My Internship with… The Minnesota Historical Society

Today we revive our occasional series of interviews with Bethel History majors who have interned with local organizations. Last fall Lauren Gannon ’17 helped the Minnesota Historical Society prepare for this year’s World War I centenary. Lauren was part of the 2015 edition of our WWI travel course with Prof. Gehrz, who will be taking a group of 25 Bethel students to the Minnesota History Center this Saturday for the grand opening of the new “WW1 America” exhibit.

WW1 America exhibit logo

Only about half of our students actually come to Bethel declaring a History major, but you made that change a little later than most. Can you tell us about your decision to double-major in Media Production and History?

I became a History major by happy accident. I came to Bethel as a Media Communication major, hoping to minor in history, and other subjects if I had room. I didn’t necessarily intentionally take History courses at first; I just took classes I was interested in, and they just happened to be history courses. I have always liked history, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that these classes interested me, but I was surprised spring of my junior year, when I realized that I only needed three more to have a History major. I was ecstatic when I discovered this because I felt that I had made great relationships with professors and students in the History Department, and it felt nice to belong there. I also like the challenge of mixing my two majors in different projects, like making films on a historic topic or adding a film aspect to my history projects and research.

How did you become an intern with the Minnesota Historical Society? Any advice for students applying for that kind of program?

To incorporate both my Media Production and History skills, I thought the museum environment would be ideal. I could incorporate visual storytelling with my love for learning and studying history. I had been encouraged by my parents, mentors, and friends to look at the Minnesota History Center since they have a great and organized internship program. Their positions are posted online and it is a relatively easy application process, albeit incredibly competitive. I applied in the summer of 2016 for about five position for the fall and was thrilled to be offered one of them: WWI Daybook Research Assistant!

Lauren in Trafalgar Square
Lauren (2nd from r.) in Trafalgar Square, the starting point of the 2015 WWI trip

I think what set me apart was my previous experience. I had studied WWI abroad with the History Department in 2015, and the memoir I wrote for the trip was published here at AC 2nd, so I had some experience writing and studying the topic. I provided a link to my memoir and described the trip in my resume and cover letter for the application, and my supervisor asked me about it in the interview.

So my advice for students applying for something like this is to not be afraid to show and elaborate on your personal interest and give examples of your work. This will set you apart from other applicants who are just simply “interested.”

What kind of work did you do for MNHS? What was most exciting or enjoyable about it? What was challenging?

As a WWI Daybook Research Assistant, I digitized historical documents and artifacts, and wrote short, descriptive blogposts for the WWI Daybook blog, commemorating the centennial of the event, that will publish every day that United States was in the war. I really loved handling the documents and getting to explore the collections of the MNHS. I especially enjoyed reading personal letters and accounts, learning the stories of these individuals from all over Minnesota and how they were impacted by the war.

Like all internships, there is an element of monotony. Finding and scanning a document, then writing a short blogpost, and repeating this day in and day out did get a little old sometimes. However, every time I felt my work getting redundant, I would remember that I am handling documents that were written by people who lived unique lives 100 years ago, and I would get excited again. If you are someone who loves that personal part of history, you know what I am talking about.

What did you take away from your experience as an intern?

MNHS logoI learned a lot about the museum as an institution and place of employment. If not the biggest, Minnesota Historical Society is one of the biggest organizations of its kind in the United States. People in Minnesota love their history. However, some Minnesotans’ stories are not often told by the museum. Therefore, I was also challenged to advocate for and tell the story of the people and communities that may not be represented by the museum, as well as challenged to make relationships with and gain the trust of communities that had been hurt by the museum. I am also encouraged by the effort that MNHS is putting towards doing these exact things.

Do I think I will work in the museum field one day? Perhaps. It was definitely worth exploring.

For another student’s reflection on a different kind of MNHS internship, click here.

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A J-Term Photo Essay: WWI in Europe

Today we’re happy to share a photo essay by History major and department TA Connor Larson ’17, who spent Interim in Europe with Profs. Gehrz and Mulberry and nineteen other Bethel students. 

The J-term trip through Europe studying World War I and its effects on society and culture was a resounding success. Here is a glimpse at some of what we did.

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The trip began with a layover in Iceland. Unfortunately that layover consisted of a brisk walk to the next flight.

England: Jan. 3-11

Upon arriving in London and passing through customs we quickly unloaded our luggage at the lovely Wombats Hostel and began our journey.

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Although jet-lagged and disoriented the walking tour went well, fast-walking tour guide and all.

One of the amazing things about London is the vast amount of memorials and monuments for the numerous wars and events the country has been involved in throughout its history. Luckily for us that means there was no shortage of WWI-era memorials to examine.

For many of the memorials visited in London the students gave lessons on the importance of the memorial and influence of those honored both in the war and in the years after.

One of the highlights for many on the trip was a visit to the Imperial War Museum, and it was an experience many would never forget.

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Imperial War Museum

 

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Donavan Heide ’17, Accounting and Finance major and History minor, gives a lecture on the creation of the IWM

Our trip, while grounded in the First World War, spent an equal amount of time on the impact of war on society by looking at the arts (primarily fine art and poetry). Art and war are deeply connected, and through our museum visits we were able to see how the war affected society in a way that books and artifacts rarely have an ability to portray. I am omitting photos of this portion of the trip because I believe the impact of what we read and saw would be reduced in such a degree where it would be a disservice to attempt recreating it here.

On our free day many of us went and stormed Dover Castle. Here is our journey.

All joking aside, it was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to learn about both medieval and modern history, as the castle and town played an important role in both World Wars.

To wrap up our time in England here are some more photos that are neither educational nor related to World War I.

Belgium & Northern France: Jan. 11-13

The few days spent exploring the front lines of the war were the climax of the trip for most, if not all, of us. Despite our enthusiasm none of us were ready for the emotional toll this portion of the trip would have on us. Reading about casualties and statistics pales in comparison to seeing the hundreds of grave sites scattered around Belgium and Northern France, let alone the front lines throughout the rest of Europe. Here, for example, are some photos from the former military hospital near Poperinge, Belgium.

Langemark was the first German cemetery we visited. Where American deceased were sent back to the states and British troops given individual graves in the field where they fell, German soldiers were given a much different burial. German soldiers were soldiers for their fatherland first, individuals second. Individual graves were time consuming and costly to the war effort, meaning that mass graves were common behind the German front lines. This is not reducing the individual to nothing but rather putting the state in front of oneself, an important distinction to make.

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The central open area is a mass grave of 30,000 soldiers. The names of each soldier etched on the tablets seen above.
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Each gravestone represents 5,000 German soldiers.

As we went from one grave site to another many of us had trouble fighting off the inevitable desensitizing nature of witnessing the aftermath of so many lives. As difficult as it was to witness the amount of lives lost we would rather feel that weight than have those emotions watered down in the face of incomprehensible numbers.

We visited various memorials during our time in Belgium and Northern France as well, including one honoring the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers in the war, specifically at Vimy Ridge.

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Along with the beautiful memorial pictured above, the Canadian government, when given the choice to do with this land what they wished, opted to preserve the landscape, keeping it in the same condition as it was immediately after the war. The only changes were in trees that had been transplanted and grass that has been grown there.

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Here we see a man outstanding in his field.

We were given the opportunity to walk through recreated trenches at Vimy Ridge, giving a feeling for the distance one would have had between the enemy and themselves.

While we visited numerous other memorials and cemeteries in our time we had to move on, visiting somewhere completely different, both physically and mentally.

Paris, France: Jan. 13-18

To say that Paris was a shock after travelling the French and Belgium countryside for the past few days would be an understatement. On top of the new city and transportation system to learn, we struggled with a language barrier, general travel fatigue, and the mental drain of visiting and seeing all that we had in the past few days.

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A chilled sunrise over Paris.

Much like our time in London, Paris occupied our time with walking tours of famous monuments and visiting various museums located throughout the city. Our museum and transit passes (included in the trip) filled our stay with fine art and exploration.

Yet again, not all of our time was devoted to the history of Europe. Much of our time was also spent enjoying the city.

There is one last thing that we did which has a special place in the hearts of everyone who was on this trip: The Handball Tournament.

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Both Dr. Gehrz and Prof. Mulberry mentioned this optional outing while we were touring Belgium and Northern France. After everyone decided to go, they feared that an overstatement was made in how great it would be. If their visions of grandeur were anything, it would be understated. Handball is easily one of the most fun sports to watch, and although the stadium was mostly empty we certainly made enough noise for everyone who was absent.

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We had no ties to either team playing, confusing those around us as we cheered for everything that happened. Many came out without a voice and the events that went down in that stadium will never be forgotten.

Munich, Germany: Jan. 18-23

If one thing prepared us for coming home during our last week in Europe it was the weather. Munich was by far the coldest location we visited, although not as cold as the Twin Cities while we were away. Our standard walking tour, while cold and windy, gave our tired feet a brief respite; snow is much softer to walk on than cement.

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Obligatory walking tour photo

Despite the weather Munich was a beautiful way to end our time in Europe. The food was delicious and cheap, people were nice (generally speaking), and our free day was a blast. Many of us decided to take a train to Salzburg, Austria and witness hills alive with the sound of music (spoiler alert; the hills were, unfortunately, not alive regardless of the state of music in said hills). We explored yet another castle and came closer to grasping the true meaning of the term “winter wonderland.”

As the trip progressed my photography effort declined due to a combination of fatigue, overload, and a desire to be more fully enveloped in the experiences of the trip. As great as documenting a journey such as this can be you end up focusing more on getting the right shot rather than enjoying the right moments. There is a balance that I have yet to discover, but for now I am glad I can look back at everything we had been through and all that we had learned.

The flight home seemed to take twice as long as the journey taken a few weeks prior. As with all ends to great adventures the homecoming was bittersweet. I think we all were glad to be home, thankful for the experience, and sad to have it be over. I hope that as many people as possible get the chance to travel and expand their thoughts and horizons, and this trip was a great opportunity to do just that. We were able to learn more about ourselves, new cultures, and a pivotal moment in history that affected nearly every nation in the world.

HIS230L group at MSP airport

A Student Memoir of Our January 2017 WWI Trip

As their final paper in HIS230L World War I, students write a memoir of their J-term travels in Europe – responding to readings and sites and drawing on the letters home and other reflections they recorded in a course journal. Here’s one such memoir, by Justin Brecheisen ’19, a double-major in History and Business and one of our departmental teaching assistants.

HIS230L group at MSP airport

It was with a contrasting combination of apprehension and anticipation that I strode into the airport on the afternoon of our flight across the Atlantic. The anticipation was a result of months of planning, working, and researching to make the trip a reality. I had dropped the majority of my summer savings on the trip payments and spent time planning out every item and all the information I would need to make the most out of those spent savings. I had counted down the days to what I was sure would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip all semester and all of Christmas break, and it was finally here. The apprehension hit me as it usually did: right before an event that I expected to bring change to my life. I had felt the same feeling in a variety of circumstances; my first cross country race, my first day of work, moving in to Bethel. It’s only in the days after arriving home from the trip, as I look back on that moment in the airport, that I realize that mixture of apprehension and anticipation was unique and more profound than any I had felt before. Like all the other times I had felt it, it represented an ushering in of change. But unlike the other times, the change took root in deeper areas of my life, and in a way that completely took me by surprise.

I realized that true change was the result of a complete breaking of routine, a total evacuation of my comfort zone. Traveling across Europe and becoming intimately familiar with the conflict that shook the modern world a century ago ripped me from my routine in such a way that I know I came back changed. Beginning the trip in London got my feet wet, but I really began to plunge into deep historical empathy and personal change as we toured the Western Front. Viewing the sites where Nazism took root in Munich, and especially visiting Dachau had an unexpected spiritual impact that I will never forget. In the end, this trip was the once-in-a-lifetime experience I expected it to be but changed me in a way that I anything but expected.

Justin Brecheisen on the throne at Dover Castle
A lighter moment during our Saturday off in England: Justin in the throne room of Dover Castle (photo: Chris Gehrz)

My immediate impression of London was that it was remarkably similar to New York City. The tube system, the language, and the immense size were all familiar; sometimes cars driving on the left side of the road were the only tip-off that I wasn’t in the United States. Because of the lack of a language barrier, navigation and making purchases was as simple as it was at home, leaving me securely in my comfort zone. Within everyday activities, there was little testing of my values, little stretching of my boundaries. Touring historical sites like the Tower of London intrigued me, and reminded me why I am passionate about studying history. I was enamored with the plethora of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek artifacts housed in the British Museum. I was fascinated with the long timeline laid out in the Museum of London. In particular, seeing the Roman wall standing amidst the bustle of the modern city boggled my mind; I couldn’t imagine everything that wall had stood witness to over millennia. While these sites were highlights of my time in London, and caused me to think more critically about how areas change over time, they mainly served to add to the novelty of travel, and did little to change me as a person.

It was only as I toured the various Great War memorials scattered around London that I began to feel an empathetic reaction to the relics of the past that surrounded me. Seeing numerous displays of all those who gave their lives had a way of undoing the romantic perception of the past I had acquired through other historical sites. I was especially struck by the Australian memorial. Somehow, seeing the sheer number of places the Australian soldiers came from made the war seem realer and the sacrifice seem greater. While it seems that listing the soldiers’ names would be the most personal way to commemorate them, seeing all the hometowns listed was more intimate, calling to mind all the places husbands, fathers, and sons would never return, and the immense hardship those on the home front endured. The memorials in London gave me a taste of the human side of the war, and began to complicate my understanding of conflict.

Australian War Memorial in London
The Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London (Chris Gehrz)

As I prepared to leave London and write my first letter home I realized I had fallen into a routine. A routine of running, taking the Tube, visiting tourist destinations, to the point where I felt comfortable in this new city. It had become a place of constant excitement, and I realized that my feelings were at least somewhat similar to soldiers leaving England for the war a hundred years earlier. They were swept up in patriotic fervor just as I was swept up in the novelty of a new place, they rushed to the recruiting stations just as I rushed to historical sites, they boarded ships bound for the continent thrilled for adventure just as I boarded a train bound for the continent thrilled to explore. It wasn’t until I finally crossed the Channel and got on the move again that I began to sense a renewed testing of my values and perceptions. Though undoubtedly to a lesser extent than the soldiers, I was in for a more radical change than I thought possible.

The first afternoon we spent on the Western Front was the first time I was able to visualize the devastation of the war. Visiting the dressing station where John McCrae penned “In Flanders Fields” and reading the poem where it was written brought the conflict to life in a way I had never experienced. Suddenly, I saw the war in a completely different way than the book I was reading at the time presented it. It was no longer a series of battles but a horrid mess of devastation. The death and destruction now had names attached instead of numbers. From then on, I viewed the war through a different lens; every one of the numerous headstones and each of the names listed on a memorial represented a life that experienced terrible conditions, trench warfare, and ultimately, premature death. It was sobering, to say the least. Like the memorials in London, viewing the actual sites of battles erased any traces of glorious perceptions of war I might have had left.

Tyne Cot cemetery at sunset
Tyne Cot, the largest British military cemetery in Flanders (Sam Mulberry)

I sat in the hostel that first night on the Front in a completely transformed mood compared to the day before. I felt like a young soldier thrilled for the adventure of war spending his first miserable night in a trench. Up until that point, I had felt very detached from the war, as I was separated from the soldiers by a wide gulf of time, space, culture, language and many other barriers. Walking in their footsteps forged a connection that would have been unachievable by merely reading books and names on memorials. Like the soldiers, I realized that the waging of war was anything but glorious. It was misery. As I reflected on that harsh reality that night, I struggled to reconcile the true colors of war with the perceptions I had brought with me from the US. I had always thought of war as an unfortunate but sometimes necessary aspect of life in the modern world. But seeing the utter destruction of not only a thriving modern society but so many young lives had me questioning all my preconceptions.

Touring the Somme the next day reinforced my observations. Visiting the Newfoundland memorial and the former battlefield spread out in front of it was especially impactful. Land pockmarked with shell holes and the remains of trenches displayed the war in its full-fledged futility. It took around four and a half minutes to walk the distance that was gained by the British offensive in four and a half months. How could a supposedly modern society support such meaningless death? How could anyone twist this tragedy into glory? How can we be making progress when we’re slaughtering each other by the millions?

Though I was hit hard by everything I saw along the Western Front, nothing struck a personal chord like the Ring of Remembrance at Notre Dame-de-Lorette. At every memorial, I had scoured the names, always unsurprised that no Brecheisen was printed. But as I gazed at this massive memorial where no distinction was made for rank or nationality, I picked out two who shared my last name. It was a profoundly shocking and sobering experience. I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of anyone with the name outside of my immediate family, but here were two, a testament to the breadth and scale of the conflict. The Western Front had radically shifted my perceptions of war and erased my detachment from it. I knew I wouldn’t return home the same, yet there was more change still to come.

My time in Paris proved to be a much needed mental vacation after the challenges of the Front. Like a soldier on leave in the big city, I briefly forgot the difficult realizations I had come to and lost myself in the mindset of tourism. It was short lived, however, as my first day in Munich brought new challenges. Our walking tour of the city brought to life the realities of postwar Germany and the sowing of the seeds of a second global conflict. It was chilling to walk in the footsteps of Hitler in the early days of the Nazi Party, to wrestle with the facts of its rise to power. Seeing the memorial to the White Rose, and reading an excerpt of their fourth leaflet, calling for resistance against the Nazi regime, challenged me in a deeply spiritual way. The leaflet reads: “But whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war.”

N.S. Documentation Centre in Munich
Munich’s new Nazi Documentation Centre, built on the site of the city’s former Nazi headquarters (Chris Gehrz)

I had always viewed Hitler and the Nazis as ‘evil,’ and attached that term to others throughout history, but considering the role of spiritual warfare in the past was unfamiliar and shocking. I experienced a complete shift in much of my thinking about evil in the world, and carried that perspective with me as we journeyed to Dachau a few days later.

Stepping through the iron gate that read “Work Will Set You Free” and wandering through the former concentration camp within was indescribably challenging. Throughout the trip, even at sites on the Western Front where I had felt a sacred, vaguely spiritual connection, I had taken a myriad of pictures to remember my visit. Not at Dachau. I just felt as if I couldn’t, and I knew the mental images would last just as long. Something about walking in the footsteps of the 31,000 murdered there had a way of murdering the tourist inside of me. All I could do was wander through the various museum displays and vow to never forget the memory of those who suffered there.

Though my time on the Western Front had caused me to question humanity and modern civilization, my time at Dachau took it to an entirely different level. To see the horrid atrocities humans were capable of, and then to realize Dachau was the tip of the iceberg, the model Nazi concentration camp, was thoroughly chilling. Despair washed over me as I considered the profound evil that surrounded me. Where could God possibly be in all of this? As I sat in the asymmetrical Protestant chapel on Dachau’s grounds, I remembered Jürgen Moltmann’s interpretation of such terrible evil and suffering. Moltmann posited that as we suffer, God suffers alongside us. Picturing Jesus being worked to the bone, tortured, mocked, alongside the rest of the prisoners was an image I will never forget. In that most unlikely of places, I felt God’s presence. I hadn’t felt it in the elaborate, stained-glass chapels of Westminster Abbey, or Notre Dame, or Sainte-Chapelle, or even the countless cemeteries of the Western Front; I had felt it in a simple chapel in a former concentration camp.

Jewish grave in a German WWI military cemetery
Jewish grave at a German WWI cemetery in northern France (Sam Mulberry)

I have always enjoyed traveling because it allows me to step outside of routine, to venture to a faraway place and gain a fresh perspective on day to day life. Returning from the bustle of London and Paris, the devastation of the Western Front, the realities of evil in Munich, and the suffering of Dachau changed me in a radically different way than travel had ever changed me before. J.R.R. Tolkien surely understood the depth of personal change one encounters after experiencing the devastation of the Western Front. Years later, he said, through Frodo Baggins: “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” When I returned home, walking Bethel’s campus again, I realized the truth of Frodo’s words. Experiencing the destruction of the First World War and the inhumanity of the Second not only transformed me, but also the world around me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to traverse through such life-changing places, and though I have returned home, I know there is no real going back.

– Justin Brecheisen

Now Hiring: History Department TAs for 2016-2017

While our students are getting set to register for fall courses, our faculty are also looking ahead to next year and preparing to hire teaching assistants (TAs). Typically, each of our professors works with one or two TAs, and several members of this year’s group are graduating. So we’ll be hiring several new TAs for 2016-2017.

Students: if you’re interested in serving for the first time as TAs, start by clicking here to read the job description and requirements. Then to be considered for a TA position, complete this Google Form no later than April 15th.

To get some insight into what it’s like being a TA, we interviewed two of our graduating TAs — Julia Muckenhirn ’16 and Micayla Moore ’16 — for this week’s installment of our department webisode, Past & Presence. (skip ahead to 12:45 for the TA interviews)

Modern Europe Journal: Collaboration and Resistance

Why did some Germans and other Europeans collaborate in the Holocaust, while others risked their lives to resist? Students in HIS354 Modern Europe asked this question last week, after having read Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men, watched the 2005 German movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (about the arrest and execution of the students in the White Rose, an anti-Nazi resistance movement) and visited an online exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum entitled “Some Were Neighbors.” One of the many excellent responses came from History major Elizabeth Hynes ’16, who was kind enough to share this revised version of her essay with us.

Browning, Ordinary MenStudying the events of the Holocaust truly pushes my limits of “imaginative understanding.” It is especially difficult for me to resonate personally with the millions of ordinary citizens in Germany and other occupied countries who seemingly stood by as Hitler and the Nazis carried out genocide on an alarming scale. The “final solution” was enacted with the precision of a well-oiled machine and required many civilians to tacitly aid in the disposal of thousands of Jews and other Nazi targets. Hitler’s success in implementing the final solution was contingent upon the fact that no one in Germany or other occupied territories would go to great lengths to stop him. In fact, scenes from Sophie Scholl: The Final Days almost seem to indicate that people may have been brainwashed into thinking that Hitler’s xenophobic vision wasn’t all that awful, or at the very least that his actions were a necessary evil: that Germany would never flourish without a bit of initial violence.  At any rate, a very large percentage of the population had to be complicit with Hitler’s actions in order for the Holocaust to happen.

It is almost impossible for me to put myself in these people’s shoes. I tend to look incredulously at people who seem to have so much hate in their hearts. I struggle to find common ground or empathize in any way with people who leaned out of a schoolhouse, cheering as hundreds of Jews marched by on the way to their deaths. As a Christian, I want to believe that people have the capacity to be good; I want to believe in the prospect of seeing “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). But I’m finding it really hard to maintain hope in a world where people can be so complicit in the maltreatment of others, a world where hate often seems to prevail.

In light of this, I find that it is ever important to constantly recognize and remind myself of how my own biases could be coming into play. It is easy for me to say that if I lived in Europe during the reign of Hitler that I would have been like Sophie Scholl — I would have stood up and done something. With hindsight bias, it’s easy to point fingers at people and call them bystanders to murder and say that they should have done more. It is easier to pass judgment on others and point out the ways in which their actions are flawed than to admit the commonalities between their attitudes and my own. In an event as gruesome as the Holocaust, the line between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” often seems so clear. However, after looking at the Some Were Neighbors online exhibit and reading Ordinary Men, I think that it’s entirely reasonable to come to the conclusion that there was more going on than just blind hatred or laziness: factors other than some intrinsic heroism or superior moral scruples may have been at play and contributed to complicity in the Holocaust.

As we saw in Sophie Scholl, direct force was one of the main tactics used by Nazis to quell potential resistance. People who stood up to Nazism usually wound up dead. This fact alone probably provided enough deterrence to quell most dissent. Normal citizens could not reasonably go about their daily lives or maintain any semblance of peace of mind without conforming to Hitler’s vision for society. As we saw in Ordinary Men, people could also be forced to contribute more passively to Nazi violence through threats and coercion; people were probably more likely to submit to Nazi activities if they honestly believed that their jobs and livelihoods depended on it. No one wanted to return to the post-Versailles days of economic oppression or abandon their leadership in wartime. Additionally, Hitler may eventually have been able to rely on more insidious forms of power. By 1942, when Nazi violence began to escalate, Hitler had already been in power for nine years. By that time, people in Germany especially had grown accustomed to that way of life. In the face of extreme violence, the natural human response is often to go numb, especially if the violence has a certain air of inevitability. I think this certainly applies in this case. Although some German civilians and other Europeans openly expressed hatred toward Jews and others, many more may have passively accepted anti-Semitism as commonplace.

Picture of Martin Niemoeller
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
(Image: Dutch National Archives)

The troubling truth still remains that not everyone was passive or complicit. A not insignificant amount of people in Germany and other European countries did stand up to Hitler, even in small ways. I cannot possibly make any judgment about why those people found the strength to do so, while so many others did not. If anything, I think the lessons that I can draw from this entire situation focus on something akin to Martin Niemoller’s “First They Came…” poem (see right). It is really easy to look at this situation and say that I would never be blind to such obvious evil or to passively accept such oppression of an entire people group. But, people at the time likely did not see themselves as conspirators to murder, and it may be unfair of me to look at them in that light.

However, though many were not intentionally taking part in the Holocaust, their thoughts and attitudes resulted in the necessary complicity for the Holocaust to happen. Sometimes society subtly tells us to think a certain way about a group of people and we absorb stereotypes and prejudices without even realizing it. People use all kinds of beliefs and social constructs to justify their judgments of other people and I think that the dangers of such thinking were just as prevalent in the 1940s as they are now. If society seems to be telling us to look skeptically at an entire people group, we should probably question why we are being pulled toward such thinking, even if there seems to be no immediate consequences for us in the quiet marginalization of others.

Lately on social media, there have been posts circulating that compare the refusal of many governors to welcome Syrian refugees to the refusal of the U.S. to welcome Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

This easy correlation is perhaps not entirely valid, but it is certainly something to think about. Too many people learned about the Holocaust in school and came away with the lesson that “Hitler was a bad man” but not much else. I think that we cannot lose sight of the fact the Holocaust shows us just how awful circumstances become when (for whatever reason) people lose sight of their common humanity with others. This timeless lesson is relevant both in the study of the past and in making sense of the present.

–  Elizabeth Hynes

Meet Our Majors: Danny Jaderholm ’17

Danny Jaderholm's Soccer pictures reveal his previous affinity for long hair.
Danny’s 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Soccer pictures allow us to see the tragic loss of the aforementioned “man-bun.”

Danny Jaderholm is a junior from Chicago with a History and Social Studies Education Grades 5-12 double-major. He is also a forward for the Bethel Men’s Soccer Team. Last year, Danny’s hair was featured in the Royal Report, but, tragically, he has since made the decision to cut it off.

When and how did you make the decision to attend Bethel?

Bethel actually wasn’t even on my list of schools that I was considering, but I knew they had a great education program. They sent me a relatively simple application, so I applied and visited during February of my senior year of high school. Meeting with the soccer team was definitely a deciding factor. The people on the team really embraced and made me feel welcome, and the team just felt right. I also sat in on Professor Kooistra’s American Civilization class and had the opportunity to answer some questions due to my previous knowledge from AP U.S. History. Meeting other students and professors, as well as participating in a college class made me realize that Bethel just felt right.

You are a History and Social Studies Grades 5-12 double-major and a member of the Bethel Men’s Soccer Team. Were your double-major and athletic participation a part of your plan when you began college? If not, how did you end up with that combination of activities?

Playing soccer was always a part of the plan, and Division III seemed both attainable and appealing. It allows for the camaraderie and friendship that comes along with athletic participation, as well as time to focus on school and other aspects of life. Being a teacher had been a goal of mine since seventh grade, so that’s where the Social Studies Grades 5-12 major came in. It seemed like a great fit, as it combines my love of history with my love of education. The history major was not originally planned for, but Social Studies Grades 5-12 and History majors are a recommended combination. I actually just added the History major last year, but I am looking forward to it (and trying to remain optimistic about the additional workload and papers).

What has been the best thing about being a student athlete, and what has been the most challenging aspect?

The guys on the team are definitely the best thing about being a student athlete. The members of the soccer team were my first friends when I arrived on campus. The age group didn’t matter either; juniors and seniors accepted freshman and took care of them, hanging out with them on weekends and providing recommendations about classes and professors during registration time. On top of that, the spiritual maturity on the team continues to amaze me. Taking my knowledge of my own faith and relaying that to the younger teammates has been a wonderful opportunity. This mentorship is beneficial for both the freshman and the upperclassmen.

I would have to say that the time commitment and workload is the most difficult aspect. Right now, I’m finding myself quite stressed from tests and deadlines for papers approaching, midterms around the corner, and our busy schedule of both midweek and weekend games. It can be hard to find time to focus on studies. Conversely, during soccer season, I find myself more structured, organized, and aware of my time, mostly out of necessity. It can be tough, but I learn from these challenges.

Does Bethel make it easy or difficult to establish a balance between being both a full-time student and an athlete?

I think that Bethel has been moving towards improving the balance between academics and athletics. When I was a freshman, I would hear stories from the seniors about professors failing students on quizzes that they missed for games, but my professors seem more aware of the inevitability of these special circumstances and more willing to cooperate with student-athletes. There are also resources in place that we (and any Bethel students) can access for assistance, such as the Academic Enrichment and Support Center. Additionally, soccer players are always able to go to the upperclassmen on the team for advice and support. Taking advantage of the people in your life, like teammates, coaches, and professors, is always a fantastic idea.

Do you find that your athletic participation complements or helps you with either of your majors?

There is definitely a strong connection between my participation on the soccer team and my education major. Talking in front of my peers, particularly during our weekly devotionals, has helped me become more comfortable and skilled at communicating my thoughts and ideas with others. Additionally, the mentorship aspect of the team continues to foster my interest in education and commitment to improving myself and others.

What are your post-graduation plans?

My goal is currently to teach high school social studies, preferably either American or global history. For now, I’d like to stay in the Twin Cities, since I’ve made connections here, but in the future, I would love to return to Chicago. I also hope to remain involved in soccer, either coaching through the high school I end up working at or with a club team.

Eventually, I would like to pursue a graduate degree, most likely a Master of Arts in History. However, pursuing a graduate degree as a teacher is a bit of a marketability conundrum. It may be easier for me to get a job starting with just a Bachelor’s degree, since those with graduate degrees come with a higher price tag.

What advice might you give to other student-athletes, double-majors, or other students?

Use the people around you, because they’re super friendly and willing to help. That’s my favorite thing about Minnesotans- even when they look intimidating, their hearts are really warm, which is great. Also, do your best to get involved through sports or clubs. Along with soccer, I’m in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes.) One of the best aspects of going to a liberal arts school is that they don’t just focus on academic achievement, they focus on the overall betterment of students in all areas of their lives. Take full advantage of that while you can.

Modern Europe Journal: Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

Last week in HIS354 Modern Europe, Prof. Gehrz’s students read and discussed Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, by popular historian Kate Summerscale. Set in Victorian England, the book tells the story of Isabella Robinson, an upper class woman who was sued for divorce by her husband Henry. While the book explores everything from gender roles to the history of science, students wrote their response papers on methodological and philosophical questions: Was Summerscale right to rely so heavily on Isabella Robinson’s diary? What are the problems and possibilities inherent in such a primary source? Among many other excellent essays, this one from History major and department teaching assistant Julia Muckenhirn ’17 stood out.

“A married woman in England has no legal existence…” (Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, p. 105)

Summerscale, Mrs. Robinson's DisgraceOften, when consulting the past on a particular subject, it is truly startling to hear the reply. During much of Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace this is exactly the case. If we’re a bit desensitized towards the strangeness of historical events, personal accounts such as a diary can re-kindle forgotten empathy and stir a sense of connection often left dormant. Private, personal, and un-monitored, diaries and other such personal documents provide a wonderful look into otherwise unreachable pieces of history. Emotions and thoughts, fears and intelligence are not easily extracted from the recesses of the past. While other literary sources such as legal documents or newspaper columns can construct rude, standardized skeletons, it is those of personal information that give color to the cheeks and voice to the throat. Additionally, primary sources such as this possess the unique advantage of allowing the less recognized side of humanity, such as women, children and slaves, a method of communication to later generations.

However, for all their value, utilizing a diary for historical analysis is burdened with its own set of difficulties: “…checked by no other perspective, the diary could conjure up a wished-for world, in which memories were colored with desire” (p. 42). In other words, because it is private and often emotionally saturated, diaries can easily manipulate actual circumstances to best suit the writer, and, as a consequence, the reader. As with all contemplation of historical information there is some element of “reading between the lines.” Seen throughout Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, the lack of specific details can cause assumptions and guesses to become the only option. Debate over the legitimacy of the diary as relevant and factual evidence against Isabella in the book (albeit for a variety of reasons) raises the same question today. Can personal stories become incriminating or liberating evidence of past lives, both individually and societally? Clearly Isabella Robinson’s loneliness, discouragement, guilt, sexual frustration, and under-appreciated mental capacity all led her to seek an outlet in her diary. The emotions conveyed in a private diary can certainly portray reality, however, this could also shed exaggerated light on particular subjects. She also may have hoped to have her frustrations read… if not in actual intent than subconscious yearning. She may have hoped that the perceived rebellion, sins, or intelligence she held within would find a way to the minds of society.

It is useful to maintain a certain perspective when dealing with primary source evidence such as a diary. First, temper the content of the diary with comparative studies of both personal and public status. Finding trends, patterns, and consistencies (or the reverse) can highlight norms of the era. Contextual analysis is also helpful in identifying reasons behind conceived emotions.  Realizing the status of women during Isabella’s day can anchor her writings with factual understanding. As an example, knowing the importance of “…law, religion and morality” (p. 33) can help the modern-day reader understand the pressures she felt as a woman, wife, mother, and even convicted adulteress. Lastly, the context of the source today is useful to consider. Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, while valuable in and of itself, must be considered within the bounds of Kate Summerscale’s bookends. This second author certainly is attempting to convey a particular story and one that possibly lacks in scholarly or “academic” perspective.

Wonderfully informative and empathetically useful, diaries as a primary source are a fantastic addition to historical studies. However, there is little doubt that even literary treasures such as these are only a shadow of the past. We must realize that the present, as Isabella so poetically put it, is:  “…unable to gaze openly upon the man himself….[and must] dwell instead on a miniature portrait of him…” (p. 19).

– Julia Muckenhirn

Meet Our Majors: Connor Larson ’17

Connor Larson, History major, Asian Studies minor, and double-plus good citizen.
Connor Larson will graduate in the spring of 2017 with a B.A. in History with a focus in global studies and a minor in Asian Studies.

Connor Larson is a junior-level transfer student, majoring in History and minoring in Asian Studies. He also plans on spending the coming spring semester in China through the Best Semester program. When he isn’t drowning in the sea of reading that is the study of history, he enjoys biking in our lovely Midwestern climate, making stir-fry — a basic requirement of the Asian Studies minor — and doing even more reading when time permits. Once we discovered that we had both read 1984 in high school, he mentioned that “this person is studying. He is a double-plus good citizen. Be like this person.” In addition to his healthy admiration of Big Brother, Connor recognizes Disney’s Flynn Rider as a role model. He also has a healthy dose of suspicion towards interviewers, and insisted on asking me several of his own questions to ensure that he could trust me with his answers. Behold: the hard-earned responses to my interview questions.

You began your education at a community college in Illinois. When and how did you make the decision to transfer to Bethel?

Upon graduating from high school in 2012, I moved to Colorado. After living there until May I realized that I wasn’t really doing anything, so I moved back home and began my college education by getting an Associate of Arts degree at Rock Valley Community College in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois, which is a fantastic community college. I was mostly getting general education requirements out of the way for when I did transfer to a 4-year college, but wasn’t completely sure of what I wanted to study yet. When I started looking into different universities, I started to consider Bethel after visiting my girlfriend here. However, visiting the campus, meeting some professors, and seeing how they interact with students is what really convinced me to attend Bethel. Plus, the food was much better than it was at the other schools I was considering. (Kerry: Tragically, Connor has only eaten at the Dining Center twice so far this year.)

What has been the best thing about transferring to Bethel? Conversely, what has been the most challenging?

Going to a community college was good because it was inexpensive, I got through it quickly, and I was able to work and save up money for the future. However, there wasn’t really a community aspect and I definitely missed that. The best thing about being here is that my girlfriend is here as well as my best friend from high school, who started at Bethel for nursing this year. He and I share an apartment off campus, which is fantastic. It’s just been great to have people like that to talk to again.

In the same vein, living off-campus has been one of the more challenging aspects of transitioning into Bethel. Being off-campus and a transfer student can make it difficult to meet new people and connect with the community at large, because I don’t get to spend as much time here as most students do, and Bethel can be fairly clique-y from the outside.

I was also a bit worried about the course load at Bethel because community colleges are not necessarily known for being particularly rigorous. However, I have been doing pretty well so far, so as of right now I’ve been proving myself wrong. The main difference seems to be that there is a lot more reading here than there was at Rock Valley, or I’m actually doing the readings here instead of skipping them.

You are a History major with an Asian Studies minor. When and why did you pick out that major and minor?

I would say that I picked out my history major during my first semester at Rock Valley. The history professors at Rock Valley Community College were wonderful, and I would credit them with getting me interested in history in the first place. It was the first time in quite a while that I had been interested enough in something that I felt like I wanted to pursue it. My non-Western history and humanities courses are what particularly sparked my interest in history, so keeping that in mind, the Asian Studies minor and the global history focus for the History major made the most sense.

For those of us who are less familiar with the Asian Studies minor, what can you tell us about your minor?

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a lot of Asian history, philosophy, and religion courses, as well as courses in an Asian language. Since I am choosing Chinese for my language, going to China will help to fulfill a lot of those requirements. It’s not a particularly difficult minor, especially if you’re also a History or a Philosophy major. It’s really great- you get to learn about another culture, and it’s not a crazy amount of work, so it doesn’t detract from your major field of study.

How do History and Asian Studies complement each other? Is there anything that makes the pairing difficult?

They complement each other well if your goal is to go into the study of Asian history. It’s particularly helpful because it assists students in learning more about Asian cultures, which assists students in properly understanding Asian history within the appropriate context. Most of us already have more of a cultural knowledge of Western cultures. Even if we aren’t experts on the Italian Renaissance or the Victorian Era, we have that cultural connection since we have been learning and living in that Western culture for our entire lives. Many of us lack that cultural connection for Asian studies, so the minor helps to bridge that knowledge gap and increase the understanding and appreciation for Asian history.

I’m also hoping to integrate my knowledge from the Asian Studies minor into my Senior Seminar for History. Depending on how burnt-out I am on the study of Chinese history after my semester abroad, I may or may not choose a topic in Chinese history to focus on. If I feel as though I need a break from Chinese history, another area I’ve been interested in is Mongolian history and culture. All we really hear about Mongolian history is Genghis Khan coming in, taking over, and doing all these things, but in reality, Mongolia itself is just a fascinating place to look at. The fact that a culture sprouted up there and stayed there, in one of the most inhospitable places on earth is amazing. I’d really love to dig more into that and learn more about how and why people would choose to settle and remain in such a harsh environment.

The pairing can be difficult because the history program at Bethel doesn’t have as much of an emphasis on Asian history as it does on American and European history. The structure of the program makes going into Asian history a little bit more challenging. I don’t blame the department for that — it’s a small area of study within a small major at a small liberal arts school. It just means that most of my history electives will be taken up on Asian history courses.

You plan to study abroad in China next semester. Can you tell me more about that? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

Bethel is not an inexpensive college. The benefit of that is that when you look at the study-abroad programs, you start to realize that many of them are the same cost as or cheaper than a semester at Bethel, so I found myself asking “why not?” My reasons for choosing China include my Asian Studies minor, as well as the fact that I am particularly interested in the history of China. It logically follows that actually going to China will supplement both my major and minor. This experience could also open doors for me if I chose to pursue a job in China in the future, as there is a high market for Chinese-speaking Americans in China. That isn’t my current goal, but it’s definitely an option. Even if, for some reason, I don’t go into the history field, China is a big player in the global economy, and having this experience would be useful for working in the business world. I am also hoping to gain additional knowledge in the Chinese language, which would be useful for communication and for pursuing a graduate degree.

What do your post-graduation educational and/or vocational plans look like?

My post-graduation plans are currently a bit up in the air. Of course, I’d like to go into graduate studies, and eventually pursue a doctorate. But I would be open to other opportunities that arise from my interests in history, China, and Asian history in general. Right now, I’m not completely committing to any specific plans because things change. I don’t want to be upset because my goals don’t come together in the way I originally planned. I could find myself drawn to different locations or opportunities, so I don’t want to nail myself down to any specifics just yet.

What advice might you give to other transfer students, particularly about opportunities like pursuing minors or studying abroad? 

Take as many credits as you can at the school you transfer to. If you have the credits in place to fit in a semester abroad, and it fits with what you want to study, do it. The most important piece is planning ahead. As a freshman, it’s easy to shrug things off and say “I’ll be fine,” but it is important to have a general plan.

Another thing that’s not related to history or studying abroad would be to get involved as much as you can. It can be difficult, especially if you’re living off campus, but it’s important to get involved as soon as you can. Once the Welcome Week atmosphere wears off, it can be a lot more difficult to find ways to integrate yourself into the school’s community.

Meet Our Majors: Emma Beecken ’16

Throughout the semester, I will be interviewing a variety of history students, alumni, and professors, with the goal of answering the question: what can be done with a history major? To begin, we will be looking into some insights provided by Emma Beecken ’16, who has majors in both the History and Education departments. This post will mostly benefit current History/Education double majors, but is definitely worth a read for anyone in the department considering a future in education.

Emma Beecken is currently a senior here at Bethel, with majors in History, K-6 Elementary Education, Social Studies Education 5-12, and a minor in Communication Arts and Literature 5-8. She spends her very limited free time nannying, preparing copious amounts of baked goods, and participating on Bethel University’s forensics team, where she has experienced success at both the state and national level. She is a great lover of Disney films and The Chronicles of Narnia, and will eagerly explain that she resonates strongly with Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia. Below is a photograph of Emma, followed by her fascinating responses to my interview questions.

An image of Disney's Belle next to her biggest fan, Emma Beecken
From left to right: Disney’s Belle and Bethel University’s own Emma Beecken. The similarities are stunning, aren’t they?

You have a triple major in K-6 Elementary Education, Social Studies Education 5-12, and History, with a minor in Communication Arts and Literature Education for grades 5-8. That is quite a few things. How did you decide on this combination of majors and minor? 

When I was little, it was a constant trade-off between playing school, pioneers, and pioneer school, so I guess this combination didn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. I’ve always been passionate about children and education, and I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to be a teacher. Throughout high school, opportunities to plan and teach lessons with students of a variety of ages reaffirmed my passion for teaching younger kids. At the same time, I couldn’t help loving history. I figured I could get my history fix by adding a Social Studies Ed major, which would also increase my marketability as an educator. That turned into adding a History major when I realized that the only other classes I would need in order complete the major were courses I would be disappointed not to take. That seemed like a sign I was heading the right direction, so I went for it, summer classes notwithstanding. It was definitely the right decision.

How do you feel the Education and History majors complement each other?

Personally, I couldn’t be happier with this combination. They are very different, and yet they complement each other beautifully.  The study of history teaches you to analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate a body of information, and then make and communicate informed decisions. That is exactly what a good teacher needs to be doing. A truly loving teacher is analyzing a student, using all of the quantitative and qualitative data that’s available, and then acting on that information to do everything possible to help that child. It’s critical thinking, problem solving, the study of people, cultures, and different perspectives—basically, it’s being part of a giant history case study all the time. And yet it’s so much more, because it is helping a child who was created in the image of God, using every tool I can and every strategy I’ve learned to love that child as tangibly and as fiercely as possible. History has refined those tools, making me that much better of an educator.

There’s also an inherent benefit in teachers who love to learn about one subject in particular. I love teaching Social Studies because I love Social Studies. That in itself is going to make a world of difference to the students. This summer, for example, I was nannying, and we spent part of our days studying history. Because that’s what I love, I planned the most for it, had better ideas, and got the most excited about it, compared to other subjects. Grown-ups’ attitudes are contagious, so the kids got excited too. By the end of the summer, they were begging for more history. That provided a perfect and totally natural platform for teaching reading, writing, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving— all of those skills critical for success, but which are much less engaging when taught in isolation. The same would be true for any other interest. If someone truly loved science or physical education, their excitement and eagerness to create the best lesson possible would result in kids who picked up those passions and all the skills snuck in with them. Adding a history major enhanced my understanding of and love for history, which will only serve to benefit my kids. At the end of the day, majoring in history was an amazing decision for more than just my desire for a “history fix,” but also for the success of my future students.

Conversely, what is the most difficult about your combination of majors and minor?

The most difficult thing about being an Elementary Education/History major is, perhaps, also one of the most beneficial: they are very different majors. Consequently, they draw very different types of people. By the time I got to upper level courses that were filled primarily with students in the major, it was almost like culture shock going from a history course to an Elementary Education class. Speaking in generals, there’s a big difference in the way the people in these majors think, organize themselves, engage in group projects, as well as a difference in personalities. This goes for professors too—even the syllabi feel a little different between the two departments. I have to recalibrate when I switch from course to course, while still trying to find my niche in both. While this can be a tad sticky, it’s also pretty wonderful. I get to see an amazing spectrum of people from all walks of life, hearing a range of ideas and perspectives, and then have to opportunity to bring all of those ideas together.  

Tell me about your student teaching experience. What is the most exciting or enjoyable about it? What has been challenging for you?

Right now, I’m spending half days in a third grade classroom, which will become a full-time student teaching placement in a few weeks. My classroom is 100% English Learners and very high poverty, so it’s been a very different experience than my many practicums in suburbia. To be honest, this isn’t easy. Every single one of my twenty seven, eight, and nine-year-olds is testing low, and, as a whole, they are really struggling. And yet, every time I think about them, it’s like Mama Duck instincts kick in. I love these kids so much. I would give my right arm if that would help them. And then, at the end of the day, you leave after teaching your lesson and realize that, for a few of those kids, it wasn’t enough. They are going to need not just your right arm, but your left arm and maybe even more because they are so far behind. That can be discouraging. Yet, at the same time, it’s also extremely exciting. By God’s grace, I can do something! Seeing them understand and improve is my constant aim. The kids are amazing. I love them to pieces. Challenging or not, they are still the most enjoyable and most exciting part of each day.

You recently completed your Senior Seminar for the History Department over the summer as an independent stuy. As the only current Bethel History student who is done with Senior Seminar, what would you like to share about your senior research? 

A portrait of Hannah More, the subject of Emma Beecken's senior research project
A portrait of the great Hannah More, described by Miss Beecken as a great “lynch pin of history.”
Brownies from the aforementioned Hannah More-themed party, each accompanied by the title of one of Hannah More's books
Brownies from the first-ever Hannah More party. You may notice that each brownie comes with a Hannah More book recommendation.

My senior research project was one of the highlights of my time so far at Bethel. I studied Hannah More, the late eighteenth century best-selling British author, who worked closely with William Wilberforce to evangelize Great Britain. Being able to immerse myself in her life through an extended period of time and extensive research was not only a great opportunity to refine my skills as a historian, but also to dive into something I adored. In this case, it was a brilliant woman of God who did amazing work for the Kingdom, serving as both a fascinating woman to research and a great role model. Dr. Gehrz expertly guided me through the process of making sense of history and faith, and I have come out of that project a stronger historian and a stronger Christian. Plus, Hannah More was just kind of awesome. My friends may have thrown me a Hannah More-themed party when I finished, but that’s another story.

Tell me about your educational and/or vocational plans post-Bethel. Has your student teaching experience influenced these plans?

My goal is to go wherever God can best use the passions He gave me to bring Himself the most glory. So, with that in mind, I’m pretty open at this point. International missions work is not out of the question, and I won’t be surprised if I end up pursuing a master’s degree in either Gifted and Talented Education, Special Education, or maybe something else completely- who knows? I’d also be extremely happy to adopt a bajillion-and-twelve children and be a homeschooling mom though, so I’m flexible. In the short term? I’d be pretty pleased to be teaching in an upper elementary classroom next year.

What advice would you have for other students who are considering pursuing degrees in both History and Education?

Go for it. Seriously. You won’t regret it, and neither will your future students. More practically, be sure to get involved. I made the mistake of feeling like I wasn’t a “real” History major because I was also an Education major, yet at the same time feeling like I wasn’t a “real” Education major. That was kind of silly. I wish I had more fully embraced the department events, people, and connections that were available for both majors, rather than discounting myself from either. In other words, double-dip on Christmas parties, because really, it’s all for the love of the students anyway.

Meet Our New Social Media Coordinator!

This year Prof. Gehrz’s teaching assistant, Kerry Bloomfield (’17), will be serving as the department’s social media coordinator. Among other projects, Kerry will be working on a redesign of this blog and conducting interviews with students and alumni. First, though, an interview with Kerry, a double-major in History and Biology who is also active in Bethel’s forensics program.

Kerry BloomfieldWhere are you from, and how did you decide to attend Bethel?

As a student from Maple Grove, Minnesota, I was aware of Minnesota’s PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) program, and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to begin college early. Bethel has a strong academic reputation, and is specifically known to be a great school for PSEO. Originally, the plan was for me to spend my senior year of high school at Bethel and then transfer to a larger school, preferably further from my hometown. Unfortunately for the Intro to History students this spring, Bethel tricked me into staying by providing me with great financial aid, wonderful extracurricular activities (such as speech and debate), and an incredible (albeit sometimes extremely frustrating) community of believers. 

When you started your studies here, your original major was Nursing. How did you make your way to a double-major in History and Biology? Are you still interested in working in health care when you’re done at Bethel?

In high school, I took a class called Opportunities in Emergency Care, which prepared students to become Emergency Medical Technicians. Since I was enjoying and doing well in that class, and I had plans to attend college, I was encouraged to pursue nursing. I also added a history major during the fall semester of my sophomore year because I have always found history to be fascinating, and because I had 12 credits from AP history classes, which I wanted to put to good use. After beginning the nursing program in the spring, I discovered that nursing wasn’t really matching well with my interests or my personality, so I dropped nursing. I added a biology major because I find science classes both challenging and fascinating, and because I had about half of the requirements for the major completed from my pre-nursing courses. I am currently undecided about my plans for the future, but I think I may be leaning towards either law school or education. 

In addition to working as a History Department TA, you’ve got some other interesting jobs on campus. Can you tell us a bit about them? 

I’ve actually got six jobs this year, counting this position. (I’m apparently not a huge fan of sleep or having a social life.) Four of those positions are on campus, including this position and:

  • Compass Mentor: The Bethel Compass Transitions Program pairs incoming students who are on the autism spectrum or have a diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, or anxiety disorder with a mentor who assists the student in building social networks, developing study and time management skills, and assists with whatever else is needed for the student to have a successful transition into college.
  • BUILD Job Mentor: The Bethel University Inclusive Learning and Development (BUILD) program is a 2 year program that provides academic, vocational, residential, and social learning experiences to students with intellectual disabilities. As a job mentor, I focus more on the vocational area, and will be working with several BUILD students as they develop vocational skills through participation in an internship.
  • Sodexo: I also have a few random shifts at the Royal Grounds and occasionally work in the Dining Center. Why, you may ask? Because I am a fan of free food.

As for my two off-campus jobs, I work in a group home in Maple Grove and a nursing home in New Brighton.

For current students, Kerry added the following invitation: “For the remainder of fall semester, I plan to have office hours in AC212 on Wednesdays from 2-3 PM. Feel free to stop by with any questions, for help with 4-year planning/time management advice (I’ve gotten very good at that in the past few semesters), to share ideas for blog posts, or if you’d just like to chat! I’d love to get to know more of our history majors and minors!”