Ball Bearings magazine Volume 9 | Issue 2

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Out of instinct, humans naturally drift toward communities where they feel like they can belong. page 24

My America page 16

"Thank You, God, For Making Me Gay and Catholic" page 20

Diary of a Derby Mom page 32

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Trending Topics


The Cultures that Shape Us

Decisions involving upbringing, fashion, communication, and home affect lifestyle.

The groups we belong to are often the framework for our behavioral norms.

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Adopted Into an Identity

Although Becky Cooper was born in China, she grew up in an American household where she learned to navigate her two cultures.

The Validation of Hate

Despite outside opposition, those within extremist groups embrace group ideals as they seek social connection.

cover photo: branden dwyer


Taste of Tradition



Temporary Roots


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A culture’s cuisine lives on through each passing of a family recipe.

Experiencing different cultures can help shape a person’s values and beliefs, but it can also leave them without a sense of home.

Redefining Rural

As the world progresses, small communities work to make sure their towns are not left behind.

The Groups We Choose

Niche communities are formed as people celebrate their unique interests.

My America

The United States has become a world power since its conception, but its citizens' patriotism can sometimes verge on exceptionalism.

“Thank You, God, For Making Me Gay and Catholic"

Sometimes, two cultures central to a person’s identity can seem incompatible, but Sam Albano does his best to prove otherwise.


Where We Find Ourselves


Diary of a Derby Mom

Out of instinct, humans naturally drift toward communities where they feel like they can belong.

Leaving behind her work and mom personality, Sarah Gremer becomes her alter ego every time she skates.



oming up with themes for Ball Bearings is always an interesting process. Sometimes a group of editors sits around and brainstorms for hours, and other times something just

clicks. When someone pitched the idea for “cultures and subcultures,” the rest of us took a minute to think about what that theme would entail. We agreed that we liked it but said let’s continue brainstorming to see what else we can come up with before we decide. As we sat there, however, we all kept coming back to that idea. Rather than pitching themes, we found ourselves pitching stories. We knew this was the winner. But what does “cultures and subcultures” mean? It sounds like a huge, broad topic. To us at Ball Bearings, it means celebrating what makes people who they are. It’s telling stories about people who may not feel represented. It’s being intersectional and diverse, without tokenizing. I sometimes find myself struggling to talk to others about culture. I want to celebrate everyone and learn about other people, but I find myself holding back in fear of offending someone. I don’t always know the proper language to use, and after watching Jordan Peele’s Get Out, I am overly aware of how I speak to people of color. I don’t want to be that white person who overcompensates for my whiteness. I hope with this issue of Ball Bearings, people are able to feel open and allow themselves to be vulnerable and naive with one another. I think there is value in admitting your ignorance and approaching people with a willingness to listen. Along with learning about and celebrating culture, we wanted this issue to look into why humans feel the need to belong to cultures and groups in the first place. That’s what our cover story (“Where We Find Ourselves”) focuses on. The story explores what it takes to feel like part of a group. We are all part of cultures that make up who we are. Heritage, class, interests, location, and so much more work together to build and influence our lives. Sometimes, major parts of our identities contradict each other. For example, someone’s sexual orientation might go against their religious beliefs, but the person is able to still exist within both communities (“‘Thank You, God, For Making

photo: breanna daugherty

MILLER KERN editor-in-chief @millerkern

Me Gay and Catholic’”). On the other hand, seemingly contradictory parts of our lives might actually work together to create our overall identities (“Diary of a Derby Mom”). As an American, I’ve often heard that my country does not have a culture because of its melting pot makeup. However, there are certain characteristics that set the United States apart from other places in the world (“My America”). Across the globe, humans are social beings. We all crave a sense of belonging. We seek out groups we identify with, and those groups become a part of who we are.

BALL BEARINGS INSTAGRAM: @ballbearingsmag TWITTER: @ballbearingsmag



Editor-in-Chief Miller Kern Executive Editor Vanessa Ford Managing Editor Samantha Stevenson Art Director Annelise Hanshaw Assistant Art Director Megan Hall


Senior Editors Taylor Hohn Taylor Meyers Emily Sabens Katie Grieze Staff Writers Samantha Kupiainen Emily Cox Merritt McLaughlin Riley Eubanks Proofreader Annie Booth


Photo Editor Terence K. Lightning Jr. Photographers Branden Dwyer Stephanie Amador Michaela Kelley Sabrina Schnetzer Jordan Manders Reagan Allen


Designers Lydia Olsen Hannah Patton Tt Shinkan Alix Peters Makayla Hughes Sabrina Schnetzer Sierra Hawthorne Cecily Cavanaugh


Lisa Renze-Rhodes 409 N. Martin Ste. 2


TOGETHER, IN COLORS story: emily sabens and cheyenne harris

Trends in fashion can be predicted down to the upcoming “it” color, with a large following ready to implement it.

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photo: terence k. lightning jr.


ince the year 2000, Pantone, the “global authority on color,” has selected a color of the year. As explained by Amy Harden, associate professor of fashion merchandising at Ball State University, Pantone is one of the most prominent color forecasting services in the industry. Each year, Pantone hosts a secret meeting with representatives from all over the world. After two days of discussions, debates, and presentations, the group decides on a sole color that will reign for a year. “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design,” says Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Institute, on the company’s website. “It’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” This year, Pantone chose Ultra Violet. According to the company, Ultra Violet symbolizes “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.” Around the world, professionals from all creative industries take notice of Pantone’s annual choice—including fashion designers. Trina Gannon, a lecturer at Ohio University whose research interests include fashion and color theory, explains Ultra Violet is historically known to represent royalty and the rich. She says Ultra Violet, and purple in general, is a color everyone loves— but is often reserved for the boldest and brightest when it comes to fashion. Gannon says the fashion industry revolves on a color cycle: Trending shades go from bright, to subdued, to earth tones,

Ryne Stone walks the runway during the Architecture Fashion Show Dec. 2, 2017.

and lastly, to purple. She believes Pantone took notice and saw the fashion industry would be entering the ‘purple’ phase in 2018. As the year progresses, Gannon predicts individuals will see more shades of Ultra Violet––not just in clothing, but in makeup, accessories, and even home decor.

THE PARENTAL FIGURE story: robbie moscato-goodpaster


40% 14%

of mothers had four or more children at the end of their childbearing years


of births happened outside of marriage

of mothers have four or more children at the end of their childbearing years



How much has parenting changed over the past 60 years?

40% of births happen outside of marriage


n the summer of 2017, Gina Redfearn, 20, and her parents— 60-year-olds Paula and George—went on vacation to Las Vegas. Gina remembers it being extremely hot and humid, but she was determined to see as much as possible. However, she was unable to do this. While she didn’t mind the weather and the walking, she had to be considerate of her parents who required more breaks because they are older. Although Gina was raised by older parents, she didn’t consider it traditional in any way. She has a brother with autism who required more attention. She never felt neglected because they were still there to help her with homework when she needed it. She didn’t grow up subject to strict rules or harsh punishment. She only remembers getting her phone taken away once, and when she was younger she would be threatened to get her mouth washed out with soap if she said a bad word. According to Pew Research Center, the age of an average new mother has risen since 1970 from 21 to 26. The reason for this is mothers are more educated than in the past which sets back a woman’s desire to start a family so early. Although women are deciding to put their family aspirations on hold, there are instances in which starting a family can be unplanned. Bryce Sigsbee, 21, is the youngest of three. His mother was 21 when she had him, and his father was 22. His parents split when he was 3 years old, causing him and his sister, who was one year older than him, to be raised by his single mother. When he was 8 years old, Bryce would be left alone with his sister for a few hours while his mother was taking classes and working. The absence of his parents during this time allowed him to be more independent. It gave him opportunities to teach himself skills like cooking for himself and have opportunities for trial and error. According to, children of teen parents are more likely to grow up in poverty, live in a single-parent family, have lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation, and drop out of high school. Bryce admits that while his financial situation was a struggle, it was more to do with having a single parent and not as much to do with his parents’ ages. His family dynamic shifted throughout his life with having a single parent at one point to having two parents—to having one parent again. Regardless of his childhood independence, Bryce says that there was never a time that he wished his parents were around when they weren’t. They were always there for the important things, he says, such as cheering him on at sports and making sure that he was doing well academically. In regards to some key factors that play into the way older or younger parents raise their children, Katie Lawson, an assistant professor of psychological science at Ball State University, says that resources and support are good for any new parent in general.



If someone is raised by older or younger parents than their peers, it can cause them to have a different childhood experience.

source: pew research

Anyone who has more resources or people to help out with the children is better off. Lawson explains that there could be situations where an older adult may have more resources in terms of money but not have parents to watch their children during the day. A younger person might have fewer resources financially but more support. An article by Anne-Marie Slaughter looks at why women still can’t have it all; she concludes that “you can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” She goes on to say that there is no good time to have kids. She cites that many top leaders of the generation, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Hillary Clinton, had children in their 20s and early 30s— which was the norm at the time. A benefit of having children early, Slaughter says, is that it will help parents get back into the work industry that much sooner. For example, a child who is born when their parent is 25 will finish high school when the parent is 43—an age in which the parent still has enough time and energy to advance in a career. However, the juxtaposition of this is that if someone has children earlier, it can hinder their ability to finish school and get a good first job or enough work experience that can be crucial to a career. While both Gina and Bryce have grown up with parents that come from separate generations, they both feel as though they have been offered every opportunity in life and have not felt disadvantaged because of their parents’ ages.



LIVING ON THE ROAD story: emma davidson

Leaving all behind, some Millennials opt for a mobile lifestyle.


cross the world, individuals ranging from 20 to 35 years old have decided to abandon the 9 to 5 grind, green lawns, and white picket fences of their parents’ dreams, opting instead for the #vanlife. Most of these Millennial nomads renovate old vans to serve as mini-homes, traveling the world in search of more from life. The Serbells and the Sendlbecks are two such nomadic families. Both love the freedom they have to create the lives they want to live. On the road, they can follow their individual flows down whatever paths they lead. Sarah Sendlbeck—a mother of 2-year-old Stella and a wife to James—believes one must be flexible, adaptable, adventurous, and creative to live a mobile lifestyle. She says having a sense of humor and the ability to live lightheartedly are essential. For herself and her family, life on the road presents an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones. Happiness, for the Sendlbecks, is attained through a deeper connection to the natural world and one another. Their perspectives mirror that of couple Jayme and John Serbell. The Serbells advise that “there's enough free happiness in the world” and to not “bankrupt yourself in the name of ‘fun.’” Fortunately, living in a van keeps monthly expenses low. For both nomadic families, most allocated funds go toward gas and

travel, among other essentials. To support their modest financial needs, the Serbells work online from two websites they have monetized with affiliate links. According to aWeber, an email marketing platform, these links are provided to business affiliates to credit them with sales commissions for promoting the business’s online services by sharing their links. Similarly, the Sendlbecks maintain income through some online sourcing, such as blogging and collaborations with small shops. James also works full time in their areas of choice, acquiring new jobs at each new destination. While staying in an area for several months, the Sendlbecks find locations where overnight parking is allowed. For city areas, this can prove more difficult, but they check police maps that indicate where these spots are. Before beginning their new lifestyle, Sarah, Stella, James, and their dog, Lavender, spent nearly a year downsizing and prepping. While remodeling their van, “Topanga,” they moved into their guest room to test out living in a small space. Sarah says once they started to downsize and adapted to their trial space, they loved it and knew they could survive the #vanlife.

The Sendlbecks' Adventures

Pacific North West


Upstate NY

Vermont Salem, MA

Southern Utah



Taken drifting th Arkansas

Joshua Tree, CA

Los Angeles, CA


Taken before th ey converted the van

San Diego, CA


15 of Highway Taken off ven Se @ a in Nevad untains Magic Mo


Taken @ Joshua Tre

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e, CA

KEY one of their favorite places a place they’ve lived for an extended period of time their favorite place and a place they have lived for an extended period of time


Understanding differences in the way people across the globe interact is not just a helpful skill but a necessity. photo illustration: sabrina schnetzer


aura O’Hara, an associate professor of communication studies at Ball State University, was walking with a friend when a situation she might have discussed in her intercultural communication class became a reality. She and her friend, who was a white, middle-aged man, were having a conversation when an African American man came down the other way. Her friend looked at the man and said, “Hey, bro.” O’Hara was confused because there was no familiarity between the two men, and yet, her friend was addressing this other man as if there were. “He would have never said ‘Hey, bro’ to another white man walking down the street, he just said that because he felt some sort of right or invitation to participate in this other man's culture, and to me that is very inappropriate,” O’Hara says. O’Hara’s story shows the importance of understanding intercultural communication. Failing to realize the impact culture has on the way we communicate with one another can lead to potentially uncomfortable or inappropriate situations. High-context cultures like Central European, Mediterranean, and African cultures have very specific differences in their use of verbal and body language. Low-context cultures like German and American cultures rely heavily on explicit verbal communication while high-context cultures have implied communication, meaning the way the words are said means more than the words alone. Many high-context cultures don’t value personal space the way low-context cultures do. For example, an American traveling to Central Europe might feel overwhelmed at how close people stand to them when having a conversation. But the differences go past just speaking and standing—they involve everything from eye contact to even spitting. These cultural differences are not just from country to country. They’re evident from region to region, and they can even be found in the United States. If someone travels to the southern region of the country, they might experience how younger generations treat their elders in a very polite and

respectful way. In this region, the cultural pattern will tell one to address others by Mrs., Mr., or Miss. However, in places like New York or a more fastpaced environment, they might find these niceties to be inefficient, O’Hara explains. O’Hara uses Midwestern women as an example of this as well. She says cultural influence dictates that they be friendly and accommodate others because that’s what they’re told young ladies do. But in a place where the tempo is faster, the people might find that behavior unusual. Understanding intercultural communication can help avoid unintentional mishaps in the professional world, especially when doing business with other countries. It can save you from offending someone or embarrassing yourself. O’Hara states that intercultural communication needs to be appropriate and effective in order for it to work. Being aware of cultural cues in dialogue and in conversation can help prevent mishaps that may offend someone that you are speaking or referring to. Learning these skills is crucial during a time where being politically correct seems like a suggestion rather than a societal norm, according to O’Hara.




The groups we belong to are often the framework for our behavioral norms. story: samantha kupiainen | illustrations: megan hall

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According to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), personality is defined as a combination of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Personalities are unique to each individual and are shaped by experiences and values instilled from a young age. Personalities are formed because of two things during one’s childhood: inherited tendencies and environment. Inherited tendencies are passed down through genetics, while the environment is a combination of surroundings, life events, and relationships. Culture is an environmental factor that influences one's personality and shapes the person he or she has been, is, and has yet to be. According to Psychology Today, culture gives the framework for constructing behavioral norms. It decides how individuals present themselves and is the foundation for ideals and beliefs. Culture impacts behavior, cognition, motions, and is the mold on which adult brains are based. We are who we are because of the cultures we grew up to know and be surrounded by. To better understand how culture shapes one’s life and values, Ball Bearings interviewed four individuals from various backgrounds to see the role their cultures have played in their lives.

Roxana de la Rosa Roxana is a junior at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and has been able to continue her education thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.

After learning about my immigration status in middle school, I have identified as a Dreamer. I lived in the shadows until DACA came about when I was 15 years old. The Dreamer culture has shaped me into the person I am today. I am strong, hardworking, and ambitious. Roadblock after roadblock, I have managed to overcome it all… As a Dreamer, I have learned nothing is impossible when you truly want it. What means the most to my culture and me is unity and support from one another and not giving up on our fight. Dreamers have pushed forward together for a clean DREAM Act since as early as 2001, and we are still fighting on it today. We come together as one to defend ourselves, protect our right as humans, and move forward to completing our American dreams. For many of us, the U.S. is home, and it’s all we know. I have been in the U.S. since I was 6 months old, and I turn 21 this year. America is home to me, and I’m here to stay. I think even after a clean DREAM Act is established in the future, Dreamers will stay united after going through many similar tough situations. Being a Dreamer leaves a mark on who you are as a person, but in a positive way. The problems don’t define me, but it’s definitely shaped me into the strong individual I am today. I’m proud to have been assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved.



Na’im Mahboubi Na’im is a senior at Ball State University and president of the Baha’i Association on campus.

As far as how the Baha'i faith has impacted me, I would say that I wouldn't be who I am today [without it]... There is a teaching called the individual investigation of truth which means that as you grow up, you should be encouraged to research and learn about many faiths before deciding which one means the most to you personally. With that being said, I grew up with two Baha'i parents that were very involved in our community. They brought me to churches and synagogues, and I grew up

Bright Afriyie Bright is a graduate student at Ball State and is originally from Ghana.

[In my culture, there is] more respect for the elderly. It’s likely for you to see somebody carry some stuff for the elderly. And when you’re at home, it’s very rare for you to see a child in the house taking part in conversations [with adults] because you are not allowed [to] unless you are called in. Growing up in that culture, if you are not careful, your confidence will become impaired because you don’t always have the chance to be expressive. A lot of people grow up fearing their dads, for instance. You do something wrong at home, and your mom is like, ‘I will tell your dad.’ You just stop. The father is seen as a disciplinarian in the house. You get that kind of training and anybody you see, you’re able to identify if that person is older than you, and you give that person more respect. [As far as religion goes,] growing up, it really shaped me, especially in high school. There wasn’t a single day that I wouldn’t attend church. Recently, I broke out of that after realizing that it’s

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not too necessary. Everything you do growing up, you’d want to pray about it. Coming here has made me more receptive to other people and other cultures [and] how to embrace other people. You realize that things are different, [and] everything is done different. I’m a mix of so many things because I’ve learned so much... I’m not really able to approach older people that much. For instance, it would be very hard for me to utilize my professors’ office hours. Because I want to get everything right on my own. It gets very hard for you to get confrontational with an elderly person. There is a thin line between fear and respect... That is how I see it because in school, teachers don’t ever clean the board. In school, we had a student that was responsible for cleaning the board. That system made me tough because it’s different. You are taught to do everything almost all on your own. So, I’m really tough at this point. Nothing can really break me.

around Muslim friends of the family. I was taught that everybody is entitled to their own personal beliefs and that being different wasn't a bad thing. I was taught to treat everybody equally with an open mind as free of prejudice as I could. I learned to be kind, even to strangers. This outlook on life shaped my whole future, and I am grateful for it... [I understood] the fundamental teachings from an early age, [but waited until high school to] officially become a member of

the Baha'i faith. Without the Baha'i faith, I don't think I would have had as inclusive of an upbringing, and as a result of that I would be a very different person. I'm kind of what you would consider a social butterfly. I enjoy putting myself in situations where I [can] learn about the different aspects of a person's culture, such as music, cultural norms, and food. As an Iranian American, I have experienced more cultural diversity than many people, but I enjoy learning about even more cultures.

Morgan Lamberton Morgan is a senior at Ball State and actively participates in the Catholic faith and their practices and beliefs.

When I think of my culture, I really do think that my faith has played a huge aspect in that. I was raised Catholic. My parents really were the first people to instill the Catholic faith in me, and then I grew up in a Catholic school for first grade through 12th grade. Continuing on into college, I just grew even deeper in my faith, but I didn’t really realize what an impact that had on me until I came to college. Growing up, everyone I knew around me was Catholic, and Christian, at that. I really hadn’t met anyone who was outside of the Christian faith, so I really just assumed that everyone had this relationship with God, and the way they thought of life was nearly identical to mine. It wasn’t until college that I really started to experience that there are a lot of people who have different beliefs than I do, and they see the world through a completely different lens. That has only driven me further into my faith, to really understand what it is that I believe in and why I believe that. At the end of the day, I think what my faith has done the most for me [is] given me an incredible amount of joy... It’s not to say that bad things don’t happen to me—of course they do. But when I’m faced with a trial

or tribulation, I turn to prayer, and I turn to my faith. I have the understanding that there is nothing that can come to me in a day or in my lifetime that will completely destroy me because I know that my life has meaning, and my faith has instilled that in me. My faith has taught me that I am a beloved and cherished daughter of God, and I have a purpose. My life is meaningful to those around me and to my creator. So, at the end of the day my culture in terms of my faith is just the utmost joy; that no matter what happens, I will have this joy, and my faith truly does bring me joy. Just the things that my faith has given me—the understanding of Christ in the Eucharist, the ability to encounter so many outpourings of grace in the sacraments, [and] this community of faith-filled people. Sometimes, I really wish people could come just watch the Bible study I’m in because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a room like this one—filled with so much laughter and joy and compassion for one another. Joy is my culture. It has given me the absolute, utmost joy. Ball Bearings has edited statements for clarity.





Although Becky Cooper was born in China, she grew up in an American household where she learned to navigate her two cultures. story: emily cox | illustrations: sabrina schnetzer

Becky Cooper holds a photograph of herself as an infant. photo: sabrina schnetzer

column// use race as a determining factor in adoption eligibility in the United States. Prior to this, it was heavily debated whether or not transracial adoption was in the best interest of the child. Children who weren’t white were less likely to be adopted in a timely manner. The law was meant to increase adoption of children who usually have to wait longer to find a permanent home. Becky was adopted when she was six months old. It was a closed adoption, meaning the adoptive parents and birth parents have no contact or information about one another, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Sometimes, Becky feels at peace with not knowing who her birth parents are. But other times she doesn’t, especially when she’s going through big changes in her life. During her sophomore year of high school, she intensely researched information on adoptions similar to her own. This wasn’t something she shared with her parents or her sister because she didn’t want to make them feel like they weren’t good enough, something other adopted people may struggle with as well. April Dinwoodie, chief executive of the

Donaldson Adoption Institute, says that it is healthy for parents to create an environment that makes their adopted child feel like they’re all in this together. It is okay to ask questions and feel sad. Becky has been able to lean on other people who were adopted in the same group as her, meaning their adoptive parents all came together to China from all over Indiana. Dinwoodie stresses the importance of parents embracing their child and ensuring them that they belong. She also suggests fostering friendships among adopted children so a child doesn’t feel alone or not know anyone else going through the same situations. Having open conversations about how to expand diversity as a family is key to healthy development. While Becky’s family took steps to teach her about her birth culture, it was still through what she considered an Americanization because it was facilitated by her parents. Growing up, she went with her parents, sister, and other children from her adoption group to international festivals, Chinese New Year celebrations, and dance lessons with other adopted Chinese kids. Most of the Chinese people Becky knew as

photo provided: becky cooper


s Becky Cooper’s parents stepped up to the American Airlines counter after waiting in line, Becky and her sister followed. Their family was getting ready to visit Hawaii over Christmas break. Back up! Get back in line, a worker yelled at Becky and her sister, Libby. Becky was taken aback, then she realized why the worker yelled. It wasn’t the first time she had been in a situation when she was treated differently by people who were confused why she didn’t look like her parents. Becky and her sister are two of many people in the United States who are adopted from China. In 2016, adopted children from China, the most common country to adopt from in the U.S., made up 42 percent of international adoptees. According to the Children’s Bureau, the number of finalized adoptions from China has remained relatively stable for the past decade, ranging from 50,700 to 53,600 adoptions a year, with an exception of a spike to more than 57,000 in 2009. Becky was adopted in May of 1996, the same year that the Multiethnic Placement Act was amended. This act made it illegal to

Becky Cooper with her sister, Libby, and her parents, Bob and Carrie, in Hawaii over Christmas break.



U.S. ADOPTIONS FROM CHINA In the past few years, China has changed their adoption policies and now allows for Chinese families to have two children.

Gender of Chinese Adoptions 14%

photo provided: becky cooper

14% Male Male

86% Female

As an infant, Becky Cooper is held by her father, Bob, as her mother, Carrie, stands next to them.

a child were also adopted, so she felt that her experiences with Chinese culture were not the most authentic. They were through an American perspective, put on by people who had not been to China or may not even know someone who is originally from there. According to “Transracial Adoption: The Pros and Cons and the Parents’ Perspective,” by Andrew Morrison of the University of Colorado School of Law, transracial adoption was extremely rare prior to the 1950s, with adoption agencies discouraging it. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Americans became more open to transracial adoption. At this time, there were more white parents looking to adopt than there were white children up for adoption. Becky resented her birth culture for a while because of stereotypes she heard from other people, like she should be good at math or playing the violin. She felt like she was white despite her appearance. But her birth culture is still part of her. Her Chinese name is included in her legal name, which is Rebecca Faith Li Xin Cooper. Not many opportunities arose that felt authentic, and when Becky had the chance after her senior year of high school to visit the orphanage she was adopted from, she

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turned it down. Others who were adopted at the same time as her were going, but she didn’t feel quite ready yet. She plans to maybe visit one day, but doesn’t necessarily feel a desire to see the orphanage. Becky feels like her adoption story is personal, and she shouldn’t have to explain herself just because it’s easy to notice that she’s Chinese and her parents aren’t. Sometimes, people immediately ask Becky questions after they find out she’s adopted, like if she will ever visit China, knows who her birth parents are, or where she is “really from.” “People don’t see it as a personal thing, they see it as a public thing,” Becky says. “I don’t respond well to having people ask me deeply personal questions in a casual way.” According to Dinwoodie, it’s hard to ignore the challenges that difference creates—not just difference of race but through difference of class. It is important to not underestimate reasons that an adoption takes place, and often birth parents and adoptive parents are in different classes. “If anything, being adopted has given me a greater capacity to love,” Becky says. “Because I know that it’s not about who you share blood with. That has nothing to do with it.”

Since 1999, females have been up for adoption more often than males. However, for the year of 2016, it was almost 50/50.

232 days

on average to complete a Chinese adoption



Number of adoptions from China from 1999-2016

$16,300 is the median amount of adoption fees for Chinese children in 2016

source: u.s. bureau of consular affairs,


AMERICA story: taylor meyers | illustrations: hannah patton

The United States has become a world power since its conception, but its citizens' patriotism can sometimes verge on exceptionalism.

he flag hangs correctly on the flagpole in the yard. It’s not touching the ground, the staff is angled just right, and the screws are tightened to keep the staff in place. Andrew Sartin is excited. This would be the first year he would be able to explain to his 5-yearold son and 4-year-old daughter what that flag stands for and why the Fourth of July was important to America. It’s not just about the pretty fireworks in the sky. It’s the day our country became free, which is really, really important for being an American. The two didn’t fully grasp the weight of the holiday, of course, but the need for Andrew to instill these morals into his children at a young age was, and still is, really

important to him. Officially, Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but the Declaration of Independence was signed on Aug. 2. Two days after the declaration was the first Fourth of July celebration, a celebration that has commemorated patriotism, pride, and freedom for the United States ever since. The rest of Andrew’s holiday was spent in a lawn chair, kicking back with his wife and kids, drinking a few beers, and watching the fireworks light up the sky—each boom and crackle resonating the sound of freedom that echoes inside of Andrew and many Americans. That resonation of freedom is a large part of the reason America is the way it is, and why the culture of patriotism is a steel fist in the U.S.

History Shapes Us Culture has many definitions, but in brief it is the “integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends on the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations,” according to Merriam-Webster. America’s culture is cultivated by an array of symbols: the bald eagle, Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, Route 66, stars and stripes, the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, hot dogs and burgers, baseball, and more. The list continues on and on, but all of these symbols have been passed through generations, creating America and Americans, like Andrew and his family, today. Despite these symbols, though, it has long been said that America is a “melting pot” of cultures due to the massive amounts of immigration

from other countries the U.S. has witnessed. The U.S. experienced major immigration for the first time when the British colonized and established the U.S. in the early 1600s. The second was during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1880 to 1920) due to families wanting a greater economic opportunity. In 1931, the term “American Dream” was coined and “the land of the free and home of the brave” was sung across the U.S. in a way to unite the nation. Andrew, who is now 29, was raised in Hazard, Kentucky, by a military-based family. Most of his childhood was spent outdoors. He woke up at the crack of dawn, left his house, and was expected to be home by dinner time. Dinner time was extremely important in his family. The U.S. is now the third largest country in the world with a population of more than 325 million people. The United States Census Bureau tracks all of this information live on a population clock. According to Statista, 85 percent of that population considers themselves patriotic. Simon Balto, an assistant professor of history at Ball State University, thinks a root of the American identity is the thought of survival and conquest. That root lies in America’s history. “You get these immigrants coming over from Europe that are engaged in constant conflict with native people, essentially from the beginning,” Balto says. “And there

are a number of historians who have argued that the idea of an American identity as something unique and distinct from being just British colonial subjects is the fire in which that gets forged.” Basically, Europeans arrived and were in immediate conflict with “the other,” or native people, as Balto describes. Today, Andrew works 12-hour shifts for Dayton Freight. He drives a semi truck, running a different route every day. He still leaves his home near Indianapolis at the crack of dawn and comes home around the time for dinner. Andrew, with his scraggly, reddish-brown beard and stocky figure, hops in and out of the cab throughout his shift. He drives all around Indiana making deliveries to companies. It’s good money being a truck driver, but it’s also hard work. His dad and grandpa made a large impact on who he is today. His grandpa taught him about hard work—that’s how you make a living in America. You only get what you earn; nothing is handed to you, he remembers his grandpa saying while he grew up.

Exceptional America America has a history of feeling superior to other countries. Princeton University produced a report about the determinants of ethnocentrism in the U.S. It says that every society considers itself superior to others, and that is widely accepted in social

PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN The following agreed with the statement: "I am very patriotic." •

70 percent of Millennials

91 percent of Baby Boomers

• •

86 percent of Generation X 90 percent of the Silent Generation

source: pew research

sciences. It refers to the acceptance of like cultures and rejection of any different culture. The Princeton study considers ethnocentrism like a ranking. There are those who have beliefs that express discrimination against civil rights communities, those who express economical and political discrimination, and those who express social discrimination.

American exceptionalism, which ties into ethnocentrism, is the belief that the U.S. is somehow unique compared to other countries. According to the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture, being exceptional means that one either withdraws from the world like an isolated, but inspiring, “city upon a hill,” or one is “called upon to actively lead the rest of the world to a better future.” Balto doesn’t know where patriotism, which is one’s vigorous support for their country, originates. But he does think American exceptionalism and patriotism are pretty close to the same thing. This is a belief that he does not necessarily agree with, but he says does exist. “It’s this belief that the United States is somehow this precious, little, unique egg in a vast basket of other eggs that are not as good,” Balto says. The image of Uncle Sam was used to encourage men to enlist in the military and to encourage civilian support for the entry of the U.S. into World War I. Uncle Sam was officially adopted as a national symbol of the U.S. in 1950. Andrew’s grandpa didn’t need encouragement to enlist, though. His brother was drafted in 1969 for the Vietnam War, but he wasn’t. His brother was then killed in the war, and he was filled with a need for revenge and validation.

He enlisted himself and fought for his brother. Andrew doesn’t know if his grandpa’s background in the military helped shape who he is today, but it’s very possible. His grandpa does always tell him things are 100 times different today than they were when he was growing up.

Our Country Today In Andrew’s eyes, the morals of today’s generation have drastically changed compared to when he was growing up. Andrew was raised in a country home by his parents and grandparents, with his grandpa being a large role model and mold for who he is today. He was taught about hard work and family and how those were the two most important roles a man should fill. And, according to Global Research, he’s right. The culture of America has changed over the years. While Andrew’s generation and the generations before were taught about an accountable government, rule of law and presumption of innocence, respect for others and for principles, and manners, it’s said that today’s culture is a “youth culture”—defined solely on the entertainment industry. Andrew doesn’t want his kids to grow up relying on the internet and social media. As the media landscape changes, one thing might be remaining the same: the difficulty of narrowing down America’s strict culture. Balto says today’s brand of

patriotism is unique, and he doesn’t know what it would have looked like 100 years ago. But Balto also says around 100 years ago when immigrants from Germany or Poland or Czechoslovakia were coming over to the States, politicians and citizens were worried they would be more devoted to their home country than they were to America. The immigrants were practicing their traditional cuisines and religions. It was new to America. But throughout the mid 1900s, those cultures and traditions were absorbed into the traditional, white America. Today, someone with German heritage is just considered “white.” The definition of that “melting pot” we’re known to be has become a little unclear. Andrew says that when he was younger, he didn’t see race as a huge deal like he feels it is today. “When I was little, we knew we were different races, but that never mattered,” Andrew says. “There’s a big divide and I don’t remember it being that way when I was younger.” According to Balto, today’s culture is constantly trying to define itself as anything but a “melting pot.” He brings up some Americans’ viewpoint of undocumented immigrants and Syrian refugees— their cultures aren’t welcome into the “pot.” “What America means to people is constantly in conflict,” Balto says. “The answer is going to look different depending upon who you ask and when you ask them.”



FAST FACTS • 2,448 miles long • Existed from 1926-1985 • Approximately 85 percent of the road is still drivable • Starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles • Crosses three time zones and eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California source: and

Steve Bellamy’s perception of American culture used to only be what the movies showed him. And, before his trip along Route 66 in 2007, he wouldn’t have been able to point out the states on the East Coast versus West Coast. He was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales, which is on the far west end of the United Kingdom. So, like Americans look at Brits, he only saw what social media and TV showed him. One of his work colleagues’ mom had taken the Route 66 road trip in 2006. She had raved about the experience, and the thought was planted into Steve’s head. He ran the idea by his wife. Two weeks. No work. On the road in a completely foreign country. It sounded intriguing enough. Route 66, filled with nostalgia and romanticized by Americans, is the road that connects urban and rural America from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. It crosses eight states and three different time zones and is consistently covered with American culture and history. This more than 2,400 mile “Road of Dreams” sprinkled with romantic and unconventional attractions symbolized a pathway to easier times to migrants

escaping the Great Depression in 1929. After Steve and his wife decided to take the trip, they had to start planning. A large cork board hung on the wall in their home. They placed a large map of the U.S. on the board and stuck pins in the places they wanted to visit. Then they watched Pixar’s Cars to get a realistic, but still unrealistic, feel for what Route 66 was going to be like. The couple flew from Cardiff to Chicago and started their journey, with a few detours to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. They drove through places where people ride horses and there are vast plains of open fields, something Steve had never seen in Wales. Steve says that on Route 66, pride is taken for things that aren’t polished or perfected. He remembers staying at a motel owned by a couple for 30 or 40 years. The decor hadn’t changed one bit since the place was opened, which added to the authentic and historic vibe that Route 66 emits. He says Route 66 embodies America’s history and culture.


photo illustration: jordan manders



Sometimes, two cultures central to a person’s identity can seem incompatible, but Sam Albano does his best to prove otherwise. story: katie grieze | illustrations: lydia olsen


am Albano knows how to ask the tough questions. What does it mean to be gay? How am I supposed to be a good Catholic? Does God love me? When Sam joined the parish pastoral council at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in 2012, he brought those questions with him. At the council’s annual retreat, the pastor asked the group to figure out why so many registered members didn’t show up for Sunday Mass at their church in Carmel, Indiana. It’s unavoidable, some said. All of America is running from religion. Sam, who has asked tough questions about the Catholic Church since high school, had a different idea. Is there something we’re doing wrong that keeps people away? Silence. Sam might call the church out on its flaws, but he never means to stand against it. That would be like standing against himself.

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“I’m for the Catholic Church,” he says. “I’m against practices that happen that are harmful to people within the church.” One day in August 2014, Sam received a text message from his pastor. They needed to meet as soon as possible. The pastor didn’t say why, but Sam had an idea of what it might be. Two days later, on his way home from work as a teacher at Garden City Elementary School, Sam pulled into the church parking lot. Sunlight warmed his skin as he walked into the building and to his pastor’s office. Sam greeted the man and took a seat on the couch. The pastor thanked Sam for coming. He offered a cup of coffee that Sam didn’t take. There was a problem, he said. Some members in the church didn’t like the things Sam was sharing on Facebook. The articles opposed Catholic teachings, they said. I’m going to be honest with you, Sam said. I’ve posted my



of American Catholics now support same-sex marriage, roughly matching the general population


of Catholics identified their own sexuality as gay or bisexual

thoughts about being gay and Catholic. There are things happening in our church I find concerning. I don’t think I’m being unfairly critical, but I understand how some people might feel that way. The pastor was in a rough spot, but he needed to maintain peace. Sam, people who publicly disagree with church teachings can’t be leaders in our parish, he said. What do you want to do about that? Well, Sam replied, I’ve never used any position I hold in this parish to express my opinion. So, I really don’t want to change anything. Sam was just one of at least 19 Catholic Church employees or volunteers who faced similar choices that year, according to New Ways Ministry. There have been at least 20 more cases since. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of a Catholic LGBT advocacy organization called DignityUSA, says this sometimes happens when people enter same-sex marriages. But others have been rejected just for serving while gay. The Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual attraction isn’t sinful. Instead, it’s “deepseated” in some people as an “objective disorder.” But acting on gay desires is different. Catholicism considers any gay sexual contact intrinsically evil, so official statements call gay people to a life of celibacy. DignityUSA members don’t think any evidence— from Scripture, tradition, or natural law—supports this teaching. And a majority of Catholics would agree. According to a 2017 study by Pew Research Center, about two-thirds of American Catholics now support same-sex marriage, roughly matching the general population. In another study by Pew Research in 2014, about 4 percent of Catholics identified their own sexuality as gay or bisexual. Duddy-Burke says since the 1990s, the views most Catholics hold about LGBT issues have diverged from the Catholic hierarchy. People are usually surprised that Catholics as a whole support gay marriage more than some other Christian groups, she says. At age 14, Sam already felt an important connection to his Catholic faith. That’s why he panicked when, in eighth grade, he realized he was gay. Sam wondered how God could let him be gay and

More Than


say homosexual behavior is a sin. Nearly 39 percent say it is not source: pew research

then make it so difficult to practice Catholicism. How could a fixed part of him be all bad, like the church seemed to teach? He hit the lowest point of his faith in 2004. While the thought didn’t last long, on that Saturday morning, it was crystal clear: If God allows this, then God must not love me. He still trusted church doctrine. He believed dating a man would be sinful. He sometimes felt shame for having gay attractions, even though the church distinguishes between orientation and acts. During his time studying education at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, Sam prayed hard, searching for an answer. God, I want to believe this doctrine. I want to believe I should be celibate for the rest of my life. But I don’t know if I can. He sat and tried to listen. Maybe you don’t have to, Sam felt God answer. Maybe part of your calling is to be in a relationship with another man. Most people probably go through some kind of major identity conflict during their lives, says George Gaither, an associate professor of psychological science at Ball State University. He explained a theory developed by psychologist James Marcia that considers identity as a sum of one’s different—possibly conflicting—parts of life. These could include career, relationships, politics, sexuality, religion, and other identity domains, all of which develop at different rates. The theory breaks identity development down into “statuses.” In the foreclosure state, an individual is committed to some belief that probably originated from early influences, like parents or religion—things accepted without question. For example, Sam first assumed being gay meant he’d need to be celibate. But then he entered moratorium stage, when an individual actively seeks answers to some kind of identity crisis. Throughout his time at college, Sam decided it was okay to be gay and hope to find a partner. This represents the identity achievement state, when a person commits to some alternative they understand and have explored for themselves. Of course, Gaither says, it’s always possible to reach this state and fall back out of it.


What is

Dignity USA?

Dignity works for full inclusion, justice, and equality for LGBT Catholics within the church and society at large, Duddy-Burke says.

They believe Catholic churches should marry gay couples and ordination should be open to everyone.

Dignity members focus on education and advocacy.

They also work with individuals who’ve experienced personal rejection from the church, which can include denial of baptism or expulsion from Catholic schools. And a lot of the time, they are just working one-on-one to help people reconcile the conflict between faith and sexuality.

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By late 2010, Sam was 22 and a few months out of college. Prayer and study had led him to his own conclusions, but he still felt torn apart by church teachings. What if he’d just been trying to rationalize and was really ignoring the voice of truth? While driving down Interstate 465 in Indianapolis on a Sunday afternoon, he began to pray. You know, God, I really think it’s okay for me to be gay. I think it would be okay if I started dating. But I’m not totally, 100 percent sure this is okay with you. In that moment, Sam felt a sense of peace. Two months later, he attended his first service with the Indianapolis chapter of Dignity. Then at the 2013 national Dignity conference in Minneapolis, he saw a large group of LGBT Catholic people for the first time. They seemed so joyful about this part of their lives, and he wanted that, too. One night before bed, he said a prayer. Thank you, God, for making me gay and Catholic. Sam came out to his pastor at St. Elizabeth. At the time, the man said Sam could keep serving the church in his roles as a parish council member, young adult ministry leader, sacristan, and eucharistic minister. That’s why Sam was so surprised to be sitting on his pastor’s couch less than a year later with a choice to make. It was a painful decision, but it wasn’t a hard one. I’m not called to sit on a parish council my whole life, Sam told his pastor. I’m called to be honest about my faith and experience. I’m called to make things better for LGBT folks in the church. If I can’t do that and serve the parish at the same time, then I resign. They stayed and talked a bit longer. The pastor encouraged Sam to take a break from the parish but promised to welcome him back if he chose to return. Sam agreed. They stepped into the hall, exchanged an awkward hug, and parted ways. Fighting back tears, Sam walked out the front door onto the church plaza. He stopped, looking out at the wooden cross that rises from the building’s front lawn, and prayed. Jesus, I don’t know what’s going on right now. I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I trust in you, and I trust you’ll show me the right path. He walked to his car and drove home. Despite some initial anger, Sam quickly turned to the words of Jesus: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

photo: katie grieze



Intentional Eucharistic Communities are small Catholic groups that may or may not have some official connection to the institutional church. Some are created within parishes, according to the Intentional Eucharistic Communities website, while others form as alternatives to traditional churches. Duddy-Burke says these groups gather to pray and find ways to be Catholic that are “consciencedriven” and not “rules-driven.”

The Holy Spirit Catholic Community Toledo, Ohio



After about six months, he returned to his parish. He’d considered some other churches, but St. Elizabeth was where he needed to be. “Because if we go away,” he says, “there will be no LGBT presence in the Catholic Church. And there will be no motivation to make things better.” His volunteer work for the church now is mostly outside institutional bounds. He served on the national board of DignityUSA for a couple years, and he’s still part of the Indianapolis chapter. He also writes about his experiences. But most of his impact, he thinks, comes through conversations with his bishop, his pastor, and others in the parish. Sam wants more people to have those uncomfortable conversations. He wants more LGBT Catholics to share their stories. And he wants more people to ask the tough questions.

This community welcomes everyone, targeting those who’ve felt alienated or been turned away from the official Catholic Church. “Christ-centered through the Word and the Eucharist, we are challenged to love and respect all of God’s creation and to live out Christ’s teachings with guidance from the Holy Spirit… We’re serious about social justice here, so we try to practice it inside our community as well as in our lives at home and in the marketplace.”

Christ the Good Shepherd Ferndale, Michigan This community is based in Catholic tradition but also serves as “an alternative, progressive, social, ecological and liberation ministry.” They hold Mass every Sunday, with Sacraments open to everyone. “If you have not felt welcome or believe that the Church does not want ALL of your gifts because you are a woman, on birth control, are re-married, identify as LGBTQI or just not had a good fit for a church home—come worship with us… We have been told that we are ‘Grandma’s Church without the guilt,’ and we think that’s funny but true.”

Rabbouni Catholic Community Louisville, Kentucky This community strives to welcome everyone and meaningfully apply scripture to everyday life. They allow anyone to participate in communion and want to provide a place for those who haven’t been to church in awhile. “Whether you are gay or straight, single, married or partnered, divorced or re-married, a family with children, old or young, of whatever ethnicity—feel welcome here! Rooted in our Catholic tradition, we are discovering a new, and open way of being Catholic… We are by no means perfect but we intentionally try to live a hospitality that respectfully embraces all.”


photo provided: mckenzie price

story: taylor hohn | illustrations: annelise hanshaw

Out of instinct, humans naturally drift toward communities where they feel like they can belong.

n Aug. 5, 2017, McKenzie Price boarded a one-way flight from Chicago to Oslo, Norway. It was a flight she had booked quite a few times since high school, but this time was different. This time, she didn’t know when she’d come back. Whatever happened next was meant to be. During previous visits, she’d left room in her suitcase to bring home purchases. Not this time. Instead, she filled the space with warm clothes in case she stayed through the winter. Even choosing the “one way” button over “round trip” felt strange. McKenzie feels that moving to Norway was the first big decision she made on her own. Sure, she had gone to Ball State University, but that was only an hour or two from her hometown of Logansport, Indiana. Having just graduated, she was moving to Oslo to be with Espen Langseth Folkestad, her boyfriend of five years. Because he was still in school in Norway, this was their chance to finally end long distance. McKenzie didn’t know when, or even if, she’d be coming back.

BEING A PART OF THE GROUP Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.” To be happy, humans need to feel like they belong. Other people give us a sense of belonging, a feeling that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. That need took McKenzie to Norway. It might be difficult for some to make this kind of leap. But research suggests that people need interpersonal connections to be

healthy. A 1995 study published in the Psychological Bulletin found that the loss or lack of relationships is linked to depression and anxiety. People need other people to feel okay. But finding those people isn’t always easy or random. The people and places we surround ourselves with must provide certain benefits, or we wouldn’t stay. John Anderson, a Ball State sociology instructor, says individuals need to get three things from groups in order to stay in them. First, the group needs to be a resource for kinship, acceptance, and support. McKenzie gets this in Norway not just from Espen but from his family and friends. Over the course of their five-year



John Anderson’s Three Aspects of Culture An individual needs to feel supported and accepted by a group. This group should be a source of kinship. If a person doesn’t feel welcome in a community, they usually won’t take part.

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photo provided: mckenzie price

McKenzie takes photos during her adventures. Pictures range from landscape shots to photos of her friends.

relationship, she has developed a close relationship with them. When she first came to stay, those connections helped her find her footing. Second, the group must help inform the individual’s identity, and the individual has to like the group’s perception. This can come through little things, even. McKenzie enjoys photography, so she and Espen’s mother bond over that. Some days, they’ll get up early to get pictures of the sunrise. Little things. Lastly, the group needs to give the individual a chance to contribute. Although she just recently moved to the country, McKenzie feels like she has that in Norway. She’s able to contribute in her job, working at a series of salons and also as a photographer. She can be a part

of the society and culture of the country. Espen and McKenzie met her senior year of high school while he was an exchange student. They had a TV productions class together. When Espen went back home after that year, they stayed together. McKenzie got to visit a few times over the next five years. She probably never would have visited Norway if she had never met Espen, but she quickly fell in love with the country. It was especially important for McKenzie that Espen’s family immediately welcomed her when she came. While she’s known them for years, and she will always have her family in the States, the connection McKenzie has to Espen’s family helps her more than she may realize.

FALLING INTO PLACE According to Brooke Bonnell, a sociology instructor at Ball State, an individual’s connection to a primary group plays a lot into what kinds of choices they make socially. In sociology, a primary group is a small community to whom an individual feels especially close. This is most often a person’s family, but it could also be a group of lifelong friends or a tight-knit religious group. The primary group, whatever it might be, functions as an individual’s support system. Although McKenzie left her primary group of family and friends in Indiana, the community she joined in Norway

The individual needs to like the group’s perception of them. John says a group needs to tell a person who he or she is, like a friend, a leader, or a confidant. The individual needs to agree that, yes, that is who they are. If they don’t agree, they will find a community that perceives them differently.


photo provided: mckenzie price McKenzie celebrates Norway even though her current visa lasts for only three years.

was just as tight-knit and welcoming. It was a new group to fit her new surroundings. The connections McKenzie gained through Espen’s family also helped her find a way to stay in Norway: They quite literally helped her find a place to belong. When she booked her one-way flight, she wasn’t sure how long she’d have in the country because a visitor in Norway can only stay visa-free for 90 days. It’s pretty difficult to get a visa in Norway. A visitor would either have to start a business, marry a citizen, or get a skilledworkers visa. McKenzie knew she didn’t want to own a business, and she and Espen didn’t want to get married three months into living together. So she had 90 days to find a job in Norway. A skilled-workers visa requires individuals to work full time in a field they went to school for. McKenzie had to work in photography because she was a photojournalism major. But she couldn’t work freelance because it isn’t considered full-time. The first job she found was for Lene Orvik, a well-known Norwegian fashion blogger. Lene couldn’t hire McKenzie full time, though, so she had to find a different position. McKenzie remembers her first 90 days to be full of anxiety. She often had to go literally door-to-door asking for work in a language she couldn’t speak fluently. That alone might be enough to send someone packing, but McKenzie was committed to finding a way to stay. Toward the end of her visa-free period, she

The individual needs to feel like they can contribute to a group. An individual needs to be able to shape and make changes to a community. They need to feel like they have a voice. If they aren’t making changes or being listened to, they’ll probably leave.

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UNWELCOME, salon is definitely fun—the artists offer to do her makeup when she has dates with Espen—and she’s become friends with her co-workers. But McKenzie is looking forward to applying for permanent residency at the end of her three-year visa, when she will have more freedom in her career choices. McKenzie’s primary group in Norway certainly helped her get where she is now, living on a visa in an apartment she and Espen got together. Everyone needs these tight-knit groups, but they were especially beneficial for McKenzie during her first few weeks in Norway.

KNOWING WHEN TO STAY When people don’t have primary groups, they turn to other communities to find that belongingness they lack. Not having a connection to a primary group increases an individual’s chances of finding it elsewhere, like in an extremist group or a religious organization. Anderson, the Ball State sociology instructor, moved to Muncie from Daly City, California, 10 years ago to join the Christian ministry community there. He didn’t know then, but his proximity to San Francisco had shaped who he was religiously and politically—identities that were important to him. According to Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, almost three quarters of Americans identify with a

photo provided: mckenzie price

started to panic. She had received three rejection emails, and she didn’t have any more leads. She FaceTimed her parents and sobbed. Just so you know, I might be coming home soon, McKenzie said. I’m trying to think of it as part of the plan, but I’m really disappointed. The biggest reason for McKenzie’s move to Norway was to end the years of living so far away from Espen. She knew finding a job in 90 days would be difficult. But going home—back to being almost 4,000 miles away from Espen—would have been harder. She had a meeting later that day with Silje Noreng, a family friend who had been helping McKenzie find a job. Silje had connected McKenzie with Lene, the blogger who couldn’t hire a photographer full time. McKenzie only had a few days left. They were about to go over any last-minute options when Silje realized something. Oh my God, she said. Why don’t I just hire you? For the second time that day, tears filled McKenzie’s eyes. Hours earlier, she had been mentally preparing to head back to Indiana, and now, with one last-ditch conversation, she had hope. McKenzie is now a media manager for Brow Rehab, a chain of salons Silje owns. She works full time running the company’s social media, taking photos, and making creative decisions. The position was created for her, but she’s still busy every day. Working in a

McKenzie visited Espen and toured Norway before moving to Oslo.

BUT UNWILLING TO LEAVE Robert Phillips, a gay Orthodox Jewish man, marched in the Israel Pride parade on July 30, 2015. He was in Jerusalem for anthropological research; to learn more about his religion and how members of the LGBT community exist within it. As an anthropologist, he’s long studied how gay men practice religion, even if their religions don’t accept them. Though gay marriage is legal in Israel and many communities in the Jewish religion openly accept homosexual or female rabbis, the Orthodox denomination does not. Robert studies a similar situation in Singapore, where it’s illegal for two consenting men to have sex. In 2007, former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong discussed the law, Section 377A, in a public address. While he said that he didn’t want to overturn the law, he did say things shouldn’t be made harder for them than they were already. Although the law still stands, Section 377A is not actively enforced today in Singapore. While Orthodox Judaism doesn’t have an official law on sexuality, an unspoken policy stands: “don’t ask, don’t tell,” according to Robert. He never tells people he’s gay. If the topic of his love life comes up, he responds that he hasn’t found a wife yet. It’s not technically a lie. Many gay friends Robert made in Jerusalem could not believe that he was Orthodox. To them, Robert’s choice to be part of a denomination that doesn’t accept homosexuality was unfathomable. Both Singapore and Orthodox Judaism follow doctrines—the law and the Torah. Some denominations in both Christianity and Judaism have interpreted Leviticus in the Old Testament in ways that accept homosexuality, but Orthodox Judaism views the Torah as non-negotiable. Robert doesn’t believe Singapore or Orthodox Judaism will ever change their stances or laws on homosexuality. Even so, Singaporeans in the LGBT community generally don’t leave the country. Instead of going somewhere more accepting, they want to stay and try to change their home. The pull to be part of a community is so strong that people might stay even if they aren’t completely accepted, like Robert in his faith. In the end, at least for them, it’s worth it.


Espen and McKenzie enjoy outdoor activities together. According to McKenzie, this is common for Norwegians.

photo provided: mckenzie price

Christian denomination. Indiana follows this average; 72 percent identify as Christian, 26 percent identify as “none,” and 2 percent identify with non-Christian religions. In California, 63 percent identify with Christianity, while 9 percent identify with non-Christian religions. The differences between the religious climates of Daly City and Muncie soon became clear to Anderson and his wife. He fell into a deep depression. He moved his two kids across the country to follow a dream that didn’t work out. With ministry no longer an option, Anderson couldn’t see Muncie as home. He felt his inner-voice suggest: How about a retreat? He rang in the new year of 2013 at John XXIII Retreat Center in

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Hartford City, Indiana. The threeday, two-night retreat was held in silence except for a 45-minute daily check-in with Sister Joetta. Anderson spent the first few hours sobbing over the home he had left, but he felt he could breathe deeply for the first time since moving across the country. Although Anderson came to Muncie to be a minister, he realized he was meant to be a teacher. He completed his master’s at Ball State and is now on track to finish his doctorate of education early. When John XXIII closed to move to a new location, Ball State became Anderson’s new community. Ball State’s culture speaks to who Anderson is. He feels as though he can contribute, both as a teacher and a student. Staying in a community might not always work out, like with

Anderson’s ministry ventures. When people don’t feel that kinship, identity, and contribution Anderson discussed, they can leave and seek it somewhere else. For now, McKenzie isn’t planning on leaving Oslo, apart from a trip in June to visit her family. She’s found a place she fits in. Overall, though, she’s still not sure what her future holds in Norway. Ever since she moved in August, she’s believed that whatever happens is meant to happen. She is doing her best to stick with that mantra. McKenzie feels at home in Oslo. Yes, she misses her family and America’s Mexican food. But she feels more herself in Oslo than anywhere else. She can’t picture herself living in Indiana again. Oslo is the place she’s meant to be… at least for now.


People are colder to strangers in Norway than in the U.S. Transportation is different—Norwegian cities have buses, trams, trains, or bike lanes everywhere. It’s rare to eat out in Norway. People prefer to cook, and restaurants are more expensive than in the States. People are more outdoorsy in Norway. It’s common to see people walking, hiking, or skiing all the time. Personal appearance is more important in Norway. McKenzie says you never leave the house “completely yourself.” The no-makeup, sweatpants look isn’t okay there. 31

32 |

photo: terence k. lightning jr.


DERBY M M Leaving behind her work and mom personality, Sarah Gremer becomes her alter ego every time she skates. story: merritt mclaughlin | illustrations: tt shinkan

Sarah Gremer sits in her office in the Cooper Science Complex surrounded by mountains of disheveled files. So far today, she’s had three criers, two complicated schedule changes, and narrowly avoided two major meltdowns. All in all, not a bad day in the life of a health sciences adviser (the primary department adviser for nutrition and health science). When she comes home from work, she’ll have to wrangle her two boys, Noah and Gavin, through dinner, baths, and bedtime. Likely she’ll have two criers, some schedule changes, and hopefully avoid two near meltdowns. After the boys are in bed by 8 p.m. and the house is clean, the transformation begins. It starts with the hair. Sarah parts her fiery-red tresses down the middle, securing them into two low pigtails. Next is the outfit: spandex active-wear pants and a tank top with fun socks. She hauls her bag over her shoulder and gets in her green Subaru Outback for the 16-minute drive across town to Gibson’s Skating Arena. Sarah sits near the door, pulling on elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and her helmet. Her mind is skidding to a stop—thoughts about her students and the growing heap of paperwork on her desk get dimmer and dimmer. As she laces up her quad roller skates, her mind is on the upcoming practice. She pops in her mouth guard, rolls across the black neon-patterned carpet to the ledge that leads to the skating floor, and puts one foot out first. Ready to take practice by storm, Aria Kiddinme steps out onto the track. Roller derby content creator and blogger,

Wendy Walden, known more commonly as Nox, says derby is a culture that brings in a diverse group of people. “People come to derby for different reasons, which makes our culture a big mix,” Walden says. “Some come for the athleticism of a full-contact game, the community of a DIY team sport, and/or the ‘alternative-ness’ of this roller skating activity.” Sarah came for a challenge and a change.

A NEW BEGINNING Gibson’s Skating Arena is the Derby Dames’ home. It’s where the team comes to practice and where they are able to escape reality for a few hours. Although roller derby is more regulated and takes measures to keep skaters safe, it is not without its risks. Roller derby is a full-contact sport. Concussions happen frequently. Broken bones and minor sprains are common. Many skaters put their passion before their fear and are willing to sacrifice getting hurt to play the sport they love. That passion often results in colorful bruises and other badges of honor. According to Nox, this is because skaters love what the sport gives them more than they fear the risk of being injured. “You fall in love with derby and never want to let go,” she says. It’s confusing. It’s hard-hitting. It’s fast paced. It’s even a little dangerous. But all of that is exactly what made Sarah want to join. Four years ago, Sarah lost about 60 pounds. She thought she’d be thrilled about

hitting this goal, but something was off. She didn’t feel strong—she just felt flabby. She needed something to help her get fit. She looked into taking some fitness classes in the mornings, but her kids would be going to school around that time so those weren’t an option. She thought maybe she could take some classes at lunch… but no, she’d be sweaty and gross when she got back to work. Working out at night was out too, she didn’t want to impact the amount of time she’d have with her kids. Roller derby turned out to be in the right place at the right time. Sarah attended the All Beers Considered event at Cornerstone Center for the Arts. While sipping craft beers, a blonde girl approached her, introducing herself as Juke Skyblocker. Sarah listened as Juke told her all about the Cornfed Derby Dames. She was intrigued. I’ll have to come watch sometime, she told Juke. Sure, Juke said, Or you could join. Sarah laughed. Very funny. I’m a mom. My time has passed. Sarah always felt that when she got married and had kids, her life would become theirs. She wouldn’t be Sarah anymore, she’d be Mom. For the first two years of her kids’ lives that was true. But as they got older, Sarah started having more free time. She realized that resigning herself to one role wasn’t enough for her. She needed to figure out who she was separate from her duties at home. She needed something exciting and challenging, something just for her. Now, here was Juke showing her what


could be, giving her a new way to identify herself. We have tons of moms on the team, she said. She assured Sarah moms could still kick butt in roller derby, but it was all up to her. Their conversation ended, but the thought of being on skates was something Sarah couldn’t get out of her head. “Modern derby is a more open, safer contact sport for those who aren’t ‘the status quo,’ but we still have a lot of work to do,” Nox says. Roller derby today brings a diverse group of people together, including moms like Sarah. A few days after talking to Juke, Sarah ended up winning tickets to see Indybased Naptown Roller Derby’s opening bout. By this time, Sarah had been talking non-stop about derby to her friend Becky. Begrudgingly, Becky agreed to go to the bout, sure that Sarah would see how dangerous and difficult it was and get over her obsession. It was just the opposite. Seeing these strong women showcasing such powerful and agile skills made Sarah’s mind up. Now, all she needed was a name.

34 |

A PERSONA IS BORN Aria stands in front of a loose semicircle of her fellow skaters, explaining a drill to them. Her hands flutter out in front of her, emphasizing each point. Her voice projects out into the rink, clear and strong. She spent more than an hour planning this practice, making sure it was challenging, but also fun. Aria is a leader on the team, serving as one of three members of the Season 8 Practice Committee. It’s her responsibility to work with the coaching staff and other members to structure practice and run drills designed to prepare the team for upcoming bouts. It’s a big job, and it’s one Aria doesn’t take lightly. She’s focused on making the team the best it can be. She wants each skater to come away from practice feeling like they learned something. Oftentimes, this means Aria is spending time outside of derby to plan practices and tailor drills to fit each and every skater. She spends so much time thinking about derby, she actually has begun to feel more like Aria in her everyday life.

photo provided: sarah gremer

photo: terence k. lightning jr. Roller derby gave Sarah the confidence to be different in her real life.

After her injury, Sarah's physical recovery stretched out for months.

She’s been Aria for four seasons now, and the freedom she’s felt on four wheels has changed how she sees herself. “I love being Aria. I feel more like Aria than Sarah now. When people call me Sarah I don’t actually identify right away,” she says. “Sarah’s boring. Aria’s fun.” Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Aria sees two versions of herself. Sarah is the professional, the mom, “the good one.” Aria is uncontrolled. “I can just be me. And that’s accepted. There’s no filters or putting on a show, it’s just who I am. There’s no mom there, there’s no work personality, it’s just me.” This isn’t uncommon. Some skaters dawn extravagant outfits or wear meticulously applied makeup to get more in character. While Aria doesn’t do that, she recognizes that there’s something about playing roller derby that gives people permission to be exactly who they are and who they want to be. “Maybe,” she says, “it’s because we’re a bunch of misfits. None of us are traditional and roller derby is not a mainstream sport.”


question in her mind. She was about to be rostered—she couldn’t stop now. She scoured the group for other people’s recovery timelines. Eventually she posted, sharing her story. She received an outpour of sympathy, support, and advice. Her own drive to play derby seemed to help her recover—and maybe even improve. “I know that I’m better at derby now than I was before I broke,” Sarah says, sitting in her office between student appointments. Little pieces of Aria adorn her office space, evidence that the two have come together to work in harmony. A colorful check to pay Cornfed league dues sits on her desk. Some days she even wears her roller-skate-patterned leggings to work. Her job isn’t the traditional path she thought she’d take. Her marriage isn’t traditional either, often Josh does most of the cooking or things Sarah’s always thought of a wife doing. Her approach to being a mom isn’t traditional. But she’s happy. “Derby is out of the norm, and I have always been out of the norm. It gave me the confidence in my real life to be different.” photo provided: sarah gremer

The day before Easter in 2016, Aria crashed to the floor of the rink, her ankle coming down at an odd angle with a teammate on top of her. She sat on the track, stunned at first. After 10 to 15 seconds, she felt like she was going to throw up. She couldn’t rotate her ankle or put any weight on it. A wheelchair was brought out. Aria’s friend Leslie, who was in town for the holiday and had come to watch, drove her to the Muncie MedExpress. She noticed a distinctive popping sound in her ankle as she entered the building. It’s not good, the doctor said after taking her X-ray. He told her she needed to go to the hospital, that she’d need surgery. Are you kidding me? Aria thought. She’d already done all the shopping for Easter, and she had house guests over. As the medical staff prepped for her surgery, she frantically texted Leslie recipes and detailed instructions for Easter dinner. Things would be okay, she’d just have to

deal with it tomorrow. You might not even go home by tomorrow, the doctor told her. Now Aria spoke up. Challenge accepted. After her surgery, she did get home for Easter. But more challenges lie ahead. Six weeks, non-weight bearing. Two weeks out of work. Two weeks returning to work part time. The injury happened in seconds. Sarah’s physical recovery would stretch out for months. A few of her teammates reached out, but for the most part they seemed distant to Aria. The elephant in the room, the possibility of getting injured, had plopped itself right down on her. She could understand that. But still, she needed support. Within a few days she stumbled onto a Facebook group called “Roller Derby Injuries - Blood, Sweat & Tears.” The group was a community comprised of thousands of skaters grappling with injury. Eagerly, Aria read post after post, scrolling back a few years. She was not alone. Going back to roller derby was never a

Sarah enjoys being Aria in the rink, and the persona encourages her to be a mom true to her personality.


//expert column



Despite outside opposition, those within extremist groups embrace group ideals as they seek social connection.


story: andy luttrell, ph.d, assistant professor of psychological science at ball state university | illustration: sierra hawthorne

egan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Typically considered a hate group, the church holds fiercely to an ideology that opposes the LGBT community, Muslims, and other groups, all grounded in a deeper religious conviction. They engage in provocative demonstrations on college campuses and protest military funerals, turning again and again to a fiery rhetoric denouncing

any person or activity that doesn’t meet their moral standards. At the core of the Westboro Baptist Church is the Phelps family. Fred Phelps was the organization’s longtime leader, and his family has comprised most of its membership. It’s little wonder why Megan—one of Fred Phelps’ granddaughters— had been committed to the group and its beliefs. It wasn’t just an ideology; it was her family. Among the few true needs that

Tracking the Groups According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group is "an organization that—based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities—has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." 36 |

humans have is the need to belong. In 1995, social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary gathered a mound of evidence from the social sciences, arguing that forming social bonds is a fundamental human motivation. They showed that people crave social connection and suffer clear harms to their health and well-being without it. This drive for social connection pushes people to align themselves


in hate groups are

the U.S.

with many kinds of groups and may be one reason why groups with unpopular views can survive amidst widespread disagreement. It’s a blurry line that separates a sincere belief in the group’s ideas and a hunger for acceptance by the group. To take a more common example first, consider political ideology. Although people vary in whether they tend to adopt more liberal or conservative views, there’s also a strong social force behind aligning oneself with groups labeled “liberals” or “conservatives.” Recently, psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira have argued that people’s political beliefs are often wrapped up in felt commitments to a partisan community. That is, where we stand on political issues can start to say less about our unique opinions and more about what those political stances mean for how we’ll be accepted by the group. The danger, however, is that fusing with a group, driven by our need for social connection, can insulate the group’s views from outside

The U.S. has

1,600 s

p extremist grou

opposition. A host of cognitive biases creep in, distorting people’s perceptions so that they hang onto the beliefs that keep them connected to the group. One of these biases— the ‘false consensus effect’ —can dupe us into thinking that most of the world believes what we do. Another bias—‘groupthink’— makes us care more about reaching a consensus within our group than about reaching the right answers. But this all seems like pretty common, everyday mental life. Does the same drive for social belonging play a role in the strength of especially extreme groups? To learn more about extremist groups, some social scientists have interviewed present and former members of hate groups, which are organizations committed to hostility toward various minority groups. A common theme in this research is that hate-group membership serves a need for belonging, giving people a community and social network. Indeed, hate-group recruitment often targets isolated youth who

have had trouble fitting in elsewhere. These groups have also developed a sense of community bonding which anchors a connection with the group that exists beyond embracing racist actions and ideologies that they espouse. Together, these social needs can insulate the group against outside criticism. Of course, fervent commitment to a group’s ideology is more than sheer yearning to belong, but we shouldn’t discount the powerful role that this need plays. Ultimately, Megan Phelps-Roper left the Westboro Baptist Church in 2012, and her decision to walk away began when she was put in charge of the group’s social media accounts. Over time, through exposure to other people and conversations challenging her long-held beliefs, Phelps-Roper developed new bonds, finding social connection elsewhere. These new interpersonal commitments gave her the strength to reject her former views and break ties with a community that had once provided her primary sense of belonging.

Indiana has


hate groups

source: southern poverty law center


TASTE OF TRADITION A culture’s cuisine lives on through each passing of a family recipe. 38 |


(made by Stephanie Amador) Sopes are thick bowls made of toasted or fried dough with a variety of toppings. These can include, but are not limited to, salsa, beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. They are also often filled with some type of meat like chicken, pork, or beef. Sopes are best served soon after they are made. They are typically a main dish but can also be served as an appetizer. Sopes recipes can vary based on different regions of Mexico. Recipe: 2 cups Maseca (corn masa flour) 1 teaspoon salt 1 â…“ cups warm water 1 cup salsa 1 cup shredded lettuce ½ cup crumbled queso fresco To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, and water. Form the mixture using your hands. Separate and roll the dough into 12 to 16 medium-sized balls. Place the balls of dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten them into even circles. Place the flattened tortilla on a griddle over a medium-low heat until both sides are light brown in color. While the tortilla is still hot, use a towel to pinch and fold up the edges. Fill with toppings.

story and photos: reagan allen



(made by Frances Coolman)

Neoguri is a type of instant-noodle soup. It is made with Udon-style noodles and a spicy seafood broth. The soup can be prepared a variety of ways, one of which includes chopped vegetables and spices within the broth with a poached egg. Spicy noodles are a staple for Koreans, much like rice is. They make for a quick and easy meal comparable to macaroni and cheese in America. Recipe: 1 package of Neoguri noodles 1 egg chopped vegetables chili flakes

photo essay//

MEGALGAL SAUDI ARABIA (made by Danah Alqunfuzi)

Megalgal is a liver grilled with savory onions, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and cumin. Then the meat is served over rice. This dish is considered a street food in Saudi Arabia and often made as a home meal. The dish is good for people with lower hemoglobin levels because liver is high in iron. Recipe: Dice onions with garlic and sautĂŠ with olive oil Season with salt and pepper Add the liver and cook for 8 to 12 minutes Cook until the liver is brown and no longer leaks blood Sprinkle cumin onto the liver as it simmers Finish with rice Add parsley as a garnish


//photo essay //column




story: emily sabens

Experiencing different cultures can help shape a person’s values and beliefs, but it can also leave them without a sense of home.


s a young child, Victoria Wilson loved visiting Ball State University. Her aunt attended school there, so Victoria and her mom would frequently come to Muncie to see her. Victoria would run the halls of her aunt’s dorm, decked out in toddler-sized Ball State gear. But Muncie was only one of many places Victoria would travel to throughout her childhood. Victoria was born in Marion, Indiana. Her parents were in high school when they found out they would be having a baby. Her father needed to find a way to support his growing family; he chose to enlist in the Air Force—a job that required Victoria and her family to move multiple times across the country. Over the past decade, Americans have moved less than ever

42 |

before. According to a 2015 report by the United States Census Bureau, 34 percent of people had moved in the previous five years—the lowest rate in history. But Victoria has never been in the same place for more than a few years at a time. Once her father enlisted, the family packed their bags and moved to the East Coast and lived in Delaware. Then Alaska, California, Ohio, and Illinois. Now, Victoria lives in Muncie, where she attends school at Ball State. Moving around did have its benefits, though. Living in diverse places allowed Victoria to experience different cultures and traditions. For example, when living in Alaska, her family frequently went camping. On these trips, they often

photo illustration: stephanie amador

encountered Inuit, a group of indigenous individuals who inhabit the Arctic regions. Victoria remembers being invited by some of the Inuit to join in on their traditions, such as sitting around a large fire or taking part in dances. Similarly, when she was in California, Victoria experienced the “carefree, accepting, and open” attitudes of the people who lived in the Sunshine State. Camilo Sanz, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Indianapolis, says experiencing different cultures can provide someone with many benefits. “By traveling, you open your eyes to new cultures. You see the world we live in is not the only one,” Sanz says. And Sanz says the earlier on you get to experience these new cultures, the better. Because Victoria was still a child when she moved to many of these places, it helped shape her beliefs and ideals at a young age. But, despite getting to see the world, Victoria says she always found it hard to plant roots. “I never really had a home,” Victoria says.

When Victoria moved to California, it was the first time she ever attended a public school, rather than the schools on base. She was scared at first. As time passed, though, Victoria began to form strong friendships and even had a boyfriend. It was the first time in her life she says she felt established. But then, her dad was offered a full-ride scholarship to earn his master’s at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio—a degree that would take him only 18 months to complete. The family moved once again. Victoria, at first, did not accept the fact they were no longer in California. She insisted to others she would return to California for college. She even maintained her relationship with her boyfriend, despite being more than 1,000 miles apart. Besides, Victoria knew her family would only be in Ohio for a year-and-a-half. Then Victoria discovered theatre. When she moved to Ohio, Victoria was surprised to discover how many people appreciated the arts. She became involved and fell in love. She eventually broke up with her boyfriend, but it didn’t


matter—she met some of her best friends in Ohio. She stopped talking about California all the time. It was the first time in her life, she says, she felt like she had a true home. But the 18 months soon passed, and the family moved once again, this time to Southern Illinois. Victoria was devastated. For her, living in Illinois was just something to endure. She could not relate to anyone in her classes. She was ready to move on to college—so much so that she wound up graduating early from high school. But not everyone’s experiences are like Victoria’s. According to a study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, frequent family relocation can also be associated with an increased risk of children failing a grade in school and having recurring behavioral problems. Luckily, Victoria did the opposite. When Victoria was looking at colleges,

she knew she wanted to go to the place she remembered having such fond memories of as a child—Ball State. Victoria is currently studying nursing. She chose this major partially because she wants to help people, but it’s also a career that will allow her to travel. Even though Victoria has lived in many places across the U.S., she’s not done yet. Once she graduates, she wants to take five years to work as a traveling nurse. Even though she hated moving around as a child, she did love getting to see and experience new places. But for now, Victoria will be in Muncie. Although it’s only her second semester at school, she says it’s already beginning to feel a bit like home. Especially when her aunt brings her 2-year-old cousin to Victoria’s dorm room in LaFollette—holding her hand, walking down the hall and letting her explore her room, just as Victoria did with her aunt when she was a toddler herself.

44 |





After her father's enlistment, Victoria's family traveled all over the U.S.




photo provided: victoria wilson




photo illustration: stephanie amador


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Ball Bearings has won national and regional awards from Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Hearst, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and more. We specialize in long-form, narrative journalism where we tell national stories through a local perspective. Whether you are interested in writing, photography, design, videography, or social media, you can find your place with Ball Bearings. Sound like your kind of thing? Come to our workshops Wednesdays at 5p.m. in AJ 360 or email

photo illustration: jordan manders


RURAL As the world progresses, small communities work to make sure their towns are not left behind.

story: riley eubanks | illustration: cecily cavanaugh


hon Byrum couldn’t sleep. His job was on his mind. He was thinking about zoning and ordinance requests, both of which were out of his control at that point. He was thinking about all the lives and families that would be saved if the community and government accepts his building request for a women’s addiction treatment center. He was trying to save lives. Something like that would keep anybody up at night. Years ago, when he was growing up on his family farm three miles south of Winchester, he used to wake up in the middle of the night positioned in a 90-degree angle as if he were riding a tractor. The body position was engraved into his mind. He had days where his father would wake him up in the morning, show him the tractor he would be using for the day, give him a sack lunch, plowing instructions, and tell him he was finished at suppertime. As mayor, he attends to much different tasks; however, he has a similar attitude about solving them as he did back on the farm. He says he learned common sense and valuable problemsolving skills from growing up in a small town that he uses in his everyday life. In the coming months, Shon will once again run for the Indiana House of Representatives. If he wins, his time as mayor would end, and he would represent District 33, which encompasses Jay County, Randolph County, and even parts of Muncie.

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column// photo: sabrina schnetzer



By the numbers:

104% 95.74% Urban areas

job growth since 2008 as Americans search for jobs

Shon Byrum writes a letter to his secretary in Winchester City Hall. He is proud to be mayor of a town with a population of around 5,000.

Shon says he wants to be “a voice” that will “stand up” for the rural way of life in the Indiana General Assembly. He wants to say, “Look, we have people who have paid taxes for generations and generations. We matter, too. Our way of life matters, too. We need these resources to come back this way as well.” The mayor says that if someone doesn’t go down to Indianapolis and stand for their way of life, rural communities’ populations will continue to get older, the schools will suffer, and people and businesses will stop investing in small towns. Shon says he is willing to vote against his own party if it means more money is going to rural communities instead of overfunded, urban communities like Fishers and Noblesville. There are plenty of differences between rural and urban life. Sometimes they dress differently, vote differently, and talk differently. Shon was quick to point out how managing a rural city is different compared to its sizable counterpart: Resources have to be allotted differently in rural areas. Traditions are different in small towns than they are in bigger, more established cities. Shon cusped his hands in the shape of an inverted pyramid to describe the population of Winchester, saying that the city is becoming much older, and young people are not wanting to move to small towns due to a lack of technology and other amenities. This, he thinks, is scary. Shon says that small towns in America must have a rebirthing of sorts if they are ever going to survive in the future. He referenced a theory some have: At some point in the future there

will only be four categories of jobs that humans will be working because artificial intelligence will drastically change the workforce. Monte Poling, city manager of Union City, another small community, echoed Shon’s message that populations in small towns are getting significantly older. Poling says the trend across the state among young people is to move toward urban areas instead of small towns, in search of jobs. The rates of education, poverty, and crime also differ in urban and rural communities. But Poling doesn’t believe that there are any significant differences in the problems presented in urban cities and rural areas. The problems are just on a different scale. The community and culture are also different. Poling says life in a small town is slower than a big city. People in small towns can develop better relationships with one another. He calls the community in Union City an “extended family,” and that it’s one of the bigger blessings of living in a rural area. But these two ideas don’t always have to be separate. Brad King, who works in the community development office for Muncie, says he thinks the qualities of urban and rural cities come together in his town. King says Muncie has the amenities of a larger town with a small-town mentality. A lot of people know one another within the community. King thinks it’s comparable to the environment in Winchester, where he grew up, even though the populations are vastly different.

Rural areas

13% 16.7% Urban areas

Rural areas

portion of the population below the poverty line in 2015

63% of rural Americans with broadband internet connection, up from 35 percent in 2007

$190,900 median home value in urban areas, compared to $151,300 for rural areas

source: u.s. census bureau, pew research, integreated public use microdata series


Niche communities are formed as people celebrate their unique interests. story: samantha kupianen | illustrations: megan hall

Merriam-Webster defines culture as, “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institute or organization.” But in today’s society, we’ve often forgotten that many cultures exist beyond the confines of our social norms. Culture is more than just a religion or a racial group; it’s a shared belief, idea, concept, or theory that creates a bond among a group of people. There are many cultural groups who are lesser-known, but they are just as important to those who belong to them as a well-known group might be to others. KINKY CURLY ALLIANCE


The Kinky Curly Alliance is a group on Ball State University’s campus that focuses on embracing natural hair. As a group, they welcome all ethnicities and structure their meetings around teaching members how to care for and embrace their natural hair. The group is relatively new, having been founded in fall of 2017.

Les Troupe de Levis is a living history re-enactment community that re-enacts the French and Indian War period of 1754 to 1763. Members keep in contact through Facebook and attend living history re-enactment events about six to 10 times per year. At those events, members learn how to construct period-correct clothing, shoes, tools, and materials. They also learn how to make period-correct meals and how to clean and fire muskets.


BDSM BDSM is an acronym for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism that is used in the context of sexual activity. The Muncie group promotes sex positivity and is a safe place to talk about your sexual interests. It provides sex education and is a place to discuss safe practices at their informal meetings. This community is for individuals that are 18 and older.

The Gallifreyan Anthropology Club is a Doctor Who club that current president, Drew Hayden, started in his basement while he was still in high school. The name Gallifreyan comes from the name of the planet, Gallifrey, where the original Doctor Who reincarnate is from. At club meetings, attendees watch a few episodes of Doctor Who and analyze them. The club hosts various fundraisers throughout the semester and attends competitions.

IBRBS IBRBS is a large, volunteer-based international corporation of Santas and Mrs. Clauses that has representation in more than 30 countries. Members partake in various classes which teach them what to expect when a child has health or mental needs and how to make them feel comfortable. The Santas in IBRBS strive to show good character at all times and keep the Christmas magic in the hearts of children of all ages by creating an international Christmas community. 48 |



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