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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

March 11, 2008

VOLUNTEERING DURING SPRING BREAK — Each spring, many Wake Forest students opt to spend their spring break on a service-related trip. During this year’s spring break, March 8 – 16, eight students are assisting the Humane Society on Hilton Head Island, S.C., while 17 students are assisting with the continuing clean-up and reconstruction efforts in New Orleans. In addition, a group of 10 sociology students who took last summer’s course “Social Stratification in the American Deep South” designed a service trip through Wake Alternative Break to return to Stephens, Ark., where they are mentoring local high school teenagers interested in attending college. The students on these Wake Alternative Breaks will be available to talk about their experiences when they return to campus. 

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

DIVINITY STUDENTS MAKE PILGRIMAGE TO NYC — The Rev. Douglas Bailey, associate professor and executive director of the Center for Urban Ministry at the Wake Forest Divinity School, and a group of 16 divinity school students are on an urban ministry pilgrimage to New York City during spring break, and will return March 14. Bailey calls this a pilgrimage because “one can go on a trip to observe; pilgrims go on a journey to be changed.” Among their scheduled activities are ministering in Lower West Harlem, participating in the nation’s largest soup kitchen in Chelsea – Hell’s Kitchen, studying with renowned black pastor and theologian, Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood and visiting Ground Zero. Bailey and some of the divinity school students will be available to talk about their experience when they return to campus.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

WAKE FOREST'S BABCOCK SCHOOL STUDENTS, FACULTY BACK IN NICARAGUA FOR SPRING BREAK — A group of 16 students and at least two faculty members from Wake Forest University and the Babcock Graduate School of Management are sharing their skills with Nicaraguan business owners while learning about business outside the classroom during spring break. This the fourth trip made by Babcock School students in a little more than a year as part of the school’s ongoing Project Nicaragua. The students are hosting two, two-day business seminars for small- to medium-sized businesses in and around Managua and spending a day visiting several small–business owners.  The students are available to talk about their experiences when they return to campus March 14.

Contact: Lisa Snedeker at or (336) 758-3615

RELIGION IN IRELAND: PROFESSOR TEACHES COURSE ON CELTIC CHRISTIANITY — As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, the legend will be retold of how the Christian missionary Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland. However, zoologists say there never were snakes in Ireland, and historians suggest that the snakes refer instead to the druids, who had their own non-Christian religion. Over time, the Christian church incorporated elements of the druids’ traditions into its own religious practices in Ireland. Linda McKinnish Bridges, professor of ministry studies in the Wake Forest Divinity School, teaches the students in her Celtic Christianity class about the unique blend of Christianity with indigenous religions such as druidism found in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Bridges says that in those countries, Christianity was assimilated peacefully rather than through violence. “From the fifth through the 10th centuries the two faiths mixed easily, creating an egalitarian, monastic community that was open to pre-Christian myth, accepting of the notion that deity was revealed through sacred landscape,” she says. Today remnants of the druidic tradition remain within the practice of Christianity in Ireland.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

BATHANTI TO READ FROM HIS FICTION — Acclaimed North Carolina writer Joseph Bathanti, a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University, will read from his works of fiction at 7:30 p.m. March 19 in Tribble Hall’s DeTamble Auditorium at Wake Forest University.  The reading, part of the spring 2008 Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series, is free and open to the public and a reception will follow.  Bathanti grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and came to North Carolina in 1976 as a VISTA volunteer in the state prison system.  His experience relocating from an urban, northern city to become a resident of the rural South and his work with prisoners have influenced much of his writing.  He has won numerous literary awards and published four books of poetry, two novels, a nonfiction history of visiting artists to North Carolina and a variety of short fiction.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

POP CULTURE AND RELIGION Mark Pinsky, religion writer for the Orlando Sentinel and author of “The Gospel According to the Simpsons” will discuss “Religion and Popular Culture:  Shotgun Wedding, Marriage of Convenience or Match Made in Heaven?” at 7 p.m. March 25 in Carswell Hall’s Annenberg Forum.  Lynn Neal, assistant professor of religion, teaches a first-year seminar on pop culture and religion.  She says that because more people are relying on television as a source for religious literacy, these popular culture forms need to be taken seriously.  “We need to understand how these shows both reflect and shape our culture’s views on religion,” she says.  “Mark Pinsky will help us further our understanding of this complicated – and fun – relationship.”

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

WAKE FOREST CONFERENCE ASKS ‘WHY WORK?’ — With dismaying regularity, high-level government and business leaders are forced to make public apologies for personal lapses in judgment and integrity.  In all professions, the challenge of integrating personal values with professional practice is a growing concern.  Wake Forest plans to explore these and other challenges of modern professional life in a two-day conference, “Why Work? Business, Professions and the Common Good,” March 27-28.  Columnist David Brooks and former congressman Lee Hamilton are among a group of distinguished authorities from the fields of business, education, government, law, medicine and theology who will speak at the conference, part of the university’s 2007-2008 Voices of Our Time speaker series. For the complete conference schedule, visit

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

COLLEGE OF THE OVERWHELMED: FACING FACTS, FINDING SOLUTIONS — More college students are experiencing psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. To better understand college students’ mental health issues and explore what can be done to help students handle the pressures of college life, Wake Forest will host the conference “College of the Overwhelmed: Facing Facts, Finding Solutions” April 7. The conference, part of the university’s Voices of Our Time series, will feature Richard Kadison, author of the book “College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do about It,” as the keynote speaker. A panel discussion, featuring Kadison and the directors of the counseling centers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, will focus on six key topics: putting the problem in perspective, modifying the culture of pressure, identifying emotional challenges in college, reconciling privacy and group safety, recognizing warning signs and knowing how to help.  “The reality is that many young adults enter college with problems and concerns that only increase with the pressure and competitive nature of the college environment,” said Samuel T. Gladding, chair of Wake Forest’s counseling department and one of the organizers of the event.  “We planned the conference to help college faculty and staff, parents, students and counselors learn more solution-focused ways that can help students who may be discontent or struggling with their college experience.”  The conference will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall at the Scales Fine Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact: Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-6073.

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