Are you having troubles on campus? Do you need to learn Chinese, need something fixed or maybe would like to borrow a bike or find a spot to rock climb? Laird Goertzen, sophomore from Goessel, can help you with all of these things.
Beginning his freshman year, Laird was known as the one person on campus who seemed to know a little bit of everything and was able to fix anything handed to him. Somewhere along the way, he picked up the nickname “The Son of MacGyver” for his exceptional ability to fix things.
“Laird is a handy-man. He can fix almost anything you can put in front of him,” said Laird’s modmate, Matt Dewberry, sophomore from Blanchard, Okla.
Laird has also been working on some projects to improve student life on campus. First, he has worked to start the Bike Share program back up on campus.
This program allows students to rent bikes for the semester after signing agreements to take care of the bikes and fix them if something breaks during their time of use.
At this point, the program has expanded to include six bikes. There is currently a waiting list to get a bike, but Laird said they are working on getting more bikes for students to rent.
Another group Laird has taken an interest in reviving is the Rock Climbing club. The climbing club has been on campus in the past, but had not been active in recent years.
“I knew there was interest from myself and my friends, and clubs get money to enhance student experience,” Laird said. “So I thought this would be awesome and even more awesome that we don’t have to pay for it.”
He plans to get the club up and running with climbing trips to some of the five indoor climbing locations in Wichita, as well as a climbing space in an old grain elevator, fitted with climbing equipment.
In the past, the club took climbing trips to other states, and Laird expressed he would like to take the club on larger trips as well once there is enough funding and student interest.
Before coming to Bethel, Laird took a big step to make a difference overseas. He took a year off after high school to travel with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to teach English in schools.
Although he originally planned to go to South Africa, Laird agreed to go to China instead, a decision he believes worked out well for him.
In China, Laird taught at a private school and university, as well as took classes himself and hung out with the locals.
About this experience Laird joked, “I learned you need to be careful asking for spicy food and taste things before you ask what they are.”
Laird recalled the adventure of trying cow’s stomach, and mentioned it isn’t too bad of a treat. He also took away new ideas of the world from this year abroad.
“(I learned) to take time examining others’ perspectives and not to rush to judgment, especially in another culture,” he said.
He brought his experiences from China with him to Bethel, teaching other students about the things he had learned, as well as entertaining his classes with memories from the trip.
“My favorite memories of Laird are from CIC last fall,” said Rachel Epp Buller, Laird’s CIC professor. “I loved that he brought a water bottle for his Personal Artifact presentation. It could have been a random object he picked on the way out the door to class, but it had such significance for him from his year in China.”
Buller recalled the grace with which Laird handled the situation when a fellow student gave him a water bottle as a gift when the class did a secret Santa exchange. The water bottle given to him by a classmate wasn’t made to handle boiling water, which, as Buller put it, “is apparently the criteria for a good water bottle.”
Along with these unique experiences, Laird is involved in Student Senate, Forensics, Cross Country, Track and Field, the Audio-Visual department (sound and lights at convocation) and Intramurals. He also declared some other talents to be using nunchucks, public speaking, and de-boning fish with chopsticks.
Laird attributes his wide skill-set and knowledge to where he grew up.
“I enjoy reading and I grew up on a farm. Farming requires knowledge of some science. I’m also just lucky that I remember almost all that I read. I just show interest.”