Fish Out of Water

By Kira Adelman ‘19

When I was privileged to interview Dr. Fish about his trip to Ghana over J-Term, I learned about the Intelligent Water Project, one of the many pieces of the Collaboratory. The project works towards remotely managing the various water pump systems in Ghana. Through the Collaboratory’s website, the Intelligent Water Project works with organizations like World Vision to ensure the installation and proper running of the pump systems.

Dr. Fish visited Ghana, alone, for a whole month in order to represent the Collaboratory and assist in the development of the Intelligent Water Project. Although Dr. Fish had never gone to Ghana before, he went to inspect how the prototyped water systems in Ghana were holding up, after the Collaboratory worked to help install the systems for the water pumps over a year ago. Dr. Fish installed new upgrades the Intelligent Water Project designed.

When I asked  Dr. Fish what he had learned from working with  the Intelligent Water Project, he responded: “I’ve gotten a better appreciation for the diversity of access to basic services, even in developing countries. Before the project, between Ghana and the US, I would have put them on two opposite sides of the spectrum. Instead, you have people in Ghana in nice homes, that can turn on a faucet and water comes out. Then you can drive five miles and someone is living in a mud hut and pumping water by hand. There is such a disparity of access to basic services.”

So why did the Intelligent Water Team choose to go to Ghana to work on their project? The Collaboratory has worked with World Vision in the past to try to create clean water systems around the globe. The team went to World Vision with their project idea, and World Vision recommended they start the water pump system in Ghana, which the Collaboratory obliged. They hope to spread this project across the world if everything goes well in Ghana.

I ended my interview by asking Dr.Fish about where he has seen God the most throughout this project. His response was that he sees God the most, “…in the students that are working on the project. They have the highest desire to use the talents God has given them to help out people that they have never met. That’s an easy thing to say and it is a nice thing to put as a banner over what you are working toward. It would be very easy for a bunch of engineers to get together and think it was really cool to write code for an embedded microprocessor, or design electronics. But they are just constantly reminding me that they see the connection between the talents God’s given them that aren’t the preaching and aren’t the theological studies. They are something some people might separate from religious connection, but they see a really tight connection between the fact that they know how to do these technical things is a means of service. That comes up casually in all kinds of conversations and I think that’s been the most rewarding and seeing God have a practical day to day impact on what’s happening in their lives.”

Septic Systems, Spirituality and Sports?

by Hannah Beairsto ’20

The Collaboratory and Friends in Action (FIA), a local mission’s organization based in Elizabethtown, PA that works in countries all over the world doing infrastructure development, are strengthening their relationship in Nicaragua. They work with the Rama tribe to help improve their living conditions. The Rama people primarily live on an island, but it is small and overcrowded with 1,200 people, and has poor sanitation. The goal of the projects is to successfully transfer the tribe to a community being built on the mainland. There are three projects involved in forming this new village: one, the block press, which is a manual machine used to make clay bricks, which the Rama people then use to make their homes and other buildings in the mainland community. As of now, eleven homes have been built. The second project deals with sanitation for the residents, to develop a septic solution for this new community. The third project, the bridge, engineered by students and faculty from the Collaboratory, is already completed. Despite popular misconceptions, the bridge is not between the island and the mainland, but rather connects mainland property over a dividing canal.

Dereck Plante, the Engineering Program Manager, went to Nicaragua in December of 2016 with Dr. Brian Swartz, on a trip led by Tim Johnston, the executive director of Friends in Action. The trip went smoothly, thanks to Johnston. “Johnston has been tremendous, and has been working with the Rama people for fifteen years,” says Plante. Collaboratory members observed three projects, and look forward to the new development in the works: the formulation of a new baseball team, thanks to A Revolution of Missional Athletes (AROMA).  AROMA is a sports ministry based at Messiah College.

“The Rama people love baseball,” Plante says, “so AROMA is sending two members [Josh Good and Joe Saufley] down in June to establish some baseball clinics, as well as look into the future possibility of having more AROMA folks come down to the site.”

Josh Good ’16, a Messiah alumnus now employed at AROMA, says that they have three goals in mind for the project. First, they plan to “lead 2-3 baseball clinics that we pray will allow us to build deep relationships with the Rama people that lead to the sharing of our testimonies. We want to bridge the gap between faith and sport, tell them why we’ve traveled down to play baseball is to share our faith, and faith is what brought us there.” Second, they want to assess the baseball talent level among the people to see if it would be worthwhile to bring a whole baseball team with them next time. Third, they desire to make disciples out of the Rama people who love baseball and Jesus. Good notes, “A lot of people put sports and faith in two different categories. It would be great to show them they can use sports to spread their faith.”

IMG_3171.JPGWe will have to wait and see the results of this exciting future trip, and are ecstatic to see all the ongoing progress!  

To learn more about Friends in Action or AROMA, visit their websites:

Friends in Action: http://www.fiaintl.org/usa/. 

AROMA:http://gomessiah.com/index.aspx?path=aroma

Service Day

By Olivia McCullum ‘18

IMG_1163.JPGEvery April, Messiah College encourages servant leadership by canceling classes and other activities on campus for one day,allowing students, faculty, and staff to participate in various projects around campus. The Collaboratory is particularly busy on this day, as project managers, faculty, and students gather to work on their various projects for the day. While weekly Collaboratory meetings consistently focus on serving, Service Day has a special meaning for many students and faculty within the Collaboratory. We asked several members of the Collaboratory how they saw service day impacting their project and the organization.IMG_1166.JPG

Autumn Bank ‘19, a member of the Marketing Project, enjoys Service Day because it allows her and other project members to spend a significant amount of time focusing on social media posts. Bank says, “My project impacts the Collaboratory by getting important information out to the public about the Collaboratory”and Service Day is a great day for publicizing the work of the Collaboratory and concentrating on long-term projects.

Another member of the Collaboratory, student Daniel Gallagher ‘18 notes that Service Day allows his project the opportunity to dedicate a full day of work to “further God’s Kingdom through what we can accomplish.” Doug Flemmens, Director of the Collaboratory, notes that Service Day allows the project members to not only work for extended periods of time, but also gives student and faculty the opportunity to reflect and celebrate on all the work that has been accomplished over the past year. Additionally, he says, Service Day grants different projects the opportunity to meet IMG_1165.JPGtogether and gain a fuller understanding of the scope of different projects.
Service Day has truly become a special tradition for Messiah College, and for the Collaboratory.  Any day can be purely dedicated to service, but this day in the Collaboratory allows for different projects to focus and get larger amounts of work done all for the glory of God.

Interview with Sandra Snozzi

 

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By Olivia McCullum ‘18

Sandra Snozzi ‘18, a junior engineering major with a double concentration in computer and electrical engineering, shared her incredible journey through the Collaboratory and the inspiration for her participation in this organization. She is a student project manager and a student board member.

Sandra, intrigued by the Collaboratory before attending Messiah, first heard of the Collaboratory’s global involvement and service aspect. When Sandra attended her first Collaboratory meeting in her freshman year, she quickly found a project she was passionate about. Although an engineering major, the Yako Education project inspired Sandra to delve deeper into the Collaboratory.

In spring semester of her freshman year, Sandra joined the Intelligent Water project, which develops a pump monitoring device. This technology uses a cellphone from inside the pump to send a text alert should the pump break. Now, as the student project manager, she says that one of her most fulfilling roles involves the possibility to empower fellow project members.

Last year, Sandra became a member of the student board in the hopes of improving Collaboratory. One of her favorite elements of being a student board member is sharing her passion for Collaboratory with other members. They attempt to expand the possibilities for volunteering and working in Collaboratory to incorporate more fields of study. Sandra also emphasized that not only is the Collaboratory an opportunity for service and application of education, but also a spiritual journey through which members can spread the message of God’s kingdom.

Sandra’s faith developed as a result of Collaboratory, specifically in that she learned the value of teamwork. While it can be difficult to adjust to everyone’s needs and abilities, Sandra believes that every member of each project is driven to fulfill a common goal to complete the task, sharing love to all. She values the solidarity which she finds as a member of the Collaboratory and the student board.

In her last year at Messiah, Sandra hopes to witness the continuous improvement of both her project and the Collaboratory. She cannot wait to see the Collaboratory branching out into other majors and disciplines in the hope of harnessing unique perspectives.

Kim Phipps Speaks at Collaboratory

by Kira Adelman ’19

On March 20th, the Collaboratory was lucky to experience President Kim Phipps speak, where she discussed Sustainable Excellence Through Collaboration. As the president at Messiah College, she oversees and manages how the college functions, making herself available each hour of the day, all the time. Yet Phipps took an hour out of her day to speak to the Collaboratory. Sarah Beairsto, the student project manager of the Collaboratory Marketing Project, asked Kim Phipps what she likes about the Collaboratory:

I’m just a great fan of the Collaboratory because I believe it is distinctive to Messiah College. They talk about preparing students for service, leadership, and reconciliation. The Collaboratory is our best expression of that. The fact that it continues through the semester from year to year. It makes a difference in so many people’s lives and it’s just amazing to me. The student leadership and the involvement of advisers and the involvement of people in the community is just extraordinarythere’s  nothing else like it on our campus. There’s a lot of great things going on in the Collaboratory.”

Messiah College, and especially the Collaboratory, is blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive president like Kim Phipps. Phipps helps the Collaboratory out in many ways, and is well known for her student interactions at Messiah. Thank you, Kim Phipps for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to the Collaboratory. If you enjoyed listening to Kim Phipps speak, come listen to Peter Greer speak on April 10th in Alexander Auditorium (Frey 110) at 6pm. All are welcome whether you are a member of the Collaboratory or not!  

   

Henosis: Collaboration and Communication

Hannah Beairsto, ’20

Henosis, an online platform that services non-profit organizations, will allow any participating organizations to post information about themselves, which other users of Henosis can access. This platform will enable non-profits to pool their resources, and make a more effective impact.

The project owner, Andrew Cameron ‘17, had the vision for the project when he was a high school student. He and a friend were interested in entering a competition for Microsoft to come up with an innovative idea to benefit their community. The genesis of their idea came from a desire for a simpler way for worship leaders to share their work. “My mom was the worship director at our home church, and always had a hard time finding other people’s worship styles because she’d have to take off a Sunday.”  Further inquiries into the topic revealed that their youth pastor had similar sentiments, as he and other youth pastors had difficulty getting together to discuss and share. At the start, they did not intend for much collaboration to unfold.  “The Collaboratory has become a collaboratory,” says Cameron.

The platform has expanded well beyond churches, though. “There are definitely a lot of Christian groups and non-profits, but there are even more that aren’t Christian or aren’t religious that we want to serve. There are groups that want to help people who are put-off by specifically Christian applications,” Cameron says. The platform is accessible to groups that are not exclusively Christian, groups that can then assist people in need who are not Christian themselves. “Henosis exists for everyone who wants to make a better world, and not worry about different personal beliefs or agendas,” says Sam Mahan ‘19, a member of the web team.

“Leading a team of more than ten is not easy, especially when everyone’s got their own schedules,” says Huey Hum ‘17, the project co-manager. However, they have learned to make it work, and have taken initiative to get tasks done effectively.

So far, the project has gone through several prototypes, and currently the platform is not up and running. They have plans to launch a version for beta testers in Colorado soon.

Until then, there is still some ground to be covered in the development of the project. We look forward to the exciting new opportunity presented by this open platform, which will allow for joint effort and the enhancement of communication in the world.

Reflections on the J-term trip to Burkina Faso

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Dan Vivolo saws tubing that will be used to fabricate an electric-powered tricycle.

While most students were sitting through classes or even still on winter break, members of the Collaboratory were in Burkina Faso being God’s hands and feet to those in need. The team was tasked with building electrical tricycles for local people with disabilities. Engineering major, Dan Vivolo ’17 is one of the members of the team.

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Burkina Faso is a former French colony in West Africa. The Collaboratory has been working with clients in Burkina Faso for over 15 years.

 

 

 

 

It was evident to the team that Burkinabe people with disabilities are in need. Oftentimes they are rejected by other members of their community. “They are viewed as less than human, so that was the need, and we addressed that need by making the tricycles,” Vivolo explained. The Collaboratory has been making these wheelchair-like tricycles to bring mobility and independence to those with disabilities for over a decade. This team was focused on improving the tricycles to make them easier and more helpful for the people. They taught three local fabricators how to build the tricycles and then worked alongside them.

One of Vivolo’s favorite parts of the trip was the change of emotion that the team was able to bring to the people with disabilities. “It was really cool to see the change because for the first time in a long time they had huge smiles on their faces because they knew that life was going to be significantly better for them,” said Vivolo.  Tricycles allow users to be more independent and participate in many daily activities.

Burkina Faso was more than a service trip for Vivolo, it was a time of growth. “It was very different from the average college experience,” he said. He added that it involved a lot of critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well.

The language barrier was a challenge along with design issues. Most of the people didn’t speak English and if they did, it wasn’t much. Through some knowledge of the language and gesturing, the team was able to figure out how to communicate with the locals effectively in spite of the barrier. Vivolo and the team customized the tricycles to everyone’s individual needs. Taking measurements and the specificity involved required the critical thinking skills that Vivolo mentioned.

More than just technical skills were learned on the Burkina Faso trip. “I learned the value of the work that we are doing,” said Vivolo. All of the work and preparation that the team took part in during the year was paying off. “I got to see the impact that our work was having on the people and how much we were changing their lives,” he said.

If offered the chance to return to Burkina Faso, Vivolo would definitely go. “We can get so caught up in all the luxuries we have and it’s very easy to forget that not everybody is this fortunate. It’s a great wake-up call to go over there and change lives through service,” said Vivolo.

For those unsure if a service trip like this is for them, Vivolo says, “Just go for it. You will be surprised how much you will take away from the experience.” And if that’s not convincing enough, he jokingly added, “plus you can put more stamps on your passport, and that’s pretty cool.”

Read more about the trip on the team’s blog: http://collaboratory.wixsite.com/burkinafaso17

Interview with Katelyn Spieker

Kira Adelman ‘19

Within The Collaboratory, there are multiple sections. One sect is specifically dedicated to teaching the children in the Downey Elementary School’s after school program (a local school within the city of Harrisburg), teaching them how to execute various science themed activities. Typically, the people who get involved in this branch of the Collaboratory are education majors, because the group allows them to enhance their teaching skills. I had the privilege to interview one of the Messiah Students who was involved in this branch of Collaboratory in the fall semester. Katelyn Spieker (a sophomore studying Elementary Education) gave the scoop on what this Collab branch is all about!

I began the interview by asking Katelyn what her favorite part of her Collab group was and why. She explained to me, that her Collab group is unique compared to the other Collab groups, because she gets to physically leave campus and visit the Elementary school one day a week. She likes that she can form positive relationships with the children every week, while visiting Downey Elementary School.

Not only does she love the positive relationships she’s able to form, but her Collab branch is relevant to her major. As mentioned, Katelyn is an Elementary Education major and during her Collab experience in the fall, she learned a lot about lesson planning. She learned how to both plan and teach lessons to the students at Downey Elementary school. She explained she learned a lot from the Education professor, who leads the Collab group too!

Since their lessons are devoted to science, I asked Katelyn about some of the cool experiments she has done with the kids in her Collab group. She explained to me her favorite experiments were those that involved pill bugs. Overall though, she enjoyed all of the experiments and loved when the kids would become interested in what the group was trying to teach.

I ended the interview by asking Katelyn what she would like others to know about her Collab branch. She explained that the group is always looking to add new members and get insight and input to better help the students. Also, the group wants to form a lasting relationship with Downey Elementary School and impact the lives of the students there. After my interview with Katelyn, I realized how truly incredible this Collab branch really is. If this is a group you would be interested with investing your time in, you should email Collaboratory@messiah.edu for more information.

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Thank You, Dr. Vader!

Elle Perrin, ‘18

Dr. David Vader, Director Emeritus of the Collaboratory, spent 20 years at the helm of the organization.  Vader stepped down as Director at the end of the spring semester and resumed a full-time teaching workload this fall.  His vision of God’s kingdom coming to Earth has shaped the lives of students, supporters, and Collaboratory partners all around the world.

Vader joined the Messiah College faculty in the 1990s. He says, “I had everything I needed to be happy according to the American dream. I had a good job and was making good money alongside the support of a great family and church community. But I began asking myself the stewardship question, ‘What was I doing to serve the kingdom?’ And that’s when God brought me to Messiah, where I found kindred spirits to work with.”

Vader and others began dreaming of the Collaboratory in the 1990’s. The group’s vision was two-fold: to create an atmosphere for students to apply knowledge they were learning in the classroom and to Collaborate to serve others. An exploratory trip was made to West Africa in 1996 to gauge the possibility of working in the region. The trip laid the foundation for the Collaboratory’s partnership with Serving in Missions (SIM), the first of many clients.

Initially, students and faculty from the engineering department came together with a shared desire for service and stewardship. “Students can make a difference in the kingdom through using their academic gifts and applying their team building skills in a very practical way,” Vader explains.

The Collaboratory expanded beyond the engineering department and now has about 60 professionals and more than 200 students involved, representing about 15 majors. We partner with about 30 clients in numerous countries.

There have been many successes, as well as hardships, in Collaboratory history. Vader states, “The biggest challenge is that nothing like the Collaboratory had ever been done before, which is also a highlight. There was a huge learning curve for me and the institution, but it changed Messiah College positively in so many ways. There has been so much compassion and support from other departments and organizations in the College.” Interdisciplinary membership and support is critical to the organization’s success.

In addition to professional development, the organization promotes spiritual growth.  Vader says, “I have grown a great appreciation for how we can help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that are suffering in a practical way and partnering with other Christians from other places to raise awareness.”

Vader made a significant impact on the Collaboratory by deeply caring about the work he does, the students he works with and the people he serves. He continues working with the organization as the manager of two projects. Although his role has changed, he remains committed to the Collaboratory’s vision.

The Collaboratory in Ghana

Maddie Conley ’20

One of the main purposes of the Collaboratory is service work. John Hannon, a junior and Civil Engineering major, loves the Collab’s mission and what it stands for. “Collab is one of the reasons I wanted to come to Messiah,” explain\ed Hannon. Since he wants to be a missionary in the future, this organization was the perfect fit for him.

Hannon was ready to go on his first trip with the Collab to Burkina Faso when suddenly, plans were changed. Recent terrorist attacks canceled the trip. John was upset and confused, “I was looking around like, what’s the next step God, I thought this was supposed to be about trust,” he said.

But soon after, God opened another door. The Africa WASH and Disability Study (AWDS) team reached out to Hannon with an invitation to join its trip to Ghana, Africa this past summer. “I prayed about it for a while and it seemed like the next step,” Hannon said. 

The team started their two-week long trip in Ghana’s capital, Accra. They then flew to Kumasi for the Trainer of Trainers workshop. Hannon and the team met up with welders from all over Ghana to show them assistive devices that the AWDS team designed. Hannon and the team discussed the importance of including and showing kindness to people with disabilities and how the men could benefit from making and selling these devices to the people.

Next the team held a faith leader’s workshop in Tamale, Ghana. Both Christian and Muslim leaders from the community attended to learn about being inclusive to people with disabilities. Hannon explained the importance of the people putting aside their differences to solve the issue at hand.

When they weren’t holding the workshops, the team was meeting with World Vision, meeting people with disabilities, and visiting villages and markets. Hannon also spent a lot of time talking to Ghanaians. Hannon observed that, “Africa is way more relational than the States.” By the end of the trip, Hannon had made an African friend that offered to buy him a ticket to come back. That really impacted Hannon, because this man had little money and was willing to step out in faith and sacrifice a great deal for him.

Hannon loved the trip because of its purpose. “We weren’t going in there saying how great America is and then building the Ghanians something; we were trying to have them be the ones to make an impact on the community,” said Hannon. He appreciated that the trip wasn’t about what the team could give the Ghanians, but about what they could teach them.

The trip certainly had an impact on Hannon as well. “I’ve been preparing for this; I want to be a missionary. I enjoyed it and I definitely want to go back,” he said.