Archive for August, 2011

Honors student, Wesley Racca, spends part of summer on mission trip in Kazembe, Zambia

by   |  08.29.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

This summer I was given the opportunity to go on a mission project to help an Orphanage in Kazembe, Zambia. The mission project was made available through my home church, Grace Christian Fellowship, in Odessa, Texas. Grace Christian organized the trip and the mission team. The mission project was also made possible through many generous supporters, such as the Honors College of ACU.  This mission trip was meaningful to me as I was able to see the rewards of my labor and develop many new relationships.

This mission trip had many different purposes; however, all of these were for the glory of God and to further His Kingdom. For starters, we went to the orphanage to rebuild and renovate some problem areas in the orphanage. For example, half of the external fence needed to be rebuilt for protection from thieves and wild animals, and to keep the children from wandering off into the bush. While we were there we made some significant progress to the completion of this fence. We also rewired the electrical boxes, fuses, wiring, and security lights all around the property for the comfort and protection of the orphanage and the missionary family. Secondly, a part of our team was responsible for leading a Vacation Bible school for the children from the local churches. For three days we held services twice a day in order to teach the love of Christ and bible stories to as many local children as we could. Thirdly, the team was able to hold a two-day school for the local ministers. During those two days, our primary focus was to teach them how to live differently and stand out as Christians in the world. They were very open to our teaching and listened well to our advice. Finally, the team and I, as representatives of the church, were to see the work that our sent missionary, Thomas Morrow, has been doing in the lives of orphans and the community of Kazembe.

While I was in Kazembe, I developed many strong bonds with several of the workers, the orphans, the villagers, and the Morrow family. One worker in particular, Amerie, became a good friend of mine. Amerie could not speak much English, but I was able to communicate with him through the small amount of French I learned in high school.  Amerie was my right hand man through all of the work we did on the fence and my main interpreter to the culture of the people.

Between the relationships that I built and the much needed work that exists in the country, I realized that I was happy to be there and doing the mission work that I did. Because of this I feel a strong desire to go back and see my friends again—to work some more in the community of Kazembe.

Ryan Threadgill in Edinburgh, Scotland

by   |  08.29.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

As the bus pulled away from Victoria Coach Station in London, I kept reassuring myself that Edinburgh wouldn’t be too bad by myself. You see the girls who I was traveling with weren’t on the bus with me. They had all gone to see the play “Wicked,” while I had chosen to roam the British Museum instead of springing for pricey play tickets. We had agreed to meet at Victoria Coach station before our 11 P.M. overnight bus left for Edinburgh. But when they hadn’t arrived by 10:40 pm, I made the decision to board alone. I had to assume they’d make it; after all, they were all upper classmen, older than me.  Surely they wouldn’t miss the bus and abandon me to see Scotland alone. During those first six hours on that bus I worried more than I think I did the rest of the month. Much to my relief, one of the girls found me at the second stop of the trip to inform me that they had all made it on another bus.

We all arrived safely in Edinburgh at 8 A.M. Saturday morning. Although tired from the bus ride, we were definitely ready to see the city. Our first stop was Edinburgh Castle, which wasn’t hard to find. The fact that the Castle sits in the middle of the city, on a mountain, certainly contributed to our ease in finding it. It was well worth the price of admission, if only for the view of the city and bay. Add in a free tour, living history experiences, and the crown jewels of Scotland, and you have a fun filled, relatively cheap day. After we left the castle, we wandered around Edinburgh for what was left of the afternoon. We didn’t stay out too late that Saturday night, because after the long trip on the bus the night before, we were all pretty tired.

The next day, after attending church at one of the cities oldest cathedrals, I hiked in the hills near the middle of the city while the girls went shopping in some of Edinburgh’s many stores. It’s too bad we don’t have green spaces like the Scot’s enjoy in Abilene, of course that would require hills. The spectacular view from the top of the hills was one of the reasons my trip to Edinburgh was my favorite part of the United Kingdom. I could see the bay blending into the North Sea, as well as the entirety of the City of Edinburgh. That view was the best view I had on my entire trip.

I had to tear myself away from the view in order to meet the girls in the city center so we could travel—worry free this time, and together– back to Oxford Although it was another long night on a bus, at least I was traveling with people I knew. Our adventure didn’t end at the London bus station. We had class at 8:30 that morning, and only an hour and a half to make it back to Oxford. We hurriedly bought our train tickets, as well as our tube passes, and ran through several train stations in order to catch the 7:20 train to Oxford. Once we made it to Oxford, we caught a taxi back to the house and walked in five minutes before class was due to start. It was a weekend in Scotland that I will remember for many years to come.


Red Thread Movement wraps up summer music festival tour. By Samantha Sutherland

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

The last leg of my journey ends this week in Dallas. It’s bittersweet seeing the summer tour end, but it’s also kind of nice to kick off my actual summer break.


Our last big festival was Sonshine in Minnesota. It was almost like walking into a family reunion when we unloaded our stuff into the merch building. We’ve been with some of the vendors there from the beginning and ended up being neighbors with our good friends in Rock For Life who definitely helped us get through the week. They also made us some Red Thread buttons to sell, and we had fun during our off hours making dozens of pointless buttons with our friends’ faces on them from the festival program and distributing them.


There were a handful of supporting bands there including some new members, Love Out Loud that we are glad to have on the team, they’re definitely full of energy and I love the enthusiasm they bring.


I started out Friday morning talking with one of the other vendors who told me she had hardly slept at all the night before because she was feeling very spiritually attacked and she felt the need to read Romans 10 which talks about salvation. God had put it on her heart to talk to someone specifically but she hadn’t seen them yet that morning.


A couple hours later, she stopped by our booth with a huge smile. The person had come up to her looking really confused and said that she wasn’t sure what had just happened but she thought that she now believed in God! My friend was then able to sit and mentor her for a while. It was incredible to witness and I left the conversation feeling very inspired.


Later in the day, something else happened that was a huge blessing. I received a message from another friend in the Movement who had read  my Warped Tour blog post and had some much-needed feedback for me. He said, regarding secular festivals vs Christian ones, “What you’ve done, by taking RTM to guys wearing f*** t-shirts and to girls who are confused about the sacred nature of their sexuality is –IMHO- infinitely, infinitely, infinitely more evangelical and –dare I say it- apostolic than speaking to people of like mind. Please continue to do BOTH.”


His words were so true, and I knew it the moment I read them because God had been speaking the same thing to my heart. I’d had this strange longing to return to the tour, and I’m thankful we got another chance.


Our good friends in Flatfoot 56 played that night. You will never see a more bizarre or beautiful display of Christian  love and fellowship than in the circle pit at a Flatfoot concert. Watching those kids going out of their way to take care of each other, barricading a fallen person to give them a chance to get up without being trampled, inventing new moves together, risking their lives to retrieve someone else’s shoe, making a human cage around the woman with a baby stroller who somehow got stuck in the middle of the pit, etc. brought a huge smile to my face.


The last few hours of Sonshine absolutely blew me away. It had already been a week full of displays of genuine Christ-like love, but God threw one unexpected twist after another at me as we finished off those last hours. I knew, by then, that this was our last big festival of the summer and that we still had some goals we hadn’t met. I had hoped to raise $900 for Bibles and we were still a couple hundred short. However, that night, we saw a flood of donations. One guy dropped a $100 bill into the donation bucket and several more kids dropped in $20s! Another couple donated $80 for the girls. Still, we exceeded our goal for the Bibles! Praise God! We also had a guy come up and buy 40 stickers (to make a poster Ha ha) and a woman came and bought 10 bracelets and returned half an hour later to buy 20 more to hand out to people she knows! Lots of kids were returning to buy several more for their friends and family back home. Around 5:00 pm, vendors were already leaving, complaining that it was a slow day, but we stayed up until 11 pm, when they were picking up the tables around us, and we were still making last-minute sales even after our merch was loaded! We ended up selling out of bags and all of our shirts except for a few larges!


I feel like the last night only reaffirmed our need to go to Warped, even if it was financially a poor choice. We might not be bringing in as much money as other non-profits and we do get excited about some pretty small success, but we are taking care of the flock, however small, that God has entrusted to us and that will keep me going every day.


Also, I’ve come to see just how incredible the people that support us are. Our supporting bands help because their hearts are in it, I’ve seen it over and over with them. They aren’t doing it because it makes them look good, but because they have a genuine desire to use their voices and influence for good. Several have made the observation that sometimes it seems like they sell more bracelets than their own merch and, when I tell them to stop selling bracelets for a while, they absolutely refuse. They collectively display so much humility, even though they are in the spotlight, and I feel blessed to know them and to be able to work alongside them. I don’t care how demanding my job can be, I will always feel like I am blessed more than I could possibly deserve because I have the honor of working with some of the most inspirational people I have ever met.


Our last run on Warped was exhausting but fulfilling. Any opportunity to bless those kids proves to be worth it and we had some good reception there as well. One guy in To Say The Least came to learn more and ended up sporting a bracelet, he also felt the need to fist pump every time he passed the booth which I welcomed warmly. I was also pretty pumped to get some free drum lessons from the nice fellas working a booth next to us. One of them was the brother of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers so I suppose he knew what he was doing?


We finished up in Cleveland and killed a couple of days in Akron before heading to Columbus. A wonderful church there brought us in for a benefit concert that one of our supporting members, Megan Cameron, had organized. Her family was incredibly hospitable and we had a lot of fun with them. The concert brought in just over $600 for Red Thread and we were able to speak in front of a different audience than I was used to addressing. They were quite sophisticated, which caught me off guard after months of rock shows.


My last event, X-Fest, is Saturday, I just hopped on board for it last week. I’m flying solo on this one but will have a lot of supporting bands there to help me out so it should go pretty smoothly!


Follow Jess Weeden as she competes in the Deaf Olympic swim meet in Portugal this summer

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

Joseph Austin in Isreal (post #3)

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

I woke up bright and early at 4:00 in the morning and headed to the airport for check in.  Everything went well and we took about a 3 hour flight to Newark, New Jersey.  The ride was smooth and we had about an hour layover and then boarded a plane and took a 10.5 hour plane ride.  The ride was 10.5 and the time difference was 7 so we lost about 18 hours there.  We arrived at Tel Aviv at around 9:30 in the morning.  I didn’t get too much sleep on either plane and was close to feeling like a zombie in dire need of some sleep.


Day 1

Mount Carmel


I was shocked when I got to the airport in Tel Aviv.  It was dead, quiet, not much going on.  We also got there on a Saturday, which is the Sabbath in Israel.  The culture is just quiet, people going about their life not making eye contact unless people had to.  From the airport we left and took a scenic drive up the Mediterranean coast to Mount Carmel for a view of Northern Israel.  Mount Carmel is referenced several times as being praised for its beauty as in Isaiah 35:2, “To be given the ‘splendor of Carmel” was to be blessed indeed” & in Song of Solomon 7:5.  From here we had a beautiful view of Northern Israel.  I was very tired from the traveling and jet lag, so I wasn’t all there.

One thing you appreciate while there is all the valleys and hills.  It’s interesting to think back at exactly how far Jesus, and others had to walk to get to place to place.  Mount Carmel was also very important because of the International Highway (also called the Via Maris) that passes through.  On this location you are higher than anything near, and could/would have had an easy advantage of seeing any one come to you.

The top of Mount Carmel may have been where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 as well.

Caesarea Maritime

            Our next stop was in Caesarea for the day.   Caesarea was an ancient city that was on the coast of the Mediterranean.  Here is where Herod the Great built an amazing port that went out towards the sea.  There is also an amazing aqueduct that is built so well, people have trouble figuring out how he did it to this day.  The port is about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem and was built by Herod the Great in 22 B.C.  Paul was also believe to have been imprisoned here and can be found in Acts chapter 10.  The port was huge, and protected the city from the waves of the sea and nearly 300 ships could stay at a time.  There was also a track where horses raced for the entertainment of the people.  I walked the ruins, and looked into the stands wandering what it would have been to live in that time period.  Yet, today we still watch things for entertainment just like horse racing.

The view is spectacular with the waves crashing to the shore.  Of course the city was taken over, and destroyed several times, but columns are still left from ancient times and give the place a great sense of history.

There is also ruins of a amphitheater in Caesare.  I was surprised to see that a modern day stage and chairs set up for possbilly a church service or a some sort of concert.  Overall once again it was amazing to learn the history of where former kings ruled


            I have struggled being able to eat over in Israel and I really miss fountain drinks.  In Israel you get water unless you pay 10 shekels for a bottled Coca Cola, no refills.  The food  is very healthy and not fried so I’m struggling to say the least.  I do enjoy the pita bread and hummus.  There were also lots of vegetables and fruit that I’m unfamiliar with.  When we do get meat it is welcomed!


Jace Reinhard participates in Abilene Shakespeare Festival

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

This June I was given an opportunity to join an incredibly talented cast in the role of Count Claudio in the Abilene Shakespeare Festival’s production of Much Ado About Nothing. Our director for the show, Adam Hester, developed a new twist on this classic comedy by incorporating hit songs from the 1960’s and shifting the setting from a large estate in the port city of Messina in 17thcentury Sicily to a businessman’s yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean in 1965. This shift posed a significant challenge for my fellow actors and me (as well as our designers and other production staff) to maintain the integrity of the story as we performed it in such a drastically different style. We had to take on as a team the task of flowing smoothly between the classical text of the play and the lyrics of songs like “Respect” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” This undertaking helped me to grow not only as an actor, but also as a student of Shakespeare’s era.

The juxtaposition of such divergent sources of material affected nearly all the acting choices I made for my character. For instance, I had to decide how the Claudio I portrayed in this production would move. A Florentine soldier on leave at the turn of the 17th century would carry himself in a vastly different manner than one in 1965. In addition, the time change called for renewed examination of Claudio’s relationships with the other characters in the piece. As a result, my interpretation of the character had a much more casual demeanor than one would see in a traditional staging. This was especially apparent in my interactions with Hero, Claudio’s love interest, and Don Pedro, his commanding officer.

Despite these character adjustments, I took care not to entirely abandon the classical nature of the piece in my performance. My physical actions had to harmonize not just with 60’s lyrics, but also with the heightened elocution of the Shakespearean language that came out of my mouth. Dr. Stephenson and I had discussed on numerous occasions how I could use certain words and rhythmic patterns in the verse both to honor the richness of the text and to communicate the story more efficiently. Therefore, I worked to retain this aspect in my rendition while remaining true to the new setting. This blend worked quite well in the end. The light-hearted and lyrical nature of the original play lent itself well to Adam’s musical adaptation, and the show was received beautifully.

Gabby Brown shadows OB/GYN

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements, Uncategorized

Through my experience of seeing several different OB/GYN’s and their practices, I realized the innate humanity of the doctors. It may sound strange, but I realized that the OB/GYN’s are people. They each have their own personality quirks and their own idiosyncrasies, even though they practice the same branch of medicine. Don’t think that the miracle of birth, or the business of the office were not interesting and exciting, but my extended time shadowing this branch of medicine allowed me to look beyond the facade of MD, and into the life of a doctor. I believe that this was important for me to see. Because I witnessed the personalities and lives of the Doctors themselves, I have a more through understanding of what it means to be an OB/GYN, to be the doctor that ministers to women in their most personal of moments. I saw the knowledge required to minister in the office, and the skill needed to work in surgery. I saw beyond what a student shadowing a doctor would see and into what the doctor themselves might see, though I lack a few years of schooling. All in all, I think that my decision to shadow extensively this summer was a good decision before I apply to medical school and begin the journey I believe that God set out in front of me.

Ana Rodriguez spends summer in Italy

by   |  08.15.11  |  Uncategorized

It has now been ten weeks that I have been immersed in a new culture. While working for ACLE, I have had the wonderful opportunity of being able to be a part of hundred of children’s lives. By teaching English to Italian children, having to travel by myself across the country, and staying with host families, I have never before felt so humbled, happy, and challenged all at once. 

Beginning on May 29th, I had to complete a one week orientation in San Remo where I learned the basics of teaching simple grammar skills with energetic games and skills that would make teaching enjoyable. In the Italian scholastic system, children begin to take English classes in elementary school. They learn the ins and outs of all the grammar skill throughout the nine years of school. However, they rarely spend more than one hour a week practicing auditory and speaking skills. Another problem with the Italian scholastic system is that they have no budget for the arts and literally spend most of their day locked up in a classroom with little hands-on activity. When the children arrive to us, they are expecting the same type of summer camp they would normally expect to go to: more school. Italians have not grown up with the summer camp culture that Americans have, and when they get to experience native English speakers and be forced to practice their English they have a lot of fun. They also get to play academic games and be in competitions, as well as performing in a final show at the end of the camp. They get to dress up in costumes, memorize and perform an English show to their parents. Overall, these nine weeks have been grueling in terms of teaching English. As a tutor, we have to show up at 8:30 in the morning and be with the kids all day until 5:30 in the afternoon. I had the opportunity of working in Giampiliari, Messina, Catanzaro Lido, and Soverato. Each camp taught me new things about myself and the Italian culture.

There are many stereotypes I came into Italy having. I thought that being here would tear away the stereotypes I had, but being here has just reinforced my love for these stereotypes. For example; Italians wait at least one hour before swimming after eating, they do not walk in the house (or anywhere) without shoes, they have melodramatic hand gestures, and a three hour multi-course meal is the main night family activity. There are some more things I also came out learning. They really do say ‘Mama Mia!’, they love eating french fries with their pizza, and wine really does compliment every meal. Italians are obsessed with their sports, and families (especially in the South) really do completely out of their way to accommodate their guests. Personally, I know I will come home saying “bo” which is a typical sound that Italians say when they mean “I don’t know”. I will probably insult Americans with my over dramatic hand gestures that I have grown so accustomed to doing. I have genuinely fallen in love with the Italian culture. I know my host families make me eat their amount of food, plus another two or three portions, and still tell me I haven’t eaten enough. “Mangia Mangia”! “Moko Moko”! I am thankful I ran around chasing kids everywhere because if not I would be 5 kilos heavier.

In terms of the language barrier, I was fortunate enough to know Spanish which really helped me pick up on the Italian language quite quickly. I know the first week I was here I was not able to order at a fast food restaurant, and now I am the main translator for my friends and fellow tutors. At first, I was able to understand more than I spoke. However it is true when people say that when it is necessary to learn a language you pick it up fairly quickly. Because I got placed in the South of Italy for all of my camps, six weeks of my time here was spent in an environment where barely anyone knew English except for my camp directors and tutors. My host families knew enough to stay a few phrases but that was about it. To a lot of people this might seem like a nightmare, but you will be shocked at what determination and pantomiming can accomplish. I can have a fairly decent conversation with someone and understand almost everything that is said when in the appropriate context. I hope to hopefully learn how to speak Italian as my third language. Apparently this language has more grammar tricks than English, but I am excited for the challenge.


Overall, I have learned quite a bit. There is an enormous power in understanding distinctive types of languages and families. It is also so interesting to learn the different and unique ideas and philosophies they have about life. It is amazing realizing the influence we have to transform lives and make learning fun. It is so easy and fun to meet new people if you take the opportunity to melt into a new culture. There is a huge importance in getting to know more than your bubble and what you are accustomed to. Getting out of your comfort zone truly is rewarding. I am grateful and happy for every moment spent in Italy this summer. The most important lesson I learned was that genuine happiness is always found in the company of good people, good food, fun places, and even better memories. There is a common Calabrese dialect phrase that I learned that translates into “eat the world”. It basically means that it doesn’t matter if you are in Italy or Abilene, happiness is all in taking advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn.

A Summer of Science Writing by Christianna Lewis

by   |  08.04.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

Every journalist should get to interview a chatty British lady. It’s just a complete joy to listen to British accents, and English phrases make for wonderfully quirky quotes. This and many other pleasures have made this summer in New Hampshire an unforgettable time in my life.

I’m over halfway done with my two-month summer internship at Dartmouth Medicine magazine, and have only finished two articles so far. In the newspaper world, which I am far more familiar with than the magazine world, this would be totally unacceptable.  But these articles are based on research published by the Dartmouth staff. Much more data must be sifted through, the researchers take longer to get a hold of, and at least drafts of the article are passed around four people before it can be approved.

But I have loved every step of the process. I love reading the research publications and seeing all their graphs and data. I love talking to the scientists and learning how their research question came up, or how they thought of a new solution to an old problem. And I love telling their stories, crystallizing their discoveries and conclusions for general audiences to understand and enjoy.

Today I began to write my most daunting assignment – a 1500 profile of the new chair of the Department of Pathology. The work is not as hard as it sounds, because the chair happens to be the talkative British woman I so loved to listen to. It turns out that she is someone that I would absolutely read a 1500 article to learn about, so I hope I can entice readers to do the same. This will be the longest news article I have written in my very short career as a journalist, so I did five additional interviews, just in case. My editor almost rolled her eyes when she heard that.

In the afternoons I get to walk along the Connecticut River, enjoying the evergreens and the midsummer blossoms. The weather here is wonderful, temperatures peaking in the mid 80s on most days. This weekend it’s going to get into the 90s, and the state sent out a weather heat alert. I’m already getting excited to head back to Texas next month, but I don’t mind spending another four weeks here. Anyway, I still have a lot more British quotes to squeeze into my article.

Nate Hurley’s summer internship in computational chemistry at the University of Vienna

by   |  08.04.11  |  Honors Student Achievements, Uncategorized

This summer I have an internship in theoretical and computational chemistry at the University of Vienna through a program called Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE).  Every summer the PIRE program takes place in either Pisa, Italy; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; or Vienna, Austria.  For the program, undergrads work with PhD students on various theoretical and computational chemical projects.  I am working with another undergrad from the University of New Mexico and a PhD student from Yale University.  We are using classical mechanics to model a simple reaction, the reaction of a hydrogen atom with a hydrogen molecule (H + H2 → H2 + H).  Classical mechanics is much less computationally intensive than quantum mechanics, allowing the properties of larger reactions to be calculated faster than is possible with quantum mechanics alone.  However, classical mechanics is inadequate for completely describing this system as some quantum effects interfere.  One of those effects is tunneling: a reaction can occur even when there is insufficient kinetic energy for the reaction to occur classically.  Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to create a quasiclassical means of including tunneling in calculations without having to do an exact quantum calculation.

Most of the work accomplished so far this summer has been done to replicate the most accurate quasiclassical calculations that have been previously.  In order to do a quasiclassical calculation of the reaction, the three atoms involved are placed along a collinear energy surface that is a function of the two internal coordinates (the distance between the first atom and the second atom and the distance between the second atom and the third atom).  Two graphs of the energy surface are shown.  For some initial kinetic energy of the impacting atom, the initial position of the impacting atom is varied randomly within a range that corresponds to a complete vibration of the reactant molecule.  Then, multiple reaction trajectories are run and the percentage of successful reactions for the given energy is noted.  Classically, no reaction can occur unless the impacting particle has enough energy to reach the saddle point, the highest point along the reaction trajectory on the energy surface.  A graph of a successful trajectory is shown.

The eventual goal of this project is to utilize a concept called Ring Polymer Molecular Dynamics (RPMD) to include tunneling.  Each particle can be represented by a number of beads in a ring of harmonic springs.  In the limit of an infinite number of beads, these systems are equivalent to an exact quantum calculation.  Although the center of mass of the beads may never be above the energy barrier, different beads may at different times pass over the barrier.  Further work will see whether this method can approximate the exact quantum results with a computationally reasonable number of beads.