Tag: first year

Praying for rain: the politics and symbolism of water

I’m in the air right now, on my way to an old friend’s wedding in Edmonton, but I’m thinking about water. I’ve been thinking about water since Christmas Eve, actually, when I listened to a podcast about clean water while driving through a snow storm. I just didn’t expect the thinking to last this long.

Water: A beautiful river scene in BC. Photo courtesy of Marnie Klassen.

In the spring I wrote and presented a speech at the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest about water pollution as a form of violence. I also donated my birthday money to Charity:Water, an NGO bringing clean water to communities in developing countries. This summer has been all about water as well, despite the pervasive drought here in BC.

Two of my summer goals were to canoe more, and to start overcoming my fear of sailing. I’ve somewhat accomplished these goals, with excursions such as canoeing Widgeon Creek and sailing to Gabriola Island on my parent’s Catalina 34, Elysium.

Water: CMU student Marnie Klassen worked for A Rocha Canada this summer in BC.

And, of course, there’s my summer job. I’ve spent the summer working for A Rocha Canada, a Christian conservation organization that focuses on watershed stewardship as a form of creation care. This means that I’ve spent my summer piecing together a video about salmon in the upper Bulkley River, and counting western toads in a pond while wearing hip waders.

I’m struck by both the politics and the symbolism of water, inextricably linked in my experience.

In early July my mom and I participated in the Paddle for the Peace Solidarity Paddle in Vancouver, protesting the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River. Though I no longer live near the Peace, paddling a canoe that has traversed much of its length in solidarity with those who remain near it, was a profound expression of connection and commitment.

And still, it remained a political act. While rivers connect us, defying political borders, they also seem to divide us. Those of us paddling were clearly doing so spurred on by hope that we had because of political transition in the province. And the onlookers? Who knows. Perhaps some of them endorsed us, perhaps others remain more comfortable with the story the previous government told, about job creation at the expense of a river nobody cares about anyway.

Water: Marnie Klassen wanders through the wilderness of BC.

As the smoke clears, I don’t want to forget about the wildfires. With the change of government, I don’t want to assume that the story’s over. As I finish my job, I don’t want to lose my love for the western toad and the Little Campbell River.

Instead, I’ll pray for rain – for fires and farms and fish.

Marnie Klassen began her first year at CMU in January 2017.

Three weeks: a graduation poem

three weeks: a graduation poem by #CMUwpg student Emily Hamm

Three Weeks

I came to CMU four years ago
I said, “mom I’m moving to Winnipeg on Monday, we’ll have to pack the car.”
I said “I’ll stay for three weeks, and if I hate it I’ll come home.”
Three days after I got here I sobbed for two hours and I told her how I couldn’t do any of it.
          School hadn’t even started and I couldn’t do any of it.
I told her even my dorm room didn’t feel safe and that everything was terrifying
          while all the functional people ate smokies on the lawn and listened to Pocket Change.
She told me I could come home if I wanted.
I didn’t want to want to.

I went to class the next day. I was at least intrigued.
I realized there were people who wanted to think as much as I thought all the time.
I realized I could focus my thoughts on something other than fear.
So I studied what I wanted.
I didn’t study for a degree,
When Adelia sent me the forms to declare my major I put them in my trash folder and picked courses
based on what I wanted to take.
When Connor sent me the forms to declare my major I put them in my trash folder and picked courses
that I wanted to take.
When Vern sent me the forms to declare my major I put them in my trash folder and picked courses
that I wanted to take.
I filled out degree audit forms at the kitchen table with my friend and I cobbled together a degree out of
the things that I wanted to take.
(and a couple of unfortunate hail-mary communications fulfillments, thrown together to create a degree out of first year biologys and chemistrys, some comm. courses I took mostly because I like stories and an intense fascination with the old testament that sometimes accidentally involves the new testament
too)
And eventually I handed in my forms to declare my major and to graduate on the same day. (sorry)

Emily Hamm, (centre), with her family on graduation day at Canadian Mennonite University in June, 2017.

I took a degree that made me a person. I put myself together after time and again after breaking myself
apart. I picked up my dismembered arm and taped my kidneys back in
After
Relationships I got wrong
Privilege I had and couldn’t give away
Mental illness – you know PTSD-GAD-PDD-OCD all the letters I got that never went on my
transcript.

I loved some people and some people loved me and when it overlapped it was beautiful –
Like a venn diagram that’s just a circle – it was so clear.
And I learned things I didn’t want to, like when I fly overseas, someone’s home gets closer to flooding.
Like when I use a logical fallacy, I’m not really winning an argument.
Like how to write a marketing plan.

I learned a lot of things I did want to learn. Things that made me a person.
That communication theory explains how I talk to people, and how I should talk to people.
That honestly the best part of the Pentateuch is Shiphrah and Puah.

After academics shattered my faith I learned how to believe in Jesus again – also from academics.
I learned about the world wider than my degree.
I learned about bio and English,
chemistry and business,
geography and psychology,
environmental studies and sociology.
I saw the people around me become a countryside of roads, without separate end, beginning, only
connection,
rather than seeing them as islands, like the north half of Canada that no one wants to colour.

I learned the paths in the Assiniboine Forest and which ones are wide enough to walk with someone
side by side.
I learned what pedagogy means, and parsimonious. I learned what on earth a metaphysical dualism is
and that Illich’s work is uncomfortably prescriptive.
I learned reformational isn’t a word but it definitely should be,
And that “I’m going to bed” is sometimes a better choice than “Yes, let’s play another game of
foosball.”

But also that the answer to a 1am “Want to go for a forest walk?” is always yes.
And the answer to a 7am knock at the door is “come in.”

I didn’t come to CMU for a career path, which is good because I definitely didn’t find one.
I came to CMU for three weeks,
and I think I might have become a person here.
Sewn together, pieces in the hands of others, loose ends and all, God’s paint still dripping where it
hasn’t dried yet,
I might be a person here.

Emily Hamm graduated from CMU in April 2017.

More than a degree, not just a number

More than a degree; not just a number: Stephanie Wilson on why she's choosing CMU, a relatively small university.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the idea of going to a small university scared me.

My high school was one of the largest in Manitoba, so having swarms of other students around was familiar. I was used to seeing people in the halls I’d never seen before, and not knowing most of the teachers.

I was sure going to a big university was the right thing to do. It’s what everyone else was doing.

At the same time, I was fully immersed in the music programs. I had a tight knit group of friends, and teachers who were more like family than friends.

More than a degree; not just a number. Stephanie Wilson on why she's choosing CMU, a relatively small university.

So when I graduated high school last June, I felt the loss immediately. Certain that my time in small programs was done, I longed for that same small group of people who were there for me when I needed to laugh, cry, or grab a doughnut. That sense of belonging was gone, because in university all anyone is concerned about is getting their degree, right?

Wrong.

One of the things I love about CMU is that as a smaller school, they can breathe programs into existence more readily than a larger university.

As a musician, a clarinet player, I hoped and prayed for a CMU band to join. And when I start this fall, there will be!

Another thing I love about CMU is studying in Marpeck Commons, or the Great Hall, and recognizing the same people time and again.

I love that CMU profs have an open-door policy. It says that I’m as important to them as answering emails, or grading papers. I’m excited to be known by more than just my student number.

Most importantly, I’m loved, accepted, and cared for by my admissions counsellor, faculty, and staff at CMU, and was even before being admitted.

There’s no better feeling than being wanted just for being you. I’m not sure this kind of care and connection exists anywhere else.

Picking the “best” university is subjective. Getting a good education in an environment where you can grow, and flourish into the best possible version of YOU, is what matters most. CMU is that place for me.

I’m a clarinetist. And I’m also a pianist, a singer, a Catholic, a writer, a dreamer, a sarcastic joke maker, and a life-long learner. I can do, and be ALL these things at CMU. I don’t have to put myself in a box just to fulfill degree requirements. I can be me here. That’s something I never expected from a university.

Stephanie Wilson is entering her first year at CMU’s School of Music this fall.

From Outtatown to CMU – finding the perfect fit

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fit

Hey I’m Cole! I’m from Victoria, British Columbia, and I am very excited to be coming to CMU next year! I recently returned from South Africa where I had the time of my life with Outtatown, and now I’ve chosen to continue with this amazing school for further studies. Some may call me crazy for deciding to trade in BC’s beautiful coastline, and mild weather, for Manitoba’s harsh, cold winters, and flat prairie land. But I do believe CMU is where I’m supposed to be. (Plus, I think it’ll be good for me to experience a true Canadian winter).

During our first semester of Outtatown, we spent quite a bit of time in Winnipeg. Every time I was on campus at CMU, I felt a sense of warmth and friendliness. Whether staff or students, every single person I met was so welcoming and kind. The experience honestly made CMU feel like a second home to me.

In the past, I considered different schools, but they never seemed right for me. CMU is different though – it’s definitely the perfect fit. The fact that it’s a smaller school has an obvious impact on the sense of community. I’m excited to be attending a school where I’m not just a number, where people know my name, and care to know me as an individual.

In terms of program, I’ll be studying Communications and Media. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but communications and journalism were both prominent options. While our Outtatown crew was in Hope, BC, we had a visit from the fantastic Danielle Bailey, (Enrolment Coordinator at CMU). She mostly came to hang out, but she also came to talk about CMU, and answer any questions we had. I brought up my interest in journalism and communications, and she told me all about CMU’s communications and media program. I was interested, but as the semester got busy, I sort of left it on the back burner. Over Christmas break, I prayed about what I should do, and sensed God pointing me to this program.

During our second semester in South Africa, we were lucky to have Mike Wiebe (CMU Admissions Counselor) and Paul Peters (Outtatown Program Manager) visit us in Soweto. I talked to Mike a lot about the program. He highly recommended it, so I filled out the forms right there!

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fitI am very thankful for the sense of community at CMU, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to attend a school that is faith-based. I hope to enrich my relationship with God alongside Christian brothers and sisters. To have the freedom to do this at university, to be encouraged to do so, is invaluable, and I think, quite uncommon in our society today.

All this is to say, I am absolutely positive that this is where God has led me, and I am so very excited to start a new chapter at CMU! See you in the fall!

Cole Stewart is starting his journey at CMU in the fall, majoring in Communications and Media.

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