Category: 2019-20 (Page 1 of 2)

What Do We Want? Climate Action! When Do We Want It? Now! | Guest Blogger Mackenzie Nicolle

This was the chant that tore through the crowd as we marched in the global climate strike on the last Friday of September.

Many of us from CMU had just spent an hour in one of two churches adjacent to the Manitoba Legislative Building, sitting with people from many Christian denominations and other religions as we all cried out for one of the core things we all share— the planet we live on.

The climate strike in Winnipeg was a place that brought over 12,000 people together on the lawn of the Legislature. As such, it was a place where people came for many different reasons. There were youth who fear for their futures and want to show the world that they are willing to say something about it. There were parents who were marching for these youth. There were Indigenous folks who want everyone to remember the harm that has been done to the land and their people and for us all to be better in the future.

There were animal rights activists who preached the virtues of eating without animal cruelty, and explained the explicit ties between global warming and our eating habits. There were communists and anarchists who were clamouring for political reform. There were people of many different religions who wanted to fulfill their place as stewards of the earth. There were people who came simply because they wanted to be on the right side of history and wanted to witness the mass of humanity that accumulated in one place.

I watched many different groups of people I know move among the crowd, many holding up signs proclaiming the despair and anger they feel—how our apathy is killing us, how we are frightened to think about what the world may be like for our children, and how those who have the most power seem to be doing the very least, while the most vulnerable pay the price. We marched, chanting about climate action, gesturing to people in tall office buildings to come join us, marvelling at the surge of energy around us and the clean air we breathed.

Even though people came for such diverse reasons, what really mattered was that we were all there. This was not a rally that clearly pushed for any specific political or personal change to be done. But some people wore buttons that said, “We are many,” and I think in the hours of the strike, our numbers were a message themselves.

We were reminding ourselves that we are not alone in our desire for a sustainable earth. We were helping each other be aware of how many ways people can be affected by climate change. We were sending a larger message to a disbelieving world that the effect humans are having on the earth is something we need to take action about, now. And I think that if the number of small kids at the rally means anything, then we will have people continuing our chants about climate action for years to come.

– Words and photos by Mackenzie Nicolle, CMU Social Sciences alumna, Senior Residence Assistant, and current graduate student

Why I Love Sports: A Reflection on the Volleyball Home-Opener

I’ve never been all that great at sports, which is a funny thing to say, seeing as I’m on the CMU Women’s volleyball team.

Contact-sports frighten me (no need to push, just ask for the basketball and I’ll probably give it to you), my lanky limbs usually don’t work well as a team (if I’m kicking a ball you’re all in danger), and strapping shoes with blades to my feet and putting me on ice?! What are you thinking (I still don’t know how to stop on skates, I just turn in circles or brace for the boards…).

Chloe Friesen (centre) and team celebrate after a point

But something about volleyball just kind of clicked with me, and I’m so grateful it did, because I love sports. And I love them for more than just the game, or the points, or the jersey. I love them because of what happened yesterday, the day of our volleyball home-opener. Let me explain…

The day started off like any other Wednesday: I woke up, ate breakfast, and headed off to my Group Communications class. Following class was practice time. But, instead of using our typical afternoon practice slot for, well, you know, practicing, our coach (the illustrious Jayme Menzies) had arranged a different way for us to spend the afternoon.

The CMU Blazers women’s volleyball team and girls from Fisher River Cree Nation

Cue our new friends from Fisher River Cree Nation. Ten wonderful girls who came for a day packed with their favourite sport. Like with any new situation, the girls were timid and quiet at the beginning. We were all different ages, all had different stories that had brought us here, and you could feel a tenseness in the space due to the newness of the situation. But set up a net and toss in a ball? We had a noisy gym full of new friends in no time.

This is why I love sports.

We spent the afternoon practicing our volleyball skills, cheering the girls on, and celebrating every point like it was the game-winner of the finals. It was by simply standing on the court that I learned that my new pals loved Instagram too, that some of the memes I was using were outdated, and that sometimes the smallest girls jump the highest. Seeing these young girls gaze up at our Blazers with the most attentive grins, hanging onto every word and piece of advice we gave, was something I’ll never forget.

This is why I love sports.

CMU Blazer Annika Loeppky practices with a student from Fisher River Cree Nation

With a “THREE, TWO, TEAM!” we said our “see you laters” (the girls would also be attending our game that night) and headed out to our respective classes or study sessions. We at least had to do a little bit of schoolwork before the big game that evening.

Now, volleyball home games usually draw in a few fans, but little did we know that Residence Director and resident Blazers hype-man, Charlie Peronto, had a little something up his sleeve. What do you get when you put together a DIY poster station, free Halloween candy, costumes, and hilarious between-set games? Bleachers full of classmates and friends, hooting and hollering, blowing off some mid-term season stress and life’s troubles in the very best way. It was a gym full of joy like I haven’t felt before. That’s the only way I can put it.

This is why I love sports.

Residence Director Charlie Peronto and CMU students cheer on their team

Sure, both the men’s and women’s teams won their matches in straight sets (#goblazers), but that wasn’t close to the highlight of the evening for me. It was glancing at the stands while I was grabbing water from the bench and seeing a sea of people who I love so dearly, cheering, laughing, and dancing. It was congratulating and celebrating with my teammates after each point, and feeling so grateful that they are also my friends. It was waving to the girls from Fisher River Cree Nation, wearing their new Blazers jerseys with the biggest smiles.

This is why I love sports.

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

(Pumpkin) Spicing Things Up at Folio Café: An Interview with Barista Nicholas Willms

“Oh my GOURD. This pumpkin spice latte from Folio Café is SQUASH goals.”

Alright, so you may get tired of really bad pumpkin spice puns, but I can guarantee you’ll never get tired of the one, the only, Folio Café pumpkin spice latte (PSL). This cup full of spicy fall magic is something Folio-frequenters wait for all year long. I talked to barista Nicholas Willms about the beverage and learned a LATTE about the famous flavour.

Nicholas Willms, barista extraordinaire

So Nicholas, what makes Folio’s PSL so special?

“One thing is that we actually make our own syrup from pumpkins grown at the farm right here on campus, by the Metanoia [Farmers Worker Cooperative]. That’s a big thing. We’re also not big fans of super sweet drinks, so we make our syrup a little less sweet so the focus is really on the pumpkin and the spices, not on how sugary it is.”

Thank you Metanoia farmers for making our PSL dreams come true! Can you tell me a bit about the process? What happens from the moment I order a PSL to the moment I hold the mug in my hands?

“It’s very easy. We put the cup on the scale and weigh out one ounce of the pumpkin syrup that we’ve made. Then we pull an espresso shot, steam some milk, pour it, make a little bit of latte art if we’re feeling a little artsy, and then we hand it over.”

And then we sip and smile. So I’m looking at the menu board, and you have another pumpkin spice drink! Tell me more.

“So we also have the pumpkin chai, which is a chai tea latte but with our homemade pumpkin syrup, which I think is a nice twist. It gives the chai latte a little extra flavour, a little extra spice. It makes for a fun change!”

Mm, that sounds delicious. I’ll be sure to tell all my chai-loving friends about it! Speaking of my friends, I have plenty of pals who look forward to the pumpkin spice season all year long. What’s the hype like leading up to adding the drink to the menu?

“People were asking for it for a couple weeks, even before it was up on the menu. We had to tell them that we didn’t have any pumpkins yet, so we couldn’t make it yet. But once it was up there, people got pretty pumped about it.”

People including me. I think I audibly cheered when I saw that it was back on the menu. What’s your personal favourite part about pumpkin spice season at Folio?

“I think it’s really cool to be able to make things from stuff that’s grown right here. I think it makes it taste better, I think it makes it more special because you could walk past the farm and see an actual pumpkin, and then be drinking it in a latte.”

Three cheers for a farm-fresh, subtly sweet, extra spicy, pumpkin dream of a drink! Thank you so much Nicholas for indulging me in this interview about one of my passions. Now, I just have one more question for you…

Could I order one PSL please?

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

I’m thankful for…

With the Thanksgiving season (and mid-term season) upon us, I decided to take a stroll through campus and do some impromptu interviews. I wanted to start some conversations that would stir up some warm and fuzzy feelings to contrast the stress of studying and blustery weather I saw through my window. And after chatting with some lovely people and compiling the answers, I’d say it was a successful mission. The question?

What are you thankful for, here at CMU?

“I’m thankful for Folio’s coffee” – Sadie McTavish

“I’m thankful that my learning has been lively because it has been lived” – Marnie Klassen

“I’m thankful for how close the profs are to the students. There’s tons of space made for profs and students to connect” – Daniel McIntyre-Ridd

“I’m thankful for my apartment and my roommate who loves me” – Kate Friesen

“I’m thankful for the basketball team and the community and friendships it provides me with” – Andrew Hutton

“I’m thankful for the free flu-shot clinic! You just walk on in and it only takes five minutes!” – Claudia Dueck

“I’m thankful that CMU has a volleyball team!” – Matthew Sawatzky

“I’m thankful for the very large windows in Marpeck that I can look through, and the friends who I see walk down the stairs” – Markus Stahl

“I’m thankful for the sense of belonging, comradery, and fun I get from being in choir” – Madeleine Friesen

“I’m thankful that I’m part of a small enough class that it’s possible to designate someone to bring a snack for everyone at every lecture” – Rhett Neufeld

“I’m thankful for really great interactions with my profs. They know how to have fun and joke around, while also teaching you a lot of new information” – Nicholas Harder

“I’m thankful for the bridge between south campus and Marpeck for keeping me warm and dry during this snowy weather” – Courtney Kuhl

“I’m thankful for all of my friends and my professors, and their genuine happiness and caring attitudes” – Nicolas Willms

And me? I’m thankful that I’m part of a community where I can take a short stroll through this beautiful campus, and be greeted by classmates and friends alike who are willing to answer my whimsical questions. Their smiles and stories are plentiful, and the inspiration they give me is endless.

CMU, I am thankful for YOU!

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

Hilarity, Belonging, and Mission: An Interview with Two Summer Camp Staff Members

Ah, the summers of my childhood. Bike rides to the ice-cream place down the block, afternoons at the local pool, and best of all, summer camp.

For many CMU students, summer camp isn’t only a memory of summers past, it’s an everyday summer adventure as they make up the staff of camps far and wide! I interviewed two summer camp staffers (Marnie Klassen and Johanna Klassen) who recently worked with Camps With Meaning. We talked about past camp experiences, the word “average”, and how their CMU and camp experiences flow into one another.

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Hey friends! Tell me a little about yourselves and your camp/CMU roles.

Johanna: My name is Johanna Klassen. I’m 19, and I worked as a Senior Counsellor this summer, at both Camp Assiniboia and Camp Koinonia. I’m currently in my second year of music studies at CMU, with the goal to pursue education.

Marnie: My name is Marnie Klassen. I’m in my 4th year at CMU, and spent the summer as the Bible Instructor at Camp Assiniboia, one of Mennonite Church Manitoba’s two summer camps. I’m studying Social Theology.

Did you go to summer camp as a child? Did that influence your decision to work at camp at all?

Johanna: Growing up I went to Camps with Meaning from as early an age as possible. I went to Camp Assiniboia when I was a younger child, and as got older I began going to Camp Koinonia because I wanted a camp experience that included more camping experiences, including canoe trips out on Max Lake and beyond.

Marnie: I only started going to camp as a pre-teen. At that time, my older siblings were both camp staff and my mom was on the board of the camp we were involved with, so in some ways I was more of a staff kid than just a camper. The sense of ebbing and flowing community really struck me and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be part of something that combined hilarity with a deep sense of belonging and mission.

Why did you decide to work at camp?

Johanna: The main reason I began working at camp was because of the wonderful, inspiring, faith-forming weeks I had as a camper, and I wanted to make that a reality for youth in the future. I was encouraged by my counsellors the year before I could volunteer in the Day Camp Program at Camp Assiniboia, and I had a multitude of friends that also were planning to work at camp—I knew it would be a fun way to spend the summer! Now my friends have grown into a supportive community which has been shaped at camp, and I am lucky to be a part of it not only during the summer but also throughout the year, which is a big reason why I keep going back.

Marnie: This summer I ended up at Camp Assiniboia largely because I wanted to laugh more. As with most people my age, I’m learning a lot about myself and the world and came to a point where I realized I needed to take myself less seriously. So I went to camp to laugh more!

Johanna, middle, with CMU friends

Tell me a bit about an average day at camp.

Johanna: I don’t believe I had an ‘average day’ this summer, as I worked only one week with each age, every week with a different schedule. But, usually: I attend morning prayer, sit down to eat at least five times throughout the day, sometimes cook supper at campout, sleep outside under the stars, song-lead during Bible time, lead Camp Skills (including fire-building and natural tea making), run around with kiddos, and swap stories about God with campers and staff alike in the evening.

Marnie: A day in my role this summer could be compared to an obstacle course. You think you know what’s coming, there’s a ton of variety, and inevitably you end up being surprised by something. We started the day with morning prayer, breakfast, and staff meeting/devos, before Bible, which was my biggest part of the day. I was teaching about Community, based on Colossians 3:12-14, and we did tons of fun activities. Afternoons looked like filling in wherever needed, making sure that program was running and staff were getting their time off. In the evenings I facilitated Fireside, a time of worship and faith story sharing. I usually finished off the night either with some office work or a leadership meeting. Long, fulfilling days.

Wow! I definitely shouldn’t have used the word “average”. So what motivates you to work in such a high-energy environment all summer?

Johanna: Knowing that even though it doesn’t always feel like it, what I’m doing has a positive impact on someone. I know this because I experience it every day at camp myself, this coming from someone else. Spending quality time with people who raise important questions, are not afraid to be silly, willing to listen. Understanding the beauty of creation and community so well that I can feel it in my bones.

Marnie: It’s a wonderful thing to be part of faith embodiment. Every conversation is a chance to honor someone’s story or encourage someone. Yes, it’s exhausting. But it also matters. The energy of the staff and the delight of the campers is very fueling.

Marnie (right) at Camp Assiniboia

Did you see any of your CMU classes, learning, or experiences come into play while you worked at camp?

Johanna: More generally, my first year at CMU taught me to ask questions, and to be resilient in the midst of stress and confusion. More specifically, in the spring I had a camper who was quite anxious, and stuck to one staff member throughout the day. She wanted to sing in the talent show, but was nervous about where she would stand, what it would be like and the music itself. I suggested we practice, and because I had taken Music Skills, I was able to accompany the camp songs on piano more easily and sing with her. This made me feel like I could do something to ease her anxiety, and CMU gave me some of those tools.

Marnie: I certainly drew on my learning from Pastoral Care and Counseling as I spent a lot of time this summer in conversation with younger staff, helping them make sense of their stories. It was a huge honor to be trusted with those stories, and I think I was able to do that in part because of that class, as well as others that have touched on things like narrative theology.

Are there any stories or moments that immediately come to mind when you think about this summer?

Johanna: Every time I try to think of a moment to share, this one always pops up in my mind: one camper really stood out to me this year made me laugh more than any other, and also asked me the most thought-provoking questions. One evening before bed in a cabin full of seven-year-olds, she was sitting on her bunk, engrossed in the task of quietly putting on bug spray and sunscreen. When asked why? she replied, “I just like to.” I kept coming back to this situation realizing that sometimes, we do things even though they don’t make sense, just because we like to. And every time I think about it, I earnestly laugh out loud. On our walk in the forest to our campsite, she held my hand and asked, “why do the mosquitoes have such a nice home?” in moments of chaos and quiet, she was able to put a smile on my face, and remind me how much wonder is in the world.

Marnie: This summer was my first time working with adults with disabilities, and I learned oh so much. I learned about grace and communication and kindness and absurd and hopeful laughter and love. I will never forget listening to Roam by the B-52’s seven times and dancing with one camper as she prepared to go to bed. I’ve seldom known grace in such a way as that.

These stories are so wonderful and heartwarming. Thank you two for sharing your stories and experiences with me!

Chloe Friesen is 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

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