With 200 trees planted, $5,000 raised, and three cleanup activities executed, Taiz, Yemen, is flourishing with a greener landscape, increased funds for a cancer hospital, and restored public and private spaces.

Graduate School alumnus Ammar Al-Hawi ’10 said his experience at Valparaiso University was the inspiration behind these changes.

“My time at Valpo provided me the honor of becoming a social redeemer and healer in my home country,” Ammar said. “I used the experience I gained to volunteer my work and participate in community service projects to promote several social activities in my native city.”

Ammar attended Valpo on a Fulbright Scholarship and earned his master’s degree in English Studies and Communication. Since returning to Yemen, he’s become involved with AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that promotes educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Yemen.

Valparaiso University student-athletes continue their history of excellence in competition and in the classroom, with eight Valpo students across five sports being placed on Horizon League Academic All-League teams. A total of 53 student-athletes were recognized from the league’s nine institutions, and Valpo’s received the second-most honorees from a single school.

The Horizon League recognizes student-athletes with seasonal Academic All-League Teams in each of its 19 championship sports. To be eligible for Academic All-Horizon League consideration, a student-athlete must have a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.20 or higher (based on a 4.00 scale) and have completed at least one year at the member institution, having earned 24 semester-hour or 36 quarter-hour credits.

Professor of History Kevin Ostoyich was preparing to spend a year as Valparaiso University’s Study Abroad director in Hangzhou, China, when he made a life-changing discovery about a group of 106 Jewish people who took refuge in Shanghai, China, during the Second World War. This group of refugees, it turned out, was but a fraction of the approximately 18,000 to 20,000 Jewish people who had journeyed to Shanghai in order to escape Nazi persecution

At the time, Professor Ostoyich had never heard of the Shanghai Group, but as he read through documents in a file located in the state archives in Bremen, Germany, a story began to unfold. The refugees had attempted to immigrate into the United States but had been denied and eventually returned to Germany.

“As I started translating documents from this file,” Professor Ostoyich said, “I realized this was a fascinating story that needed to be told.”

Valparaiso University’s inaugural Shakespeare Week, March 17-22, was a campus-wide celebration of the work of William Shakespeare. Featuring Actors From The London Stage, one of the world’s premiere Shakespeare companies, the weeklong event featured lectures and performances across disciplines centered on Shakespeare and the role his work plays in a range of arts and sciences.

“The week was a collaboration between Christ College and the Departments of English and Theatre,” said Betsy Burow-Flak, professor and chair of the Department of English. “We were thrilled to have the Actors From The London Stage spend a week with us and to have our departments collaborate to talk about the importance of Shakespeare to what we do.”

Actors From The London Stage performed three productions of “As You Like It,” Thursday – Saturday, March 20–22. They also visited classrooms across campus to discuss their work and how it applies to disciplines beyond the theatre.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Lee Orchard, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. “They attended our rehearsals and worked with the students and coached some of the scenes. They also visited an acting class, movement class, and some of our intro classes.”

For most high school and college students, spring break is a time to have fun, relax, and maybe do some traveling. For Valpo freshman Marko Labovic, however, spring break 2013 was a frightening time of uncertainty as he faced medical concerns that led to a trip to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“At first they weren’t exactly sure what was wrong, but the doctors and nurses really made me feel comfortable,” Marko said. After some tests, he was diagnosed with myocarditis and pericarditis, conditions that involve inflammation of the heart muscle and the tissue surrounding the heart.

Avery Davis was still in high school when he was first introduced to the sheng — a traditional Chinese instrument made of bamboo pipes that looks a little like a xylophone turned on its side.

Holes in the pipes allow the performer to change the pitch of the instrument, or one can use combinations of pipes to play chords, much like a flute or a clarinet.

When Avery first played the instrument, he was in love. “I just loved the sound,” he said.

In high school, Avery had played percussion, as well as the baritone and euphonium, but it was a visit from a Valparaiso University professor who changed the way Avery saw his future.

Junior Kaitlyn Spaudie’s face lights up when she talks about the project she’s working on in her Communications in Health Care class.

“We’re researching community health initiatives and writing proposals for services either in the Valpo community or our home communities,” she said.

Spaudie is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Leadership — one of several new degrees in the College of Nursing and Health Professions aimed at giving students a broad range of career opportunities.

E.J. Ramos ’04 still gets emotional when he thinks about the moment he realized how important music is to him.

He was studying with Valparaiso University trumpet instructor, Charles Steck, when it happened. “I was in a trumpet lesson with Mr. Steck,” Ramos recalled. “We were playing through something, and I just put my horn down and said, ‘This sucks.’ Mr. Speck said, ‘What? Excuse me?’ I told him I needed to do what I love and what I enjoy, and I had to change my major.”

Ramos began playing the trumpet when he was in fourth grade but chose to attend Valparaiso University to study engineering rather than music. Then after two years in the College of Engineering, Ramos said, “I loved the engineering department, but I got to a point where I just didn’t feel right.”

At Valparaiso University, Ruyue Yuan has found a connection between math and music that might surprise most people.

“They’re both beautiful,” Yuan said.

Yuan has been playing the violin since she was 6 years old. She loves music. In fact, she enjoys studying all of the humanities, but she also has a natural gift for mathematics.

So when she followed in her father’s footsteps — he was a visiting scholar at Valpo in the early 1990s — and came to Valparaiso University from her native Hangzhou, China, she was excited she wouldn’t have to choose between her passion for math and her love of music. The interdisciplinary nature of her studies in Christ College — The Honors College allows her to pursue both a math major and her interest in the humanities. She’s also a member of the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra.

“I can’t live without playing,” she said. “Music is a part of me. I love really old baroque: Vivaldi, Handel, Bach. And also I just love really peaceful, royal music.”

Lauren Stutler dreams of traveling the world as a business management consultant. And although her plans have changed during her time at Valpo, she knows the people she’s met and the opportunities she’s had here have prepared her to make her dream a reality.

Stutler originally planned to become a high school Spanish teacher, but she quickly realized that the classroom was not the place for her.

She loves Spanish, but when required to do an observation of a high school classroom for one of her education courses, Stutler felt disconnected.

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