As the spring term rapidly comes to a close, those students engaged in off-campus programs have the opportunity to reflect on the impact of those experiences. The nine students on Mountain Classroom
have traveled across the country studying cultural issues in the Southwest and West before finally embarking on the long journey home.
Mountain Classroom will have a different impact on each student involved. Former Mountain Classroom Instructor Tom Morgan reflected on the intent of the program in 2005 in the following article
, which articulates the complex relationships students develop with each experience to which they are exposed.
While Mountain Classroom instructors Chris and Crescent share time behind the wheel as the program's bus heads East, students shared the following thoughts on the impact Mountain Classroom has had on their own academic journeys.
For Maddie M. and Laura, the highlight of the term involved their weeklong trip down the San Juan River learning about invasive species, the river's ecosystem, the Anasazi community and absorbing all the wisdom their river guide, Kay, had to offer.
For others, like Carmen, the most influential part of their academic studies revolved around the direct application of content being studied to what they were living each day, "I love that nearly everything we are learning is really relevant. When we learned about the Mormon community in Salt Lake City, we could interact with the sisters and learn first hand about the region we were studying."
The hands-on learning was also the highlight of Natasha's term on Mountain Classroom, "I have enjoyed learning hands on and actually applying what we learn to our own lives. In Social Science we have had the opportunity to interview different people about their perspective on community. Apart from just learning about community, we learned how to approach a stranger and carry a conversation. The most important skills I have learned on Mountain Classroom relate to communication, both within our group and within the greater community."
Adam also felt his greatest growth came in his understanding of communication skills, "This term I have learned how to effectively communicate with others in a sophisticated, educated way. Through these communication skills, I have realized the strengths and weaknesses of a community and ways to resolve conflict.”
Part of this exploration into the role of community and communication came through visiting a number of different cultures during their travels. Maddie S. highlighted their visit to a Navajo Reservation in Arizona as the highlight of her trip, "I learned so much about their culture by volunteering at the elementary/middle school. It was so amazing to have been able to visit this great culture within our own country that people usually don’t get to see and certainly don't get to experience the way we did."
Dafne added to Maddie's comments about their time in Arizona, "I learned so much about the past and present Navajo culture and about their spirituality that I will remember forever
For those who have taken part in the Mountain Classroom program at Proctor, you can certainly appreciate Dafne's reflection that her experiences this term will be remembered forever. It is for this very reason experiential programs, like Mountain Classroom, have such an impact on a student's educational journey, as this Monday's post by alumni
expressed so eloquently.
Many thanks to Chris and Crescent for helping facilitate these reflections amidst their other end-of-term tasks and to Chris for sharing his incredible photography with us. To see more images of Proctor's Mountain Classroom program, visit program's Flickr site