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Seasons: Are You Living in the Now?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

Seasons. Each season brings a different flavour and atmosphere to our life. Like seasons of the year, each season of life holds positives and negatives. The beauty of the colours and smells of autumn also contain a chill and darkened evenings. Summer provides hot sun and luscious greenery, but mosquitoes are also a reality. We must choose what we will dwell on. How can one enjoy skating in the winter when all they can think about is swimming in the summer? Lately, I have been reflecting on my first year of university at CMU and the way that I experienced that season of my life. 

Anna Richard - Season: Are you Living in the Now?

It was somewhat of a wild year. In April, I finished a very busy first year of pre-nursing studies. Like any full-time, first-year student, there was so much to juggle and constantly keep up with. Having homeschooled for my entire previous education, I found that I was continuously just trying to prove to myself that I could indeed succeed, pass exams, handle labs and attain the grades I wanted.

For both the fall and winter semesters, I lived and breathed being productive. There was always another assignment, lab report, exam and so on. Every available evening was spent studying until I sleepily packed lunch to take with me when I would wake early to bus to school in the morning. However, there was also a lot of positive and wonderful things that I experienced during this time. As the year went on I made close friends with whom I shared much laughter, tears, and inside jokes. I navigated new and exciting relationships. I have many memories of being exhausted and uncontrollably laughing when I wasn’t supposed to during Wednesday night chemistry labs.

During that season of life, however, I spent a lot of time focusing on everything I didn’t like about being busy with school. I felt over-stimulated, longing for the day of my last exam when I would finally be DONE with the studying and stress. I would repeatedly think, when I’m finally done this year and working a summer job, then I’ll truly be able to enjoy life. When I can finally spend my evenings the way I’d like to, I’ll feel balanced again. When I no longer have the stress of assignments, life will be much brighter and hopeful.

And now my summer is coming to an end. I’ve been working at my two part-time summer jobs, and I’ve had lots of free evenings with plenty of time to myself. Guess what? Even though I have enjoyed the freedom and joy of feeling less pressured, I’ve often had moments of experiencing boredom and a lack of meaning. Some days I have felt somewhat lonely and empty even though I have been able to see my friends often.

I have filled my extra hours with activities I enjoy such as gardening, playing guitar and reading. But I have still felt a bleak sense of aloneness. Instead of taking advantage of the rest and recuperation this season brings, I have found myself at times focusing on the parts I don’t like. I have caught myself thinking about future times that will finally “make me happy”. I’ve even started looking forward to the busyness of my second year of university.

Anna Richard - Season: Are you Living in the Now?

Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me about the beauty of living in the present moment. God is with us in the now. If we spend each season of life looking forward to the next, we completely miss out on the opportunity to embrace the gift of this moment, the beauty of now. When we choose to acknowledge the struggles of the seasons we’re in and embrace the joys, we can become aware of the signs of God’s presence that are only visible to one who is conscious of the present.

Here are three strategies that I’ve found helpful to living in the present, and I invite you to apply these to your daily life as you begin your year at CMU:

  1. Everyday, find at least three things that you are truly grateful to God for in this time of your life. This sounds quite cliché, but honestly, do it. Write them down or thank God for them out loud.
  2. When you catch yourself thinking ahead about a time you look forward to, acknowledge the thought and place it in God’s hands. Remind yourself to focus on what you’re experiencing right now.
  3. If you’re really struggling with the season of life you’re in, tell God. Tell him all the things you don’t like about it (he can take it!). But then thank him for what he’s doing in the situation, even if you don’t know what that is. Thank him for the good he’s going to make of the struggle.

As you enter in to this year of university, I invite you to embrace the present moment in this season of your life. This year may seem stressful and overwhelming, but I promise you there is much beauty to be experienced at this time in your life. This time of stress, hard work, and yet amazing community will never repeat itself in the same way.

Anna Richard is entering her second year of Pre-professional studies in Nursing at CMU.

Learning Power and Vulnerability at CSOP

Marnie Klassen

For the first time in my degree, I took a class purely on a recommendation, and man alive am I glad I decided to.

After some conversation and discernment, my academic advisor told me that she thought I should take Arts Based Approaches to Social Change from the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP). I liked the idea of getting some credits out of the way and having an excuse to come back to Winnipeg mid-summer. The course sounded mildly interesting, and though not related to the direction my Interdisciplinary degree seemed to be taking, I decided to just do it.

“You’ll probably enjoy it,” I told myself. “Doesn’t matter if it’s related. It makes sense for other reasons.”

Pretty soon my books came in the mail and sat on my shelf for most of April and May. Suddenly, I was booking flights to go to Winnipeg, and started my reading.

The opening ceremony of 2018 CSOP.

I walked into the auditorium where the opening ceremony was held and breathed a sigh of relief as I saw some familiar faces from CMU, and two women I had met at different conferences over the past three years. “I have a community here,” I reminded myself. “Whatever happens this week, I am learning in community.”

That sentiment proved truer than I could have imagined.

In my class were 11 students, and we represented at least 6 different countries. Despite the incredible diversity of culture, age, and experience, we began to know and trust each other quite quickly. How could we not when we were dancing, painting, and acting together?

Throughout the week we participated in numerous creative activities which helped us to understand various aspects of conflict, violence, and reconciliation. Here’s a couple of examples:

On Tuesday we made memory boards. In some parts of central Africa, stories are told on Lukasas, or memory boards. They are visual and tactile displays of cultural stories.

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Our class divided into two, and each group created a picture/diorama representing our story and community. Then Babu (our instructor) went over to one group and destroyed their Lukasa, telling them that a member of their community had done it. He then came to my group, wrecked our Lukasa, and said that the destruction was by a member of the neighboring community.

After spending so much time trying to represent who we were, it was devastating to have our Lukasa ravaged. Our task then was to talk about how we would rebuild, how we would forgive, how we would move on. It was difficult!

On Wednesday, we participated in forum theatre. 10 of us lined up our chairs, and Babu and one volunteer did a dramatic reading behind us of a domestic violence scenario. It was powerful.

Afterwards, we divided into groups based on the response we were least likely to have in real life. My group was the “intervening” group, and we were all young women, painfully aware both of our power and our vulnerability. It was incredibly eye opening and empowering to talk and act with these women and come up with an intervention that kept us safe and allowed for the abused woman to get the help she needed.

Marnie (R) with classmates.

CSOP has taught me a lot of things – it’s taught me about using the arts in peacebuilding to be sure, but it has also taught me about this balance between power and vulnerability. As budding peacebuilders, we have so much opportunity to effect change and participate in the goodness in the world, but we also carry our own vulnerability and smallness with us. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like we are enough. At CSOP I learned to hold both truths, but to hold them with other people. This is the moral imagination – staying grounded in the here and now, and imagining a more life-affirming world.

Marnie Klassen is going into her third year of Interdisciplinary Studies at CMU.

Summer jobs: On-campus employment at CMU

Summer jobs: On-campus employment at CMU. Rebecca Janzen is working at CMU as a groundskeeper this summer. With summer comes many opportunities for students to work all sorts of jobs. These opportunities include retail, a cool community organization, a summer camp; and in my case, on campus at CMU. This summer I am working as a groundskeeper on campus. This means I have to mow the lawn, and do various tasks like weeding, watering, weed whacking, and whatever else the day brings. With little to no experience coming into this job, I have sure learned a lot! Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. By the time summer is done I am going to have some very, shall we say, distinct tan lines. The forest green CMU staff t-shirts mean I don’t have to figure out what to wear each day. This sure make mornings easier! But it will definitely leave me with some crisp tan lines across my body come the end of the summer.
  2. Probably the only time the geese are more scared of you than you are scared of them is when you are driving the quad.
  3. You can make it through an incredible number of podcasts in one day of work if you set your mind to it.
  4. The daycare kids think you are the coolest when you drive past them on the quad. They stare at you in awe.
  5. You can, in fact, get a sunburn when it is overcast.
  6.  Summer jobs: On-campus employment at CMU. Rebecca Janzen rides 'the quad' for her summer job as a groundskeeper at CMU.It is incredibly challenging to backup the quad with a tank full of water. But when it takes you 15 mins to back it up to a tree that is in front of the big windows of Marpeck, everyone is too nice to say that they saw you struggling.
  7. There is a 7-foot tall banner of Gerald Gerbrandt (former president and professor of CMU) in the basement of CMU, and I wish there were more uses for it.
  8. I really like driving the quad.
  9. The Metanoia Farmers are there to save the day! Whether you need to borrow a tool, or want a cool team of people to eat lunch with, the farmers are there for you.
  10. When you are a student at CMU, you don’t interact much with the hosting and maintenance staff. But when you work with them over summer you come to realize they are actually kind of funny.
  11. Rainy days may make for a boring day at work, but they make the campus so much greener!
  12. Maintenance takes some improv at times. And sometimes it takes two guys standing on the back of the tractor to keep it on the ground.
  13. Though sometimes it can feel like I never leave this place, it’s fun to roam free across campus, ripping around on the quad, hair blowing in the wind, and trying to be ok at my job.

RebeccaJanzenRebecca Janzen is entering her fourth year in CMU’s Biblical and Theological Studies program this fall. Learn more about opportunities for on-campus employment throughout the year.

 

Back to the Future: A family tradition of CMU

Back to the Future: A family tradition of CMU - Anika Loeppky playing volleyball with her highschool team.

Canadian Mennonite Bridal College? That was how CMBC, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, was commonly referred to when both my parents were students there back in the 90’s. As the joke implies, students seemed more focused on finding a life-long partner than getting a degree! Imagine that… 

CMU has changed substantially in the past 30 years, and one program that has changed a lot is Athletics. Just like my folks, I will be playing on the CMU volleyball team, however there are a few key differences. 

While my Dad was a “Butterchurner,” I will be a Blazer. Currently, CMU has one unifying name, the Blazers, which represents all the sports teams. But when my Dad played volleyball, their team could choose their name, and somehow the “Butterchurners” won the vote. Secondly, I will be playing in the beautiful Loewen Athletics Centre, while the “Butterchurners” played out of the Shaftesbury High School Gym.  

The level of play has also greatly improved. When my Mom played, they held open tryouts in September, and essentially took everyone who showed up. (She also claims that she may have been serving underhand.)  

The CMU "Butterchurners" circa 1980.

My dad is the cool guy sporting a mullet (#15). Pay close attention to the “Butterchurner” logo on the right!

Like my parents did, I know I’ll be playing alongside a wonderful group of people, and many memories will be made throughout the season. I can’t wait to take my volleyball skills to the next level as part of the Blazers Athletics Program.

I’m also looking forward to being a part of the strong faith community and building life-long friendships.  Growing up in Selkirk, MB, I never had the opportunity to explore my faith in a school setting, so I’m excited to be immersed in a new environment that encourages me to grow in my faith. 

Based on my experiences so far, the community at CMU is inviting, caring, and most of all, accepting of everyone! Moving into residence will be a big transition for me, but it’s comforting to know that I’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Anika Loeppky sits on a bench with white rocky mountain peaks in the background.Both my parents are still in touch with people they met in dorm, and those friendships have taken our family on travels to places like BC, England, and Germany.  

Back in the day, there weren’t nearly as many courses to choose from compared to today. When I first received my registration guide in the mail, I was overwhelmed by all the courses that CMU offers. I wanted to enroll in more than my schedule could hold, which is a good problem to have! The course selection has diversified, and the academic opportunity has expanded.  

I can’t wait to finally graduate high school on June 28th! To me, that diploma will represent the beginning of a new adventure full of life-long learning, athletic endeavours, and lasting friendships. Go Butterchurners… oops I mean Blazers! What better place to embark on this adventure than at CMU? 

AnnikaLoeppky


Annika Loeppky is entering her first year at CMU this fall. She hails from Selkirk, Manitoba.

6 study tips to help you prepare for exams

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, summer seems to be just around the corner… but not yet—there are still exams to come. It can be challenging to find the motivation to sit down and study at the end of the school year. Even though it might seem early to start thinking about exams, it’s better to start studying sooner than later. Here are six tips to make studying as painless and productive as possible.

6 study tips — A modern wood desk topped with a black desk lamp, a large digital clock that reads "15:00", a colourful painting of a bouquet of flowers, several notebooks, a pair of glasses, a pencil case with highlighters tumbling out, a cell phone and tablet, and in the corner a stack of books topped by a small succulent plant.
1. Make a Study Plan

Starting early is helpful, but it is important to make a study plan. It will help you stay on track and make sure that you aren’t cramming in too much right before the exam. Creating a schedule with goals for what you want to accomplish everyday will help you feel more prepared and confident going into your exam.

2. Find a New Study Space

By the end of the year, it is easy to get bored of the places where you have been studying. Finding a new study space could help you focus! You could try the public library, a quiet café, or even moving your desk to a new corner of your room. CMU’s Marpeck Commons is a great place to try out in Winnipeg, with great spaces for group studying, a quiet library, and Folio Café

6 study tips — A view of Marpeck Commons from the Mezzanine level, down to the tables and chairs below, with Folio Cafe and the wall of glass letting in so much natural light.
3. Minimize Distractions

Studying is a lot more productive and efficient when you concentrate, so put your phone down and stay off social media during dedicated study times. There are apps you can download to help you stay focused— apps with timers, apps that buzz when you pick up your phone during study time, and others that block distracting sites. Focusing on what you need to get done and minimizing distractions will make your study time more effective.

4. Make Study Notes

Take time to make study notes, because making them is part of the process of studying. Use colour, pictures and diagrams, and highlight key words and ideas with certain colours or symbols. Create study notes that will help you learn and that fit the way you remember material. It’s also more fun when you take the time to make them look nice! 

6 study tips — A student sits by the window in the CMU Library highligher in hand, reading a text book.

5. Take Outdoor Breaks

When the weather is nice, take a break and go for a walk, toss a Frisbee around, or take a nap in the grass. Having a change in scenery and getting some fresh air will give your brain some space to rest, and will help you concentrate when you sit down again to do more work.

6. Study with Others

Find other people in your class who you can study with—people who will help you stay focused and not become a distraction! When you study with others, you can ask questions about confusing information, but you can also teach, which helps you gain a better understanding of the concept and will prepare you for answering exam questions.

What are your favourite study tips? Share them in the comments below. And of course, we wish you the best of luck with your exams!

 

Laura Carr-Pries in her graduation gown and cap.

Laura Carr-Pries just graduated from CMU with a BA in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies and Theology. (She’s also one of this year’s President’s Medal winners, so you know she knows a thing or two about studying.)

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