Spring At Erskine

Spring has arrived here at Erskine! The weather is delightfully balmy, the pollen is driving numerous students into untimely sneezing fits, and the verdure of the outdoors irresistibly invites us to study in the beauty of the outdoors. On a typical spring day, it is common to see Erskine’s lawns, picnic tables, and swings sprinkled with students who, if they are anything like me, are basking in the warm weather and struggling with a somewhat contagious case of spring fever. Such a longing to abandon our textbooks in order to lie in the sun or read for fun must not yet be indulged, however, since exams will be upon us in exactly one week.

One defining characteristic of this spring season at Erskine, at least in my experience, is the deluge of candlelights which begins to shower down at about this time. “Whatever is a candlelight?” you may ask. At the risk of implying that Erskine is primarily an MRS-degree institution (which characterization would be terribly lacking), I will explain. The uniquely-Erskine tradition of the candlelight is the way students who get engaged during their time at Erskine announce the exciting news.

The night before the candlelight, one or two friends of the soon-to-be-bride (who are privy to the secret) hang posters inviting Friends carrying Christina to the fountainall Erskine ladies to the event. At the appointed hour (usually between eight and ten o’clock), a throng of girls forms a circle in front of Bonner, one of the women’s dorms on campus. We then sing a lilting, delicate tune that sounds somewhat like a lullaby and begins with the words, “Tell me why the ivy twines… tell me why the stars do shine.” (I realize this may sound cult-ish…but after all, it’s tradition. And it’s really quite fun!) A lighted candle is simultaneously passed around the circle, and when said candle gets to the engaged girl, she blows it out and is summarily doused with water. *Note to any Erskine males con
sidering engagement: try not to propose in the dead of winter.* The beaming gal then tells the entire circle the story of the proposal, and when she finishes, a crowd of squealing friends (we’re girls, all right?) rush in to carry her to the fountain in the middle of the grassy area known as “the circle” and “throw” her in. Pictures and best wishes ensue…and, well, there you have it. Spring at Erskine is usually accompanied by candlelights. How many college students can say that?

College means trying new things

Although Erskine is a small college, don’t let anyone fool you – there is plenty to do here and students are extremely involved.  In fact, the longer you are here the more careful you have to be to not get over-committed, because there are so many activities and organizations to participate in.  However, college is so much more than just schoolwork, and extracurricular activities are a great opportunity to get to know people, have fun, and try new things.

Something that I have recently become involved in that I never saw myself doing is writing for the school newspaper.  One of my friends is heading up the revamped Mirror, our college publication, that is going to be starting soon in an online version.  A couple of months ago she told me her ideas for the newspaper, and we discussed exciting columns and interesting stories that she could include.  I told her that I might be interested in contributing a small column, or helping with a little editing, but that I wasn’t sure I had the time or the talent to do more than that.

A few weeks later, after a staff meeting for interested students that I was unable to attend, I received an e-mail with two article assignments.  Oh no!  I panicked for a minute, swearing that I never volunteered (which I sort of did), and thinking that there was no way I could write for the paper.  However, after reading the assignments and actually thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided to be daring and accept them.  Why not?

Of course, being a college student, I procrastinated until the week before the deadline to start these articles.  Finally, I decided to at least start them, since this was going to be a new experience for me.  The first was fairly easy – a quick, fun article that I finished without much trouble.  The second was more involved, and required some interviewing and good writing – an Op Ed piece.  Oh, dear.  So, I struggled for a couple of days to get a good concept of what I wanted to write, because, well, I had never done this before and I wanted it to be decent.  Finally, I sat down, collected my thoughts, and started seriously writing. . . and an article was finished about an hour and a half later that was not half bad, if I do say so myself.

Sometimes I berate myself for my willingness to be a part of so much on campus, because there are days when it feels like there simply is not enough time to fit everything in.  But then there are times like these when I remember that it is good to try new things, and entirely worth it when the result is something that I am proud of.

(Interested?  You can read it at: http://www.erskinemirror.com/ )

Freedom to Worship

With hands lifted high...we worship our Savior.

With hands lifted high, we worship our Savior.

People of different majors, different countries, different races, different sports, different ministries, all came together to worship our God and Savior about a month ago.

Why am I just now writing about it?

Well, at the time I don’t think I fully appreciated and valued the ability to be able to come together and worship our Lord so freely. Not only do I live in a country where I can express my religious beliefs freely, but I also go to a college that doesn’t shove the Bible down my throat. Instead Erskine encourages me to examine what I believe and freely express my beliefs.

There’s something very powerful about corporate worship. The Bible declares that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He will be. That night we had quite a crowd and the presence of God was definitely heavy.

A lot of times, as a worship leader, I get so caught up in the details of the music and making sure everyone is on the right harmony and the instruments are keeping a steady beat, that I forget the point of it all. None of that is for my glory. None of that is to hear people say well done. None of that is to please mankind. All of that is to bring glory to God. All of that is to hear people say they were touched by the music. All of that is to heal mankind.

Music has the ability to heal a multitude of problems.
I’m a firm believer that music about our Savior goes deeper than secular music.
It literally can go straight to the heart.

So, do yourself a favor and tune your radio to something other than a pop, hip-hop, rap, station. Fill your mind with positive, uplifting, Christan music (not that stuff labeled Christian…but songs that actually talk about our Savior). It’ll lift your spirits and leave you feeling extremely fulfilled.

The importance of randomness

A written on banana diplayed on a painting in the student center. It doesn't get any more random than that!

A written on banana diplayed on a painting in the student center. It doesn't get any more random than that!

Where do you get your ‘kicks” from? I’m not much a jokester, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing the process and product of other’s being humorous. For example, some ways I get a chuckle or two at Erskine are watching YouTube videos and witnessing upside down objects, random display of written on fruit, off-the-wall decorations, etc. What are the consequences of these random actions? Laughter! What in the heck were these people thinking?! There is just something hilarious about a 15 year-old boy singing songs about being a girl, Keenan Cahill, http://youtu.be/GczjMFfbc0Y and playing harmless jokes on friends and seeing random displays of objects. A couple weeks ago in my senior seminar class, we researched and presented on humor. One of my classmates reported on the different types of humor. Them being: put down, bonding, hate-me and laugh at life humor. We took a quiz to see what kind of humor we exhibit. It’s pretty neat, ch
eck it out! http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200607/how-do-you-use-humor

In the midst of studying, hard times, and being a college student, these random acts have given me an enlightening feeling. Life it much too precious and short to waste being serious all the time 😛

Room to Grow

It’s good to be a senior.

Fine, so I’m not a senior yet, but it’s good to be a rising senior, when it means that you get to live in one of the best rooms in the dorm next year.

Last week was the great event of room selection, which is a pretty big deal because, after all, where you will live for the next year is important.  My current roommate and I get along beautifully and will be staying together for the third year, so it’s nice to have that well-established (though Anna and I ended up together through the “asking around” method, after both of our freshman roommates got positions as SLAs for our sophomore year).  We have been in the same room in Robinson Dorm for the past two years, and though we love it, after two years we decided to try for one of the bigger rooms on the front side of the dorm.

Anna and I, accidentally matching that day.

Anna and I in our room.

I had to draw my lottery number early, because we had a play that evening and I had to be there early to get my costume on, so I was extremely excited when I drew the sixth slot for senior room selection!  Anna and I had talked about which rooms we wanted ahead of time, so she signed us up and I had to wait, hoping that one of our top few were open.

Aaaand… we got our first choice, one of the four biggest rooms in the dorm, right across the hall from where we are now!  Needless to say, I am pretty excited about our room next year, and we’ve already started thinking about what changes we might want to make, since we’ll have a good bit more room.  Granted, our current room is not that small, because all of the rooms in Robinson are decently large, but the one next year is a good bit larger.  Although we have fun every year deciding how to arrange the furniture so that it fits well, next year it won’t be so much of a puzzle to make everything fit well.  Ah, the benefits of being a – rising – senior.

SHOWing Off

Do you ever wish that you had one of those talents that you could show off to someone? Well, I do because most of my talents involve weird stuff that no one would probably care about. However, other folks here at Erskine have amazing qualities and creativity and express themselves in magnificent forms of art. I was able to experience the beauty of their talents this past Friday evening as the senior art majors hosted their senior exhibition: Juxtaposed Harmony, in the Bowie Arts Center Gallery.

Art 2

"EYEdentity" by Mary Alex Senn

Seven talented seniors worked diligently throughout their Erskine careers to assemble enough pieces to host this show as their time at college comes to an end. Not only do they take the time create each piece, but also to arrange their pieces to mirror their themes and personalities. Each student focused on a particular theme ranging from “Contrasting Realities” to “A Moment Magnified.” During this two hour opening, each artist was present to watch his work be admired as well as speak to the crowd about his inspirations.

Art 1

Works by Hannah Oates

Viewing the various art pieces hanging in the gallery was a memorable experience as I was able not only to enjoy wonderful works of art, but appreciate them even more by knowing the artists who created them. Many of the pieces contained people or places familiar to the Erskine campus and surrounding community which added a unique element to the show. Overall, I most enjoyed the excitement and happiness on the artists’ faces as they experienced the feelings of pride and accomplishment. Having seen them stress over the past month about preparing for this show, I was relieved for them and admired their final masterpieces!


That’s right. The Erskine House of Pancakes, or rather, the Athenian House of Pancakes took over campus last night. As it has become a late night Erskine tradition, students love to take midnight trips to IHOP in Greenwood to enjoy the warm, tasty feeling of buttermilk pancakes! But why make them drive so far? Following the Jars of Clay concert that was held on campus last night, the Athenian Literary Society held a pancake extravaganza in the student center to raise money and serve the late night hunger needs of the students.

I definitely mastered the art of cooking on a griddle as the place was filled for THREE hours with orders coming left and right. I mean, who can beat THREE pancakes for ONE dollar? The Erskine community showed great support as we were able to bond with our newly inducted sisters. I can tell you, working in a kitchen full of women can tell you a lot about someone’s personality. After the chocolate chips have melted and been re-frozen and then crushed with a hammer while I explode a box of powder all over myself, all reservations go out the window:).

It is such a neat experience to live in a community that supports these unique avenues of fun and adventures because at Erskine, creativity is essential. However, I believe that is part of what makes this place so special and encourages the growth of students on this campus. Erskine is not a place where everything is handed to you. Rather, you must make an effort to seek out and take part in developing what interests you the most. As psychologist and major educational influence Jean Piaget once stated, “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive, and discovers.” Therefore, think, explore, dream, create – be a leader and not a follower!

Living it up on the Coast

What makes a trip unforgettable?? For me it is trying new things and being able to say, “Man, I was blessed to be able to do that!” Spring break OAU trip was just that! We horse crab hunted, performed 7-point pike turns, dodged (dead) jellyfish, chased a drifting kayak, ate fire engulfed tinfoil surprises and spotted a pirate ship at the sea port and lived to tell the stories! Listen up!

Once upon a time, there was a brave group of a dozen Erskine scholars that were wanting an adventurous spring break experience. …Just kidding, just kidding. I won’t go on in story theme because the fun we had doesn’t need to be dressed up by a story!

cobbleThanks to Erskine’s hOAUttest organization, I was able to explore the island of Tybee and the historical town of Savannah. What a neat island! I went sea kayaking for the first time; and it was quite a challenge! When we reached our destination, small Tybee Island, we explored. We found horseshoe crabs, dead beached jelly fish and numerous shells for crafts. We were feeling rather adventurous and tested our kayaking and pike turning skills. I’ll just say that we turned a 3-point turn into a 7…. it was a learning experience.

The camping was another unforgettable component of the trip that brought me back to my childhood.  We made everything over the campfire. My favorite creation was pita pizzas. It was a pita wrap with spaghetti sauce, cheese and pepperoni folding in half, wrapped in tinfoil and literally thrown in the fire! Recipe for deliciousness! We also did the usual camping activities of a campfire pow-wow, put up tents in the dark and watched the elite eight on a projection screen. But otherwise we camped like Tom Hanks and Wilson on Castaway. I told you it was an experience like no other!

rrrWe also got out into civilization and roamed the historic streets of downtown Savannah. Hundreds of years old cobble stone was underneath us and meaningful monuments all around us. What caught my eye was the pirate ship “Rrrrr!” But what a neat and beautiful town. I’d go back!

It was an unforgettable trip with great company, good times and new experiences 🙂

What’s Opera, Doc?

"We saved this youth from certain death!"  My first role - Third Lady, attendant to the Queen of the Night.

"We saved this youth from certain death!" from The Magic Flute - Third Lady, attendant to the Queen of the Night.

Contrary to popular belief, opera is not a stiff, boring, antiquated art form.  In fact, even though it has been around for a few hundred years, opera is still a very entertaining form of music, as the audience found out last weekend here at Erskine.  Through the combined work of about a dozen music students here, a piano accompaniment, and a voice professor’s direction, the music department presented “Mad About Mozart” on Friday and Saturday, highlighting scenes from three of Mozart’s operas: The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and The Marriage of Figaro.

The program was short, not even an hour, but the program featured various ensemble sizes, experience levels, and dramatic styles.  Last year the department performed Dido and Aeneas, a complete hour-long opera, with a full cast of singers and Sinfonia, our orchestral group.  This year we decided to do scenes from larger works to feature more solos and ensembles, because our department is a bit too small to do a full-scale, 3-4 hour long opera.  It worked out well, because it encouraged some less experienced singers to try something that they had never done before, without having to commit to a huge role.

"Die, thou perfidious one - death here we swear thee!" Role two - Zerlina, new bride and pretty angry at Don Giovanni.

"Die, thou perfidious one - death here we swear thee!" from Don Giovanni - Zerlina, new bride and pretty angry at Don Giovanni.

We performed all of the music in the English translation, to make the music more accessible to the audience – most of the audience was probably was inexperienced in attending an opera performance as many of the cast were in performing it!  I especially enjoyed getting to play three different characters, one in each scene; first, I was one of three lady attendants to the queen of the night, then a new bride with a score to settle, and, finally, a flirtatious page boy. . . yep, I played a boy.  The latter is called a “pants role”, which is a role in an opera written specifically for a woman to play a male character, usually a young boy or adolescent.  I have to say, I actually thoroughly enjoyed this role – it was certainly a challenge to master some masculine mannerisms, but I liked the acting challenge.  How often will I ever get to play a boy on stage?

"Love's tender secret, share it with me.  Ladies, I beg you. . ."  And finally, me as a page boy, singing to woo the ladies.

"Love's tender secret, share it with me. Ladies, I beg you. . ." Finally, from The Marriage of Figaro, me as the page boy Cherubino, singing to woo the ladies.

This morning in my lesson my voice teacher – also the professor who directed the opera – and I were already talking about possibilities for the opera workshop next year, so who knows what we will decide?  It’s funny to think, sometimes, that I have ended up singing opera, and so much classical music, because even a few years ago I never would have even thought about doing that sort of music.  I did plenty of musical theater, show choir, and choral singing in high school, but it was not until I got to college and started taking voice lessons that I found out that I have a more “classical” voice; before studying music I also had no idea how much work and training that it takes to sing opera, which I can appreciate now.  I suppose that it just shows, once again, how much college opens up new opportunities and allows you to change and mature, sometimes in ways that you didn’t expect.

Peforming Arts at Erskine

Elizabeth and Aimée in a recent drama productionI had no idea when I decided to come to Erskine how much my appreciation for the fine arts would be cultivated during my time here. Certainly, I knew and appreciated that Erskine is a liberal arts college, and I hope to always be growing to better love the good, the excellent, and the beautiful in life. I didn’t realize, however, what a plethora of incredible musical productions and plays would become suddenly available to me as a college student here at Erskine. Indeed, it seems that almost every other month there is a choral performance, a play, or even an opera of some sort or another, all of which are, without fail, excellent in caliber.

Such opportunities are also available in abundance at other schools, but Erskine, as a small school, is unique in that every production is put on by people I know. This makes all the difference; for, while I would certainly enjoy watching any production put on by fellow students, to be honest, when homework and other responsibilities are looming, I know that I would likely A scene from the 80s musical put on this January forgo many performances were they not given by close friends. But who could possibly pass up the opportunity to see friends’ extraordinary performance in the J-term musical cabaret or the opera workshop? Consequently, I have ended up attending numerous amazing fine arts events during my time here at Erskine and in the process have gained a far greater understanding of and appreciation for
various types of music and drama. Even if music and theater aren’t your passion or forte, learning to take joy in the finer things of life is always worthwhile. And if the performing arts are your passion…well, perhaps you should visit Erskine.