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Alita Byrd

Helping Refugees Find their Feet in Yemen


Sarah Porter, with a career in international development ahead of her, recently accepted a job with ADRA in Yemen. A few weeks in, Spectrum asked her what the country is like and what her job is teaching her.

Q: How would you describe Yemen from your experience so far? How is it the same, or different, than you imagined? What are the Yemeni people like?

Beating a Retreat to the Country


On a remote and beautiful peninsula in the Dominican Republic, forested and mountainous, small wooden cabins are being built as part of a quiet retreat.

There is no easy way to get to the mostly virgin land of the Samana Peninsula from the sprawling capital of Santo Domingo.

Adventists Through Academic Eyes

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In 2005, Palgrave Macmillan published The Road to Clarity: Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar. This social anthropological study, written after two years of fieldwork by Eva Keller, has been acclaimed by academics and read with interest by Adventists.

The study, which began as a PhD thesis for the London School of Economics in 2002, examines the intellectual life of Malagasy Adventists, and the reasons they remain members of the church.

A Young Conductor Makes Waves

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Last year, Shi-Yeon Sung became the first woman to be named assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Working under the renowned James Levine, the 32-year-old South Korean is making the most of her two-year opportunity to work with some of the world’s best musicians and conductors.

In 2006, Sung won the prestigious Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Frankfurt, Germany – the first woman to ever take home the top prize. She was given €15,000 in prize money and concerts with the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony.

Bridging Borders: A Maryland Businesswoman Gets Involved

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In almost exactly six months, Baker Park in Frederick, Maryland will be filled with colorful Brazilian costumes, exotic Brazilian food, traditional Brazilian dancers and crowds of people who want to find out more about life in their South American sister city.

At least 15,000 people are expected at the party.

Frederick, Maryland has adopted Aquiraz, Brazil as a sister city, and Brazil Day on September 7, 2008 is the biggest benefit event on the sister city calendar.

Run and Not Be Weary

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The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is called “ the world’s most beautiful marathon”, and it’s doubtful anyone would disagree. Runners race along the perimeter of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula, a long finger of land at the tip of Africa pointing down into the Atlantic Ocean. They pass long white sand beaches, waves breaking in the blue sea, and houses perched on oceanside cliffs as they wind along 56 kilometres (34.8 miles) of road.

Behind the movie camera

Last year, Southern Adventist University students and faculty released a feature film based on an Arthur S. Maxwell book. The Secret of the Cave follows the story of Roy, a young American boy spending the summer in a tiny fishing village in the west of Ireland. While there, unexplainable events happen and the locals mention ghosts. But Roy, together with his new friends, looks for clues to solve the mystery and discover the secret of the cave.

The One Who Stayed Behind


The courage of Carl Wilkens, the American Adventist Disaster and Relief Agency country director who stayed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, is an inspiration.

Although foreign diplomats, missionaries, aid workers, and peacekeepers all fled the horrific killing, Carl Wilkens decided to remain at his post and help wherever he could.

Alita Byrd asked him how the experience changed his life.

Byrd: How do you feel now, looking back twelve years after the genocide in Rwanda?

Wilkens: Each time I give a presentation about my experiences there is still a huge overwhelming sadness mixed with glimpses of hope, of courage, of selflessness on the part of those who put others first in their thoughts and actions during that time.

There is still so much to process, and to learn. Each time I speak with college students and go back and examine the genocide experience, I learn something new. I’m grateful for these opportunities.

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