Everyone is back and ready to hit the ground running here at Bethel with schedules settled, events planned and also—once again—becoming a participant resident of the “Bethel Bubble.” New students were introduced to the term Bethel Bubble during orientation by block mentors, staff and faculty. Returning student Taylor Hiester described the bubble as “a place where everyone knows everyone. It’s good, but we’re so secluded from the outside world that we don’t know how blessed we are to live here.” Is the safety net something to be thankful for, a myth or a curse to stay away from? And is it actually possible to keep up with issues of local, national or global affairs while the surface of work already has students buried to their knees? Sophomore and elementary education major Britani Fitch commented on the lack of ability to reach out beyond studies. “We don’t hear about anything going on unless it comes up in class,” said Fitch. “With work, class and homework, there’s really not a lot of time to watch the news or read the newspaper.” For residential students living on campus, televisions can be found in the Dining Commons, Acorn and workout spaces. They occasionally broadcast the local news, yet students hardly seem to have time to stay long enough to catch a story—let alone hear the audio. In addition to this, the newspaper stands that usually hold the South Bend Tribune have remained bare until the Monday, September 15, 2014 edition. While Bethel is known for its close community,students are given opportunities to extend themselves beyond the bubble. During Spiritual Emphasis Week, Pastor Jonathan Brooks spoke a great deal about the importance of stepping outside comfort zones. “Think of the last place you would want to be, and Jesus is there asking you to serve,” said Brooks. Bethel offers some outlets and opportunities to reach beyond Bethel. For example, freshmen and transfers have already experienced their first Service Day at the Mishawaka Riverwalk, taking the beginning steps towards Task Force and local organizations such as Five Star, which pairs up with schools to mentor middle-school students. Education majors such as Fitch and Heister do value the opportunities they have when they get to go work in classrooms in the surrounding community or cover topics in class that involve larger conflict, or “getting to experience the real world,” as Fitch says. From another perspective, Junior Erin Cluckie describes the phenomenon with a view that takes into account her background, growing up as a Missionary Kid in Africa until she began studies at Bethel. “The Bethel Bubble definitely exists, but it’s a personal choice,” she said. “It can be like that anywhere though—at any school at or any place. People here do get to get out and engage in the world.” Because of its affiliation with the Missionary Church, Bethel accommodates a number of students that grew up in the mission field where conflict is often common. The comfort college offers can be a safe haven. “Bethel is a safe place for everyone. It’s confined and it’s comfortable,” said Cluckie. Perhaps Bethel needs the benefits from both sides. It offers a safe and stable environment to build fellowship and studies; however, it is possible to become too comfortable. Pastor Brooks also commented on becoming too comfortable in one place. “This is a place where you have accountability, wisdom and it’s awesome. But if you can’t step into the street of Mishawaka and minister to your neighbor, or the person across your dorm, how will you minister to someone halfway across the world?” Senior Tim Becze also shared his opinion upon starting his final year here at Bethel. “We go to a small school that has amazing opportunities for community and fellowship, and that is so important,” he said. “But outside our circle there is also another world that you have to consciously participate in.” Any school, or job for that matter, out in the “real world” can be a place of seclusion and detachment from society. It just so happens that when people are surrounded by others that share their same beliefs, lifestyle choices, and meals together, the urge to step outside the comfort zone and into a different environment becomes less and less prominent. Is it logical for students to know every detail of the Missionary Church, on-going Libyan Civil War, the Tea Party or today’s weather in Northern Ireland? “What’s going on, it does indirectly or directly affect every one of us in one way or another,” said Cluckie. “I don’t keep up on all current events, but it does make you more well-rounded. You have to be proactive about it.” Besides the balance of work, students now are challenged to find another balance between abiding within—and breaking through—the Bethel Bubble. When it comes to being proactive, Becze spoke on personal intentions to engage in the world outside Bethel. “People think their own thoughts, they make their own friends, they choose their own choices and you are your own person,” said Becze.