a place to thrive

Sioux Center, IA. Who knew, right? Whether you attended Dordt College, currently attend, or are looking into it as an option, did you ever think that the greatest place where you could grow would be here? I'll be straight up with you; I didn't. It kind of reminds me of the Bible story where Abraham and his nephew, Lot, are looking at the two places they can go. Lot takes the really "cool" land and he goes to the college right next to the beach where he can chillax and sunbathe while studying. And Abraham went to Dordt College. I know, I know, that isn't how the story goes. Please, locals, I mean no disrespect, but cornfields contending with beaches? I'll leave that there. As I look at the actual story, where most people would see a bleak landscape, God saw an opportunity to shape and equip a faithful servant to be the father of many nations. If we read a little more, we also see that things weren't quite as peachy on Lot's end. His wife turned into a pillar of salt for goodness sake! (Must've dated before Tri-state.) As I look retrospectively over the past 3.375 semesters (Yes, I calculated it), I find myself feeling like Abraham. I'm from Boise, Idaho and mountains hold the city captive. Moving from a place filled with outdoor activities besides cow-tipping, Northwest Iowa seemed rather bland. Little did I know that it would be place where God would grow me more than I could have ever imagined.

The opportunity to play football at the College level has had a tremendous effect on my development as a responsible adult and as a man chasing after the heart of Christ. Coaches have made the experience so much more valuable by constantly preaching the importance of a purpose beyond ourselves . Brothers, who are striving for the same goals, create a support system like no other. The chance to glorify the name of Christ through the gifts and talents He has provided is such a blessing. 6 AM workouts are, in a slightly deranged way, exciting. It may seem terrible at the time, but the mental toughness produced is akin to very few others. It also is wonderful knowing that we are being prepared for the daily grind that comes with being an independent adult; having to go to work and being excited about it as it is another opportunity to lift the name of Christ. 

Engineering. It's a monster. But I love it. It's kept me focused. It's kept me busy. Despite the circumstances, it has become a passion. I've learned so much about the amazing creation that surrounds all of us. As I go through my classes here at Dordt, my faith continues to grow. It's so fascinating how God has ordered the universe and we are able to discover how this creation behaves. Besides engineering courses, the core classes have been great for stretching me out of my comfort zone. It was awesome to be challenged theologically in Biblical Foundations class. Another example is a class that I am currently taking: Responding to Literature. I used to hate poems. Despise. Loathe. Yes. Now that I've been going through this class, I actually enjoy reading poems and discussing them (Thanks Dr. Elgersma). The academics here are challenging, but I appreciate the fact that they are growing me intellectually.

I could go on and on about all the ways that I've grown here at Dordt, but my fingers would probably fall off. It may seem a little desolate out here in the middle of cornfields and small bouts with pig stench, but God's got a blessing out here. He's doing a work for His kingdom and it's so evident. I'm just really happy and so blessed to be able to be out here learning and growing. 

Peace yo,




On Empathy

When I first came to college, I expected to learn a lot. That’s the point of college after all, right? You go for schooling. You go to expand your brain, to be educated, to develop the intellectual ability to carry out a career to the best of your ability.

But above all else, Dordt has stretched my empathy, which I couldn’t have anticipated.

I’m a theatre and an English major, so my coursework is specifically geared towards understanding others. Every time I’m cast in a theatrical role, for example, I develop not only the ability to vocalize and physicalize that character, but also the ability to think and emote like that character. And every time I read a novel for an English assignment, I allow myself to enter the narrator’s world and experience his or her experiences. And when we discuss these plays/books as a class, I learn to see things from my classmates’ perspectives, too.

Though my studies are inherently empathy oriented, I’d argue that this focus on empathy is present in every program of study Dordt offers. I’m not exactly qualified to speak into psychology or nursing or theology programs, but I have taken a number of classes outside my major because of Dordt’s Core program, so I have some credibility. For those of you who are curious, Dordt students are required to take a wide range of Core courses alongside students of all grades and all majors, including:

·      Core 100 (Kingdom, Identity, and Calling)

·      Core 110 (Public Speaking)

·      Core 120 (English Writing)

·      Core 130 (Health, Sport, and the Body)

·      Core 135 (choose three of any physical activity courses – I took gymnastics for one of mine, which was the dream)

·      Core 140 (Roots of Western Worldview, Origins-Enlightenment)

·      Core 145 (Roots of Western Worldview, Enlightenment-Present Day)

·      Core 150 (Biblical Foundations)

·      Core 160 (Intro to the Arts)

·      Core 180 (Responding to Literature)

·      Core 200 (Christian Philosophy)

·      Quantitative Reasoning (choose from one of many basic math courses)

·      Lab-Based Science (choose from one of many basic biology/chemistry-type courses)

·      Persons in Community (choose from one of many psychology classes)

·      Justice and Stewardship (choose from one of many political science/business-type courses)

·      Cross-Cultural (choose from one of many, most of which include time abroad)

·      Advanced Reformed Thought (choose from one of many, usually within your program of study)

·      Core 399: Calling, Task, and Culture

Even though I don’t plan to go into agriculture or STEM or business, these Core courses have given me a basic understanding and an appreciation for those systems of thought. I understand their value within society, I’ve learned to respect those who devote their time to prospects that don’t necessarily interest me, and I’m knowledgeable enough to maintain conversations and ask worthwhile questions when discussing others’ pursuits. I see how God is working in all areas, and I’m excited to see how He uses my classmates to further bless others through their God-given passions in their God-given workplaces, both presently and for the rest of their lives.

Though each student here at Dordt maintains pride in his/her major, that pride isn’t demeaning. As an English major, I don’t look down on an HHP major because I’ve deemed the mind more important than the body. And as a theatre major, I don’t look down on an engineering major because I’ve deemed spoken words more important than written numbers. Instead, we befriend one another because we have a lot to offer, as our different experiences lend to lots of learning opportunities.

Sounds a lot like empathy, am I right?

Which sounds a lot like the second greatest commandment, am I right?

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

On an institutional level, Dordt is teaching me how to be more like Christ because, no matter which course I’m taking, the primary goal is to promote empathy. I haven’t even mentioned all the empathy-growing opportunities constantly afforded me outside of class – such as my residence life positions, my experiences church-hopping with friends, my one-on-one conversations with my professors in their offices, my time teaching in local middle school classrooms, my time eating dinner around my host family's table, etc. But those are for a future post, or perhaps they’re inherently woven into past posts because empathy is inherently woven into everything about the way Dordt does college.

Tonight, I’m just grateful for my coursework and how it’s taught me to care for others through empathy. And on this Sunday night, I’m looking forward to the week ahead and all the other chances I’ll have to empathize and be empathized with, seen and valued as an individual as I’m learning to see and value other individuals on this tight-knit campus.

 -- Annie

Thank the Cleaning Ladies, Too

Yesterday morning I picked up a shift at the information desk for a friend who is down with the flu. And when I say I picked up a shift that morning, I mean it. I literally picked up the morning shift. I know, I realize seven to nine really is not that bad, but when I am used to sleeping in every day until 7:30, a 6:20 alarm was not the most exciting thing to wake up to on a Monday morning.

On Tuesday’s and Friday’s, I am used to early mornings meandering my way around my room in the dark before morning practice, trying my best to not awaken my roommate. (I am forever thankful she has always shared a room with her sister, so she usually does a pretty good job of sleeping through it!) But typically after a morning practice, I get to return to my bed for a little nap before class. (I am also thankful for 9:00 and 9:25am’s this semester.) :) Knowing that would not be possible yesterday, I pulled myself down from my bunk and managed to grab my things and head to the bathroom.

As my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I realized only one of my wingmates, Cassie, was in the bathroom at this point. Unusual sight in the mornings for me, since I typically am in the bathroom at 7:45, when the 8:00am girls are on their way out to class, and the 9:00am’s are just getting up. I was thankful for a pleasant hello from Cassie this morning. As I began my morning ritual, she left, and I was alone in the bathroom.

After a few minutes of face washing, putting in my contact, and the usual, the door opened and in came the cleaning ladies. They are amazingly chipper in the mornings, and it is contagious. With big smiles, they offered me their, “Good morning!’s,” and got to work. They began sweeping and going through their supply closet, preparing to take care of all of our dirty paper towels, stray hair left in the showers, and water splashed on the mirrors. Definitely not the most glamorous job. Not even on the list of top 100 most glamorous jobs. But boy am I exceedingly thankful that they so willingly serve in this way. Some schools only get their bathrooms cleaned a few times a week, but not us. Nope, Judy and her rock star cleaning ladies get after our messes in our bathrooms five days a week. How blessed are we?!

I am so thankful for these humble servants, their big smiles, bright shirts, and chipper “Good morning!’s.” Especially on Monday’s when I am not particularly elated to be awake. :)


So You're Canadian, eh?

I’ll start with this. If you’ve never met me before, then I guarantee you that this is how our initial conversation will unfold.

“Hi, I’m Ian! What’s your name?”

“I’m (insert your name here). Where are you from?”

“Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.”

To alleviate any confusion, I usually say  my hometown, province, and country because there is also Ontario, California.

“Oh, so you’re Canadian, EH?”  *overly emphatic emphasis on the “eh” part*

“Mhm, yup, that’s right. I am Canadian…. How about yourself?”  *nods head in agreement*

So yeah, I have been given this wonderfully exciting opportunity to join the Dordt Life team! If you had asked me even three weeks ago if I knew that I’d be doing this, I’d tell you that I had no idea. With that, I’ll share with you a little bit about myself and what I love.

About myself: I am just over halfway through my sophomore year pursuing a degree in Mechatronic Engineering. I know it sounds complex, but if you remember can remember anything about my major, just think of Megatron from Transformers. As I said before, I’m from Sarnia, Ontario, located right below Lake Huron, about thirteen hours away from Dordt. Sarnia is a beautiful place, it really is. Being able to swim in a Great Lake two miles away is such a blessing, but quite frankly, an opportunity I’ve taken for granted. I am the youngest of my family with five older siblings who are all a great blessing to have. I lived on campus during the summer of 2016 to work on campus and as a result of living on campus for the last year and a half Dordt has become my home and Sarnia as my “home away from home”. Also, I chased after a bison, don’t ask me why. I had an adrenaline rush.

Two bisons graze on dry grass-weed, quite probably cousins to the bison I had chased

Music is a passion of mine. In my free time (whenever that is…), I produce my own music. Most of my songs are unfinished. You see, it is quite easy to start a song, but immensely difficult to finish one. I don't focus particularly on one genre, but try experiment with multiple genres ranging from EDM to ambient tracks to orchestral compositions. Secondly, I LOVE synthesizers. I am on a worship team at Dordt and I play the synthesizers. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it gives me the capacity for my creative juices to flow. Thirdly, I love coffee. During my freshman year, I would frequent The Fruited Plain, here in Sioux Center, about once a day to study, drinking on average 5 cups a day! I used to drink it as a Double Double (that’s two cream and two sugar in Canadian-speak) and I realized that that was a lot of cream and sugar. So, I began the trepidatious journey to black coffee. This journey has opened the world of my taste buds, being able to determine good coffee from bad coffee, differences in brewing processes, and whether the coffee tastes woody or fruity. Last, but not least, I love Jesus. I don’t know him too well and I don’t think anyone can, really, but I long to know him more and more each day.

So, as you go about your day and your life, I hope that the strength of Jesus be may be greater than the strength of your coffee, however which way it is brewed.


Bluewater Bridge, spanning the gap between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan

One Month In :)

A month in already...wow! I guess that’s what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. :) I just wanted to give a few updates on my new classes because I am adoring them.

Dordt does a fantastic job of dividing up the credit load between major specific courses and core courses. First semester I was taking mostly core courses, plus an introductory education class! These were wonderful because each individual class gave me a taste of various programs of study offered at Dordt from history to theology to HHP and more. I was inspired with the passion each of my professors had for their classes, and it motivated me greatly!

This semester is quite contrasted with last though, for good reason! Aside from one core class and Chorale, I am now in two more education classes plus a psychology class and a science lab, all directed towards my major. And boy is it SO exciting. :) Aside from the fact that I love my classes because I am learing incredibly applicable future-career shaping information, I am learning things such as motivation theories for students and the dire need to understand the differences in students’ backgrounds and how they affect their education.

Throughout the month of January, we did a project for EDUC 145 called “Cultural Cache.” Basically, it was a group project in which we had the opportunity to research a various cultural group in the United States, and what their cultural heritage is. It also provided us with an opportunity to conduct a personal interview with someone of this culture. This project opened my eyes to the stereotypes we tend to make of other cultures, and our discussions in class provided insight into how important it is to recognize students’ cultural backgrounds and appreciate why they are the way the are because of them.

This coming week in EDUC 165, we get to do practicum at a local school! I absolutely loved our practicum for EDUC 101 last semester because it gave me an opportunity to view the specific standards we were learning in class actually in a teacher-student setting. I am very much looking forward to spending more time a classroom this week! Dordt does such a fantastic job of that-getting students into classrooms right away in their first semester of the education program, and I am so thankful for it!!

All in all though, I am loving my classes right now because of the people. Huge shout out to Dordt for having small classes because thanks to my more major-specific classes this semester, I have already gotten to know more people, more personally through them! Education majors are fun people to hang out with, I’m serious. :) Needless to say, I am ecstatic about what the rest of the semester looks like. Bring on the projects and practicums! ;)

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from my practicums last semester, so the picture below is the class I got to spend my senior year of high school second semester interning in. :)



Back in Business

Well we’re back! Part of me feels like I’ve been gone for a decade, and part of me feels like I haven’t been gone at all. Since this was my first experience of Christmas break as a college student, I definitely enjoyed it as it was something new. Christmas break in high school meant a week and a half of no classes, but always a good amount of homework to do. Our first semester never ended until we were back in January for about two weeks. College Christmas break, on the other hand, is completely different. And boy is it amazing. Three and a half weeks of no classes, and looking forward to starting a new semester as well! And now here we are… I’m already one eighth of the way done with college. My brain doesn’t want to comprehend that. :)

Christmas break was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family, catch up with high school friends, worship, and work. Even though I live two minutes from Dordt, I admit I don’t get to see my family all that often. Sure, a few minutes here and there, but living on campus two minutes away from home is totally different than living at home.

People ask me all the time how much I go home during school, and to be honest, the answer is not a lot. I love home, don’t get me wrong! But between classes, clubs, dance team, voice lesson practice, friends, (and I can’t forget homework,) I don’t get home too often! Usually just long enough to pick up my laundry… I know, I know, my parents still do my laundry for me. :) Hey, what can I say? Perks of going to college close to home. :)

Living at home for Christmas break was really enjoyable. I can tell I haven’t spent as much time with my family this semester than I have before because I never got sick of them! Sorry, maybe that’s sad. :) But I mean, even with four Christmas parties, I really enjoyed every moment! It was so fun to just relax and play games with all my extended relatives. I played a lot of games and ate a lot of goodies… probably too many goodies. :) Good thing I live close to Dordt because I definitely was at the rec center about every day… much needed after all those Christmas meals and treats. :)

Honestly though, I wasn’t sure how I felt about moving back in today. After waking up to 9:30am alarms consistently over break, I’m wasn’t sure that I was ready for this kind of 7:30am commitment again! (Or even 5:30am if it’s a morning practice day…) :) But my mind changed as soon as I started hauling my (three full trips of) luggage back into my dorm. I had a little sense of the excitement I felt on move in day this past August. I’m so ready to be with my roommate again; she’s such a gem. I am stoked to finally practice with my team again. Below is a picture of us at state this past December. I don't love 6am practices, but they make them bearable. :) Super excited to get right back into it early tomorrow morning with them. And I cannot wait to start all new classes tomorrow, too! Freshman year part two, I think I’m ready for you. :)





It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

I'm a huge fan of all things Christmas...lights, music, cookies, you name it. Since I live on campus and am not home much, I was not sure how much "Christmas spirit" I was going to be able to live in this year. Well...Dordt surely did not disappoint, to say the least. In fact, I think Dordt loves Christmas as much as me!

Wreaths, lights, and trees galore, and even the clock tower was playing Christmas carols on the way to chapel yesterday. How neat is that?!

To spread Christmas cheer and a little joy, I wanted to share with you a mere piece of how festive campus is looking right now. Please enjoy these pictures of various Christmas decorations around campus-from the huge Christmas tree in the campus center, all the way down to pillows in my dorm! Can you find them all on campus? :)


College Is Weird, I've Decided

Ron Weird Reaction.gif

I have spent three and a half years now at Dordt so far. I have spent countless hours studying, sitting in class, and writing papers for Dordt over those years and learned so much because of it; however, college is a lot more than studying, sitting in class and writing papers. You live at school with tons of people your age, there are planned activities, sports games, theatre performances, music performances, art exhibits, food places, cafes, game rooms, lounges, I can keep going...all within a 5 to 10 minute walk from your bed. Dordt is different than a larger school's campus, so understand I am talking about a small school experience.

I've decided, from experience, that college is weird. Just plain weird.

You see the same people basically every day. Our schedules tend to stay consistent throughout a semester. So, if you pass by someone going to class on a Tuesday, while you're coming back from class, there is a chance you will see that person every Tuesday and Thursday, and practically in the same spot every time (Hey Chad). This sometimes happens even if class schedules don't align with each other. There always seems to be that one person you always see around campus, and eventually it's weird if you don't see them every day (Hey Rachel).

Since we are talking about people, let me ask you. Where else could you find multiple, legal adults, walking, biking, scootering, long boarding, or skating around to and from buildings in their pajamas? AND I MEAN AT ANY TIME OF THE DAY! Besides Walmart and maybe a nursing home, where else do you find that? If there is please let me know. Asking for a friend.

Let me give some insight of why many people wear pajamas everywhere and anywhere on campus.

Did I mention puppies are provided to cuddle sometimes before the week of exams!

Did I mention puppies are provided to cuddle sometimes before the week of exams!

  • First reason: They just rolled out of bed about three minutes before class and they didn't have time to care about their appearance.
  • Second reason: They are planning on heading back to their room directly after class to spend some quality time with their bed, and they don't want to waste time changing.
  • Third reason: They will be taking a nap at some point in the day. They won't go back to their room, they will find some corner in the campus center, classroom building, the commons, and so on...or just smack dab in the middle of the grille, library, theatre pod, so on and so on.

Either way, they will be sleeping soon. Very soon.

College is also a place for such diverse, brilliant minds to come together in one place. I have friends that are logical, creative, focused, observant, etc. I have friends who are more left brain oriented and friends who are more right brain oriented. My room alone has six different majors in it, which includes Finance, Animal Science, Engineering, Communication, Biology and Actuarial Science/Computer Science (he's an over achiever).

There's diversity of the mind, but also in background. Everyone comes from somewhere else, everyone has their own story and everyone has their own future to live. There are students and faculty from all around the world. There are opportunities to send students all around the world. We have students who know exactly what they are going to do, and we have studies that literally have no clue and they graduate in a few months...guilty.

Professors are some of the weirdest and most interesting people you might ever meet. They are extremely intelligent, write and get published books and papers, they get funding for studies, and they also want to teach you...yes you...the student. They could most likely be at some fancy titled place doing research or whatever, but they are in the classroom helping you earn a degree so we can somehow survive in the "real world." 

Where else am I going to find professors that discuss the influence the Renaissance has on the modern world, and how Meatloaf relates to how we memorize in the same class period. Professors who have lived in Japan, the Amazon Rainforest and Sioux Center, Iowa...and I'm talking about the same professor. Professors that invite you to their house and it's not weird...but also super weird at the same time...but only when you think about how weird it is..

Speaking of not finding things weird, but not thinking its weird is weird (sorry if I just confused you). Let's talk about pulling all-nighters. No one really questions that you pulled an all-nighter. A lot of students do it (I'm looking at you Digital Media students). Others might ask you why? But they never think it's odd that you just stayed up all night and still haven't gone back to your room. They probably have done it at least once.

DISCLAIMER: I do not support all-nighters. TheDordtLife.com does not support all-nighters. Your grandma does not support all-nighters. I did it once...it was the worst...that's a different story though, and this also might explain why that person is sleeping on the couch by the info desk.

College is a place of maturing as a human, expanding your mind, finding your identity...but it's also a place to go on donut runs in the middle of the night, to walk around in onesies and as long it's not a Snuggie no one will judge you, and to play Humans vs. Zombies for three days where you literally see people running across campus throwing socks at each other.

College is just a pit stop on the road of life. Like Tom Cochrane's masterpiece "Life Is A Highway" talks about. We are driving on the highway called life. College is that weird back road through that small town you can never remember the name of that you take to get to the next main road called a career. It's sketchy, fascinating and full of surprises. All we can do is ride it...all night long...because I have a 15 page paper due at 8am and I'm about to pull an all-nighter.

- Luke

The Proud-yet-Humbled Paradox

I realize that Tori just did an excellent blog on Dordt being recognized as the #1 school in the country for student engagement by the Wall Street Journal, BUT HOLY GUACAMOLE EVERYONE THE WALL STREET JOURNAL RECOGNIZED US AS THE #1 SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY FOR STUDENT ENGAGEMENT. That’s huge, and that’s the sort of thing worth talking about twice.

Our campus community is both proud and humbled by the news. I realize that’s paradoxical, but the longer I live, the more I realize that most everything is a bit of a true paradox.

Of course we’re proud. Even before Dordt received this title, we were proud to unite around black and gold as a part of Defender Nation. Long before Dordt received this title, we were proud to be individual members of a community that used their four college years to grow their intellect, to deepen their empathy, and to learn to love and laugh in a way that mimics the salt-and-light ideology that Jesus lived.

And because we hope only to be salt and light, we’re humbled, too. We recognize that Dordt is unique in their means of student engagement because the goal isn’t to engage students with course material, with professors, or even with each other – whether platonically or romantically. (The ring-by-spring phenomenon, anyone?)

Rather, the ultimate goal is to engage students with the work that Christ is carrying out in the world. This involves engaging with coursework, professors, and classmates, of course, but those engagements are an outflow of engaging with the one who pronounced His creation and His people good. We explore, we discover, we converse, we write, we read, and we enjoy it all because He’s taking joy in it, too. So this accolade? It’s to His glory, and we’re just lucky to benefit from it.

Soli Deo gloria, yeah?

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a video that my roommate Ellen (yes, Ellen of the getting lost late at night in South Dakota) made featuring a wide variety of Dordt-people responding to honor.

 - Annie

And here's an entirely random photo (since we needed a photo to grace the thumbnail of this blog) of my fellow Community Development Assistants and me being silly. This is the type of engagement we specialize in: engaging students with the fun that can come with laughing together. Plus, we're not too proud not to make fools of ourselves for the sake of getting campus interested in our monthly campus-fun events.