The Rapidian

January Series starts 25th year at Calvin College

Once again, Calvin College provides -free to the public- daily speakers for the month of January with a variety of topics and presentations.
Underwriting support from:

Reporters needed!

If you are planning to attend any of the presentations and would like to share the experience with our Rapidian community, be sure to let us know by commenting on the Storybank pitch

(Please, only claim a presentation if you can commit to completing a story as others may also want to provide this news for our readers.)

Those who let us know with enough advance notice may have a chance to sit down for an interview with the speaker. Though we can't promise anything, you may have a chance to talk with them on the phone, exchange email interview questions, or sit down with them in person.

You'll want to go to even prepared to not only capture words: make sure that you take some photos or bring along a photographer so that you can include images with your article.

Calvin College's January Series will be held January 4-24 this year, with weekday presentations starting at 12:30 in the Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium. Additional viewing locations are available, as well as online streaming of audio, for most speakers. A full list of the speakers and the topics covered in their presentations can be found online.

This year's speakers range from Joel Salatin, whose story is included in books such as Omnivore's Dilemma and movies such as Food, Inc., to "world renowned expert on the Middle East" Reza Aslan, to talks about far-reaching countries such as Burma or discussions about theologians like Bonhoeffer or by theologions like N.T. Wright. This free-to-the-public winter series aims to provide a diverse selection of topics and perspectives.

We had a chance to speak with director Kristi Potter about the series, now in its 25th year:

The Rapidian: What sort of planning has gone into coordinating the series?
Kristi Potter: We plan all year long, year after year, it never stops.  We are always reading and listening to speakers and looking for potential speakers for upcoming years.  We book speakers within the year so that the series stays timely, with new topics.  The series is very eclectic with it's topics, there is never a theme, each day is a completely different conversation.  Coordinating the series means handling everything from receiving speaker suggestions, inviting speakers, working with agents, coordinating schedules and travel and visits, working with underwriters so that we can provide the series free of charge, working with the 34 remote webcast sites...

TR: What speakers are you most excited about?  

Potter: I am excited for every one of them, it's impossible to pick a favorite. Each speaker and presentation will be so different from the next. That said, I am really excited about Sherry Turkle opening our series [Wednesday January 4] speaking about how technology affects us as human beings. We've been trying to get her to be on our series for a very long time, I'm thrilled that we have her coming.

TR: How are you connected to Calvin college?  

Potter: I graduated from Calvin and have been working at Calvin ever since, for almost 25 years! I've been involved with the January Series for 16 years and have been the director for the past five. Next year I will have twin sons attending Calvin as freshman, so then I will be a Calvin parent as well. I'm very connected to Calvin!

TR: What are your hopes for people who will attend the series?  

Potter: That our series will get people thinking about topics they otherwise wouldn't learn about. We encourage people to never stop learning here at Calvin College and this is one way we can share the good things that happen every day in our classrooms with our community. I love it when people come every day for the Series (this happens a lot with retired people) and they tell me it doesn't even matter who is speaking, they are ready to listen and learn about something new and they trust every day will be interesting and worth their time.

TR: Are there any "under the radar" speakers you think are especially important for people to notice?  

Potter: Ralph Edmond from Haiti is going to be great and he is not very well know. He is going to share from personal experience what it is like to work in Haiti and mentor others to have successful businesses. He will also share how "free aid" from the US is not always helpful for the Haitian economy.

TR: What has been the most rewarding part of planning and directing the series?  

Potter: I have the best job! I get to read books and listen to speakers throughout the year and then plan a speaker series that will reach out to thousands of viewers. I love hearing back from audience members how much they enjoy the series and how it enhances their month of January each year. I am also blessed to do it as part of the Calvin College community.

TR: What kind of turnout are you anticipating?  

Potter: We hope to have a full house every day. We can hold just over a thousand on campus in our auditorium and we have locations on campus [for an] overflow if needed. We open our doors every day at 11:30 a.m. and the program begins at 12:30 p.m.
The best part?  It's absolutely free!

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