The first day of class. Remember how you used to get those dreams that you would forget to wear your clothes to school? I get those sort of dreams before a block starts. Except instead of wearing no clothes, it’s usually me forgetting to wake up or not being able to find my classroom. A junior in college and still scared of the first day? Yep.
First days at CC are always interesting. The rhythm of the block plan is like an intense musical composition. You begin a class, the tempo rises, more instruments are added, sounds reverberate off every wall, there is a sudden crescendo, and then . . . a little peace and quiet. In other words, you have a lot going on and it culminates in a slightly crazy fourth week. But block break always makes it worth it. This past block break was one of the best I’ve had since coming to CC. I went to Zion National Park in southern Utah with three of my best friends. We hiked two of the coolest hikes I have ever done, including Angel’s Landing. Yeah, I definitely saw the angels.
My friends and I kept commenting to each other about how crazy it was that we were on top of one of most beautiful places in the world on a Friday. Most other college students were sitting in class, and there we were, 702 miles from CC, experiencing life. To cap it off, we all went skydiving over the park the last day. Needless to say, I think block breaks are pretty much the greatest invention ever.
I started Indigenous Religious Traditions today. I think I put about 40 points on the class, I wanted it that bad. Friends who have taken it say it is one of the best classes they have taken at CC. More importantly, they feel profoundly changed by the class. I hope I get the chance to experience something like what they are talking about.
At CC, people say that one class’s material covers about a week’s worth of material at another college. I wasn’t sure about that until today. We met in the morning, did the awkward introductions, and reviewed the syllabus (which actually looks pretty amazing). We broke at around 10:30, and I had the chance to attend the First Monday event which featured CC debating against the Air Force academy regarding the upcoming election. Pretty interesting stuff, and pretty awesome to see the theater packed to capacity. Afterwards, I had my first reading assignment for the class, which was an article entitled “What We Want To Be Called”. It dealt with the differing labels Indigenous People have, and which they prefer.
The class met again at 1:15. We had a lively discussion about the article, and I could immediately tell that the class dynamic is going to be great. One of the coolest parts of class was when my professor – the Chaplain of the college – drew a map of America and had us fill in any Indigenous tribes we knew. I could name two: Pueblo, because it’s just an hour south of here, and Pechanga, because I used to drive past the casino near Palm Springs, CA. About thirty or so tribes went onto the board. Then, we pulled up an actual map of all the tribes in America. About 300 more came up.
Not only was this a stunning realization of the lack of knowledge I have in this area, but it also seems to be something of a paradigm for CC academics. You come in with a preconceived idea of what a class will be like. You say, “Yeah, indigenous religious traditions, I know the story of Columbus and all that.” Then you get into class and realize there’s more than you could ever even begin to imagine about the subject. There are entire sections of the library devoted to the subject. There are experts just a few miles away. There is so much more to the map than you ever could have expected.
Knowledge is not something that is gained, it is something that is explored. You must navigate your way through it, find what speaks to you and run with it.
A junior in college and still navigating? Yep. I hope it never stops.