Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Faculty Fellow Catches Vision

My experience as a Scholar in Michigan State University

I am Nasimolo Johnson, that stranger who was mentioned in an earlier post and this is my reply.
It was the first day of the beginning of my Faculty exchange fellowship in Michigan State University (MSU). Running tight on schedule, I had to rush to the bank and contract them for the safe keeping of my green paper, in exchange for a chipped plastic card. Just as I was about to take a seat and wait to be served, somebody in a green T-shirt (Go Green!) came from behind, offered a handshake, and introduced himself as Alex. I didn’t feel he was nervous, his handshake was firm and his face calm. We were done with introductions and exchanged contacts, and he invited me to the University Baptist Church service.  He never told me he was the pastor, which I came to learn when I finally went for my first service. In a week, I moved from a total stranger to becoming part of University Baptist family, thanks to the hospitality of the church leadership and the entire church family. That first week was a foundation for an encompassing experience of social interaction, academic and spiritual learning, and a time of personal reflection at MSU.

Figure 1: Trying my hand in pumpkin curving (Left) and attending a football home at Spartan Stadium (right)

As a visiting scholar at Michigan State University, I have experienced the intellectual and social culture of East Lansing, Michigan, and also visited North Carolina, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania University), New Jersey (Princeton University and Institute of Advance studies, famous because of a student named Albert Einstein. I also spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Dallas, Texas. Simply put, East Lansing was the launching base of my 2016 American experience.

At MSU, I have been engaged in experiential learning of scientific teaching and research. Intellectual engagement with faculty, researchers and students at the College of Veterinary Medicine, has been very full-filling. I explored didactics of veterinary gross anatomy, and conducted toxicology research. I researched the effects of air pollution on respiratory health, and identifying biological mechanisms of these effects, both at cellular and molecular level, utilizing cutting edge digital pathology microscopy system, immunologic, and molecular tools. 
Figure 2: My visit to Princeton University, New Jersey, during the fall season

What is the meaning of all this experience? Attending University Baptist Church has been an anchor in putting things in perspective. There was consistent and deliberate casting of the church vision of seeing all peoples of the world know, worship and grow (KWaG) as disciples of Jesus Christ. Through this vision, the church has found meaning for its existence, directing all its being to this goal. The regular meeting by students and scholars for worship and Kids Hope mentoring program are some of the ways the church is serving the community. What a great example that we are all equipped with knowledge, passion and skills, for reaching out to others in our community, guided by a clear vision. I participated in singing, attending Bible studies, and joined Pastor Alex in one of his out of town church service. We are the works of his hands, and he equips us for his good work!

I can still hear this clarion call.
Figure 3: Working in the lab on the digital pathology microscopy system

Figure 4: Visiting Michigan Avenue Baptist Church in Saginaw, MI for Pastor Carol's (blue vest) installation

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