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Friday, October 19, 2012

Senior Year means Senior Project

I came into Prescott College as a Transfer Student. I was immediately assigned an Advisor (Grace Burford…the most awesome and patient advisor EVER!) and had to quickly draw up my Degree Plan.

In our Degree Plans, we are required to come up with a brief narrative description about your (tentative) Senior Project. I think I revised mine about four times before really committing to it. Actually, I still am changing it.

 I cannot even begin to tell you what my original idea for a Senior Project looked like. I know that the one that is currently described in my Degree Plan outlines the idea of creating a new Orientation option for incoming PC student, one that focuses more on Cultural and Regional Studies and Education.

 Now, through a blessing in disguise from the Universe, I was able to create an IS (Independent Study) that focuses on Place- and Community-Based Education. With this IS, I have been conducting several observations both on and off campus.  In both settings, I have noticed HUGE gaps in cultural understanding. I have also observed that the ways in which the gaps are approached (by either community) is not helping to bridge the gaps, but widens them!

 So, for my Senior Project, I have a plan.

 But, first, let me guide you through the steps of a Senior Project. Though, it is important to note that the Senior Project process differs a little bit for each competence area. I will tell you about the steps EVERY student at PC needs to follow, and then I will include what my competence area specifically requires for a Senior Project.

 All students at PC must:
          -Come up with a tentative idea for a Senior Project. This can be: an extensive essay or research paper, an independent research project intended to address a particular issue or question, a play…really, the ideas are almost limitless. To be sure, talk with your advisor!

            -Write three narratives (expectations are in the Student Handbook online):

                        1) Competence Description Narrative

                        2) Senior Project Description

                        3) Liberal Arts Statement

            -Carry Out a Senior Project (This is where it gets different for each student. Your competence area may have an advising plan, which can be tinkered with or must be followed exactly. Again, talk with your advisor. My competence in Social Justice Education requires me to include a substantial 6-10 week teaching component).

            -Finally, after all is done, you submit it all to your IGC (Individual Graduation Committee…you get to choose them). If there are any revisions to be made on your Degree Plan (because you swapped out a class or rearranged things), this would be the time to do it.

*Just a little bit of advice:

            1) PAY ATTENTION TO DEADLINES!! These can and will sneak up on you, so check the calendar frequently.

            2) TALK with your advisor. Meet with them often, whether it is to discuss something academic or simply to talk about life. This keeps you (and them) on your toes. And, you will love your advisor (if you do not, you can switch), well, at least I do, anyway.

            3) Multiple drafts are gold. Do not wait until the last minute to write something. You really want to have the time to edit and redesign a piece of written work, ESPECIALLY if it is for your Degree Plan or Senior Project.

            4) Sometimes, all of this (in addition to classes, jobs and homework) can lead to STRESS. So, take time to relax. Go out with friends. Go climb. Do yoga. Spend the day with loved ones (pets or people). Watch a movie. Cook a good meal. Whatever you do, just make time for YOU!

 As for my Senior Project, well, it is kind of a secret (shhhh).

 However, it does involve trying to bridge said gaps in the community through fun and holistic approaches. For this project that means: various art/cultural installments, events (dances, discussions, etc.), written work, etc. Since I am approaching my Senior Project with the belief that learning from a community strengthens community bonds and helps to create cross-cultural unity and understanding. I plan to organize this all through a group I will design, called “ComeUnite” (just say it like the word “community”, it makes sense).

 I am very excited about this project (and my IS)! I am also very sad about it too, because it is my final stamp on PC before I graduate. I love this school. Some days, I never want to leave it and wish I could stay here, studying, forever.  But, I do not have the time or the money (especially the money), and I want to move forward with my life and into a career that I am both passionate about and rewarded in!!

 I will keep you updated as my Senior Project progresses.

Angelica R. Brady

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

“How-do-You U-bun-tu?”

Here at Prescott College this term “ubuntu” is being used more often. Technically it is a shortened phrase for “Umuntu ngumuntu ngamantu” a Zulu philosophy that is quite savvy in my opinion. If I am asked to explain ubuntu in my own words I generally say that it is compassion and altruism all rolled into one philosophy/practice/perspective.

But I’m not looking to articulate this in a blog, so here is something from Archbishop Desmond Tutu which might articulate this better than I can!

"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, "Yu u nobuntu"; "Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu." Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours." …We say, "A person is a person through other persons." …A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. ...To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. [Forgiveness] gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from "No Future Without Forgiveness" (1999)

I love you Tutu! The picture below I found on the internet, and thought it was adorable. And then the more I read it… the more Prescott College it felt than something with religious connotations. Here at Prescott we are not about punishing people instead we are all about celebrating people; hence why I find ubuntu so amazing and pertinent in just about any human scenario.

So I say to you, UBUNTU!

The very first line of Prescott College's Mission Statement reads: "It is the mission of Prescott College to educate students of diverse ages and backgrounds to understand, thrive in, and enhance our world community and environment."

Ubuntu is all about taking the diversity of perspectives, thought, speech, actions, and re-actions (of each person) and using them to work together (rather than against) with each beautiful and diverse member of our community. By sharing our human experience we can help each other understand, thrive, and enhance ourselves and all of our environment.

Prescott College is a place where I can cultivate ubuntu in my own life; and I love it!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Senior Project Time!

Everyone in the campus undergraduate student has to complete something called a “Senior Project” in order for them to graduate from Prescott College.  I know that I am planning something to huge for my project and that I would need more time to work on it; this is the reason why I started my senior project a full semester early.  The part I wanted to share with everyone was one of the focuses of my project; and that is the human IMAGINATION.

The more utilize my imagination with friends the more I learn of the wondrous properties of the imagination.  Here at Prescott College I am able to do the scholarly backing necessary to support my own experiential journey/research.  The scholarly research compliments my own journey; it does not supersede it. 

I would like to share with whoever reads this something interesting about the imagination that I have learned recently; and that is that it help cultivates and open mind (to an amazing degree).  I've tried meditation, focusing on Raja Yoga studies, and various mind exercises to help cultivate having an open mind.  Yet being able to “envision” something that isn't” seems to help cultivate having an open mind much more than I expected (it’s easier for most then trying to meditate).  The process of the imagination helps with “limitless notions” or with ideas of “creation”; and this inspired a question that I would like to ask everyone!

“What inhibits and/or cultivates your Imagination?”
“What inhibits and/or cultivates your Limitless Nature?”

image: real life PC students at a potluck (natural environment)
Chew, ponder, share… and of course enjoy! 

I look forward to peoples responses.  I will be using the perspective and wisdom of my peers to aid in my Senior Project!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wilderness Orientation: Embracing the Unknown

The setting of our first campsite

First came the preparation. As someone who had never even officially camped, I knew I was in for an experience. I was determined to do the best I could to prepare myself for the obstacles orientation would present. I spent 3 long hours at REI stuffing backpacks with weights and schlepping them around every corner of the store until I found one that fit me perfectly. I carried that same backpack on daily hikes to break in my hiking boots--tromping through every puddle to see if they really stood up to their waterproof labeling. I spoke to current students and admissions counselors as often as I could to make sure that I was not forgetting any essential items to pack. In short, I was utterly and completely terrified to spend three weeks on wilderness orientation in Arizona’s backcountry.

Setting up tarps

Yet there I was: little old me, cowering under the weight of a 50 pound backpack, leaping from boulder to boulder, floating through majestic slot canyons, skipping across river rocks, drinking out of cow tanks, maneuvering around cacti, laughing beside campfires, and sleeping beneath the vast, star-studded sky. I learned how to set up tarps, ascend rock walls, navigate routes, and find commonality amongst people from completely different backgrounds. I withstood mental breakdowns, bug bites, thunderstorms, sunburns, cuts and bruises, being completely cut off from friends and family, and realizing that nothing could have prepared me for the experience I was having.

My solo site at West Clear Creek

And aside from the great tan and fabulous-smelling wardrobe I came back with, I also returned with a confidence that transcended any tangible obstacle. I knew I would enter the semester with a solid group of friends who stuck with me through all of the tears, laughter, and hardships. My fears surrounding academia were extinguished because I knew that if I could survive three weeks in the wilderness with just a backpack over my shoulders, what couldn’t I accomplish? The door of opportunity was wide open and I had already proved I was capable of achieving things I had never thought possible.

Part of West Clear Creek that we nicknamed "Garden of Eden"

It has been over a year since I laced up my boots and set out for wilderness orientation. Every time I talk to my orientation group members, look at our pictures, or re-read my journal, I am taken back to that first course at Prescott College. I can’t help but smile and reminisce about how lucky I am to have had that experience.  To this day I continue to learn so much about myself and my capabilities based on the growth that occurred during those three weeks in the backcountry.  Although I had no idea what I was getting myself into, everything I have gained from embracing the unknown has made it all worth it.  Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone.  You just might have the experience of a lifetime.

Starting off the day with a morning swim

Taking a picture break after a long stretch of boulder-hopping

Never Stop Learning,

Renee Daniel   

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Education is a Journey

“Education is a journey, not a destination” is what Prescott College instills in its students. For me, this journey has been rewarding, frustrating, enlightening, and, above all, transforming.

A little over a year ago, I moved to Prescott fresh from the city of San Diego, CA. I was excited to begin this leg of my academic odyssey, but also anxious to be in a new place with new people.

As the days of my Wilderness Orientation flew by and my first official semester began, I knew I had made the best decision of my life. I could and would thrive here. After all, I did survive Wilderness Orientation.

My first semester at Prescott College was one of mixed feelings, great intrigue and unlimited potential. I was on the threshold of unlimited opportunities and academic pursuit. Those classes were my “tester” courses, ones where I began to form the tendrils that shaped themselves into passion-driven competence and breadth areas. Finally, I was able to put down in a Degree Plan a concrete plan of action; I wanted to teach.

That Fall 2011 semester was a fun and enriching way to be introduced into a new and unique college experiences. Potlucks and small parties kept me social, class discussions and readings kept me involved and analytical, and being a part of a community of learners who want to serve and change the world kept me determined.

Don’t get me wrong, I missed my family dearly, I missed the variety and late-nights the city offered, and I missed familiarity. But, Prescott and Prescott College proved to be extremely beneficial and provided many blessings.

In my time in Prescott I have:

- Become involved with great and motivated people.

- Met and live with an amazing man.

- Learned that Yoga is a way to center and calm myself.

- Pursued rock climbing to a degree I wouldn’t have imagined.

- Become more connected with my food and food sources, and have mastered delicious vegetarian meals!

- Found a new family.

- Observed community strengths and weaknesses, and formulated possible (and realistic) solutions.

- Been able to clearly define who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe in, and with little to no regard for external pressure to conform.

- Experienced SEASONS!

And those are only the tip of the iceberg! Thus far, this journey has been incredible!!

Now, I’m in my senior and final year at Prescott College…and it is thrilling, sad, and uplifting. I have a year of hard-work and real-life application to complete before I can stand on a stage and look into the glowing and proud faces of my family and friends. But, it is what motivates me. Being a student (and soon to be graduate!) of Prescott College has allowed me to follow my passion and mold it to be a vehicle for educational change and reform. At Prescott College, I have learned that the student DOES matter and has exceptional power; here, your education is truly your own.

My journey is not done, and it will never be.

Angelica R. Brady