Sunday, July 25, 2004

UC students head to Japan to study

Good Things Happening

Allen Howard

Three University of Cincinnati students have received scholarships to study in Japan during the next academic year.

They are William Bowman, a freshman in Asian studies; Kim Burgas, a junior in sociology, and Brandon Pittman, a senior with a double major in international affairs and Asian studies.

The scholarships are paid by the Japanese government through its Association of International Education program

"It is quite a feather in our cap to have three of the scholarship recipients," said Susan Bacon, interim director of UC's Institute for Global Studies & Affairs.

UC students William Bowman, Brandon Pittman and Kim Burgas will study in Japan on scholarships from the Japanese government.

Pittman of Cleves said this is the second time he has applied for the scholarship, finishing fifth the first time.

He will be in Japan from September through July 2005. He plans to focus on Japanese language and culture classes. He also will be working on his senior thesis.

"My thesis will focus on Japanese politics in some way, perhaps the relationship between Japan and Taiwan," Pittman said.

Bowman of Withamsville plans to visit Tokyo's technology district.

Bowman and Pittman will study at Nagoya University.

"The most challenging thing will be the language barrier," Bowman said.

Burgas, of Toledo, will study language and culture at the Nagoya University Foreign Studies, from September this year through January, 2005.

Lead role in play

Brandi Massey, a 1997 graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Over-the-Rhine, has accepted an offer to perform the lead role of Ginga, in Miracle Brothers, about an outspoken runaway slave girl by Kirsten Childs, author of the play, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin.

The first reading of the play will be in August. It is being produced and shown at the Vineyard Theatre, New York City, and is directed by Tina Landau.

"So far, things are great," Massey said. "I am enjoying the challenges. I am trying to branch out into film and commercials."

Bobbie Merritt, Massey's manager, said Miracle Brothers tells the tale of two brothers, one black, one white, who journey from their plantation home in 17th century Brazil seeking freedom, adventure and romance.

Massey also performs in the Broadway musical Caroline Or Change, which is playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theater in New York City. The play has been nominated for six Tony awards and won one.

She was the first African-American female to play the role of Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde three years ago on Broadway. She also appeared as Nala in The Lion King last year in London.

She has lived in New York for seven years and has attended the American Musical & Dramatic Academy's two-year program.

Massey, 25, is the daughter of Rebecca Massey of Silverton and Raymond Irvin of Fairmount.

Merger saves church

WEST CHESTER TWP. - The future of Emanuel New Mount Zion Christian Center in College Hill was in doubt following the unexpected death of its pastor, Michael Harris, 62, on April 15.

But this weekend, the church and its ministries devoted to those with AIDS and recovering drug addicts, will find new life as it merges with another congregation, Heirs Family Worship Center in West Chester.

"It's an exciting thing to move on to a place where we can go and continue those ministries and have that same pastoral support," said Mamie Harris, the pastor's widow and now executive director of the two ministries known as SARA and 4CHARIS.

"My husband and pastor John (W. Stevenson) have like visions and they had a similar desire to help people."

In SARA, or Spiritual Applications for Recovering Addicts, the church has worked to open a residential building for recovering addicts and has a contract with the city health department to help them. The 4CHARIS ministry, or Caring Hearts Assisting, Restoring, Instructing and Serving, performs more than 150 HIV tests through the church and in correctional facilities and provides counseling to those diagnosed with the disease, Harris said.

"Our goal is to bridge the gap between the religious community and the HIV community in a positive and productive way," she said.

But the ability to continue that mission was pushed into doubt when Harris became ill. Stevenson filled in as pastor of the church, and Mamie Harris continued the mission of those programs. The churches combined will now have 400 members.

"It's not just a group of people coming to join our church, but a covenant and coming together of people to do good work," Stevenson said.

This weekend, the two churches will celebrate the merger into the Heirs Covenant Church of Cincinnati with a covenant meal for the church members Saturday and a Sunday service at 11 a.m.

Guest speaker Joel Brooks, of the Christian Life Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., will address the joined congregations at the Heirs church, 10164 Princeton-Glendale Road, at 7 p.m. Monday.

The talks and services are open to the public. For more information, call the church at 942-7242.

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