniel Schriemer, a 2013 Hope graduate.

“During my time in the Dominican Republic, I encountered an unfamiliar place, culture, and people. But my new experiences also helped me gain a new perspective on myself. I came home with an elevated sense of confidence in my abilities, a broadened worldview, and a greater understanding of my place in the world.”

Studying abroad. Finding yourself. Charting a unique path. That’s what we do at Hope College and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools pride themselves on being different than big state universities, cherishing community over crowd and experiences over enrollment.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Calvin College Brings Together Thinkers on World’s Top Issues for Unique Event

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Think of it as a Lollapalooza of the Mind. Or a two-week TEDx.

Calvin College calls it the January Series and for 29 years, it’s brought some of the world’s most critical thinkers to the Grand Rapids school.

For 15 days, starting this week, international experts will come to the college to discuss ideas big and small, topics that shape the world, from global health and autism to foreign affairs and cyber security. Speakers include New York Times columnist David Brooks, counterintelligence expert Eric O’Beill and Bethany Williams, a psychologist who specializes in healing children traumatized by war.

“At Calvin, we teach students to think deeply, to live wholeheartedly and to live into justice. That’s exactly what we do through the January Series, too,” says Kristi Potter, director of the January Series.

“As we listen to the wide range of speakers each year we are challenged to wonder and think courageously and sometimes that also means we are stretched in new ways.”

The free speeches are held every weekday at 12:30 p.m. on campus until Jan. 29. And they’re webcast and shown on large screens in 45 libraries, schools and churches throughout the United States, Canada and Lithuania.

Last year, they reached some 40,000 people, and its reach is expected to grow again as the award-winning event continues to evolve and add more diverse speakers.

This year, for instance, Calvin’s auditorium will be converted into a giant harp by William Close. He’s a finalist for “America’s Got Talent,” who plans to extend strings to the back of the auditorium — over the heads of the audience — when he performs Jan. 19.

It’s an unusual performance for an extraordinary event — one that combines passion, a thirst for knowledge, love of community and commitment to improve the world.

That exuberance typifies everything done at Calvin and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. All pride themselves in being purposefully different than big state schools.

They emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that is truly unique. Their world-renowned faculty forge tight bonds with students, helping them maximize potential and chart their own paths.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.