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Monday, November 28, 2011

Truly I am inspired.

Wild horse herds, coal mines on the horizon, a people filled with strength protecting the natural existence of the earth. Long miles of non-industrialized land and flocks of sheep. The Navajo Reservation is overflowing with magic, sacred ritual and beautiful resistance. Resistance of a government set on taking sacred lands to be made into a digging ground for Peabody Coal. See, the Navajo Reservation is the most abundant resource of coal land left in North America.  Even though the Navajo people have already been forced into reservations, the "worth" of the land has risen in the eyes of the greedy in power since it was found to be such a large coal deposit. So of course, now the Navajo have to struggle once more against relocation set about by those who don't know the real worth of the earth.

Out of this, though, rises those who would help protect the people and land of this area called Black Mesa in northern Arizona. I was honored to be among them. I was invited to participate in the Black Mesa Health Clinic and provide free service work to the Navajo people resisting relocation. The clinic consisted of herbalists and bodyworkers who held the intention of providing in whatever way they could, and never in any way overstepping the cultural beauty of this struggling people. I was surprised to find that the woman who originally helped organize the clinic is a Prescott College graduate, Rowen Tumbleweed. Her time at Prescott College consisted of studying the cultural struggle of indigenous peoples holding out against relocation and the loss of land to the ever devouring industrial market. At only 27, Rowen has become a leader on the forefront of supporting the Navajo resistors, and she has partnered with an amazing Navajo woman, Mary Catherine Smith, to help bring much needed health care to the reservation. It was so inspiring to meet someone who had come from the culture and incredible drive of Prescott College to create harmony and responsible global citizens. It was inspiring hearing of how Prescott College could influence someone to become such a successful leader of a support organization that affects real change.

I was also able to work on my studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine while I was on the reservation. This semester I created an independent study focusing in on the philosophies and practices connected with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and I was able to practice and grow in these philosophies while providing care for the Navajo people. The massage I practiced most of the time was Shiatsu, a form of massage with its roots based in TCM that works both physically and energetically. Also, the herbal balancing that I learned from many of the herbalists respected the TCM philosophies.Getting hands on experience and actually feeling like I was affecting change was so rewarding.

The more I thought of it, the more I realized how lucky I am to be at Prescott. Through Prescott College I gained the massage therapy and herbalism skills to actively provide health care for many people during this clinic. Through Prescott College I made the connections that brought me to the reservation to be of service to people in need. Through Prescott College I have been given the freedom to create independent studies where I can get college credit for doing service work like this. Through Prescott College I continue to grow and be inspired not just by what people do while they are in school here, but also by what they do when they have their diploma.  

Truly I am inspired. This place is amazing.

~Brittany Davis, 11.28.2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

What do you want to do with your life?

What do you want to do with your life? This is the dreaded question: one that I am sure has been posed to all of us at least once in our lives. It seems to be a question on every one's mind, specifically adult minds. For me, I have had an answer for a while. The dreaded part for me is the response I get back after I answer. 

     Law School. I want to go to Law School. This seems harmless enough. It seems like a response adults are looking for right? The look received after telling people this, though, is usually confusion. They think for a bit and then respond “but you go to Prescott College!?!”. 

     Yes, I do go to Prescott College. Yes, I do go to an experiential education school. Yes, my professors know me by name. Yes, I am part of actively shaping my education. Yes, trips into the field are a critical part of courses in every area of my study. Yes, students here want to change the world (and are), and yes, I want to go to law school. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
     Law is usually associated with prestige. People are surprised that I did not go to a more “prestigious” school. I could have (almost did) and changed my mind. I came here for a purpose. I wanted to actively learn. I did not want to read about politics in a book and take a test. I wanted to see politics first hand. I wanted to see how systems of oppression and systems of power affect the world that I live in, and I wanted to study such systems as an undergraduate. At Prescott College, I study globalization, religion, geography, marginalization and social movements to name a few. I have learned the history, current events and cultures of countries throughout the world, and have traveled to Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, the Hopi, Navajo and Yavapai reservations for courses discussing all aspects of Political Science and Law. I have ventured to Washington DC and New Orleans by myself for conferences and plan on doing my senior project in Kenya. 

     I have done more then study politics and human rights in classrooms. I have talked, listened and interviewed people. I have traveled and seen with my eyes sights that people learning from text books will never see. I am doing graduate level work in my specific area of interest that I will bring to the table when I go to Law School. Yes, I have chosen to receive letter grades, but I also receive written evaluations from my professors that discuss my strengths, my weaknesses, my passions, and my level of competence. 

     For some Prescott College students, Law School is the last thing they may ever want to do. Yet whether their Competence is in Wilderness Leadership, Counseling Psychology, Photography, Sustainable Agriculture or Experiential Education, every student learns in the field, gets hands on experience and is making a difference. 

     In two years when I go to Law School I will be ready. I will be prepared and I will still be overflowing with the enthusiasm and passion that I believe more law students should have. Law and Advocacy are avenues that I believe I can make change with. I want to study Human Rights and International Law. I hope to work in developing communities and countries on education and maternal health reform for women and children. I also believe that Prescott College is the best place for that foundation. I used to be offended when family members and adults would pause and give me weird looks when Law School came into the same conversation as Prescott College. Now I just smile, and reiterate that yes I go to Prescott College, yes I will go to Law School afterwords and yes I believe 100% in my decision to attend Prescott College for my undergraduate degree. 

-Amanda Hampton, 11.18.2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Great Job Search, or "Yeah, I can do that."

This past preview weekend, there were a few prospective students and parents who expressed earnest fear in finding a job if one were to graduate from Prescott College. In today’s economy, this is a well deserved fear that many live with day-in and day-out. Families across the United States are having severe problems paying bills, putting food on the table, and keeping themselves from being evicted from their homes. This does not even take into account what the rest of the world is going through. Overall, the question of employment after graduation is a very logical question, and one in which I am, personally, not worried about.
How Prescott College distinguishes itself from most other schools is the preparation for future endeavors. Essentially, many schools teach how to memorize quantities of information to be used for completing tests. Every two weeks the brain is filled and purged when a test is taken, and new information must be memorized for yet another test. Where does this leave a graduating senior in terms of useful skills for employment? I would contend that this is not what employers are looking for when making hiring decisions.
Here is a list of basic job qualifications from various employers:
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Organized and detail-oriented.
  • Able to handle multiple projects simultaneously and meet frequent deadlines.
  • Ability to work with a diverse range of people.
  • Ability to work autonomously and as a member of a team.
  • Internally motivated to succeed and goes the extra mile
  • Proven leadership experience.

During my time here at Prescott College, I am doing these “qualifications” constantly. Because we do not memorize information for tests, we are always writing and giving presentations to show our understanding. In essence, the expectations here are to actually know what we are talking about. This is deepened by consistently working independently and in teams to complete projects, learning to be collaborative in times of need, and the necessity to be organized around matters of time, resources, and self-care.  It is true that this program is quite challenging; and, the college is also invested in making sure these skills are acquired over a student’s time here.
Most graduates from this school are not moving back in with their parents, going homeless, or taking a job to just have one. I know people who are currently working for the forest service, are professional writers, artists, mountaineering guides, psychologists, teachers, graduate students, and anything else under the sun. Personally, I will be graduating in May with a full resume. I have no fear of the job market, and my father does not work for Goldman Sachs. In fact, I am $40,000 in debt from student loans, have no car, and an endless amount of possibilities in front of me. There is no telling where I will go, who I will meet, and what I will be doing; and, this is incredibly exciting.
In summary, when I began my college search I figured the name of my school would get me that dream job. Now that I have reevaluated my “dream job,” I know that because of Prescott College, a small school in northern Arizona, I am ready to meet the unknown with respect, gratitude, and the knowledge that I am more prepared than I could have been from any other school in the world.   
It’s not what we do; it’s why we do it. Our what only gives proof to why we believe in anything.

So enjoy the journey, and ask yourself “why?”