Category: student life (Page 1 of 12)

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

“So, You’re All Mennonite, Right?” A Reflection

“So, you’re all Mennonite, right?”

I should’ve began counting how many times I’ve been asked this question the first time I heard it. The number would be laughably high.

Most often, I receive the question in response to me stating that I go to Canadian Mennonite University. They hear the word “Mennonite” paired with the word “university” and their eyes narrow, the wheels in their brain spinning. The person I’m talking to has most definitely never visited campus; they don’t know what we all know.

If you head to the “Fast Facts About CMU” page on the CMU website, you get a quick rundown of what’s going on here on campus regarding faith backgrounds.

  • 44% of students are from diverse Ecumenical traditions
  • 37% of students come to CMU from Mennonite or Anabaptist related backgrounds
  • 19% of students disclose no faith or church background.

Wait a minute… we’re not ALL Mennonites? I laugh as I’m writing this, because I am Mennonite and I have met plenty of other Mennonites during the past few years, but I have also met the most culturally and religiously diverse student body that I have ever been a part of.

Last week in my Theology and Art class, we went around the classroom stating what our faith backgrounds were, just to get a sense of the different angles we would be approaching the art and readings we were about to dive into.

I began writing down what I heard, the “so you’re all Mennonite, right?” question surfacing in my mind. Here’s the list I gathered:

We're all different...

 “Pentecostal”

“Agnostic”

“Evangelical”

“Christian”

“Muslim”

“I’m still figuring things out”

“Not religious”

“Roman Catholic”

“Swiss Baptist”

“Buddhist”

“Mennonite Brethren”

“Mennonite General Conference”

“Anglican”

“Protestant”

“Ethiopian Orthodox”

The diversity of the list was interesting, sure, but what interested me more was the confidence in which these words were being said. No one felt like they were “wrong” or “an outsider”, and there was no perceivable judgement coming from the professor or the class. If anything, there was an feeling of gratitude emanating. If you’re a student or staff member here at CMU, you’ll recognize this feeling.

We all had this amazing opportunity to gather together twice a week, to have conversations about art and theology, and we were already being blessed with such rich conversations because of the religious diversity within our classroom. We were all different, and that was good.

I truly believe that CMU is a place for everyone, not just Mennonites. Yes, the university is built upon a foundation of important Mennonite values (check out the Mennonites and CMU page on the website for more info), but we’re a stronger institution when we recognize our differences. And students, professors, and staff all know it! My education has only benefitted from my conversations with and the contributions of everyone here.

So, are we all Mennonite? Definitely not. Am I thankful for that? Yes.

Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

Let’s Talk About Talking: Radical Dialogue at CMU

Welcome to CMU. The land of Blundstones, angry geese, using the word “community” as many times as possible, and endless conversation.

Let’s talk about just that: talking. The art of conversation here at CMU, radical dialogue, how important it is, and how much we value learning from each other, no matter our differences. The people that sit beside you in class, pass in the hallways, and sit with in the cafeteria, are all going to help shape your education here at CMU. They’re kinda like your professors, just without the PhDs.

Like I said before, CMU is a place of endless conversation. And it’s the conversations that I have had in the past two years that have filled in the gaps and rounded out the edges of my degree. Talking is important.

Your professors are a good place to start.

They are going to ignite little fires of curiosity within you, I guarantee it. You’re going to have questions, ideas, worries, inspirations, and your professors want to hear about them all! I’m not kidding! I have walked into countless profs offices to see their faces LIGHT UP when I come to sit and chat, and sometimes/a lot of times, it’s not related to a paper I’m writing or an upcoming test I have. It’s what’s going on inside my head, it’s about that little flame. And your profs want to help stoke that fire.

Your classmates are another great place to start up conversations. These will happen before class, during class, in the dining hall, at Marpeck Commons, in the dorms, at the bus stop, in the gym, I’ve had some good bathroom chats about Biblical Literature and that is not a word of a lie. Sometimes, these classmates won’t even be in the same class as you. I’ve had great conversations with friends who are taking philosophy classes, when I’ve never taken one in my life, and we’re talking about a communications topic from one of my classes, and we’re both enriching each others understanding of classes we don’t own the textbook for.

But here’s the thing—these conversations aren’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, you’re going to like pineapple on your pizza and the person you’re talking to won’t. This doesn’t mean they are wrong. Sometimes your prof will introduce you to an entirely new pizza that you’re not sure you’re comfortable with, or maybe even a calzone. This doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Sometimes you’ll meet someone who’s never even had pizza. This doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And this is the part where the “radical” in “radical dialogue” comes in. And this is also, where LISTENING comes in.

If there’s one lesson that’s hit me the hardest while studying and living here at CMU, it’s this. THE WORDS I WILL LEARN THE MOST FROM WILL NOT BE MY OWN. The opinions and knowledge and experiences that I have are going to be wonderfully different than everyone else’s. And this is GOOD. Imagine if the keyboard on your laptop only had one letter. Let’s say H. You’re gonna know that letter really well, and that’s great. But all you’re going to be able to type is “Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.

If you really want to write, and think, and learn, you’re going to need so many more letters, so many more opinions and angles and pushback. So in the midst of these conversations you’ll be having, remember to listen. To really listen. Not just hear and wait for your turn to speak again. Listen and learn, respectfully.

I’m not saying that you should only listen and not speak, no no no. You also need to speak and share your unique perspectives so that others can learn from you. I’m talking to you self-professed “shy-kids”. We need you. You’re the best listeners so you’re obviously the smartest people in the room *wink wink*.

Thirdly, after we’re done talking, and we’re done listening, it’s time to engage. When I think about really engaging in radical dialogue, I think about my first year. I took an International Development course called “Voluntary Simplicity”. A classmate and good pal of mine got to talking during snack one evening about what we had learned in class, which led to us watching a documentary about fast-fashion and the clothing industry, which led us to making a pact that we would both refuse to buy any new clothes for an entire year. Just as an experiment. And we did it! Successfully! We talked about it with each other, with our professor, with our friends and family. It was like stepping into our textbook and frolicking amongst the words and ideas we’d been learning.

One of the best parts of CMU is the ability to have these conversations. The small class sizes, yet beautifully diverse student body has enriched and filled and blessed each and every class I’ve taken. At the beginning, it took a little work to let go of my biases and step out of my comfort zone. To shake hands with a new friend who doesn’t like pineapple on their pizza. But believe me, this radical dialogue you will engage in here at CMU is what will shape you for the better and help you to see the world with more compassion and empathy than ever before.

Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

What You’ve Heard About CMU? It’s TRUE!

Shpeel (definition): slang often a sales talk or pitch; to speak, usually at length, to present a position or rationale for some course of action or belief on the part of the listener(s).

If you’ve ever been to a CMU Open House or Campus Visit Day, or have even witnessed one in action, you’ve heard the classic “Come to CMU” shpeel.

“The class sizes are SMALL. There’s a wonderful sense of COMMUNITY. Marpeck Commons is NEW and WONDERFUL and FULL OF SUNSHINE and GOOD COFFEE.”

Chloe kickin' it on the bridge
ready to spheel

I’m here to tell you that the shpeel is true. No lies here. As someone who’s given tours of this beautiful campus of ours, I’ve heard these words come out of my mouth many, many times. So many times that sometimes I start forgetting why I’m saying them. Sometimes they sound too good to be true. And then I take a look around me and remember.

For what we have to offer, CMU is grossly underrated. So I’m going to keep doing my shpeel until everyone knows why I love this tiny university of mine.

1) The class sizes are SMALL

Studying with friends in the sun

Some of my favourite classes have been the one’s with the fewest people in them. I like to think back to my Creative Writing Poetry course, where I’d meet with eight of my classmates twice a week to share our poems and critique them together. I produced some of my best work in that class, and I know for a fact that my poems would have sounded a lot worse if they had been written in a lecture theatre. The faculty to student ratio is 1:18 (even for first and second year students). You really get to know your professors and classmates, and I think that those close relationships have encouraged me to do some of my best academic work.

2) There’s a wonderful sense of COMMUNITY

Fun with friends

I remember my first day on campus. I was nervous, stressed out of my mind, and knew almost no one. That all changed when I went to my faculty advisor meeting. We sat in a small circle, ate pizza, and before there was any discussion about classes or schedules or academics, we learned about each other. 15 minutes into my first day, and I was already part of a little community where I felt welcomed and supported. There are students in that meeting that I’ve never had a class with, but I still know their names and we say hello to each other on the way to our separate classes. Walking across campus and not stopping to greet a friend or neighbour is almost impossible, but it’s the BEST. It sounds cliche, but CMU is my home, and the people here are my family.

3) Marpeck Commons is NEW and WONDERFUL and FULL OF SUNSHINE and GOOD COFFEE

folio café coffee with a book

Facts. Marpeck Commons was opened in 2015, and it was entirely paid for by donors, nothing came out of students’ pockets (there goes that community spirit again). It houses CommonWord (CMU’s book/gift shop, that also sells perogies and noodles, of course), folio café (amazing coffee and friendly baristas, and featured in an article called “15 Winnipeg Coffee Shops You Should Go To At Least Once In Your Life”, but I prefer to go everyday…), CMU’s library (spacious tables, comfy reading chairs, floor to ceiling windows, and sweet librarians: what’s not to love?), as well as a public learning space for the community to gather and have public conversations. Oh, and it’s got a cool bridge that goes over Grant Ave. (cheers to keeping warm while crossing the street!). It’s a place you can spend hours in and not want to leave.

There’s a lot more I could tell you about CMU. I live here. I learn here. I grow here. So I’m going to keep on giving my CMU shpeel until everyone I know (and even people I don’t know) sees CMU the way I do.

If you’d like to experience CMU for yourself, I encourage you to stop by during our Open House on Wednesday, March 26 from 10:00 AM
3:00 PM. I’d love to give you my shpeel in person.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

“Boy Talk” – A Focus on Male Friendship | Guest blogger: Isaac Schlegel

Male friendship has variously felt irrelevant, desirable, disappointing, and simply confusing to me through my life. In the lonelier years of grade school, it was something I wanted on paper, but in practice talking with boys was marked more by aggressive posturing or thick layers of irony than a sense of connection. Girls were by far preferable, though spending too much time with them would result in shouts of “Wheels!” from any boys in the vicinity. (Needless to say, this was before I would have even considered coming out as bisexual.)

At CMU, I have had many fruitful and boy talk 2beautiful friendships. The vast majority of these at first were again with women, though the context here is much more hospitable to relationships across gender. Despite living in the residence among other men, however, I still found I rarely formed good connections with them. A few other guys were feeling similarly, and so we decided to get together and do something about that. Enter: the Boy Talk.

“Boy Talk,” a willfully ridiculous name that has proven unshakeable, formed nearly a year ago. At the time of writing, it has stabilized as a closed group of 11 male CMU students who gather on a semi-monthly basis to hang out and discuss their lives confidentially. So far, it has been a space for ridiculous photoshoots, board game playing, deepening trust, and giving voice to the accumulated joys and hardships of our lives.

I always worry the idea of a gender-segregated discussion group may give the impression of some anti-feminist or exclusionary stance, as though there is some lack of male-dominated spaces that needed to be filled. In truth, the residence where most of our members live has a degree of gender segregation built into its geography, and our intent is not isolationist. I did not join this group to privilege my male friendships, but rather to bring them up to the standard I have experienced in friendships across gender, which by and large had to that point been far more genuine and trusting.

boy talk 3Boy Talk is not a place where I go to run from the complexity of gender. Rather, it is a place where I plunge headfirst into the work of finding my place in its complexity, not in some abstract intellectual way, but through the practical effort of literally putting myself in the presence of other men and opening ourselves up to each other. Even though our conversation is only sometimes about masculinity directly, the very exercise of talking in a context of safety and trust has allowed me to reflect on how I present myself as male, and how I relate to others doing the same thing. At its very best, Boy Talk has been a communal sandbox for discovering smarter, healthier masculinities.

Recently, Boy Talk was asked to be interviewed in the Canadian Mennonite. This idea surprised us initially—Boy Talk is a small, private group with small, private goals. It didn’t seem to necessarily merit the attention of a broader audience (though we may have admittedly courted such attention by changing our public profile pictures to a matching group photo.) We ultimately went through with it, though, in the hopes that we might serve an anecdotal purpose—one example of how men might deal with loneliness and a lack of connection. Fighting unhealthy masculinity requires men to not only re-evaluate their relationships with women, but also consider what they want from themselves and each other. Male friendship continues to confuse me, but working through that confusion has brought me a better understanding of both my friendships and myself.

Isaac Schlegel is a third-year student double majoring in Philosophy and Biblical and Theological Studies.

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