By Jess Plyler
Jess Govern left her heart in Greece and this fall, she went to go find it.
The Trevecca 2016 alumnus was one of the few students selected to aid in the Syrian refugee crisis this past summer.
She returned at the end of July and began working like any other college graduate, but by October, she was back on a plane to Greece.
Last summer, her team, made up of 10 students, left three days after graduation. Although the trip had unexpected turns at nearly every corner, Govern fell in love with the place. More importantly, she fell in love with the people she met.
Govern says that her team was originally assigned to serve in Serbia, but things didn’t go as planned. The team was told that they were being redirected to Greece when they arrived at the airport for departure.
The team worked in several different camps throughout the summer, teaching English and helping with whatever needed to be done at the time.
“It was a lot of willingness. We would show up and say, ‘Hey, we speak English and have two hands. What can we do?’” Govern said.
The refugees that Govern encountered in her three months overseas had a life changing impact on her. Upon returning to the States near the end of July, Govern said she had a difficult time getting back into the swing of American life.
“It’s really hard to do refugee relief work from America. I’m still grieving with them, just 5500 miles away,” Govern said. “I’m trying not to be super disheartened by America’s response to the crisis, but to be informational and speak light into those things.”
She said she wishes that others around her better understood the gravity of what is happening. Govern described the current situation as the largest humanitarian crisis of our time.
“Journalists are describing it as a death camp. They are using descriptions to make it seem like the Holocaust on purpose. We hear the numbers a lot and we are quick to generalize, but that’s dangerous because it dehumanizes and devalues people.”
According to Mercy Corps senior team leader Javier Alvarez, the refugees bring a sense of hope to their newfound lands.
“We see many middle-class Syrians, especially youth, who want to contribute. They want to finish their studies, pursue further education, or start working as they did back in Syria. We see a lot of professional dentists, teachers, and doctors — these refugees are trained and they can contribute.”
Govern echoed Alvarez, urging her peers to see refugees as people before labeling them.
“All they are asking for is their literal human right for safety, but they are being met with hostility and violence. Remember people as people. They are fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and they each have a story to tell you. I was lucky enough to sit in a lot of tents and hear a lot of stories.”
By Jess Plyler
Commanders, lieutenants, students, and staff gathered September 26th for the dedication of the Salvation Army Social Justice Research Center, located right on Trevecca’s campus.
The center has been establishing itself since late 2015. This week, the center’s director Lieutenant Coronel Vern Jewett and his team of analysts were able to officially cut the red ribbon and begin working on various projects both inside and outside of Nashville.
Southern Territorial Commander Commissioner Donald Bell said that the research center is intended to point back the Salvation Army’s overall motivation to be radical followers of Jesus Christ.
“We love inclusively. That’s what social justice is all about. Loving people for who they are, not for who we think they should be. And we serve them helpfully. That is our goal with the social justice center. How can we serve a person helpfully? In order to do that we need to understand why they’re in the situation that they are.”
Jewett said he is excited to see how the relationship between the research center and Trevecca’s social justice department will grow. In addition to continuing volunteer work with the Christmas season, Jewett hopes Trevecca students will be able to help the center with research pertaining to Egyptian refugee families located right here in Nashville.
“ [Students will] collect data to help move that community forward and integrate into society. It’s to all of our benefit to welcome these folks that are struggling to integrate and find ways that as a community we can do better.”
The center currently has several projects in the works covering issues such as child malnutrition in West Virginia, human trafficking in Nashville, and modifying the Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program.
“It is our prayer that the work that is done in this center will resound across the land,” Dan Boone prayed at the center’s dedication.
Jewett and his team hope to eventually be able to have students, both undergraduate and graduate, intern at the center.
For more information on how you can get involved with the Salvation Army, contact Gail Pusey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Brooklyn Dance
On September 10th, eight of Trevecca’s social justice students joined more than 750 citizens of Nashville at the Music City Center with Mayor Megan Barry to discuss current social justice issues the city faces.
The City’s first REAL talk, which stands for Race, Equity and Leadership, was facilitated by Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership and Public Service.
Trevecca faculty Jamie Casler, assistant professor, social justice, and Iris Gordon, Nashville business management consultant and adjunct professor in the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, both served as tables hosts and facilitators for the community style conversation.
“I think the size of this crowd shows that as a community we know that working together is what we need to do in order to move forward,” said Megan Barry, head of the event.
Bethany Winz, a senior social justice major, was excited to attend the event.
“Attending the REAL talk was an amazing experience. We got the opportunity to sit around a table with people who are different from us and have civil, respectful, and insightful conversations about some very important issues,” Said Winz. “It was challenging, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and all the ways my perspectives have changed as a result.”
After seeing the success of the city’s event, both Winz and fellow social justice major Tabitha Sookedo are interested in holding a smaller scale version for the Trevecca body.
Saturday’s participants were divided into one of ten groups, each assigned a different topic to discuss. Megan Barry tweeted a picture of the ten topics, seen below.
Jamie Casler was head of the Public Safety and Policing table.
“It was a privilege to serve in the role of table facilitator for this community wide event,” Casler said. “My table consisted of a diverse group of professionals, including a representative form the mayor’s office, a Metro Nashville police captain, and an episcopal priest, along with community members with various ethnicities and professional backgrounds.”
“The benefit of this friendly discourse was to allow people of different backgrounds and professions to come together and share concerns and solutions to the system issues which may cause adversity in the Nashville community,” Casler said.
This was originally seen on the TrevEchoes Online
Selby out with family
By Abigail Duren
Shawna Selby spent eight years working at a Barnes and Noble as a single mother. It’s that time in her life that provides the motivation she needs each day to finish her degree, raise five kids and have a baby in the middle of the semester.
“My life has changed,” says Selby, a social justice major. “I went from being a single mom to two kids and working 60 hours a week and barely making it by, to now being a stay-at-home mom to six children and getting to go back to school.”
Selby had given up thinking that things could ever be different or better. She had two children and had worked at a Memphis Barnes & Noble for eight years and had muddled through difficult relationships before marrying her husband, Trevecca Track and Field Coach Austin Selby.
By Rebekah Warren
For refugee children, fleeing from war and destruction, Trevecca’s urban farm camp can bring the comfort of home.
“Many of the refugees come from agricultural backgrounds,” said Karen Shaw, coordinator for the urban farm. “They come with skills they can use to make ends meet, and that’s the connection we want to make.”
During May and June, high school and middle school students living in the Nashville area will have the opportunity to learn how to care for farm animals, build a garden and learn about healthy cooking and eating.
The goal is that the kids attending the camps will develop a basic understanding of the importance of environmental justice for their local communities as well as the world.
“We want to educate and equip the broader global community,” said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.
This involves understanding the way the health of the environment is directly correlated to the health of entire populations and the potential of humans to alter the course of environmental destruction and injustice.
“We are hoping children will make the connection between the food they grow and equity for people,” said Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator.
By Abigail Duren
Nicole Bromley was 14-years-old the first time she shared her story of being sexually abused. She hasn’t stopped since.
The founder of One Voice Enterprises, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, told her story to Trevecca students in chapel on Tuesday.
Growing up in small town Ohio, Bromley was the poster child of their community. She played sports, attended school, and came from what seemed the picture perfect family. But what was going on behind closed doors led Bromley to live a life of secrets.
By Rebekah Warren
Square Dancing is coming to Trevecca this Saturday. The Urban Farm is hosting Barnaroo, an event for the local community to come together and spend time at the farm.
“It’s a celebration of urban farm life, to experience the farm and have a lot of fun,” said Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator.
The event will feature square dancing lessons with a professional caller who announces and leads the dances.
By Rebekah Warren
On a Friday afternoon in Alabama, Julie Gant stood where Martin Luther King Jr. had heard the voice of God.
“ I was impacted by just being where he was,” said Gant. “We stood where he stood and talked where he talked to people. We were in his home, everywhere that revolved around him and his legacy.”
During spring break, Matt Spraker, associate dean of students for community life, and Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice travelled with 12 students through Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, experiencing the civil rights and musical history of the south.
Spraker developed the idea for the trip after an important member of the civil rights movement came to Trevecca.
By Abigail Duren
The film, “Flow” was shown Thursday night in the CLCS in an event to raise awareness about the domestic water crisis for “Just Water” week.
Last year the Drop-by-Drop campaign done on campus brought awareness to the international water crisis. Various signs were placed around campus giving facts about the water shortage internationally, and reusable water bottles were sold in an effort to get students to drink more water.
This year, the Social Justice club used the same tactics, but focused on the water crisis domestically.
By Abigail Duren
Dr. Gary Morsch, founding donor of Trevecca’s J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, spoke on “The Power of Serving Others, You Can Start Where You Are” at the Compassion & Justice Conference on campus Thursday.
He posed the question, “so what do I do now?” to the audience in the conference, exploring the ideas of how we can exhibit justice to a world corrupted by injustice.
“We have to know the mission,” said Morsch. As the church, we have to learn and understand what our mission is as believers, as a church, as a university. We are all called to the ministry.