Posted on Jul, 11. 2010 Category grab bag Tags
On Thursday we got our certificate of occupancy (finally, after weeks of delays) at CAMP and began moving the large furniture in that day.
This isn’t in our space, but look how beautiful this teal door down the hall is!
Those old fire doors are everywhere…I can’t even explain how perfect this space is. We had been looking and searching for a workspace since last November, and we found several places that were fine. That “worked, for now.” That would be okay to start out in. I should tell the story soon about how we found the building and the serendipity that led to me signing the lease. Another post.
This week I’m working on packing up my studio.
It’s going to take forever. Boo hoo.
Today, Alice, you are two months old…and….well, I can’t believe how well this is going. I can’t believe how much I love motherhood. I mean every mom loves their baby, but I love mothering. And that is because you make it easy for me. You’re a great sleeper and eater and very communicative–I tell myself this is my reward for 60 hours of natural labor. But in all seriousness, I think that your sweetness is a gift to me. Ever since I knew you were growing inside me, I have been sending you my thoughts and hopes and worries and joy. I tried to tune into what you were telling me in return. When you arrived two months ago, I felt that it was best to follow your lead and let you tell me what you needed and that intuition has kept both of us well-rested and happy.
Maybe it’s because of that that we were already in tune with each others needs. But I think your calmness and connection with me is a gift from you because you knew I needed some stability. Some routine. Some calm. Where I am frantic and manic and anxious, you are loving and quiet and observant and appreciative. Thank you for giving me that and reminding me every day of what is really important to me.
For the last two weeks, you have been very clear about the fact that you either want to be held by me, or be lavished with attention from all of your friends and family. Being alone in any way is very upsetting to you right now. From your first little feeding tummy-to-tummy with me in the morning to when I make dinner with you in your wrap (btw, you love the wrap now that you can hold your head up) to each night when you fall asleep in my lap, you are held and cuddled. This is fine with me–as you continue to notice the world around you and discover your fingers and toes, you are slowly gaining more independence and I know I will miss this snuggly time someday.
You have set your own bedtime routine which you adhere to strictly. Anything we do before bed is fine with you–sometimes it’s a bath, sometimes it’s tummy time, sometimes it’s just eating until you fall asleep. But after 1:30 am, it is impossible to keep you awake and you calmly drift off to sleep. You also fall asleep when anyone so much as mentions the word “car.” You always sleep in the car, and since you go everywhere with me and I am still working hard, we usually go on at least one car ride a day. I wonder if that is adversely affecting your natural sleep schedule but we have been doing this since you were born so I suppose you are probably used to it. This is your life!
The best advice I have gotten that I am trying to follow is simply not to take everyone’s advice. Not to even ask for advice (or unless it’s from my own mom, who has been amazingly helpful and supportive), because to be honest, as soon as I hear that someone else’s kid is sleeping at a different time or hitting a different milestone, I start to question my own methods. Your dad and I are trusting our intuition when it comes to raising you. We are trusting what you tell us.
…You are beginning to calm down at the sound of my voice (rather than just the sight of me).
…You love to talk–”hooooooo,” “aah,” “BEH!” and “hee!” are noises that you coo out all day long.
…You refuse to take a pacifier but you continue to accept bottles of pumped milk and, of course, our fingers.
…You haven’t grabbed a toy yet–you don’t even seem to notice them–but you play with my hair as you eat, grab our shirts, and clutch your own clothes.
…You are starting to consciously open and close your hands. You are sucking on your fists, but no fingers yet.
…You toot all morning, every morning. They are LOUD.
…You love being on the changing table–sometimes we sit up there naked for an hour and just kick and chat.
…If all else fails, baths always do the trick–you have never cried in the tub. Our doctor actually showed me that trick when you were crying in his office and he put your hand under warm running water. The sensation fascinated and surprised you immediately and you drifted into calm. Since then, I have always used that trick to relax you.
…Your birth announcement ran in the paper this week!
Happy two-months-old day. And 290 months-old-day for me! I am already so excited for our birthday party next year!
Posted on Jul, 06. 2010 Category in my journal Tags Tags: dana college
If you aren’t local or haven’t kept up with my rantings on Twitter or Facebook, my alma mater Dana College was forced unexpectedly to close last Wednesday. After facing years of financial difficulties, Dana was sold to a group of private investors who agreed to give the college financial backing to allow it to continue operating with its own staff, faculty, and mission statement. College regents and administrators thought it was the best-case solution for a worst-case scenario and I agree with them.
Dana College learned last Wednesday that the Higher Learning Commission in charge of accrediting colleges in our region did not renew Dana’s accreditation, thus stopping the sale of Dana and forcing the college to close its doors. I can’t even begin to express how much my heart is hurting over this, how devastating this is to so many people in my community. Dana administrators and members of the private investment group agree that it was an unfair and shocking decision to deny accreditation to the institution, and you can read more about those circumstances here.
This is the speech I gave at the 2008 Dana College Builders’ Luncheon, held to honor donors to Dana College, about how Dana influenced me. I thought it was a timely thing to share.
I think that one of the luckiest, coolest things a person can do is travel. No matter who or where you are, stepping outside of your own environment, crossing a boundary, or making a new private discovery, can reawaken your awareness of your own place in the world.
So, if you know much about my background, knowing how much I value travel might make you wonder why I chose to come to Dana.
My name is Megan Hunt and I am a fifth-generation Blair native. I graduated from Dana College in January, and I am a member of Dana’s final class of Intercultural Communication and German graduates. Dana College is a place for academic achievement and personal growth for so many students, as well as a central part of the Blair community. I’d like to thank you for your support of my college and my community by telling you about how going to college here at home led me to cross boundaries I didn’t think I would break, and step into new worlds where I never in a million years thought I would go.
My relationship with Dana College did not begin as a student. Growing up here in Blair, Dana College was often the base for activities I participated in. My four best friends and I spent many summer afternoons pedaling up to Borup Coliseum where we would swim, play games in the open grassy spaces, or explore until our moms came looking for us. Dana’s Brunch on the Hill also became a tradition in my family, one time each month when we all rejoined with each other and other friends from the community.
Many of my friends and I also spent weeks here participating in summer camps and classes like Little Vikes basketball camp, and the amazing TREK Camp that was run by Dr. Kay Ferguson in the 90s. TREK was like a space camp, science camp, and computer camp all rolled into one, and students really did come from all over the worldâ€”From Spain and Hawaii to Omaha and Blairâ€”to use the resources here at Dana College. We made web pages, rockets, and movies, and it all culminated at the end of the week with a space shuttle simulation in Elkhorn Hall.
It surprises me to realize that all of those times I rode my bike up College Drive, all of the hours I spent on the Dana Campus as a child, it never crossed my mind that this would be my future college.
During a difficult battle with depression, I left high school early in my senior year. I finished the classes that were required for my high school graduation, and spent the rest of that final spring semester taking classes at Dana College.
I just enrolled in a few classes that sounded fun to me to get me out of bed and give me something to do. I took a music history class, Ethics with Dr. John Lyden, and World Literature with Dr. John Nielsen. At the time, I enjoyed taking classes here because I liked being in a different setting away from the social challenges of high school, I liked being in a new environment surrounded by new knowledge, new responsibilities, new people. I think that’s the first time the seeds were planted in my mind about the great resource Dana College was to become for me.
When I graduated from high school in 2004, I felt like I was standing before an open door, and walking through it would be like walking straight off of a cliff. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was going to go to college, for a couple of reasons. Cost was an issue for me, I didn’t know what I wanted to study yet, and I was still really struggling with my personal anxiety issues.
I didn’t have a life dream or one true passion, although there were lots of things I probably could have done. In high school, I was a dedicated musician, in band, choir, and an Omaha youth orchestra. I found success in journalism, forensics, and I even enjoyed video gaming and web page development as a hobby. As all of my high school friends were applying to the best programs of the area they wanted to study, I was still really struggling to narrow it down.
One day during this time, I remember being woken up pretty late in the day by my mom. She told me that Dana College was having their scholarship day, and maybe I should get a nice outfit on and go up there and give it a shot. I wasn’t prepared at all, I hadn’t planned on going, and I wasn’t very happy about being woken up. But my mom convinced me to go.
I remember waiting in a line at the library to be interviewed by faculty members, and not feeling nervous at all because I didn’t feel like I had a chance. When it was my turn to go into the room and speak to them, I don’t remember the questions they asked me, but I remember talking about my deep roots in the Blair community and my personal connection to Dana College from my childhood. I talked about my problems in high school. I said that I wanted to start with a blank slate in college, and I was ready to soak up the knowledge, the experiences, the culture, and responsibilities. That college was going to be a place where I made myself.
So, this wouldn’t be much of a story without a happy ending. It was a letter I got in the mail several weeks later that told me I had been awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend Dana College. To be honest, my first thought was, what, are they just giving these out to everybody??? Because I really didn’t think I was going to receive anything at all. And it started to sink in, and I took it as a very lucky, generous, wonderful gift I had been givenâ€”the opportunity to go to college, have it paid for, and at that moment, I felt a lot of my worries about my future just lifted away.
So although I lived in Blair my whole life, and grew up in a culture that Dana College played a huge role in, that is the little backstory about how I actually came to be a student here at Dana. The next transformation in my life came a few semesters into my time as a student at Dana, and it’s really thanks to Dana’s German Professor, Dr. Sybille Bartels. She added German class to my schedule freshman year, and I didn’t especially want to take German,, but I didn’t protest because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
To be honest, German language came to me easily. I had always been really interested in linguistics and I was a big fan of English writing and speaking, so I think that the skills needed to understand the syntax and grammar of a foreign language were already there in my mind. Every semester I kept signing up for German, at first because it was an easy class for me, but not after long, I realized that it was my favorite subject, the class I looked forward to most.
Did you know that after the Revolutionary War, the new American congress convened to consider adopting a new language for the United States? When it came to the vote, English was chosen over German as the language of the new republicâ€”but only by one vote!
Did you know that German is the second-most widely-spoken language in Europe, after Russian? It’s also the official language of seven countries. Studying communication and German, I thought our world is growing increasingly smaller and less isolated, and these skills I am learning are things I enjoy, and things that I can use to reach out to the whole world. From here in Blair.
All of this, plus learning how to spell and pronounce words like FrauenfuBballweltmeisterschaften â€“ a 32-letter wordâ€”are just examples of things I learned in German class. My decision to double major in German and Intercultural Communication changed my life and helped bring my awareness outside of just myself. Learning these lessonsâ€”both academic and personalâ€”culminated for me when I traveled with the German class to Europe in 2007 and 2008.
Dr. Bartels emphasized that good travel is thoughtful travel â€” being aware of issues facing other cultures reminded me that here in the United States we aren’t immune to a lot of the turmoils other countries are going through. In Berlin I saw the new Reichstag building, the meeting place of the German parliament. For a generation, it was a bombed-out hulk stranded in the no-man’s-land separating east and west Berlin. But today the building is newly restored and crowned by a gleaming glass dome. The dome â€”which is free and open long hours â€” has a ramp spiraling to its top. The architecture makes a powerful point: German citizens can now literally look over the shoulders of their legislators at work.
The main point is, wherever our students go after they graduate–moving to a new state with their spouse, going on vacation, or conducting international business–they also serve as ambassadors of Dana College. By supporting Dana College, you reach not only the students on campus who take the classes and use the buildings and facilities, you also affect everyone around the world who is reached by a Dana student or Dana alumnus. And you also can’t forget that when you support Dana by giving donations of money or time, you are not only enriching a student’s experience, like me. You’re also helping the community of Blair, maintaining our cultural value, creating jobs, and providing opportunities for people from other communities to visit.
When I came to Dana College in 2004, my world was small. I was limiting myself and I didn’t even realize it. I never suspected that going to my small local liberal arts college would introduce me so literally to new philosophies, cultures, and uncover things inside of me that I had no idea that I cared about. The tightly-knit environment at Dana was supportive when I needed it in the difficult times I faced, but also empowered me to take roads not traveled, to take ownership of my studies and my life. As a recent college graduate now, I feel like I am standing once again in front of an open door. But instead of falling into a chasm on the other side, I’m looking down an endless path full of choices and opportunities. Which honestly is a little scary too, in a different way.
Thank you all for your support of my alma mater and my community. I’ve heard many people say that if they just touch one life, they feel like they have left a positive mark on the world. I want to tell you that by making a commitment to this college, you have touched thousands.
If you google phrases like “dana college closing” or “dana college higher learning commission” there are several news stories that explain the controversial closing further and give you information about the details. It was an unfair decision with no appeals process and because of it, my alma mater is shuttering just as the sun was starting to rise again over it. Because there are no checks and balances for this organization, our community’s final hope is to pressure the HLC into reconsidering its decision.
If you are moved to do so, I encourage you to contact the Higher Learning Commission and share your support for keeping Dana College open.