AGILE project kick-off

Lauren Kleyer-Staff Writer

“She took her baby out into the woods, and she just left it,” said Arlene Schuiteman, 35 year mission veteran.

A pin drop could have been heard at that moment in the BJ Haan Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 10; the beginning of the AGILE project (Approaching Global issues through Interdisciplinary Learning Experiences).

This year, Dordt College will be involved in another campus-wide interdisciplinary project which will look at the infant mortality rate around the world.

The panel for the discussion was made up of Mark Volkers, digital media professor; Deborah Tyokighir, a junior biology major; Chris Bylsma, a senior agriculture missions major; Gail Dirksen, a recent Dordt grad who is now working as a teacher; and Arlene Schuiteman. The panel was chosen based on their first-hand experiences with child mortality.

“I was very encouraged by the panel discussion. I thought the panelists were ‘real’ with the students, which is what I had hoped for,” said Nathan Tintle, lead implementer of the project.

“I am really excited to see students learn something that will not only benefit themselves but many others too. I hope that this project will actually be put into action and lives will be saved from any efforts that we do,” said Bylsma.

Dordt faculty has high hopes for the project, as well.

“I hope to see students excited about global opportunities for engagement and transformation.  I hope it isn’t just a project but a conviction and maybe even for some, a passion,” said Aaron Baart, dean of chapel and one of the many faculty involved in this year’s project.

“Personally, I think this year’s project seems more interesting than the water project last year…I thought having the panel discussion to kick off the event was a good way to get acquainted with the topic,” said Lindsey Floen, a senior business admin: market/finance major ­and participant in the project.

Students will get the opportunity to break into smaller groups and try to solve this global issue. According to Tintle, there will be about 300 students involved in the project this year.

“I love the idea of a community-wide, interdisciplinary project. Especially as a senior, I feel like I only ever work with people in my major,” said Gina Van Lingen, a senior elementary education major and participant in the project.

This year, the project will also be connected to the AMOR mission trips over Christmas break. Students will have the opportunity to travel to the very places that they discuss in their small groups, which will help them to see the difference they’re making from a first-hand perspective.

“The main goals of the AGILE project are to help students appreciate the role we all play in complex global issues, as a personal and corporate Christian calling that can be lived out in a variety of ways….we wish for students to transcend course and disciplinary boundaries to view the issues our world faces as needing interdisciplinary responses,” said Tintle.

“I think it’s really neat that as a campus wide initiative we’re focusing on a topic of such great importance. If anybody can make a difference, its Dordt people,” said Volkers.

The hope is that students will keep open minds about this project and the effect that they can have. Schuiteman gave this advice to students: “Trust in the Lord, because sometimes God has other plans.”

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