A Successful Concert

This Sunday, the Manhattan School of Music brass orchestra joined the University of Scranton performance choir in concert. The concert was held at the Houlihan-Mclean Center, which is a beautiful building (and a former Baptist church) on the corner of Mulberry St. and Jefferson St. Like all performance music concerts held by the University, this concert was free and open to the public.

As a singer in the choir, one of the great joys for me during this concert was getting to watch other incredible musicians (the brass instrumentalists) perform. At one point, a trio of trumpeters performed on the balcony above the choir. The sound was so pure and clean that I was unsure how many trumpeters there really were! It was also a pleasure to perform together with the brass musicians for several songs, including a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, and a Tribute to the Armed Forces. Both songs were fun to sing by ourselves, but the addition of the booming brass orchestra made the experience many times more enjoyable.

It was also heart-warming to witness the playful banter between our choir director Cheryl Boga and her friend, conductor Mark Gould from the Manhattan School of Music. Their back-and-forth during the concert added a casual dimension to the concert and helped the musicians and audience to loosen up and have fun. On a serious note, Cheryl Boga addressed the audience toward the end of the concert and urged them to support the continuation of music programs in their school districts. A show of hands from the musicians revealed that the majority of them had been first exposed to musical performance in their elementary schools. I believe that every singer and brass player in the concert shares Cheryl’s passion for continuing music education. I hope that our performance inspired the audience to realize the importance of musical exposure in a well-rounded education.

Jesuit Day of Service

This past Saturday, I joined the Scranton Club of Washington D.C. to join in the Jesuit Day of Service. The Scranton Club of D.C. is one of the numerous University of Scranton alumni societies. The National Jesuit Day of Service is an alumni initiative that many other Jesuit universities participate in.

The Scranton Club of DC sponsored two service activities, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Arlington, V.A. I served in D.C. at the D.C. Central Kitchen, which prepares over 5,000 meals a day to decrease hunger in the area. At the kitchen, I assisted in the preparation of an enormous quantity of pinto beans. The beans cooked in metal vat as huge as a bath tub, and the spoon to stir them resembled an oar. We made about 15 large trays of beans, piled high and almost overflowing. After this, we discovered that more beans had to be made! It was incredible to see how much food the kitchen made and how efficient their food preparation was. The staff members could always find something for the volunteers to do (including taste-testing some donated pies, which might have been my favorite job).

Another enjoyable aspect of the Day of Service was getting to speak with alumni from the University. I discovered that one alum had been through the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program, which I am currently in. It was nice to share experiences and listen to her reminisce about her days at Scranton.

By the end of our 3-hour service day, I was pretty tired! Cooking for yourself might not seem that strenuous, but cooking for 5,000 people sure is a workout! I thoroughly enjoyed using my skills to benefit people in need in my area. It was a lovely way to end Spring Break, and it made me excited to pursue more service opportunities in the university community.

Discussing Martyrdom

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late post. Spring Break, although a completely needed detachment from school, side-tracked me from posting.

This week, I want to recount an event I attended in late February. It was a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Theology Department; the department typically hosts 2 such discussions per semester. I volunteered to participate in the committee that planned the discussion, and the topic we decided to focus on was martyrdom. The choice of this topic was influenced by Bishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated because of his godly work in El Salvador and recently declared a martyr by Pope Francis. The planning committee also decided that it would be most interesting if different faith perspectives could come into conversation about the topic of martyrdom. Because of this, the speakers chosen for the event were Dr. Marc Shapiro, a Jewish rabbi and professor of Theology at the University, Dr. Patrick Clark, a Christian and professor of Theology as well, and Dr. Melinda Krokus, a Muslim and professor of Religious Studies at Marywood University.

At the event, these three speakers gave brief explanations of their faith tradition’s view and treatment of martyrs. Many of them spoke about famous martyrs in their faiths and how stories of these martyrs are still circulated and provide strength for believers. The discussion expanded to include comments and questions from students and faculty who attended the event. Interesting questions included, Should we want to be martyred?Can a martyr die on the battleground?, and Are you afraid of being martyred today? A little heated debate also arose about whether Edith Stein was a martyr for Judaism or Christianity, as she went to her death because of her Jewish heritage but also was a Catholic nun.

In all, the roundtable discussion was successful. Students actively participated in dialogue with the panelists, and I definitely learned a lot. As a Christian, I realized from listening to Drs. Shapiro and Krokus how much I don’t know about Judaism and Islam. That has inspired me to include courses in these two faith traditions in my future education.

Get Fit!

The University’s Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW) sponsors a Fitness Challenge every year. This year, the challenge runs from February 16th to March 13th. Students can sign up for the challenge either alone or with a team. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to participate! Each week, the CHEW office emails the participants with a list of weekly challenges to complete. At the end of the week, participants fill out a survey to record how often they exercised and attended fitness events. Some fitness challenges include drinking the proper amount of water for a day, not eating meat on Monday, attending a new exercise class, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator for a day.

Students who complete their wellness logs each week can pick up a prize in the CHEW office. This week, I became a proud owner of a CHEW jumprope, which was the weekly prize. Other fitness prizes include water bottles and gym towels. At the end of the fitness challenge event, the highest-scoring teams are entered into a grand prize raffle. T-shirts are also given to students who consistently fill our their fitness surveys.

This 4-week program transforms fitness from a mindless, obligatory practice to an exciting opportunity. It is perfectly placed during the weeks leading up to midterms, when students are the most stressed about their academic performance. Exercise is crucial for many to lead a low-stress life, and CHEW capitalizes on this with their Fitness Challenge. The challenge has activities available for people of all fitness levels, whether a shy gym beginner or a fitness pro. It’s rewarding to put effort into taking care of yourself for 4 weeks. Plus, the t-shirts are pretty cool.