Stories this week at Wake Forest

STUDENTS TO VOLUNTEER IN CALCUTTA DURING HOLIDAYS

Eleven Wake Forest students will travel to Calcutta on the day after Christmas to volunteer in the homes for the destitute run by the religious order founded by Mother Teresa. For two weeks, students will feed disabled adults, bathe abandoned children and comfort the dying. They will return to Wake Forest on Jan. 15, in time for the start of spring semester. Three students from this area (Greensboro, Asheboro and North Wilkesboro) are going on the trip.

STUDENTS TO SERVE IN HONDURAS

While many of their peers will travel home for the holidays, 11 Wake Forest University students will spend part of their break in one of the poorest areas of Honduras – the Agalta Valley. The students will work to improve the quality of life there by assisting with construction projects. The students’ journey to the Central American country is part of the Honduras Outreach Project and Exchange (HOPE) Scholars Program. The group’s stay in Honduras will last from Jan. 5 to 15.

ONLINE COMPANIES WORK TO RESTORE FAITH OF CONSUMERS

Last year, shipping delays and general confusion with online holiday shopping left many consumers angry. Will this season be a repeat? Hopefully not, says Robert Ballenger, assistant professor of information systems in the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy. “People got burned by e-commerce last year and companies realize that,” he says. “They are very aware of what happened last year and many have hired outside companies to handle those logistics.” Consumers, too, can ensure stress-free online shopping by confirming shipping dates of orders before making payment, he suggests. To arrange an interview, contact the News Service.

STEP-FAMILIES: KEEPING THE PEACE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

How should blended families handle the holidays to keep the season joyous? What can be done to make step-children happy? Samuel Gladding, associate provost and the director of the counselor education program, can offer practical advice for families whose situations require a little extra planning at this time of year. Gladding is the author of several books and has given many presentations on creative therapy strategies that use the arts and humor. You can reach Gladding at 336-758-4900.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: SHOULD WE MAKE THEM?

Are we just setting ourselves up for failure when we make New Year’s resolutions? Why have Americans embraced this tradition and how many of us really stick to them, anyway? Samuel Gladding has examined this annual cultural practice and can offer insight into why we feel the need to cement our plans for change. He can also offer practical tips for making constructive resolutions and keeping them, as well as reasons why some people shouldn’t make resolutions. Gladding’s office number is 336-758-4900.

MAINTAINING FITNESS ROUTINE KEY DURING ‘SEASON OF EATING’

The holiday season is not the time to try to lose weight, says Don Bergey, exercise coordinator for Wake Forest’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. “The goal during the holidays should be to maintain the exercise routine you already have, not start a new one.” Bergey emphasizes that maintaining a fitness routine is especially important during the next few months due to extra stress often associated with the holidays, but cautions that cold weather requires extra preparation. “Always keep your fingers, hands and ears covered when exercising outside,” Bergey says. “The wind chill factor can make it much colder for your body than you think.” He recommends layering your clothing as the best protection against the cold. For more holiday exercise tips from Bergey, call the News Service.

WHO WERE THE WISE MEN?

While much is known about the gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh), the bearers, known as the Magi or “Wise Men,” remain somewhat mysterious to modern scholars, says Fred Horton, Albritton Professor of the Bible. “The Gospel of Matthew, which is the only Biblical document that tells us about the Magi, does not mention how many there were, nor how they got from place to place,” Horton says. “We do know something about Magi in the ancient world, however. Often the word ‘Magi’ refers to wandering Mithraic priests.”Archeological excavations in Caesarea, a city on the coast of the modern state of Israel, have uncovered clues to the identity of the Magi mentioned in the Bible. In 1973, a group found a mithraeum, or place for worshipping the god of Mithras, there. Horton has led several digs in Caesarea. Horton says Matthew’s mention of this ancient religious group in his Gospel was no accident. “The author makes it clear that the birth of Jesus was an event not just for the Jews, but for the whole world.” For the full story, visit the News Service Web site at www.wfu.edu/wfunews.

HOW DO NON-CHRISTIANS FEEL ABOUT CHRISTMAS?

Christmas becomes the focus of American life earlier and earlier each year. Decorations go up in storefronts and on lightpoles along main streets downtown. In our schools, holiday parties include talk of Santa Claus and goodies to be found in stockings on Christmas morning. But how do non-Christians feel at this time of year when the world seems wrapped up in a holiday they don’t celebrate? As North Carolina cities become increasingly diverse, other groups’ feelings are coming into play. Charles Kimball, dean of the religion department, says the holiday season can be a frustrating time for Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-Christian people in America. Kimball is an expert on the Mideast and can comment on the intersection of religions there during the tense Christmas season. He earned a doctorate in comparative religions from Harvard University and is the author of three books about the Muslim world. You may reach Kimball’s office at 336-758-5464 or at home at 336-922-1493. His email address is: kimball@nullwfu.edu.

WAKE FOREST PROFESSORS OFFER GIFT IDEAS

Wake Forest faculty members have compiled a fun and educational gift list for the 2000 holiday season. From the energetic young child to the finicky adult, the following suggestions-from experts-will help make kids of all ages thrilled on Christmas morning. “Most scientists and engineers grew up building things as children,” says Rick Matthews, professor and chair of Wake Forest’s physics department. “Legos and Lincoln Logs are great outlets for creativity.” Mark Welker, a professor of chemistry, recommends the modern-day version, K’NEX. Barbara Bennett, visiting assistant professor of English, suggests a book of essays and letters on Southern life by North Carolina journalist Hal Crowther. To see the complete list, go to www.wfu.edu/wfunews.

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