Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Collection of Masterpieces

A splash of color and spectrum of absolute awesome. We painted on the floor, we painted on paper, we painted on each other. Perfect timing for the Tuesday night Art Jam. Just a night, but this night was spiraled up into a mix of artistic expression that rushed forth from many an outlet...laughing and creating while others jammed out with the guitar, drums, didgeridoo and just their voices. There was a noted building of creativity, all of us relinquishing our vibrations to syncopation, all adding in our little bit of somethin' somethin' to the palette of fantastic. All the little stories interweaving, giving way to what we decided to make that evening. The end result: a collection of masterpieces, still and moving.

This idea of interweaving the skills and stories of all those who come to Prescott College is the thing that has struck me most about living here. The love I have for this school is beyond measure, but can be read and felt through the amazing people who are drawn to this place. Like a well placed punch to the jaw, they'll knock you on your...well, ask me later...and leave a constant laugh on your lips. They come from the cities, from the countryside...from all over the country, really. All to this mountain town tucked in the midst of a national forest, brimming with life and potential. It's incredible, too, how many people I find here who seem to exude the definition of renaissance man or woman; anything they touch turns to gold. The liberal arts and multidisciplinary mindset of Prescott College allows for the greatest growth in this uncanny ability to adapt and understand new things, all while becoming a more well rounded and responsible global citizen. So cheers to the stories, cheers to the mix, and cheers to the masterpieces that always seem to flow out of this...this school, this haven, this work of art in the deepest sense: Prescott College.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Wonders of Prescott College...

            I remember my senior year of high school. I fully enjoyed it, however, I was more than ready to get out of there. So many questions circulated though my head: should I… Work? Travel? School? I wrote a blog about that last year, so that is not exactly what I want to focus on. The point I was trying to bring up was doing my own college research and looking at “student blogs”. I can’t remember what school this was for, but one of the posts surrounded the prompt, “If you could go on a road trip with one of your professors, who would it be and why?”

            I love road trips – the passing scenery, the conversation, the music, and the adventure soon to come… so I thought it was a brilliant post. However, when I came across Prescott College, I discovered – this prompt was not “hypothetical”. Ask any student, who has been your favorite professor to road trip with (you would probably ask about the field course, in all reality – because van rides and the “road trip” part of the course is usually not the “highlight”).

            It would be hard for me to pick a favorite – another reason why I love Prescott. The range of experiences are so broad, I don’t think I would know how to compare a trip studying social theory and current events along the U.S.-Mexico Border with a month ski touring though the back country in Idaho, or a Prison Studies course in San Francisco, with a Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership weekend trip to Joshua Tree.

            Rather than pick a favorite, I think I will focus in on one highlight at a time. For the next few weeks, check back and get a “preview” into the wonderful world of Prescott College. I am currently in my third year here, and unlike my junior year of high school, I can’t imagine leaving. This has become the place that I call home, the place where all my adventures take me back to, the place where I reflect, synthesize, let down, and ramp up for another exciting educational journey (literally and metaphorically). My stories come from the Adventure Education department, the Cultural and Regional Studies department, the Education department, the Human Development department. That is the beautiful thing about a Prescott College liberal arts degree – you can (and will) have experiences that span across program areas – the interdisciplinary degree you design and the interdisciplinary nature of the courses help create one of the coolest, well rounded experiences of your life.

            Let your imagination run wild!
Hannah Marshall

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter Orientation

Before coming to Prescott College, I had been on a few comfortable weekend camping trips and some day hikes. Orientation, therefore, was a bit shocking, and the most physically challenging experience of my life. And it was worth every second.

I came to Prescott last January, so I did the winter orientation, which is nine days in the Grand Canyon and nine days in the Superstition Mountains. I had never seen the Grand Canyon before, and sometimes I still feel like I barely have (that thing is HUGE). Those of us who hadn’t seen the Canyon before chose to be blindfolded as we approached it so we would be surprised. One of my favorite shows is Parks & Recreation, and I was all ready to be a smart-aleck and quote this scene:

Instead, once my blindfold was taken off, I stood there, jaw on the ground, staring at this unbelievably vast expanse for about two minutes. I was speechless.

That’s me having my mind blown by the beauty that is the Grand Canyon.

Whenever I tell anyone about my experience in the Grand Canyon, I have to use the word unbelievable. Because it is literally unbelievable. I spent nine days in it, and I still don’t believe it exists, that’s how unbelievably gigantic and gorgeous it is. It just doesn’t end. Have I expressed to you enough yet how big and beautiful the Grand Canyon is? Probably not. I’ll move on anyway.

My first couple of days of orientation were a bit rocky (pun intended). My trekking poles broke (because I got cheap ones – if you want good trekking poles, invest in good trekking poles… and keep the receipt!), my Camelbak got poked by a cactus and broke (bring HARD water bottles, at least 2 liters. Things get pokey out there), and a few days in, my Achilles tendon started acting up (BREAK IN YOUR HIKING BOOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! never enough exclamation points). Luckily, my orientation group, my family for those three weeks, helped me when they could. My least-broken pole got taped, one of my instructors gave me her extra Nalgene bottle, and a girl in my group had salve to make my ankle feel better.

This leads to the thing I loved most about orientation… Your problems seem so small and insignificant next to 1.7 billion year old rock. In the canyon, you can literally see time pass in the rock layers, and it puts your life into perspective. Some people might not like feeling small and insignificant… but I love it. That realization only made me more passionate about my goals at Prescott College (Environmental Policy) and made me feel more connected to the Earth.
I also appreciated this realization because, in the three months before orientation, my last and closest grandparent died, my childhood pet died, and my boyfriend of 2.5 years suddenly left me. It was rough. And orientation was undoubtedly the best thing I could have done to heal myself. I walked out my problems. I walked them out next to ancient earth, and it put everything in perspective. Our problems come and go, but the Colorado still rushes on. It’s hard to feel bad for yourself when you wake up next to wonderful new friends and this is the first thing you see:

Photo Credit: Autumn Chase-Dempsey
Photo Credit: Lacey Stone

Yeah, it’s just a little bit gorgeous.

Orientation is different for everyone because everyone comes to it with different experiences. I had little camping and hiking experience, and used orientation as a kind of therapy. Others are very experienced, and it might mean something different to them. But no matter your experience, unless you lose all of your food and clothes and your tent burns down, I don’t know how you can’t have a good time on orientation, and probably learn a lot about yourself in the process. (Especially on solo!) I am thankful for every moment of my Prescott College orientation, even the rough spots, because I grew from it. It helped make me who I am today.
Photo Credit: Lacey Stone

My wonderful orientation group!

- Ruby Teegarden

Friday, November 2, 2012

'Tis the Season

Feliz Dia de los Muertos! (Happy Day of the Dead!). In the culture I most identify (Mexican, but I’m multiethnic: Mexican, Costa Rican and Irish), Dia de los Muertos is a day (and sometimes string of days) where Mexicans (both in Mexico and the USA) honor their deceased loved ones by setting up an altar in their home (adorned with candles, offering of food and drinks, puppets, flowers, skulls, paper-maiche skeletons, and a variety of pictures), or, if close enough, visiting and decorating the resting places of their deceased loved ones. My family is spread far, so an altar works just fine. Last night, I played music to my departed family and friends. I talked to them and recalled stories of them. Basically, I had a party with them.

A typical at-home Dia de los Muertos altar.
To people who are not familiar with Dia de los Muertos, the thought of celebrating death may be considered morbid. But, not in my culture.

            Dia de los Muertos marks the beginning of a season of celebrations in my family. We have paid our respects and celebrated the dead on earth. As their spirits wander back to their resting places, we’ll begin to prepare for a number of things in the next few months.

            Traditionally, Mexicans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving…that is, until recently. Celebrating Thanksgiving is most popular for Mexicans living along the U.S./Mexico border, or “Americanized” Mexicans. My dad is an All-American man who grew up in New York and is in the Army…so we celebrated Thanksgiving. My poor madre, before marrying my dad she had no idea how to cook a Turkey or cook many of the traditional Thanksgiving sides dishes. That year, she said, the turkey skin was burnt to a crisp and the flesh was still bloody. My dad got take-out instead. Since then, Thanksgiving has vastly improved, with me taking over the dinner at 14 years old and cooking it every year since then. It will be slightly different this year, though, because I’m vegetarian and I’m staying in Prescott to celebrate Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family.

            December is where Mexicans really get down to business.

            In my family, this is tamale-making season! Every year, we gather at one families house and set up tables and chairs in a long assembly line. All of the family came equipped with their best recipes, plenty of food and drink to keep us working, and their designated items (some provided masa, some brought cornhusks, all brought their homemade fillings made the night before, and some brought steamer pots). If you were under the age of five, you were spared the work. Almost all the older siblings and adults were put to work on the tamales; mixing, mashing, spooning, wrapping, piling, making more of everything. Sometimes, if all of the adults were wrapped up in a good pace and didn’t need the help, they would send us children away to play…but that was rare and not to be counted on.
A pile of tamales (mine are bigger than these).

            I remember how much of a drag making tamales was as a child. The only thing that kept my butt planted in place was the threat of “Si no quieres ayudar, no los vas a comer” (If you don’t want to help, you won’t eat any). Because we don’t eat tamales outside of this season, you better belief I stayed and helped.

            As I got older, I became much more amused by the event. When my cousins and I were old enough to drinks and celebrate with the adults, tamale-making took on a whole new meaning! We sang along to Vicente Fernandez and Amanda Miguel. We danced around the kitchen. We ate delicious tacos. And, every year without fail, my tio Ricardo would make us try his latest tamale “masterpiece”. To his credit, the only one that never made it into the family recipe books was ground shrimp adobada tamale. I still shudder thinking about it.

            This whole event went on for at least two days, the time of which was determined by the eldest women. When they felt we had tamales for everyone to have a pile of eat, only then did the tamale-making stop.         

            It was long, but worth it. Taking the first bite of freshly made tamale is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world.

            Next in December is a holiday called Dia de La Virgen de Guadalupe, which is celebrated on December 12. In Mexico, this holiday is celebrated by the faithful making a pilgrimage (usually on their knees) to the Basilica to offer the Virgin gifts and thanks. Most Mexicans are Catholics and their most important figure is the Virgin Mary.
La Virgen de Guadalupe and Juan Diego (Find the story and read it...awesome!)

            In the States, this holiday is celebrated by going to a special mass and bringing the Virgin gifts, usually huge bouquets of roses. This is also a time when special prayer intentions are made.  Not being religiously affiliated myself, I offer a gift of flowers to the Virgin on behalf of all women, because we all suffer greatly because of our immense love for others.

            What comes next in December are Posada’s. Typically, this celebration starts December 16th and finishes December 24th. Posada means “lodging” and this event is meant to commemorate Joseph and Mary’s journey to find shelter. Each night, neighbors get together and make a “pilgrimage” to another neighbor’s house. They carry an altar of the Nativity and sing songs. Some children and adults dress as angels or shepherds. When they arrive at the house of the neighbor, both groups on each side of the door (inside and outside of the house) sing a call-and-response song, where the outside group is asking for shelter and the inside a group denies them. The group does some in, though, but not to celebrate finding shelter, but to pray a rosary. This continues every night until December 24th, when Joseph and Mary finally find shelter and baby Jesus is born. That night, everyone is left into the house to pray a rosary and celebrate the birth of Jesus Cristo. There are tamales, ponche, bunuelos, champurrado, and arroz y frijoles waiting. Everyone digs in and has fun.
La Posada, in human scale! In my neighborhood, we carry altars of the Navitity.

            The ending of the Posada goes right into celebrating Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). Traditionally, family, friends and neighbors goes to a midnight mass and then return home to open gifts. My family is a little different. We stay up all night celebrating, eating, playing games, etc. At midnight, everyone gathers and assembles their Christmas gifts in near little piles or rows. From there, everyone takes turns opening their presents. The next morning, on Christmas, the family usually heads over to mass.
Noche Buena where EVERY Mexican-Catholic stages a Nativity scene for all to see.

            Now we move into January.

            Of course, the New Year is rung in. On January 6th the Dia de los Santos Reyes is celebrated. In Mexico, this is the day most children receive their presents because it was the day the Jesus Christ received his gifts from the Three Kings. In my family, this is the day that we all gather (again, at someone’s house) to eat (of course) and slice La Rosca. La Rosca is a holiday sweet bread that is shaped and baked into an oval, and has 1 or more (depending on the size of the bread) baby figurines hidden inside. Before everyone leaves, la rosca is sliced and everyone eats their piece. Those who get the baby figurines must work together to host a party on Dia de la Candelaria on Feburary 2nd. I’ve gotten this figure multiple times.
La Rosca. Yum! Where are the figurines hidden? Hmmmm.

            Being in Prescott almost all of this last year (except for Thanksgiving 2011 and Student Directed Days earlier this month) has made me feel disconnected to these traditions. It also didn’t help that for this whole special season I lived in a tiny studio with a hotplate for my kitchen. Even if I lived in a place with roommates, I’m not sure how many of them would have jumped on board or tolerated my traditions.

            This year, moving into a new place (a house!) and changing my mindset has made me determined to celebrate this season the way I am accustomed to it. There will be tamales, and music, and champurrado, and bunuelos, and ponche, and a rosca! Living in Prescott makes it difficult to track down all I’ll need to make this possible. Luckily Phoenix is only about two hours away and I have a car! Because it is my last year at PC, I’m doing it big! I’m going to celebrate (and invite you to celebrate with me) all those traditions that make us unique during this season.

            Keep your eyes open for invites: tamales are coming soon!

Angelica R. Brady