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Calvin Students Plan Interim Course
December 6 , 2006

Two Ugandan development workers will teach at Calvin College in January in what is believed to be the college's first-ever interim class planned by students.

"Hope Amidst an Unjust War" is a three-week class created by Calvin seniors Kincso Borgyos and Jeannine Keller.

It will bring Michael Oruni and Harriet Acen to Calvin to share their stories of doing development work in the devastating wake of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has waged a 20-year civil war in Uganda and become infamous for kidnapping Ugandan children and forcing them to become soldiers and sex slaves.

Borgyos, who majors in religion and international development, and Keller, a civil engineering major, got the idea to bring Oruni and Acen to Grand Rapids when they met them on a previous interim in Uganda taught by economics professor George Monsma and communication arts and sciences professor Mark Fackler.

Oruni works through Worldvision to rehabilitate abducted children, while Acen, who escaped the LRA a week after she was abducted, deals with financial and abuse issues among Ugandan women.

After returning to Calvin, the two students brainstormed an interim that would bring the Ugandans and their stories to Calvin and approached Fackler with their idea.

"We thought we'd sort of hand it off to him, and he'd plan the course," Keller says, "and he looked at us and said, 'That’s great, girls. What's your next step?'"

The pair pulled together a group of students to plan the interim and persuaded Monsma, who retired last year, to teach the course.

"It's really great when students are interested enough in a topic to plan a course about it," Monsma says.

The student team has pulled together money from various sources, including Calvin's Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, the college's sociology, gender studies and student life departments, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and Classis Grand Rapids East of the CRC.

The interim class is already filled to capacity, which surprises neither of the girls.

"I think I knew all along that this would be a big hit," Borgyos says.

"International development is big right now at Calvin," Keller adds. "There's been a lot of interest in Uganda too."

By introducing Oruni and Acen to Calvin, they hope to augment that interest - and to do something else.

"The reason we wanted to bring them here was also because when we met them in Uganda, they looked at us and they asked us how we were going to bless them and how they could bless us," Borgyos says. "I think the best way to bless them is to share their stories and what's going on in Uganda."

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson