Author: Student Ambassador (Page 1 of 38)

Feeling grateful for growth at graduation | Cassidy Brown

Taanishi (Tawnsheh), Bon Matain (Bon Mah-tane), Cassidy Dishiniikashon (dish-i-nik-ah-shhun). Good morning, hello, my name is Cassidy. Entering CMU a total of 6 years ago, I would have never guessed that today I would be introducing myself in my ancestral language of Michif, which I think is indicative of the change I have undergone here.

I am in my fourth and final year of a Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies (PACTS) major, with a Biblical and Theological Studies minor. My CMU journey started in 2016, when I departed on the Outtatown program, bound for Guatemala.

At that point, my encounters with my faith had been fairly surface level, not really ever having been in any places where I was having to question it or think critically about it. In this way Outtatown challenged me. I felt confused as I encountered people from numerous different Christian backgrounds and ideas of what it meant to be a follower of Christ. It’s hard to deconstruct your faith when you don’t really have words for what you’re doing, but looking back, I know that’s what was happening. As hard as it was, I made it through with incredible friendship and community.

I took another year off school before starting my PACTS degree at CMU and I was enthralled. I won’t lie, high school for me was pretty miserable and tough for many reasons, so coming into CMU with 60% averages in my classes, I will never forget the feeling of my first A grade. My professors were people who not only encouraged me, but challenged me. It seems too cliché to say, but having personal relationships with my professors at CMU is really what I think helped me succeed. School was tough, but I was having a ball.

However, that’s not to say that my time here has been without its challenges and heartaches. In my second year, October 2019, CMU lost Taylor Pryor, who was on my Outtatown site and a good friend of mine. It was a loss that sent ripples of heartache and pain throughout the CMU community. But we held each other. My peers held me and I held them, and my professors were not only accommodating but held me with grace and care—for that I’m grateful.

Cassidy has taken up beading as a way of reconnecting with her culture. Her work is on Instagram @madewithmetislove

This time marked another important point in my CMU journey, and that was my discovery of my Métis identity and heritage. As is all too common for Métis families, racism led to a disconnect between my family and my culture. However, thanks to genealogical research and archives, my mom was able to pull the threads of my family and heritage together. I appreciate that CMU didn’t just accept me as I came into my Métis Mennonite identity, but was blessed to have friends and staff walking alongside me, encouraging me to pursue this, and supporting me.

My understanding of spirituality has expanded at CMU, as I’ve developed my relationship with Christ in community. This has happened over snack, in classrooms, and in the forest.

Preparing what I wanted to write today was a helpful thing to do, as we’re in the part of the semester where it’s easy to lose sight of the good things we’ve encountered here and just focus on surviving each day. I’ve come a long way, and as much as I will never miss how slow the last seven minutes in a class can drag on, I will never forget my love for this place and these people. I want to thank everyone for being a part of my journey: Maarsi and thank you.

Cassidy Brown is graduating this year with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in peace and conflict transformation studies.

Saying farewell to CMU | Christopher Epp

I’d like to begin by saying that I hope you’re doing really well. I really do mean that. I hope you’re managing to stay afloat as the semester comes to an end. Papers, assignments, finals, and summer job applications are just some of the stresses that students face in March and April.

If you’re a graduating student like myself, I’m sure there’s some uncertainty about what happens next year. What school are you going to go to? What sort of a job are you going to work? Either way, I want you to know that if you’re feeling stressed, your feelings are valid. School can be hard. So keep on doing your best and know that you are not alone.

Christopher is graduating in CMU’s class of 2022.

I am a graduating arts and science major, studying history and biology. Yes, those are very different subjects from each other, and yes, I love both of them. My time at CMU has been both meaningful and fulfilling.

In my history classes, I’ve had opportunities to explore the history of our earth and the people that live here. I’ve explored the history of many peoples, conflicts, successes, and failures. In my biology classes I’ve learned about the many mechanisms that allow life to exist. The complexity of structures that God has woven into creation leaves me in awe and wonder. I have enjoyed these classes.

Christopher (right) studied biology and history.

I know I only have a bit of space to write about my experiences at CMU. I could go on and on about classes (and the stress of classes) and the joys of living on campus. I could talk about the time I wrote a ten-page paper in a single evening; that was fun. However, what I really want to say—and I know this is probably going to be a little cheesy—is thank you to the staff and faculty of CMU.

As I was trying to think of an experience to write about in this blog post, I kept coming back to how thankful I am for the staff and faculty. The students make up the highest population of community at CMU, but the staff and faculty work so hard to make this a place where great community can exist.

The professors are so approachable. Often times they care about my learning more than even I care about my learning! I also live on campus, and I have seen how difficult it can be to maintain some of our buildings. The maintenance staff are so great; they are absolute LEGENDS. So, I applaud the professors, student life staff, advisors, maintenance staff, kitchen staff, and everyone else who works tirelessly to make CMU such a wonderful place. Thank you.

Christopher Epp is graduating this year with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in arts and science, with concentrations in biology and history.

Top 5 study spaces at CMU | Jubilee Dueck Thiessen

  1. folio café: Bright and Social

Look no further, you can study and grab a coffee or snack in the same place! CMU’s folio café is a beautiful place to study on your own or meet up with a professor or project partner, as the floor-to-ceiling windows offer natural sunlight and a view of the campus grounds. If you like to study in busy and social spaces, this is the perfect place for you!

  1. Library: Peaceful and Bright

For those who need silence to focus, the library is a bright and peaceful space. You can choose to sit in an armchair overlooking the north side building, or you can sit with friends at one of the large tables. With instant access to books and other resources, as well as free printing, you’ll have everything you need.

  1. Study room: Convenient and Private

Another quiet option is a study room in upper Marpeck Commons. You can book online to reserve timeslots, and many of the rooms include south-facing floor-to-ceiling windows that provide lots of light on sunny days.

  1. Great Hall: Warm and Cozy

The Great Hall is a grand and cozy room, offering warm and comfortable spaces to meet with a group to work on a project, do homework on your own, or eat meals between classes. This space is welcoming but usually pretty quiet and offers many comfy armchairs and tables to choose from. Home to CMU’s student-run Blaurock Café, the Great Hall is a convenient place to sip a warm (or cold) drink while productively studying.

  1. Local cafés: Aesthetic and Social

Winnipeg is home to many aesthetically pleasing coffee shops, and it can be refreshing to leave campus or home for a few hours to study with a change of scenery. If you’re looking to stay closer to campus, try Joy Coffee Bar on Roblin Blvd, Make Coffee on Corydon Ave, or Little Sister Coffee Maker on Osborne St. For cute coffee shops downtown, check out Hildegard’s Bakery on Portage Ave, or Thom Bargen on Sherbrook St. The options are endless!

Jubilee Dueck Thiessen is a third year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in English.

The gift of classroom friendships | Katherine Penner

This past semester I had the enjoyment of being in the Ecological Peacebuilding class, taught by Kenton Lobe. We were a small group and over the semester we became a close-knit group of peers with a high level of trust among us. Before, during, and after class we gathered together and engaged in a variety of honest, thought-provoking, and vulnerable conversations to a level I haven’t experienced in any other class.

Katherine Penner says her Ecological Peacebuilding class has been “a wonderful gift.”

One point of discussion that impacted me the most was considering the interdependence of humans, animals, and the environment and what this consideration means for students living and learning on the land CMU calls home. We talked critically about the balance between rights and responsibilities, pondering how we can develop an understanding of receiving gifts from the earth, rather than taking resources as ours to be controlled and exploited. We framed this as striving for a gift economy, as opposed to a Wiindiigoo one, the Wiindiigoo being a ravenous cannibalistic creature from Indigenous stories cautioning against greed.

In this learning we consulted a variety of voices including an Indigenous water protector and settlers who hold deep affection for the land, the creatures that inhabit it, and also the stories it holds. This was a unique opportunity to learn and explore course material and current issues together in a deep way that we all agreed would follow us beyond the semester.

Knowing that the topic of the climate crisis is complex, emotionally evocative, and oftentimes anxiety-inducing, it seemed that each of us entered the space of the course with a willingness to offer our own insights, listen attentively to others, and respond in ways that allowed meaningful and productive conversations to flourish. This approach led to open conversations where we both encouraged and challenged one another, all wanting to participate fully and collaboratively. This class very well may live on in my memories as a particularly special one and I think of this experience as a wonderful gift to have been a part of during my last year at CMU.

Katherine Penner is a fourth year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies.

Anger and peace within ecological peacebuilding | Abigail Hill

Kenton Lobe with a Gete-Okosomin squash during class

I have taken quite a few classes here at CMU, but I can say with confidence that the Ecological Peacebuilding class has been my favourite. Our professor, Kenton Lobe, led us through five individual books, all by authors who care deeply about creation, place, and peace.

Our central focus was the question, “where is here?” and almost every class happened in a different spot around the CMU campus. For the majority of the semester, we were outside and that knit us together as a class. It was literally a breath of fresh air during this pandemic that has surrounded us for the past two years.

It was a small group, about fifteen students, and we were collectively engaged in heartfelt discussion. The class was designed around trust; we were there to learn and collaborate, not compete. We were not expected to regurgitate information and there was no midterm or final exam. We were simply called by Kenton to engage with the material critically, from wherever we were at. Most importantly, there was an exchange of trust between the professor and each individual student.

Kenton Lobe and Abigail Hill in class outside

I felt this trust the most when we were reading To Be a Water Protector by Winona LaDuke. While it was easily my favourite text during the course, I realized how angry I truly was. I was/am angry about how the climate crisis is being handled by those in power around the globe. While I was reading LaDuke’s book, I felt that anger bubble up time and time again. I felt her anger as an Indigenous woman even while knowing that I will never fully understand her experience.

In this class I began the journey of reconciling my anger and the concept of peace. How can a person work to cultivate peace and trust between all relatives and still be angry? Why is the line between hope and hopelessness so thin? I won’t pretend that I have these answers—I’m honestly not sure I ever will. However, I am still hopeful (and angry) and am excited for what the rest of my education entails.

Abigail Hill is a second year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in Social Sciences.

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