Category: 2018-2019 (Page 1 of 3)

I Counted (Almost) Every Christmas Tree at CMU

There are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus.

Let me repeat that: there are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus.

 I know this because I counted.

I counted because I love Christmas trees (and I needed a break from studying for exams).

I love Christmas trees because I love Christmas, and I love CMU because CMU loves Christmas, too. If CMU was a movie character we’d be Buddy the Elf, spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear (which is basically the entire premise of Christmas at CMU, right music students?).

Today I decided to indulge the Christmas-loving child inside of me. I put down my books and walked the halls of both north and south sides of the campus, sipping a peppermint mocha from Folio Café and adding a mark to my notepad with every shimmering tree I passed. Why I decided to count, I still don’t know. Maybe I wanted to acknowledge the existence of every single tree, big and small. Maybe it was an incredibly creative act of procrastination. But these trees certainly took me on quite the adventure.

Christmas Trees at CMU
I know that Christmas isn’t only about Christmas trees, and that counting Christmas trees won’t help me get a better grade on my New Media exam, but I do know that with every tree I passed my heart grew a little lighter and my childlike anticipation returned for a moment. I thought of the people who put hours into placing these trees around campus, decorating them with such care and spirit. I am so grateful for these trees. They remind me of the beauty of December in the midst of academic chaos. They remind me, over and over again, why I have such a love for this school.

There are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus, and I know this because I counted.

 – Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

A Place of Belonging: A Thank You To Our Donors

CMU would not exist without the generous support of our donors, and for them we are so incredibly grateful. Many students rely on and benefit from financial aid, and every year CMU celebrates the people and organizations who make this aid possible! This wonderful speech was given by 3rd year student Marnie Klassen, who thanked our donors on behalf of the students this past Tuition Freedom Day. Enjoy!

Marnie KlassenNearly three months ago, I sat behind the steering wheel of my friend’s car, driving towards Winnipeg after a summer home in BC, and listening to an interview with social researcher Brene Brown. She was talking about true belonging and said, “Fitting in is when you want to be part of something. Belonging is when other people want you.”

I grinned at the passing prairies because I knew that was exactly what I was returning to.

CMU is a place of making connections, and a place of belonging. I’d like to tell you a bit about my experience with these things, and how being able to make connections has created a space of belonging for me.

I arrived at CMU two years ago, pretty sure that I knew what I was doing. I would major in Communications and Media, and double minor in Biblical and Theological Studies alongside Peace and Conflict Transformation. Yeah…that didn’t happen. After a few classes, it was clear which conversations made me come more alive. My plans were upturned.

Since abandoning my 18-year-old-self’s plan, something miraculous has happened – I have begun seeing and making connections. What does this look like exactly?

Technically, it means that I’m pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Social Theology with a communications minor. But technical terms don’t tell you much—let me instead tell you what I’ve experienced here at CMU.

I lived in dorm for two years, and was drawn into a community full of commonality and difference. A few months into my time here, I found myself a part of a group of friends all studying different things—there was the composer, the music therapist, the philosopher, the poet, the peacemaker, among others. There we were, sharing cafeteria meals and constantly gleaning from each other’s learning. I still sometimes forget that I did not, in fact, take Business Ethics last year, for all of the wonderful and intriguing tidbits that permeated dinner conversations.

"CMU is a place of making connections and a place of belonging"I didn’t only eat with peers. Eventually I began eating a lunch or two a week with professors, and realized that not only was I developing relationships with them and the ideas they brought to the intellectual table, but they had their own relationships that they were happy to welcome me into. I would eat quiche with faculty members Kenton Lobe and Chris Huebner, and would be drawn into conversation not about sustainable development or Michel Foucault, but about cyclocross racing. The people and ideas I was dovetailing with were also constantly connecting.

The real learning came when the connections began to move from conversation to classroom to experience.

In Introduction to Sociology, I wrote about bicycle commuting, interviewing three winter cyclists from Winnipeg and postulating that their interaction with their place increased the ways they were able to build social relationships, rooting their identity as neighbour in their concrete neighborhoods. At the time it was very theoretical for me, as I felt I did not have a neighbourhood, living at CMU and all, and I was not a cyclist. Months later, in The Study of Voluntary Simplicity, I took up a simplicity practice. In an effort to discover what this simplicity business was all about, I began to spend time outside every day. Suddenly I had a neighbourhood. The trees of the Assiniboine Forest and the deer prancing frantically across Grant Avenue were my neighbours, inviting me into their space of belonging.

This fall, I am living off campus for the first time, and while my academic work is still significant, I wonder if my most important work is not my walk to and from church each week. The theoretical learning in which I partook a year ago has translated into the way I live my life with others, the very grounding notion of belonging in a neighborhood, to a community rooted in its place.

This is not a small thing. Entering a space at CMU where I can make these connections between disciplines, and between academia and my own life has allowed me to find a space of belonging. Coming from three provinces away, it is no insignificant feat to build a home in a place. And yet that is what I have been enabled to do here. I keep coming back to a line from a friend’s thesis which she presented two years ago. She wrote, “Learning is a practice in community,” and I think that’s exactly right. We would not be able to learn and become in the same way in isolation.

And so, dear donors, government, and churches, thank you. Thank you for making possible this space where not only can we students learn to read and write and study well, but where we can make connections to the other parts of our lives and learn to belong to each other. Thank you for your prayers, your participation in our community, and your generosity of heart and resource. May we receive these gifts well and continue to create spaces of belonging, as might fit in the Kingdom of God.

Why Facemasks and Bubble Baths Aren’t #SelfCare

“I’ve been so stressed out this week!”

I hear myself make this complaint on an almost weekly basis, you probably do to. And then enters the quintessential, but thoughtfully caring response of…

“Make yourself a cup of tea! Watch some Netflix! Put on a facemask and take a bubble bath! Plug in some twinkly lights! Practice some self-care.”

Self-care is a very unbeautiful thingThe concept and aesthetic of self-care is a beautiful and “Instagram-worthy” thing (#selfcare, you’ve all seen the hashtag, maybe you’ve even used it once or twice…), but I’ve been starting to wonder: should it be? Tea, Netflix, facemasks, bubble baths, and twinkly lights are all wonderful things that no doubt promote some aspect of relaxation. But some part of me believes that true self-care can’t be this easy.

It was an article by writer Brianna Wiest that piqued my skepticism.

“Self-care is often a very “unbeautiful” thing.

 It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

 It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

 A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

 True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

 And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.”

– Excerpt by Brianna Wiest from This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake

Self-care is not bath salts and chocolate...For me, self-care is making an appointment with my therapist to talk about the tough stuff going on inside my brain. It’s setting an alarm on my phone to remind myself to take my medication. It’s picking that pile of laundry up off the floor and then washing, drying, and folding it. It’s confronting my stress head-on, not staring at a screen to numb it.

It’s far from beautiful and far from being “Instagram-worthy,” but it’s miles closer to actual “care” than a facemask and bubble bath will ever be.

So here’s to true self-care: the unbeautiful, difficult, and worthwhile thing it really is.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

Seeing God Through a Fish | Guest blogger: Sara Wolowich

This past summer I had the opportunity to do my practicum with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg.

carmine shiner minnowOver the course of the summer I learned so much and experienced what it would be like to be a research scientist. I began working with Rachel Krause, Assistant Professor of Biology at CMU, on a partnership project with DFO studying carmine shiners, a type of minnow, and the parasites found inside these fish. DFO wanted to continue this project over the summer and they hired me to conduct dissections.

The field research brought me to Birch River, where the elusive carmine shiner can be found. This species is endangered, and this project is an effort to know more about the species and its changing metabolic rates related to temperature and climate change. In short, what we did was go out to the field (or river) and conducted respirometry experiments by placing the fish in tubes and measuring their oxygen consumption. These experiments are being done in the fall, spring, and summer, to measure metabolic rates related to temperature. In search of a relationship between metabolic rate and parasite load, the fish were then examined for parasites.

Sara Wolowich field workI also had the opportunity to go out and do nearshore surveys in the south basin of Lake Winnipeg, learn about fish tagging and receivers, and bathymetry. It was very cool to be working in a place where everything I learned in my CMU ecology classes was so relevant.

God was also brought into this summer in a weird variety of ways. I have always believed that whatever I do I am working for the Lord. Somedays in this job it felt so real.

There were times when I stood in the river for hours, as we were running experiments, and just got to stand in the middle of creation and admire it. I stared down the mud and what the small invertebrates crawl around. I watched tadpoles and small fish. I listened to the birds and the water flow by and enjoyed the sun. I took time to see all the life around us that we usually ignore. I remember one time just looking at one drop of water and seeing multiple things move within it.

Sara Wolowich conducting testsWe are part of a world and a creation that is intricate and so much bigger than what we see. I never imagined myself dissecting fish, never-mind looking for parasites, but it was very fascinating. When you are studying something for a period of time under a microscope you see how intricate and amazingly created it is. Once you know more about something you want to care for it and protect it.

I also encountered God in the lab as I was faced with questions of life and death. It broke me to take these little fish that thrive so well in their natural environment and euthanize them so I could look for parasites. One surprising question that arose for me during my time at DFO was do I really have the right to experiment and in many cases take the life of different organisms to hopefully gain insight to help the rest of the species in the future. I found myself asking for forgiveness and apologizing as well as praying that each fish we killed would protect more of its kind in the future.

Sara Wolowich Lab WorkI also struggled a lot with working alone in the lab looking through a microscope for days. This work is not simple. Science is not easy and the questions we ask about the world around us are not easy to answer. I dissected fish all summer long and I still found new parasites. Somedays I needed to show up at work at 7:00 AM a few days in a row in and work long days in order to complete field work.

I also was pushed in the type of work I did in different environments. I love being outside but have never been an outdoorsy/back-woods type of person. Though, this job required me to work in a waist deep river in the cold rain seining for fish. It also required me to walk through the bush carrying heavy equipment needed for data collection. I learned that rain, bugs, mud, and sometimes sleep is not important in order to gather the information to the questions you are asking. I gained strength physically and mentally. And I know that God gave me strength to do this work.

Sara WolowichAnother lesson I learned was that there is a lot of work that must be done to plan and prepare for going out into the field, and that once you are outdoors you are at mercy of the environment. As scientists we do not control the environment we go into and we must adapt and be creative in order to make our projects attainable in the field. I feel that I gained valuable skills of planning out a project and also being able to think on my feet when actually carrying out the experiment.

I have read so many journal articles for class and in those papers the emotions, the work, the failures, and frustrations are not shown. Science is objective but there has to be emotion in it. Why do we do things like protect these tiny fish that seem to have no known value to us?

Because we believe they are innately valuable and in my mind this value is given to them by God. He gave them life as he gave us life.

That is why I am so grateful for my faith and for this experience, because when I was in the river or at my microscope I could seek God’s Kingdom first.

Sara Wolowich is a 4th year Environmental Studies student.

Jerseys, London Fogs, and Green Chairs: The Beauty of Rituals at CMU

I’m sitting in Marpeck Commons (Folio Café, specifically) glancing out the lofty windows at the green-to-golden leaves that frame the stately castle on the north side of the campus. There’s a perfectly poured vanilla latte in my left hand and a pencil in my right. I’ve got a reading from my Art of Worship class spread out on the table in front of me. It’s discussing the beauty and importance of rituals, and I’m beginning to realize that my study sessions in this space, with a cup of coffee in hand, are a vital ritual for me throughout the school year.

Due to my Art of Worship course this semester, I’ve been dwelling on the concept of rituals. The significant actions and behaviours that I repeat week after week. These small actions make CMU feel like a space of my own, and add comfort and structure to my busy days. Today I began to wonder, what are my CMU rituals? Here’s the list I quickly compiled…

  • Ordering a half-sweet vanilla latte from Folio at the beginning of a long study sesh, and then taking a photo of the latte because I’m a millennial comm-student (and because the baristas at Folio have some serious latte art talent)
  • Stopping for a conversation with Charlie Peronto, CMU’s Residence Director, as I pass by his office on the way to my apartment. “What’s the word?” he asks. Maybe the word is “Gilmore Girls”, his adorable pup Rigby, how classes are going; anything!
  • Fall walks through the Assiniboine forest with my roommates, marvelling at the colour of the leaves and the sound of the songbirds, and enjoying a short reprieve from our books.

These are some of my beloved rituals I take part in at CMU, but I was interested in what my classmates had to say as well. Here are some of their sweet and quirky rituals they shared with me:

Ryan WaschukI wear one of my many sports jerseys on Fridays to men’s chorus!

  • Ryan Waschuk, Music Therapy Student (1st year Music Therapy, 3rd year at CMU)

 

Joycelyn OforiMy CMU ritual would have to be keeping myself busy after class in Marpeck every Tuesday afternoon. Or buying a London Fog from Folio before my morning lecture!

  • Joycelyn Ofori, Psychology Student (2nd year)

 

Marnie KlassenAs a commuter, I spend a lot of time studying in Marpeck Commons. I always go for a green chair if there’s one available.

  • Marnie Klassen, Interdisciplinary Major (3rd year)

As we go through the various academic “seasons” that come with a university experience (projects, readings, midterms, exams, performances, travel) it is comforting to rest in these rituals. To do them consciously and mindfully. To drink that London Fog slowly, to lay out that sports jersey every Friday, to seek out that green chair in the library.

So here’s to our rituals, to the actions that make CMU a place of our own!

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

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