With two weeks left in a long and difficult semester, Hope College students were able to relax one more time on April 28 as the final Break Day took place. Similar in many respects to the Break Day preceding it, the college sponsored a number of events on campus for students to engage in. Most events took place between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Pine Grove on a beautiful day with fair weather and great live music. This event felt noticeably similar in atmosphere to the large pre-COVID events of years past, and although guidelines were stringently followed and most participants were seen wearing masks and maintaining social distance, the ability to be out in the open air made it much easier to foster community and connection.
Van Wylen Library hosted an “Escape the Library” event, in which students went through a series of puzzles similar to an escape room activity. Associate Librarian Jessica Hronchek described the event: students worked to unlock each floor of the library using different puzzles set around the building to escape the ghost of Dr. John Nykerk. Students who finished were awarded treats, took selfies in a selfie station and were entered into a raffle. According to Jessica, almost 80 students “escaped!” This event ran from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the longest event of the day.
A highly visible event on campus was The Red Sand Project, in which International Justice Mission and A Just Brew poured red sand onto the cracks of the sidewalk. This was to symbolize how human trafficking victims are ignored and “stepped over” in society. The event lasted three hours in total, but the sand in the cracks of the sidewalks will be visible for some time until the Michigan wind whips up the sand and carries it away, or it is rained out.
Break Day also featured a dunk tank event, in which Student Congress members were the unfortunate victims. Student Congress described the event to The Anchor: “The Dunk a Student Congress Member was a blast! We all saw it as a great way to give students an opportunity to see who our representatives are in a fun and creative way! As participants, it was fun but so cold. We had around ten representatives get dunked, and each was dunked over five times!”
The Fried Center for Global Engagement also held their own event, called “Global Games.” Students came by and learned about different games from around the globe: Chapteh (similar to hacky sack and from Southeast Asia), Three Sticks (a long jump game played frequently in Kenya), Mar y Tierra (a Honduran game similar to Simon Says), and Kubb (a Swedish game in which participants try to knock over wooden blocks with thrown blocks). Hope College IRC also participated in this event by sponsoring it with an international goodie bag giveaway filled with tasty treats.
Break Day also featured snacks provided by the college free of charge. The admissions office offered cider and donuts while supplies lasted. Market Zero provided a number of sandwiches, although those quickly dwindled as hungry students flocked to the Pine Grove. Biggby Coffee was provided at the Haworth along with a lucky draw for a bookstore gift basket and miscellaneous prizes. Palazzo’s Gelato, quickly becoming a fan favorite of students, was also on the scene distributing delicious gelato.
Music accompanied all of these Break Day celebrations, as Wystock was held in the Pine Grove on an elevated platform in front of Graves Hall. A classic Hope musical event, a number of bands and groups were on-scene to entertain students. This included Pet Shop, the Brazilian Drumming Ensemble, a guitar solo by Jacob VanderRoest and many more. A permanent fixture of Break Day was a ring of students around the platform listening intently, enjoying the live entertainment.
The last major attraction was a petting zoo, hosted by the Critter Barn from 1-4 p.m. This event featured goats, sheep, bunnies, chickens, roosters and a number of other animals. All of the adorable animals featured were docile, though certainly tired by the end of the event. The Anchor spoke to volunteer Olivia Birch, age 13, from the Critter Barn. She had this to say about the event: “It’s nice, during COVID we haven’t had as many [events], but pre-COVID we usually have about 115 a year. . . some of the animals are a little scared, like some of the little guys over there. It’s their first time coming so they’re a little crazy. But a lot of them actually like it. They like to interact with a lot of people, so it’s nice that anybody can come whenever they want to.”
Break Day also featured a number of other events not discussed at length here, such as a Plant-a-Thon, a Spikeball AND a beach volleyball tournament, rock decorating and a tug-of-war with a car. Thank you to all of the groups and participants for creating a special send-off for the semester!