Tag: community (Page 1 of 2)

Can an Introvert Enjoy Living in Dorm? A Personal Reflection

In my final year of high school as I was weighing my options for post-secondary education, I distinctly remember telling my friends and family:

“I will NEVER live in a dorm room.”

I was (and still am) an introvert. I thrive on time alone in my room, with schedule, structure, and control of my surroundings. Dorm life sounded like the opposite of all these things that I loved and held so tightly onto. People everywhere, a multitude of different schedules all in one space, shared control of public spaces, and a lot of unknowns; it didn’t sound very appealing. This isn’t to say I didn’t like people or making friends, but the introvert in me knew that I needed plenty of time on my own to recharge and take care of my mental health. To me, living in a dorm room surrounded by strangers for an entire year sounded terrifying.

ACS_0057Now, take this girl and imagine her moving into Poettker Hall in the fall of 2017, and then again into the Katherine Friesen Apartments with TWO roommates in 2018. My high-school-self would have fainted. As it turns out, a lot of the opinions and beliefs I had about on-campus life turned out to be misconceptions. Imagine that: a high school student having misconceptions about the future and the world around them. I’m sure that’s never happened to anyone else…

If I could have a conversation with the dorm-skeptic that I was in high school, or anyone questioning the positives of living on-campus, this is what I would have to say:

1.) Alone time is good! Loneliness is not.

IMG_9431It’s natural to crave time to yourself. This is time we can take to reflect, practice self-care, and relax. But, spending all of your time alone is not healthy. I managed to create a fine balance of taking time for myself and stretching myself to have conversations and hang out with people outside of my room! It came as a beautiful surprise to me when a floor-mate would knock on my door and invite me to do something or go somewhere and I would respond with an eager “yes!”. Now, I didn’t say “yes” every time, but I found that the more connections I made with the people around me, the easier it was to feel at home in the space I lived in.

2.) You’re going to make new friends, but you don’t have to be best friends with everyone.

IMG_8727Making new friends is great, and I encourage it! But I don’t encourage devoting all of your time to forcing a close friendship with everyone in your dorm building. You’re going to need some time to study, too. Friendship is something that comes naturally. You’re not going to ‘click’ immediately with everyone on your floor, and that’s okay! Making an effort to connect with the people around you is a great start. There is no dorm-life rulebook that says you have to know the favourite colour of every single person on your floor or anything like that.

3.) Letting go of control is OKAY!

ACS_0096Sometimes all of the shower stalls will be full, and that’s okay! Sometimes someone on your floor will practice their clarinet while you’re studying, so you’ll pop in some headphones or head to the library, and that’s okay! Sometimes you won’t write down “impromptu yoga-party in the first floor lounge” in your agenda and one will occur anyways, and that’s okay! Sometimes you’ll stay up later than you expected to, sitting in the hallway with some people who used to be strangers but are now more like sisters, talking and laughing while telling stories, and that’s okay! It’s wonderful, actually.

So, to my dorm-life skeptic high-school-self: it may come as a big surprise, but you’ll end up living on-campus and loving it. It’ll have it’s ups and downs, but with each of them will come growth and lessons. You certainly won’t become an extrovert in any sense of the word, but you’ll be able to call your university campus “home”, and that’s all you’ll need.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

Learning Power and Vulnerability at CSOP

Marnie Klassen

For the first time in my degree, I took a class purely on a recommendation, and man alive am I glad I decided to.

After some conversation and discernment, my academic advisor told me that she thought I should take Arts Based Approaches to Social Change from the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP). I liked the idea of getting some credits out of the way and having an excuse to come back to Winnipeg mid-summer. The course sounded mildly interesting, and though not related to the direction my Interdisciplinary degree seemed to be taking, I decided to just do it.

“You’ll probably enjoy it,” I told myself. “Doesn’t matter if it’s related. It makes sense for other reasons.”

Pretty soon my books came in the mail and sat on my shelf for most of April and May. Suddenly, I was booking flights to go to Winnipeg, and started my reading.

The opening ceremony of 2018 CSOP.

I walked into the auditorium where the opening ceremony was held and breathed a sigh of relief as I saw some familiar faces from CMU, and two women I had met at different conferences over the past three years. “I have a community here,” I reminded myself. “Whatever happens this week, I am learning in community.”

That sentiment proved truer than I could have imagined.

In my class were 11 students, and we represented at least 6 different countries. Despite the incredible diversity of culture, age, and experience, we began to know and trust each other quite quickly. How could we not when we were dancing, painting, and acting together?

Throughout the week we participated in numerous creative activities which helped us to understand various aspects of conflict, violence, and reconciliation. Here’s a couple of examples:

On Tuesday we made memory boards. In some parts of central Africa, stories are told on Lukasas, or memory boards. They are visual and tactile displays of cultural stories.

IMG_0729s

Our class divided into two, and each group created a picture/diorama representing our story and community. Then Babu (our instructor) went over to one group and destroyed their Lukasa, telling them that a member of their community had done it. He then came to my group, wrecked our Lukasa, and said that the destruction was by a member of the neighboring community.

After spending so much time trying to represent who we were, it was devastating to have our Lukasa ravaged. Our task then was to talk about how we would rebuild, how we would forgive, how we would move on. It was difficult!

On Wednesday, we participated in forum theatre. 10 of us lined up our chairs, and Babu and one volunteer did a dramatic reading behind us of a domestic violence scenario. It was powerful.

Afterwards, we divided into groups based on the response we were least likely to have in real life. My group was the “intervening” group, and we were all young women, painfully aware both of our power and our vulnerability. It was incredibly eye opening and empowering to talk and act with these women and come up with an intervention that kept us safe and allowed for the abused woman to get the help she needed.

Marnie (R) with classmates.

CSOP has taught me a lot of things – it’s taught me about using the arts in peacebuilding to be sure, but it has also taught me about this balance between power and vulnerability. As budding peacebuilders, we have so much opportunity to effect change and participate in the goodness in the world, but we also carry our own vulnerability and smallness with us. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like we are enough. At CSOP I learned to hold both truths, but to hold them with other people. This is the moral imagination – staying grounded in the here and now, and imagining a more life-affirming world.

Marnie Klassen is going into her third year of Interdisciplinary Studies at CMU.

The courage to be vulnerable

Jason Friesen - The courage to be vulnerable (Portrait of Jason Friesen on the Marpeck bridge wearing a grey long sleeved t-shirt with the CMU logo across the chest.)

Most of us don’t like to be in vulnerable spaces. The uncertainties of those spaces leave us with butterflies fluttering around in our stomachs. Conceding power is uncomfortable. Yet CMU is a place that exemplifies and guides us into those vulnerable spaces.

Let’s start with the classroom. One of CMU’s largest selling points is the small class sizes, which allow students to interact personally with their professors. This is completely accurate, but just saying that to a prospective student at a campus visit day doesn’t fully capture the connection between professors and students.

CMU students are not only treated to professors who interact with them, but professors who make themselves vulnerable.

I still remember taking Interpersonal Communication in my second year with sociology professor Rod Reynar. The very first class, Rod told us some of his life story. Hearing about Rod’s chronic back pain caused by inflammation around his spinal cord, and how that kept him bed ridden for years sent a strong message on its own. But his actions sent a message that would set the tone for the rest of the semester. The classroom was to be a space of sharing, where personal experiences were a valuable asset to learning. How could we students not follow suit and share of our own lives as well?

Students seated at a desk in small classroom at CMU, engaging with a professor across from them.

That invitation to make those kinds of connections is not isolated to a class focusing on Interpersonal Communication. It quickly becomes something we expect in the classroom at CMU no matter the course. Here, professors constantly ask students to connect what they are learning to their own lives, and to share those connections.

If you stick around CMU beyond class times, you become familiar with another place of vulnerability – the many student council events on campus, from the GOlympics, to coffee houses, to Film 60. Though these events are definitely aimed to provide student entertainment, there is something else going on in these spaces. It’s obvious when you see student Zach Stefaniuk perform at a coffee house, as he pipes up on a goofy song, and brings a room to a roar of laughter like only he can.

And then there are music students: they start out understandably timid in their first Thursday recital, and blossom into fine, expressive performers by the time their grad performance rolls around. 

At coffeehouses, recitals, and everything in between, students are opening themselves up to potential praise and critique. Yet students keep signing up and showing up!  They seem to like making themselves vulnerable and equally appreciate it when others do the same.

Not all acts of vulnerability are as public as the classroom or CMU events though. A space where I have seen the most vulnerability is on the volleyball team.

Jason Friesen - The courage to be vulnerable (The CMU mens volleyball team line up for a team photo after winning the MCAC championships for the second year in a row.)

This past year, our team committed to doing weekly Bible studies. We read scripture, watched videos of athletes like MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw and NHLer Mike Fisher tell their faith stories, and shared of our own experiences. And I know for a fact that we were not the only group of students doing this on campus.

Whether through fellowship groups or late night discussions in a residence lounge, signs of this type of vulnerability are scattered throughout campus, sometimes hidden in spaces most will never see.  

What is significant about these examples is that only the first scenario involves CMU faculty or staff directly. The other examples show students choosing to put themselves in vulnerable spaces. The culture of the classrooms at CMU encourages students to be vulnerable and to walk alongside others as they do the same. This culture fosters that type of living throughout students’ lives!    

We live in an age with many examples of strength associated with power and dominance. But CMU is a university that cultivates students to challenge the norm, to think critically about what we see in the world, and to draw our values from scripture rather than popular culture.

The Theologies of Power course with Irma Fast Dueck, and a reading from theologian Walter Wink’s “Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence”, follow that trend. The belief that the ends can justify any amount of violent means surrounds us in films, TV shows, and almost every story we encounter. But not the narrative of scripture. Jesus lived a life full of courage and strength, yet none of it revolved around the type of power we are used to. Instead, he showed strength through coming to earth as a child and living a life of service, and he showed courage through sacrificing his life for us. I can think of no better examples of courage and strength, and at the same time can’t fathom any greater displays of vulnerability.

Author and theologian C.S.Lewis perhaps puts it best. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” My hope is that as each of us branch out from CMU into the world, we would take the risk that Lewis is talking about.

We come to CMU as vulnerable newcomers, and when it comes time to leave, we will walk into many more situations that need vulnerable people. A friend of mine, accompanies her email signature with a quote that reads,  “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

Are you willing to be uncomfortable? Are you willing to grow? Because that’s exactly what courage, strength, love, and vulnerability call for.  Embrace that and continue to create those vulnerable spaces.

Jason Friesen wearing his black graduation cap and gown on the day of his graduation from CMU's Communications and Media program.Jason Friesen is a 2018 graduate of CMU’s Communications and Media program, and this year’s Valedictorian. He was also the lead blogger for #myCMUlife in the 2017-18 school year, and this post was adapted from his valedictory address.

Finding community and trusting God’s faithfulness

Taylor Prior - Finding community and trusting God's provision

I came to CMU after a year of Outtatown, intending to deepen my relationship with Jesus and live in community.

Not from a Mennonite background, I had a bunch of preconceived ideas about CMU. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. But I held onto the idea of community in hopes that it would be as great as everyone said it would be.

A couple of months went by and I was skeptical. I hadn’t found the community I had envisioned. In this moment of doubt I leaned into the faithfulness of Jesus and his provision. I had to come to terms with the idea that things might not be exactly how I envisioned. Perhaps Jesus had a greater plan than I could write for myself.

As I let go of what I thought I needed, Jesus provided me with a group of friends who have both challenged and strengthened my faith. He provided a community of people I can laugh with, worship with, and have meaningful conversations with. 

Taylor Prior - Finding community and trusting God's provision

When I imagined community at CMU, I thought I would just instantly find my place. But it took some effort on my part, and it was something I had to grow into. With a bit of faith and trust, God provided a group of people that have been pivotal in my journey at CMU. They’ve even cultivated my newfound appreciation for the art of dumpster diving!

This past year, my first year at CMU, I have learned the importance of being rooted in Jesus’ faithfulness. And I have felt his abundance through the community he provided.

Through this community, I’m learning what it looks like to love others; to share in each other’s joy, and sit with each other in the moments that suck. Trusting Jesus’ provision has helped me to grow and become part of a community of people that makes CMU feel like home.   

In this new grounding of faith, I have experienced abundantly more than I could ask or imagine. Looking ahead, I remain confident in the good things he has in store.

 

Taylor Pryor is a first year Social Sciences student from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Dive In and Engage: Joining Student Council

Esther Hardy, 2018-19 CMU Student Council President

When I first came to CMU, I wasn’t sure how to get involved. There were so many ways for me to dive in and engage, that I didn’t know where to start.

In my second year, I decided to join student council, and it was a great decision.

Student council has allowed me to develop many friendships, to have a voice in what happens at CMU, and it has allowed me to build leadership and interpersonal skills.

Student council committees work hard to organize and host a variety of events throughout the year. From coffee houses, to volunteer opportunities in the city, there is something for everyone.

Some of my favourite events this year were: Film 60 (a student film festival); Taste the World (international students make food from their home countries); Dance Classes (The CMU Keeks dance group teach a variety of dance styles); and The Great Debaters (a fun evening of student/staff debates).

These events brought people together for evenings full of laughter, good food, and great conversation. They’re part of what makes CMU a great place to be. And they inspired me to get involved at this wonderful school.

As the 2018-2019 student council president, I plan to work with my peers on things that matter to students. That could mean organizing for social justice issues or planning fun events for students.

It is important to me that every student feels that they have a voice, and that everyone feels included in our community. I encourage every student to bring your ideas, suggestions, and concerns to me and other student council members next year. We value what you have to say! 

2017 CMU Student Council

If student council sounds like something you want to be involved in, please check it out. In September, we will be looking for Peace and Sustainability Directors and First-Year reps, or you could join a committee team. Our council is full of brave, energetic, passionate people who have a heart for this school, and we would love to have you join our team!

 

Esther Hardy is 3rd year International Development Studies student from Perth, Ontario. She is also your 2018-19 Student Council President!

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