Professors: the good, the better, and the very best

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As a student, a course can be good because of the textbook, the topic, the time of day, or the amount of work. But for me, what makes or breaks a course is the professor. I’ve never had a professor that I hated, but I’ve started to figure out who teaches in a way I can best understand, and then I love taking classes. My professors have made my CMU experience what it is. Here are a few examples of professors I’ve had and how they have enriched my experience:

1. Editing papers if they are submitted a week early                                               Writing papers is always stressful, and I often find myself second-guessing my topic and wondering if I’ve even understood the assignment. One of my professors tells all of his classes that if students submit their assignments a few days early, he will read them and make comments so that students can revise them before handing them in again.

2. Taking the biology class to the forest                                                               Sometimes it feels as though classes are disconnected from life outside the classroom and it’s hard to grasp how they fit together. For one of the biology classes I was in this semester where we were learning about ecology, our professor had us go outside and walk through the Assiniboine Forest together. This enabled the concepts of ecological succession and methods of environmental conservation to be more concrete.

3. Taking time to talk                                                                                            Before I came to CMU, I thought that professors were going to be scary academics who used long, complicated words and would only talk about school stuff. But my profs always take time to talk to their students. Every time I have a meeting with a prof, whether to ask a question about a paper or a course, the conversation is longer than I expect because they ask about my life and what I care about. I feel as though my profs know me beyond what I write in my assignments. They know what I care about and have helped me to grow as both a student and a person.

4. Bringing food to class                                                                                            Whether it’s the last class of the semester, their birthday, or paper writing season, when professors bring snacks to class it is always appreciated!

The professors at CMU care about their students and love what they teach. Every day, I feel so lucky to be able to sit in a classroom with these people who want to share with me the things that they are passionate about. It makes all the difference!

Laura

Privilege and power: International Development Studies

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I’m in my third year of International Development Studies, and I think development is something we all need in our lives. Despite popular belief, development isn’t something that an individual can take and deliver to someone in need like pizza. It’s a process which explores important questions of privilege and power imbalances. It teaches individuals to build relationships centred around trust and respect.

At CMU, we are encouraged and challenged to understand how our perception and theorists’ definitions of development is defined by worldviews and values. It is difficult to provide a simple and concise definition of development because good development is fluid, taking the shape of the context and people that create it.

On the other hand, destructive development can be easier to define. A development worker once shared with me a story. She knew a development worker who was riding to the city in a packed community bus through winding roads. Someone got car sick and threw up all over the floor of the bus. No one in the bus seemed disgusted or did anything to clean the mess that seemed to be spreading. Grandparents hopped over the mess and women carrying chickens struggled to navigate their way around it with their children.

The development worker could not believe no one was cleaning the mess and decided that he was going to use his newspaper  to cover it. While the bus waited on the side of the street for individuals to lower their produce from the roof of the bus, he quickly covered all the mess. The worker went back to his seat.

To his horror, as soon as the bus started moving, the wind came through the open windows and caused the newspaper to fly around the bus and smack passengers in the face. The worker slouched on his chair and pretended to take a nap for the rest of the trip! He was unaware that everyone was waiting for the next bus stop, which was near a house where the driver was planning to clean up the mess with a bucket and mop.

That story helped me understand that even with the best of intentions, we can cause harm to those we hope to help. As development practitioners, we need to be attentive to local knowledge – and remember that eating before a bus ride can be a bad idea!

César

When your kid’s first word is “metamorphosis”

My name is Sara and I’m in my second year at CMU in the Environmental Studies program. I love God’s creation and have always been interested in the mysteries of the natural world. My mom jokes that “metamorphosis” was one of my first words (metamorphosis is the transformation of an immature form of an insect to it’s adult form, or the process by which a caterpillar turns into a butterfly).

Sara works with classmates in a small, professor-directed lab at CMU.

Sara works with classmates in a small, professor-directed lab at CMU.

A dream that I’ve held my whole life is to be Ms. Frizzle, the crazy science teacher with a magic school bus. I probably won’t be able to take students into space or inside the human body for a field trip, but it’s Ms. Frizzle’s excitement and passion which I want to replicate if I get to become a biology teacher. I enjoyed science and specifically biology in high school when I began understanding the concepts of DNA and genetics. These discoveries excited me, and if I haven’t convinced you that biology is super cool, then I can show you some of the pictures I have of meiosis or you can take a look through the microscope I got for Christmas in grade nine.

After I graduated from Linden Christian School in Winnipeg, I took a year to go to Capernwray Bible school in England. My next step was university. I’d heard great things about CMU and have now experienced them. I got to be in small classes of about 25 people in my first year biology courses, and I had one-on-one help from my professor in my labs. That was worth so much. You would not be able to get this at other universities in your first year.

The professors at CMU are passionate and want to share their excitement with us students. When I talk with Rachel Krause, one of our biology professors, about her work, I can tell she enjoys it. She’s helping me figure out how to reach my goal of becoming a teacher. At CMU people truly care about you and your goals.

It is nice to be in a place where I am taught about God’s creation and have classes like Ecology, Environment, and the Bible, where I can learn the biblical perspective on topics covered in my other classes. At CMU, it is recognized that science is more than what is physically in front of you; science can also be a way for us to see the majesty of God.

I encourage you to consider CMU for yourself and become part of this vibrant learning community.

Guest blogger Sara is an Environmental Studies student.

Christmas at CMU

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“Grandpa Dietrich” (Associate Professor of Music) animates Christmas stories during Christmas at CMU

I have always loved Christmas. There is something mysterious and magical that comes along with it. The radio stations start playing O Holy Night and Christmas movies such as Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life are playing. Some of my favourite Christmas memories include cherishing a warm drink by the fire with a good friend, driving around on a sunny day as fluffy white snow falls from the sky, and of course family dinners that are always a tiny bit awkward.

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Father Christmas visits CMU

Coming to CMU and leaving my hometown in Ontario, I was nervous that I would lose many of the traditions that brought me so such joy during the Christmas season. However, as we neared Christmas there were many decorations surrounding our north campus (otherwise known as “the castle”). Overnight, everything had become festive: the beauty was overwhelming and it felt as though the castle had been transformed into Santa’s home. It doesn’t get much more magical than that, folks! The joyful and welcoming atmosphere that I had missed so much from home was sparked once again and my excitement could not be contained.

My friends informed me about Christmas at CMU, an event where friends and family gather to spend time in community, enjoying cookies and apple cider while listening to AMAZING musical compositions. I couldn’t wait to listen to the beautiful voices and instruments that the CMU choir, guitar ensemble, and many others were going to perform.

On the day of Christmas at CMU, the sun was shining and I knew it was going to be a great day. As my friends and I walked into the building, we were filled with Christmas cheer and felt a wave of relief from school stress and assignments. In this moment, the only thing I needed to worry about was getting my apple cider and enjoying some beautiful music.

Since my first Christmas at CMU, it has become an annual tradition and continues to be a great memory. It is something that I look forward to every year as a magical, joyful, and welcoming experience.

Emilie

Christmas at CMU is this Saturday at 2:00 and 7:00 PM. Join us!

Knowing God. Knowing yourself. Knowing the world.

This year's Burkina Faso Outtatown spent a morning picking "earth peas" with a farmer and his 4-yr-old son.

This year’s Burkina Faso Outtatown spent a morning picking “earth peas” with a farmer and his 4-yr-old son.

When I finished high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I decided to take a break from school, hoping to discover what I was passionate about. I ended up on the Outtatown French Africa program.

We spent three months travelling through Francophone Canada (Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Montreal); Burkina Faso (in West Africa); and France. Over this time, we volunteered with many organizations, where we met interesting people and were pushed to look at the world in a different way.

Outtatown’s motto is, “knowing God, knowing yourself, knowing the world,” and this is the best way to summarize my experience.

Knowing God

In Outtatown, I learned that God speaks in so many ways. Through conversations with people in my group from different faith backgrounds, I began to see God beyond my own experience. I learned to worship in new ways, both in Canada and Burkina Faso. By witnessing how those around me lived their faith, I was challenged to grow in new ways and pay closer attention to God’s presence in my own life.

Knowing Yourself

I realized that I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for. Being surrounded by a loving community, I was able to do things that I never would have been able to do otherwise. I went bungee jumping, even though I am terrified of heights, and learned that I love adventuring. I also realized that I am passionate about building relationships with people who have a different story than myself, and asking what it would look like if the world was just. This love of adventure and social justice has continued in my studies and as I seek out new opportunities for adventure.

Knowing the World

I experienced a world that is broken and hurting, but filled with courageous people. Through my readings and conversations, I was struck by poverty as well as the people making a difference. Though the world can feel hopeless in the face of such issues, the people I met lived with the hope that things can change, and called me to that as well.

Every time people ask me about my experience, I answer that it was one of the best choices I ever made. It was a time when I was supported in asking questions, had a lot of fun, and learned what it meant to grow and change.

Laura

The Outtatown visit day is November 23! Sign up here.

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