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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"What Are You Doing After College?"

Over the last month or so, many people (mostly family and friends) have been asking me "What are you going to do after you graduate?" Many of them are hopping I'll move back to Sunny San Diego. Some are hoping that I have extravagant plans for the future. And a few are asking just to see if I have an answer.

The truth is, I don't know...yet. I have ideas and hopes, but I'll have to see what exactly will be available to me when I graduate.

However, I know with absolute certainty that I will leave Arizona as soon as possible. I am giving myself a year to two years (max) to finish up my lease and job here, and to allow myself some time to rest before I have to become a career-driven adult. Also, my boyfriend's daughter deserves her time to complete another year or two of schooling here. Aside from an almost non-existent job market in Prescott, I also find myself not wanting to live in a "Red" state that continuously passes or is trying to pass ignorant and biased laws, and cares nothing for it's education system or students (whew!!). Oregon, and Montana are contenders for relocation.

Honestly, I know that pursuing a degree in the Education field would leave me without much of a jumping off point. To add to that, my degree is in Social Justice Education...a rarer field! I purposely didn't got the Teacher Certification route because: 1) I don't care enough about Arizona to become a teacher here and 2) I have too many issues with public schools and their lack of commitment to students (not that all are...just most). Currently, I am looking at job listings around the country (and some around the world) for independent (private) schools looking for teachers and staff. I have found a surprising number of which I meet the criteria for but will apply to after graduation (wish me luck!).

As an adult getting ready for a career, I also have to keep in mind family. I'm getting to that point in my life where marriage and children are more of a reality, so I'm recognizing that I have to plan for that. I don't want a job in some obscure place with little to offer. Aside from looking at relocation areas and jobs in those areas, I'm looking into schools (for my boyfriend's daughter and any future children I may have), resources (health food stores, proximity to the outdoors, libraries, etc.),  average age, average housing costs, diversity of population, eateries, etc. I'm also making sure that the jobs I will be applying for have a nice benefits package (medical and dental are my biggest concerns, especially if a family of my own is in the future). A place that is dog friendly is also a must!!

Really, I wish I had a better idea of what I was going to do after college. However, going with the flow of life and follow my heart has never misled me (it's how I was brought to Prescott College). I know something great will turn up that meets and exceeds my until then I'll wait for the Universe to assemble to signs I need to follow.

Angelica R. Brady 3.26.2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Being a female in Adventure Education
When I first joined the Prescott College community, I knew that I wanted to be part of the adventure education (AE) program, but I was intimidated by the “masculine qualities one must possess” to be considered an acceptable leader. The qualities that I thought one “needed” were brute strength, the ability to be able to conquer any skill, and have great climbing skills. I started to question my area of study. Perhaps, I should look into holistic heath, or psychology. I was comfortable with these topics. But, adventure clung onto my mind and I wanted to continue to explore my past with climbing and broaden my skill set. Yes, I was going to study adventure education!
Halloween Climbing Day
When in-town orientation started and it was time to register for fall semester classes, I found one class that I knew that I needed to be part of. This course was called “Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership and Introduction to Rock Climbing.” I was so excited that I was not the only one feeling the stereotypes one needs (masculine qualities) to be part of AE. I was going to learn how to best support myself as a female in AE.
Joshua Tree!
A month later (after wilderness orientation) it was time to go to my first Women’s Topics class. This is when it hit me. I am taking an eight credit course with ALL women. Maybe this will be even scarier than just taking a class with guys. It will be harder to hide behind women. Our first weekend trip away from Prescott was to the San Juan River in Utah. We were taking a four day rafting trip to get to know one another. Don’t get me wrong; I like to talk and get to know people, but on this trip I found myself silent and unable to open up. This happened because; I was amazed at how lucky I was to be part of a course that was developed in order to empower women and to have a chance to show their strengths in AE. It was also to teach women that they are competent and are capable at being well-rounded adventure educators. I am not talking about one arm pull-up strength, but the pure, raw, and unique strength that each one of us possesses.
San Juan River
I could not have asked for a better course to deliver me into my AE career. Since taking Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership, I got to TA the course and also I was qualified to be student leader (alongside a professional leader) for Wilderness Orientation. Prescott College has provided opportunities for me that I would have not expected when I first stepped onto campus. By looking at my personal needs, in order to thrive, I have gotten an individualized education that I would have not been able to dream up. Now I am proud to say that “I do climb like a girl” and that the qualities that I have, have created confidence in me and I know that I picked the right area of study at Prescott College. What area are you going to choose?
~Chloe Anderson Erickson~

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I didn’t know what to expect from a Prescott College orientation experience. I assumed we would carry heavy backpacks, navigate through canyons, hike over boulders and in and out of forests, across deserts, sleep outdoors and cook our own food in blazing heat and frigid nights. I had even heard rumors of swimming through icy pools with backpacks on and climbing waterfalls.

Though the weather extremes were far milder than I expected, all of the rest was true. But I experienced much more during orientation than just living and traveling in desert terrain for three weeks. I found wozani.

I have spent time in the wilderness camping, hiking, skiing, kayaking, canoeing and climbing. I have taken courses at other colleges and NOLS that had students living together in the wilderness in tents or quinzhees for weeks and months at a time.

I gained valuable experience on those expeditions, and learned from and with some of the best in their fields of expertise. I made some very good friends too. But I did not discover wozani until I spent time with ten amazing people on Prescott College orientation.

            There doesn’t seem to be a direct translation to English for the Zulu word, wozani.  I think that’s fitting, because the feeling is not easy to describe in simple terms either.

Some of the best, complimentary definitions are: to come close, people together, and unity. According to Heather Moseley and Annie Wilkinson, “The expression (wozani) celebrates our collective power and common belief…it binds us together in our struggles…” (See footnote).

If you were to combine all of those definitions, you would start to come close what I experienced with my orientation group. We were miserable together. We were blissed out together. We taught each other and learned from each other. We shared our fire.

We became a collective soul that cared about the well being of the whole. We breathed our collective life into fire, and created song to celebrate our collective power, and our sounds reflected from the canyon walls, acknowledging our unity and sending us home. We entered the desert as individuals and came out of the wilderness as wozani.

I hope you find wozani on your orientation.
Matt Seats

Monday, March 4, 2013

Taking Orientation Full Circle

My 1st Orientation Family - Beaver/Clear Creek Crew 2010
Photo Credit: Sean Thomas
When scrolling through the assortment of blogs, I find myself smiling at the pictures of various individuals reflections on orientation. The stories and connections, the environment and lessons, the weather and the blisters - these moments (whether experienced on a backpacking trip, within the Prescott community, or at the life-centering base camp) create a thread of connection between current incoming students and every other incoming class since 1966 - when the college was founded. This opportunity is not only unique - it is a tradition that can connects you to the broader community the instant you meet your group.
All of the Blue Range Groups 2012
Photo Cred: Ann Marie Boutin

I remember when I first met my instructors and crew of classmates that would soon become my first Prescott College “family”. At Chauncey Ranch I stood with a group of equally uncertain new students, waiting in great anticipation to meet our instructors and classmates. A nearby trailer began to shake as silly, savage screams seeped through. Suddenly, out burst a colorful crew of instructors - dressed in brightly colored spandex and sequined capes they ran circles through the crowd. It took us a second to see that attached to the backs of the instructors were the student names. It felt like chaos, but everyone was laughing and running in the hot, dry heat. In good time, we found our instructors and settled in.

While most equate the orientation experience to ones first course at Prescott College, this past fall block my relationship with the program took a new turn. After taking a number of field courses and developing my own leadership style/skill set, I felt that I was ready to apply for a position as a student orientation instructor. A mixture of nerves and excitement flooded my being. The prospect of leading a group of students who would graduate as my peers in their first experience through the school was somewhat terrifying.

A week before the new students would arrive on campus, I walked into the chapel with my roommate (who was also leading Orientation). Vivid flashbacks of anticipation filled my system. Who would my co-instructor be? Do I have the time and systems to make sure I have all my ducks in a row so I can be the best resource possible for my students? How do I support these students and set them up for success in their first course at Prescott College??

While the anxiety never fully vanished, it was largely replaced by awe and inspiration. We first sat in the circle format and introduced ourselves. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty of this initial interaction. Each individual shared their name and why they were there. There were stories, filled with laughter, tears, and insight. The individuals who returned to the program a multitude times - after being a student, to a student instructor, to a lead instructor, to a course director, to program director. The connection this opportunity provides roots one to the environment, the community, a history worth being proud of.

My Wonderful Crew
Photo Cred: Ann Marie Boutin

From that moment on - the experience was a blur. In town training, field training, packing, re-packing, unpacking, adventuring, laughing, reflecting, adjusting, unpacking washing, writing, preparing. And then we met our students. In a room with 150 or so new students, trying to find your 10 can be minorly hectic. Our crew of “rainbows” began to sort themselves out, walking the chaos and pandemonium that came with the anticipation. You could see in their shifting eyes the anxiousness and excitement. The uncertainty and readiness.

Hanna Hot Springs - Lovely
Photo Credit: Ann Marie Boutin

Welcome to Prescott College. This will be your first “family”. We learn to love each other through the challenges provided with back country living. We will laugh, and maybe cry. We will change and transform, we will walk in creek beds and over hills that don’t resemble anyone's idea of the southwest. We will dance under waterfalls and ease our bumped and bruised bodies in the hot springs. 

This program represents a tradition of transition and transformation. It is an invaluable experience for new students. I see it now as an invaluable experience for current students. The opportunity to apply one's learning through the opportunity to facilitate one of the most magical experiences one will have at the school. To reflect and remember. To connect and create memories that will last a lifetime. Welcome to Prescott College - watch and reflect as you and your community learns, grows, and transforms.

Ah, Education
Photo Credit: Ann Marie Boutin