Paper Prayers

When guests visit Geneva College, they are often impressed most with the caring nature of the campus community. And not only are the students surrounded by professors who genuinely care about them, but professors are also blessed by students who return that support and encouragement.

Throughout this semester, two professors of the Communication Disorders program have felt the pain of having loved ones endure a serious illness. Dr. Elaine Hockenberger’s husband, John, has been battling cancer and other complications, as has Professor Susan Layton’s sister, Linda Difino. Both professors mean a lot to their students, so the students came up with a way unique way to express their affection—folding origami cranes.
Students folding cranes
The idea was based on a Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 origami paper cranes to express the hope for healing for a loved one. A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, taught others how to fold the crane, and said she learned the craft from her mother. “Ever since I was little, I’ve folded paper cranes.”

“We wanted to fold the cranes to represent our prayers to God for healing, and as a gesture of love and support,” she added. “These professors have done so much for us, and willingly modeled their faith to us as they endured these difficult times.”

She continued, “About 20 of us gathered for an evening in Downy House to fold the cranes. As we were folding, Professor Layton told us about a neighbor who was also battling cancer. We ended up giving him a few strings of cranes, sending a package to Professor Layton’s sister and hanging the rest in Dr. Hockenberger’s office.”

“As they were folding the cranes, they paused to pray for each of them,” added Professor Layton. “They are awesome, special students!” 

“I cried,” said Dr. Hockenberger, upon finding 40 strings of cranes in her office the next morning. “My students have been such a blessing to me. I will never forget their kindness and compassion.”

As for the students: “We were just thankful for the opportunity to encourage people in their trials.”

-Richard Louther ’15

May 2013

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"I could tell that they cared about me personally and that my journey of faith mattered to them." ... Read more

- Alyssa Kachnycz, Communication Disorders


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