New Theme Houses Offer Unique Opportunity For Students to Live and Learn
Janae Riha knows she is living a dream by attending college. The Nebraska Wesleyan junior and her “dream team” are anxious to share their dreams with students at a nearby elementary school.
That’s just one project in the works for the residents of Nebraska Wesleyan’s new theme house — the Dream House.
“We’re living our dream of attending college and we want elementary school students to know that it can be a dream come true for them as well,” said Riha.
Juniors and seniors have a new living option this year. Theme housing offers students the opportunity to explore their world by providing them unique chances to learn, develop and grow. Students will not only be active on campus but will extend their learning and growing throughout the community.
The Dream House is occupied by 11 men and women who are celebrating their diversity. Many of them are of different faiths, are studying different majors and are members of different athletics teams.
“We want to go into the schools and talk to students about having dreams and never giving up,” said Dream House chair Kelli Raile. “We want to use our diversity and talents to help the kids in our community.”
Just a few blocks away is NWU’s other theme house — the Green House. But going “green” in this house isn’t just about the environment, said Green House chair Brandon Schlautman.
“It’s more about living a lifestyle that is characterized by good choices and actions,” he said. “When we help ourselves then we are in a better position to help others.”
Schlautman said he and his seven roommates will strive to make good choices about school, work, relationships, health and faith.
“We know how to recycle, we know not to liter, and to turn off the sink while we brush our teeth,” he said. “Our definition of green living is a bit different than the easy fixes; it takes into account far more than what we do with our trash.”
The Green House residents have big plans this year. They plan to collaborate with Huntington Elementary School and teach students about green lifestyles. They hope to talk to students about bicycle safety, the importance of staying substance free, and about the power of positive behavior. The house hopes to ignite community and campus involvement by planting a community garden and by bringing in speakers who will discuss environmental justice issues. They’re planning Sunday bike rides, trail walks, and community clean-ups.
The student life staff first introduced students to the theme house option last spring. Several students attended an information session and were invited to form groups and submit proposals on a common area of interest with a plan for outreach and education. Two applications were selected. Each house has a faculty advisor who will help the students carry out their theme.
“I think this is a college experience that a lot of people can’t say they got to experience,” said Raile. “It’s an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up."