Sitting in a cafe on the corner of a busy cobblestone street in Amsterdam, I still cannot believe that I am in school. However the numerous critical reflections, the four books, and the thesis paper always bounce me back to reality. The opportunity to create and participate in independent studies is an incredible aspect of this school. The moment I heard that it was a possibility, I knew that I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Independent studies at Prescott College are an incredible way for students to employ their creativity, innovation, and independence into their studies. It gives us the chance to be extremely self directed and participate in field work that we are passionate about. In the spring, I decided that I wanted to study an aspect of my women studies minor, in one of the most culturally relevant cities to that field. When I brought up the idea to my professor, who I asked to be my mentor for the study, I was met with great enthusiasm. They did not look at me like I was crazy for dreaming so big, but reacted with support, excitement and positive reinforcement. A reminder that at Prescott College, there is a firm belief that no dream is to large to achieve. I was met with the same amount of enthusiasm from my advisor, the risk management coordinator and everyone else who helped me make this course a reality. For this course, which I chose to do for fall block, I wrote the curriculum, stated the course objections and designed the workload. After filling out all the paperwork and getting the course approved, I was ecstatic. How many other places could I have made this study happen during my years as an undergrad? Not many.
Being so far away from school, some would think that one would lose their sense of accountability and commitment to the course. However, quite the opposite takes place, because I am studying something that I am extremely passionate about and because I am so grateful for this opportunity, I have put an immense amount of effort into getting the most out of this experience. This independent study has enabled me to work in the field, interviewing experts, observing first hand cultural influences and allowed me to think analytically about critical social theory from a women and human rights perspective. Skyping and e-mailing my mentoring professor on a regular basis has allowed me to share my ideas and observations as well as allowed me to continue feeling connected to the Prescott community even while being half away across the world.
I am an unyielding believer that a true education does not just take place in a classroom. That personal transformation and commitment to learning surpasses the walls of college campuses. That exploration with what one is passionate about, and first hand cultural experience, not only teaches us to be global citizens, but relish in the beauty that one is constantly learning, absorbing the wonderful thing that is human potential. I am loving it here in the beautiful and exciting city of Amsterdam, but I am ready to come back to my Prescott College home and share my experience and my study with the community that I call family. This study has given me so much insight about the world and myself, I cannot wait to take full advantage of the other amazing Prescott College opportunities that await me when I return.
~Amanda Hampton, 09.19.2011