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Monday, September 19, 2011

So I am.

This is my last year at Prescott College. As such, I am not sure what to feel. Over the past four years I have experienced more than I ever thought I would, and a list of everything that has happened would be impossible to construct. Although, here are some amazing opportunities:
  • Orientation was mesmerizing
  • Met my best friends, whom I have lived with since school began
  • Journalist, copy-editor, and designer for student newspaper
  • Volunteered at a school for homeless children in Phoenix
  • Rafted, hiked, and horse-packed widely throughout the Grand Canyon
  • Rock climbed extensively throughout Joshua Tree National Park and the Prescott area
  • Attended a rally to support Arizona teachers in Phoenix
  • Team member on an academically inclined 800 mile horse-packing expedition down the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico focusing on relational leadership, the psychology of sustainability, and integrative education. Moreover, this was the first expedition of its kind on the Arizona Trail.
  • Became incredibly involved in the mountain biking world
  • Completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training during winter block. We did yoga for 8-10 hours a day during the four week class in my favorite classroom on campus.
  • Took a class called Rock Climbing and Geology
  • Became the events coordinator for the Prescott College Peace and Justice Center. This meant organizing, writing grants, and introducing speakers and musicians from all over the world.
  • Certified as a Peer Educator through the Bacchus Network during a Prescott College class. This is a nationally recognized certification in the human development industry.
  • Took an improvisational dance class that changed my whole outlook on the way I move.
  • Teachers assistant for a class called Holistic Health and Wellness. This was focused upon yoga, massage, physiological structures, integrative medicine, and a group sauna at the end.
  • Had an education class where we traveled by van throughout Arizona and Colorado to teach in some of the most effective K-12 schools in the country. During this time, we wrote lesson plans while on the road, worked with great teachers, and after some time took on the teacher’s role.
  • Completed my last year, after five, as a rock climbing guide and instructor trainer.
  • Active member in the Strategic Planning Committee for the future of Prescott College; specifically in the area of Student Success and Support
  • Changed my competence title to Liberatory Education
  • Traveled solo throughout most of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
  • Worked at an orphanage in eastern Guatemala. A twenty minute boat ride to the nearest town down the Sweet River in the middle of dense jungle.
  • Wayne Regina’s Models of Leadership class
  • Jordana Dezeeuw Spencer’s Feminism and Social Justice class
  • Sitting here right now, and being able to reflect upon these amazing experiences.  
In effect, I am not writing all of this to be self-righteous. Essentially, I am grateful for the education I have received. Prescott College is like no other school in the country. I can say this because I have looked. During my college search I explored everywhere from Princeton to Marlboro, Reed to Naropa, and many others in between. This is not to say these are bad schools, I just took a more reflective process than merely picking a school because of how many swimming pools there were. As such, I looked deeply into the who, how, and why of myself. It just came to be that Prescott College made more sense then anything else, which still holds true even after going into $40,000 of student loan debt.

What I am moving toward is that Prescott College has been one of most mesmerizing and awesome experiences of my life; using awesome in terms of being in complete awe of my classmates, professors, and available opportunities. I could not imagine going to any other school in the world. I have learned that I am braver than I believed, stronger than I seemed, and smarter than I thought I could be.
Essentially, Prescott College does not have a lot of stuff. We don’t have several swimming pools, a permanent croquet field, or big fraternities and sororities. We don’t need these things. Prescott College is community. Prescott College is exploring our deepest potentials. Prescott College asks us who we are, along with what we know. Schools come in all different shapes and sizes, some are for-profit and others are for life long learners.
When choosing a school, look at the journey that may present itself. For it will not matter what the name was, but what was learned. It will not matter how many students attended the school, but who we met along the way. We are all looking for a sense of belonging; a place where we are understood. For me, Prescott College has been, and continues to be, that place.
Enjoy the journey…

 -Jordan Kivitz, 09.2011

Arizona to Amsterdam

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reevis Mountain School (AZ) Independent Study

Deep in the Superstition Mountains, I wake before the sun rises. Stepping out of my yurpee(which is like a mix between a yurt and a tepee) I listen to the forest come alive. I let the chickens, turkeys and ducks out around the garden and orchard, which is lush with fruits and vegetables. I spend the morning working in the garden, then sit down to breakfast which is fresh from the land I work. Then the day is filled with lessons about herbology, primitive living skills and organic agriculture. In the time I have been here I have learned a wide spectrum of skills; from how to treat a rattlesnake bite with prickly pear cactus to what the best growing methods for different vegetables are in a desert environment. I now know how to prepare salves and tinctures, hot to make friction fire, how to pair foods that best support the body’s needs. Reevis Mountain School of Self-Reliance has taught me much more than simple skills, though. I have learned to take responsibility for my well being as well as the planet’s well being by being a part of a self-sustaining and eco-conscious community. Peter Bigfoot, the founder, and his wife Patricia have become like family to me. Peter is a well known herbalist and is best known for his much-publicized July 1976 solo trek across the Sonoran Desert. He walked 85 miles in 15 days, and brought no food or water, relying strictly on what could be foraged along the way. Patricia is an incredibly talented writer and tough homesteader who makes delicious baked goods that make everyone around quite happy. Both of them have a kindness and wisdom to them that has taught me so much. The school draws people from all over the world who hold to the values that are taught here. I have met people here from all over the country, and even one man who came from Australia. I have learned so much by getting such a wide array of perspectives, and two things seems to pervade all who come here: one, they are very in touch with compassion for the earth and it’s people, and two, they are all really cool.

What is even cooler, though, is the fact that I am getting credit through Prescott College for my time as an intern here. Through the school I designed my own course for my studies at Reevis Mountain School. With support from many at the college, including different teachers, fellow students and even the lovely people in the admissions office I was able to put together ideas to create a course through which I could make studying what I want for college credit a reality. Independent study, one of the best ideas in college history. The fact that almost all Prescott College students create at least one speaks much of the open-mindedness of the school, as well as the drive of the students here. Never have I seen or heard of college undergrads doing such interesting work, with such freedom. Another reason why I feel beyond lucky to have found Prescott College, a place where independent drive is encouraged. Where you can study exactly what you want, and have all the resources and support you need to make your ideas a reality.

The garden and surrounding mountains

Peter, the founder, and I. I am wearing a mountain lion pelt that he brain tanned.

-Brittany Davis, 9.16.2011