Forgotten Heroes – Levi and Catharine Coffin

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There are some people in history who deserve to be remembered forever, but in the hustle and bustle of life unfortunately are forgotten. We remember the villains for their horrific deeds, but we forget the heroes who remained faithful in their good works for decades. Allow me to tell you about Levi and Catharine Coffin, an incredible couple who lived during the 1800’s who deserve to be remembered but are rarely even acknowledged:

A young Levi and his father chopped wood in a forest in North Carolina. A cool breeze whispered through the tops of the trees, the sun shone brightly through the leaves, and puffy clouds floated across the sky. Levi could not imagine a more perfect day. Suddenly, a soft rattling sound rang through the trees. Levi ducked behind his father and peered hesitantly around the bend. A row of slaves, all chained together, plodded along, a slave trader cracking his whip behind them. When the group was near the Coffins, the slave trader stopped for a rest. Mr. Coffin quietly asked one slave why they were all chained together. The man replied, “They have taken us away from our wives and children, and they chain us lest we should make our escape and go back to them.” (“Levi and Catharine Coffin” par. 1)  

Building on early life experiences and a Biblical foundation, Levi and Catharine Coffin would assist approximately two thousand slaves on their escape to freedom. Their family members and early life experiences prepared them for the influential role they would hold as leaders in the Underground Railroad. Levi wrote in 1876 that, “Both my parents and grandparents were opposed to slavery and none of either of the families ever owned slaves; and all were friends of the oppressed, so I claim that I inherited my anti-slavery principles.” (“Levi and Catharine Coffin” par. 5) During Levi’s childhood, his and Catharine’s families lived in North Carolina, a slave state. Levi’s encounter with the chained slaves who were taken from their families sparked an unquenchable fire in him.

Levi jumped at an opportunity to help a slave escape when he was fifteen years old. Young Levi was at a corn husking where he met Stephen, who had not been born a slave! Levi found out that Stephen was born in the North as a free person but was kidnapped into slavery in the South. Promptly, Levi maneuvered a way for Stephen to escape.

When he was doing abolition work, Levi probably met his future wife, Catharine.  After they were married, Levi and Catharine moved to Indiana where he became an influential businessman. Their youthful experiences and financial success would soon support and fund a much grander abolitionist mission than Catharine and Levi had been involved with previously.

The Coffins proved themselves to be masters in running a secret, illegal operation. They first began hiding runaway slaves in the year 1826. Their eight-room home was specially modified to be an ideal hiding place with most of the rooms having two exits for escape. The Coffins had an immense attic where many could take refuge. The spring – fed well in the basement provided a constant supply of water.

The Coffin’s courageous convictions influenced their community. Neighbors who had before been too cowardly to act were emboldened from the example of the Coffins. They began donating money, food, and clothing to the operation. They also served as lookouts, warning the Coffins whenever a malicious slave catcher would appear. Additionally, the Coffins held a great deal of prominence in their community, partly from their flourishing business, which also served as a protection from prosecution and capture. Still, the Coffins had to be cautious. Levi wrote later about the normal procedure when escaping slaves would knock at the door at night, “I would invite them, in a low tone to come in, and they would follow me into the darkened house without a word, for we knew not who might be watching and listening.” (“Levi and Catharine Coffin” par. 11) The Coffins possessed skills, influence, and an altruistic attitude which allowed them to be a shining light through their secret operation to many a weary escaping slave.

After the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, The Coffins would continue to help the newly freed slaves. Levi was a member of the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society both during and after the Civil War. He managed to raise over one hundred thousand dollars for the society. Levi was an advocate for all the newly freed slaves, gathering food, clothing, and educational supplies for them. Focused on the freed slaves building new lives, he even collected money for them to start farms and businesses. Alongside their Underground Railroad work during the Civil War, the Coffins also helped in army hospitals and refugee camps for the escaped slaves.

The Coffins selfless giving and serving was rooted in their Biblical heritage. Levi recalled in his autobiography that he, “read in the Bible when I was a boy that it was right to take in the stranger and administer to those in distress, and that I thought it was always safe to do right. The Bible, in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should try to follow out the teachings of that good book.” (“Levi and Catharine Coffin” par. 9) Levi and Catharine Coffin’s strong Biblical foundation and abolitionist convictions led them to sacrificially serve and protect the most vulnerable around them, and the whole journey began when a young Levi was faced with injustice in the woods of North Carolina.

 

Works Cited

“Levi and Catharine Coffin.” www.indianahistory.org

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Blind and Autistic Performer on America’s Got Talent Demonstrates That Every Person Is a Gift

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Twenty-two year old blind, autistic singer Kodi Lee is making history on America’s Got Talent with his powerful renditions of “A Song For You” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. He has blown away the audience and judges with his incredible voice and piano skills.

Kodi’s joy and enthusiasm are evident from the moment he walks on stage. By pouring himself into his music, Kodi deeply impacts everyone around him. His passion, talent, and authenticity can be felt in every performance. With his music, Kodi brings the audience and judges to tears.

Kodi has earned standing ovations from the judges and audience. He also won the golden buzzer from judge Gabriel Union during his first performance, propelling him forward to the Quarter Finals.

In an interview with ExtraTV, Kodi’s mom Tina said that Kodi began playing piano at the age of two. While he takes music and voice lessons to sharpen his skills, he has always been a natural musician. He gave his first performance at Disneyland when he was just six years old and has continued to play in over 350 events.

In his first America’s Got Talent performance, Tina shared how despite the challenges Kodi faces due to his blindness and autism, music has brought joy and purpose to him from an early age. She even credits music with “saving his life” as it has given him an outlet to express himself even while being blind and autistic.

Whether or not Kodi wins season fourteen of America’s Got Talent, he has already won the heart of every person who has heard him perform.

Sadly, incredible people just like Kodi who have special needs are under intense attack before they are even born. Many children are under increased threat of being aborted just because of their disabilities, with some abortion advocates arguing that abortion saves a disabled person from a life of misery.

Every life is sacred and deserving of love and care. Every person with a disability has unique gifts and talents to share, a special light that he or she brings into this world that no one else can. When we discriminate against unborn children with disabilities, we extinguish a light in the world, allowing darkness to win.

After his performance, judge Gabriel Union commented that, “We have to stop putting limits on our children.” The worst limit we can place on our children is not allowing them the opportunity to live in the first place.

Instead of harming those with disabilities, let’s foster and nurture them, just like Kodi’s family does for him. When we bring out the best in people who have disabilities, they inherently bring out the best in us.

Who are we to determine if someone else deserves the right to live? Every time we allow an abortion to happen, we squelch what could have been an incredibly talented person like Kodi Lee. We not only have blood on our hands, but our world has lost potential. The judges on America’s Got Talent praised Kodi for the impact he is making with his talent, but he would not be making that impact if he had been aborted.

When we kill an unborn child, whether he or she has special needs or not, we snuff out not only a life made in the image of God, but also the talents and gifts God bestows upon each person.

After crying through Kodi’s first performance, judge Julianne Hough remarked, “Everyone needs a voice and an expression.” She is 100% correct. Every person, both born and unborn, deserves a voice. Since they cannot speak for themselves, we must serve as the voice for the unborn. We must remind the world that every unborn person holds vast potential and their own special place in the world, no matter their physical or mental condition.

After his booming success in the Quarter Finals, judge Simon Cowell said to Kodi, “We are nothing without people like you. . . . you are genuinely one of the most extraordinary people and talents we’ve had the great fortune to have on any show we’ve ever made.”

Just as Simon remarked, our world is truly empty without incredible people like Kodi. Every person is needed in the world, and we must protect and nurture those with disabilities, both born and unborn.

Tackling College Interview Questions

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Before I entered college, I interviewed for the honors college scholarship at my university. Praise God, I was awarded the scholarship (the fruits of which I am now enjoying as a student)! Researching the different kinds of questions asked during college interviews greatly helped me during my interview. While you will never find the exact list of questions you will be asked, getting a general idea of the kinds of questions is tremendously helpful and will enable you to brainstorm answers prior to the actual interview. While this is not the most thorough list of potential questions available on the internet, here are five trends I noticed in the questions asked and some tips on how to answer questions effectively.

1) Prepare for personal questions

We normally do not share our greatest weaknesses with someone we have only known for fifteen minutes. Interviews, however, are an exception. My interviewers asked me point-blank what the most difficult time in my life was. My goal with these kinds of questions was to show that I have experienced challenges and know how to overcome real struggles. When the interviewers asked about my hobbies and I mentioned ballet, they asked what challenges I was currently facing in ballet. The interviewer(s) want to see that you know how to handle difficult times in your life without crumbling. The interviewers do not want you to try to portray yourself as perfect. Treat honesty as an asset, and you will earn respect.

2) Be bold in listing your strengths

Just as you need to honestly display your weaknesses and challenges, you must fully display your biggest accomplishments. Show them why they should accept you! A college interview is unique in that you are telling absolute strangers about your best accomplishments. In a college interview, you must sell yourself. At the beginning, the interviewer encouraged me to not be shy and even encouraged me to “brag” about my accomplishments. If you have held any leadership positions during high school, make sure you have specific details. When I said that I taught public speech classes, my interviewers asked me how many students I had. They want to see that you have successfully handled responsibility.

3) Have a vision for your future at that college

Colleges are searching for students who will actively contribute to the institution. If you are truly committed to going there, then you need to have some ideas of what you want to contribute to the college. When asked, my list included 1) become more involved with writing for the university’s publications 2) potentially join speech club if available 3) help organize service projects. Be prepared with some questions to ask your interview about the college. Make sure these questions are ones that you could not find answers to online! You do not want to ask a question that will make you look like you did not do your research.

4) Have solid examples of people you admire

I was asked about the most influential person in my life and a historical figure I admired. From my research, I already was prepared for this kind of question. I spent weeks prior to the interview just brainstorming. You do not have to write out your answer. For me, brainstorming and imagining what I would say saved the day during the actual interview.

5) Random questions…..

At the end of my interview, I was asked, “If you were a fruit, what would you be?” Do not be frightened or taken off-guard by random, seemingly silly questions. This is the time to be creative! Do not take yourself too seriously for these kinds of questions.

Finally, don’t forget to relax and have fun! Whether or not your interview renders the desired results, it is a fantastic learning and growth opportunity. Prepare and brainstorm beforehand, then on interview day get in their and enjoy the adventure!

5 Keys to Conquering the College Interview

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When I applied for college, I joined the honors college at my university. I decided to interview for the honors college scholarship, which would be an extra $1,000 of financial support per school year. Praise God, I was awarded the scholarship! The interview process was an adventure and a growing experience. Now that my first year of college is over, I thought I would share some of the keys I learned about college interviews (the tips I would like to have known before interviewing). Here are several lessons I learned from my interview experience that can benefit you, whether you are interviewing for a job or for college.

1) Control your nerves

The morning before my interview, I was a big ball of nerves. I knew that in order to succeed, I had to gain control over my emotions. I spent the morning listening to sermons and soaking up scripture. Some verses that encouraged me were Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, and 2 Timothy 1:7. I had to remind myself that emotions are often liars. Even though my hands were shaking as I was putting on my makeup, I continued to stand on God’s truth about being courageous. And praise God, when I walked into that interview my mind was clear and my nerves had disappeared.

2) Dress to impress.

Would you be apprehensive if your doctor walked into the exam room wearing an old t-shirt and basketball shorts? Or would you be a little bit concerned if your pastor showed up on Sunday morning wearing grass stained jeans and a shirt with half the buttons missing? We can either develop or destroy trust with the clothes we wear. You want to show the interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously. In the limited amount of time you have to impress your interviewers, your clothing is one way you can leave a professional impression.

3) Relax, you are not facing a firing squad.

While the interviewers will ask tough questions, they are not brutal investigators who are cheering for your demise. I was interviewed by two kind ladies, one who was a graduate of the honors college herself, and the other, a mom and wife with two kids. They are not waiting to eat you alive; they just want to hear your honest answers. Instead of treating your interview like an interrogation, be open and eager as you respond.

4) College interviews may be longer than entry level job interviews.

A college interview may be the toughest you have to face during your high school and college years. Normally, interviews for entry level jobs are relatively short in comparison to a college interview. Three of my friends who work entry level jobs said that their interviewers were fifteen to twenty minutes long. My college scholarship interview was forty-five minutes. Even if nothing comes from your college interview, you will at least have gained valuable experience handling a longer interview, which will serve you well when you enter the job market.

5) Be calm and confident.

If I could change one thing about my interview, I would have talked slower. Pace yourself.  Shake hands when you start and when you leave. Remember, you are entering the adult world. You may still feel like an awkward teenager, but rather choose to exude the poise of a polished professional.

If you have the opportunity to interview at a college, I would encourage you to take it! Reflecting on my own interview experience, I realized that even though preparing for the interview felt daunting, the task was completely manageable and helped me develop essential skills for the business world. Regardless of the outcome of your interview, you will come away with valuable experience that will help you both in your continued preparation for college and in life.