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Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 4 - the view from here

There have been several moments in the past few days when I have been so moved that I've nearly cried (oh, and several moments when I actually have cried).

Today was the end of the first SUSTAIN week.  After a week of "living" orientation in our 2-hour meetings, students presented their research to the community agencies and chose teams. It was remarkable.
To a person, they did a very good job for freshmen. It was a beautiful sight to see students sitting at tables with community partners, fervently talking about the possibilities together.

I really should have been recording my initial thoughts...thoughts on day 1, thoughts on day 2... I really thought about it., but I was simply too exhausted.

We began today with a 2-hour faculty meeting.  A very important thing happened...Nina spoke her background conversation, took us through the emotion that she has been holding the past few weeks. What this revealed is the genuine, transformational process that we are all in.  All of us have been doing this all along, but today we saw a deeper level of shifting.  Neal, Liz, Ginger,, we are all changing at a deep level.  We talked about "breaking down students' models," but what is really happening, is our own models are breaking down.  We are seeing ourselves in entirely different ways.  This is both painful and freeing.

I remember that many months ago, I drew the TOWER card about SUSTAIN.  This card has much to do with a kind of collapse of ego, a transformation, now so much chosen but encountered and imposed suddenly.  This is it.  We are in it, where people are coming to deeper places in themselves that were a kind of ego construction that is now in collapse.

How are the freshmen? They are truly amazing, resilient, facing the ambiguity with bravery and interest. One of the upperclassmen asked them at the end "Raise your hand if you didn't know what you got yourself into at the beginning of the week"  (all hands up) "Raise your hand if you are now STOKED on being part of this."  (all hands up).  Well, maybe one or two were not up, but it was remarkable to see the enthusiastic response from the students.

I am starting to have less fear about the courses and how we will integrate.  Tom, Nina and Ginger are already being super creative on the assignments, so that there is one place for reflections (personal blogs) where they can write for all courses.

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