The new film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, hits theaters on December 13, but George Fox film student Griffin Huber doesn’t need to watch the previews – he’s already had a real-life sneak peek.
It all came about when Huber signed up to join the university’s study abroad trip this summer to New Zealand, where the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy was being filmed. A friend from church connected him with Philippa Boyens, producer and co-writer on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, who invited him to spend a day on set.
“It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” says Huber, who got to meet producer/director Peter Jackson and actors Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield). He also received a tour of the post production facilities, the costume departments and a few of the sets, “some of which were so massive they occupied buildings the size of small airplane hangers,” he recalls.
In the end, the experience reinforced what the aspiring filmmaker already knew. “Filmmaking is hard work,” says Huber. “It involves a tremendous amount of patience and teamwork. . . . I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to watch these idols of mine approach it with the same diligence I aspire to reflect in my own work.”
Recent graduates Cosette Greeno (’13), Rachel Clarkson (’13), Shannan Wheelock (’13) and Kaleb Olson (’12) were among nine teachers who departed for China in August for a 10-month assignment teaching English to students at two different colleges in the Hubei province of China.
They joined a list of more than 20 George Fox alumni who have taken part in the Teaching Abroad program, which provides aspiring teachers with invaluable classroom and cultural experiences, but also opens the door for ministry opportunities as teachers and students interact outside the classroom. Program director Shawn McConaughey – also a George Fox graduate (’89, ’00) – reports that many Chinese students have heard about Christ for the first time due to these interactions, despite the fact that faith is an off-limits topic in the classroom.
The teachers, who are set to return in July 2014, are also joined by George Fox alumna Marilyn Harmon (’74), who has participated in the program all 13 years of its existence. For more information, visit www.teachabroadglobal.org.
For some, meeting the Pope would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For religious studies professor Paul Anderson, make that twice in a lifetime.
Anderson’s first visit to the Vatican came in 2006, during which he presented then-Pope Benedict with two of his books, The Christology of the Fourth Gospel and The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus. In October, he had yet another opportunity to travel to Rome to attend a conference at the Pontifical Lateran University and present a paper titled “The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith, and the Gospel of John.”
The professor’s second opportunity to meet the Pope came on the final day of his four-day visit. This time Anderson was able to present Pope Francis with his latest book, Following Jesus – but it wasn’t his only brush with the leader of the Catholic Church. “A delightful surprise was sharing silent prayers with Pope Francis and two others in the chapel of the Santa Marta Guest House,” he recalls.
Anderson, one of more than 20 American and European scholars who presented at the conference, will have his paper published in December in a collected volume, The Gospels: Historical and Christological Research.
Record-setting temperatures in the Willamette Valley on Wednesday, Sept. 11, were matched by a record Serve Day at George Fox – to the tune of more than 2,100 volunteers, 88 sites and 56 individual homes served.
Never before had more than 1,900 employees and students volunteered on Serve Day, let alone 2,100. The university’s 15th annual day of service again sent teams to assist nonprofits, public agencies, churches, retirement homes and individual citizens in Yamhill, Washington, Marion, Multnomah and Clackamas counties.
Appropriately, the theme of the event, “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16 (“Let your light shine before others . . .” ) came in a year temperatures hovered in the mid-90s throughout the day. Stops included CityTeam International and Door to Grace in Portland; the Pregnancy Resource Center in Beaverton; Chehalem Parks and Recreation, Providence Newberg Medical Center and Love INC in Newberg; and the Sherwood YMCA.
New sites visited included Eloheh Farm in Newberg, Spirit Cairn Youth Ranch in Carlton, MITCH Charter School in Tualatin, and St. John Lutheran Church and School in McMinnville.
Three George Fox students recently got a taste of life behind bars – fortunately it was only for a day.
Senior Kaitlyn Elting (right) and freshmen Jeremiah La Plante and Emma Newman represented the George Fox debate team in a tournament at the Oregon State Penitentiary in October that featured 12 teams from Northwest colleges and four teams made up of prison inmates. The unique program provides debate training for prisoners leading up to the tournament, which in its second year has become a favorite event among students and inmates alike.
“The inmates were amazingly gracious and welcoming to us,” recalls Elting, who served as a judge while La Plante and Newman participated in the debates. The tournament, which was held in World Debate format, included some heavy topics: foreign military intervention, euthanasia, conflict in the Middle East and even prison reform. But interaction between students and inmates wasn’t limited to the debate. Students also had the chance to sit down and talk with some of the prisoners in between sessions.
“Hearing their stories and seeing how far they’ve come was really phenomenal for me,” says Elting. “I think everyone should have the opportunity to gain that kind of perspective.”