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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let's talk about food.

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly." -Anna Thomas

Working in admissions gives me the chance to talk to prospective students, in fact, its the entirety of my job. And I love it! But every so often there are questions that throw me off, and take a little more time to process and answer than others. 

Bizarrely enough, this is a question e-mailed to me a couple days ago that rocked me straight off the boat:

"What's the food like?"

Wait what? How do you expect to answer that? Are you referring to quality? Why do you ask? I think it's good? Is this something that's going to make or break your college decision?
Shameless promotion for the best
hot sauce I've ever had.

It took me an hour to answer this question, not something I'm proud of. The extremist in me thought that what I said about food at Prescott College was going to be the sole reason this prospective student would come here, or not. I never thought about the food here versus food anywhere, and so I had to really rack my brain for all the ways food in this town and college atmosphere has affected my life. For a good ten minutes I circled around the idea of my new found affinity and connoisseur-ship for the hot sauces of the Southwest, but that wasn't nearly enough. Why was this so difficult?

Suddenly, by the works of a miracle, the flood gates opened, and I realized how central food is in our community here. 

Unlike the typical college, PC doesn't have a "dining hall" setting. We have our Crossroads Cafe, open from breakfast to dinner, with healthy and natural options that cater to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, lactose-free, and your average "omnivore." During finals week, they offer free "brain food" that I swear, saved my sleep-deprived GPA. At my old college, and with most colleges with dining halls, you get a meal plan with a set number of swipes that reflect how many meals you get per day/week. Rather than that, first-time freshman are required to, and anyone can opt to, get a Cafe Card. Personally, I believe this is a much better idea, because you don't have to waste a meal swipe to get a granola bar and coffee, you just deduct it from your card, like a debit card. The Cafe itself is pretty cozy too, and one of my favorite places to meet up with people to study or work on group projects. I feel like no matter when I walk in, I'll see someone I know, and that's a pretty lucky feeling! It's also a pretty popular place to work, whether it be behind the register, baking, or cooking. 

Besides the Crossroads Cafe, the residence halls here are townhouse-style, meaning that on the first floor of every townhouse there is a full kitchen, complete with two stove-top ovens, two fridges, and a ton of counter space. People here tend to love cooking, and cooking together with their housemates. There are three large grocery stores within a walking distance (Fry's, Safeway, and Albertson's), and beginning this semester, every Tuesday and Saturday there will be shuttle services that take residents to further reaching stores, like Natural Grocer's, New Frontiers, and Trader Joe's. 

Then there's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which you and some other friends can sign up to receive a healthy share of locally grown and raised produce, beef, eggs, and sometimes bread and dairy products too!

Now for everyone's favorite day of the week.... Community Lunch. Every Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30, the conference center is open and filled with soups, bread, and drinks, made by the Crossroads Cafe, and completely free to not only Prescott College students and faculty, but everyone in the community as well. Just
like with the Cafe's served food, they have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free soup options to accommodate all. It's not rare to see literally everyone on campus at Prescott College getting their fill of soup. It's delicious! It's also the time when student groups, clubs, and organizations announce events and things they're doing on and off campus, and everyone in the community comes and takes a moment from their busy lives to just have a nice conversation with people they may not know that well or see very often. 

Something really popular here are potlucks, or when groups get together and everyone brings a dish or dessert or beverage. I didn't know what those were until I came out here actually, but now it's pretty routine for the end of a class to be synonymous with both a final paper and a potluck! 

I never really experience the idea of "food bringing people together" until I came here, and so looking back at my time here I'm in awe of how much it has strengthened relationships in my life. Whether it be running into someone at the Cafe, or sitting with a group of people at Community Lunch, or ending the semester with a bang at a class potluck/shindig, it all connects back. 

I really hope that answers their question...


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Adventure Education - Three Types of Fun

Matt Seats
Those of you who know me know that I am studying adventure education (AE) here at Prescott College (PC). But for those of you who are new to the school, and for family and friends who still have no idea what "studying adventure education at Prescott College" means, I thought I would share a little bit about what that looks like with you.            

I would like to say that AE is not all fun, hiking, kayaking, camping, canoeing, rock climbing, and traveling in and through beautiful wild places that few people ever see. And it’s true; not all of it is. There is, in fact, a good deal of pedagogical and theoretical research, reading, writing, skills assessments, and even (gasp) tests. Granted, many of the test scenarios at PC take the form of demonstrations of your competence – or presenting your research findings to others – but make no mistake, you are tested.
The truth of the matter is that those of us who have formally chosen AE as our competence (or Major, for the PC uninitiated) are usually having fun. We want to know how and why using adventure as an educational model to reach learning outcomes works. We want to understand the psychological and pedagogical research that supports the use of overcoming physical and mental challenges to achieve learning. We want to learn the history of adventure education. We want to be outdoor educators, and guides, and teachers, and instructors. We want to be good at what we do, and to help others improve their health, their education, and their lives in the process. So it's all fun of one type or another.
            The fact that we have fun learning and teaching our chosen course of study is simply a byproduct of our choice to study and teach what we love doing. But, not all fun is fun. Anyone who lives the life of an adventure education student or educator has heard of “the fun scale.” There is Type 1 Fun, Type 2 Fun, and Type 3 Fun. This scale can be applied to everything in life.
            Type 1 Fun involves instant gratification: the taste of good food, the sight of a beautiful sunset, getting an “A” in a class you thought you weren’t doing well in. Type 2 Fun describes things that you think were fun when you look back on them, but might not have seemed as fun while you were “in the moment.” An example would be successfully completing a difficult rock climbing route that scared the hell out of you the entire time you were climbing, or the long and sometimes exposed hikes PC students take on a Grand Canyon Wilderness Orientation – which also includes life-changing views of the canyons and mountains. 
Then there’s Type 3 Fun. Type 3 Fun is not fun at all, but will leave a strong memory with you forever. Type 3 Fun makes you wonder why you do what you do and swear that you will never do anything that stupid again. Getting stuck in a lightning storm on top of a mountain top is Type 3 Fun. When you look back on it years later, you may remember reaching the summit of the mountain and surviving the ordeal, but you will never remember it as fun.
Studying and teaching AE involves all three types of fun. Sometimes Type 3 Fun is necessary to have Type 2 or Type 1 Fun. AE students and educators accept that. In reaching the goal of becoming employed at doing what we love, in places we love, and helping improve the quality of life for ourselves and others, all three types of fun are worth the results.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Prescott People

I truly love people. 

I love their stories, and their quirks, and the fact that there is so much about them I will try to understand and never will. I love those innumerable connections that link us all to the six degrees at separation, and the deeper ties with people that cut into our minds, souls, and bodies and ultimately define our lives. 

Now, at Prescott, it's more like two degrees of separation and everyone you do know has already cut into you and everyone you don't, you want to.

When I visited Prescott almost a year ago, I came to a pretty profound realization that ultimately led to my decision to go here. Bizarrely enough, I have a few friends from my tiny town in Middle-of-No-Where, New Jersey, who all live together here and go to PC. I decided to visit them over my spring break last year, when I was in-between colleges, feeling lost and indecisive and desperately needing to adventure out of the east. 

I was so lucky.

During my week stay here, I met so many people. People who by now have graduated, or are almost graduating, or have as much time left here as I do, but people, people, people. People with plans, people with direction and some without and some who knew exactly where they were going to go after this stage in their life and some who didn't care, but in each person I met I saw something I had really never seen before. I saw this passion, and as cliche as the saying is I'm going to use it because I saw it-- I saw a fire in every one's eyes that burned inside of them and lit up the path they were on to ultimately, change the world.

Orientation with some of the best people I have ever met!
(I'm the one all the way on the right)

Now, almost a year later, I am here. I just began my second semester as a Counselling Psychology student, and I feel that fire. I have met many, many more people, who I see it in them, too. This passion, and want, and sometimes even the need,  to do everything with the intention of making the world better. 

I truly believe that everyone who comes to Prescott College comes here for a reason. I know people here from all walks of life, that come from places I can't even imagine and have been through things I will never know the feelings of, who have been through the ringer and at the end of the day still do everything they can for the good of others. 

The people I met that one week last March inspired me to ignite as much as I could within myself, and lo and behold, I am here. I have never made such deep connections with strangers that I now consider my best friends. I am so appreciative of the Prescott community as a whole, and of each Prescott person out there. 

--Steph Doss