final letter

Dear Mark,

I can say with certainty that I did not know what I was getting into when I signed up for this class.  This is probably a good thing though, because if the syllabus had said that I would be rocked gently by my classmates on the first day, I don’t know that I would be here right now.  Despite this I am unbelievably grateful that I am.  I remember first going to your office (or I should say Megan’s office) after Megan had started working for you.  I realized pretty quickly that this office had also been Nick’s office.  It was the first office I had ever been in in University and it was during a pretty turbulent time in my life.  Much like this class,  Nick’s class had always been a way to ground myself and and reconnect with a lot of the things I felt like I had been losing over the year.  And much like you, Nick was one of the only profs I actually felt comfortable talking to and receiving support from.  It was in the office that I found my voice, that I realized that my opinions were just as valid as anyone elses.  I remember discussing everything from long takes in Steve Mcqueens Hunger to Foucault’s ideas about the panopticon.  It was here that I learned that I didn’t have to confine myself to specific disciplines or ideas.

I think that this really helped me to acclimatize to this class.  Not taking the first year course created a bit of a learning curve for me (understandably so), but having taken Nick’s class gave me some basis of understanding.  I was able to stretch out of my comfort zone knowing that’s where I learn.  Now this isn’t to attribute all of my adaptability to one person, but I have gotten significantly better at adapting over the past 4 years (especially as someone who used to be deathly afraid of change).  However even in Nick’s class one of the main focuses was a deep exploration of self and your own voice.  I think this is largely what primed me for this class.

Looking back on the first day back in “Nick’s” office I remember being struck about the connections that we don’t even realize.  Now I think about all the little things that had to happen for me to sign into the class – meeting Megan, meeting you, taking other theater studies courses.  Little seemingly innocuous things that come together to create beautiful opportunities.

As for this course, while I found that I was able to adapt quickly, the class was not without it’s challenges.  Most (all) of the THST courses I have taken have been largely writing or content focused with few performance opportunities.  So while I loved and knew a lot of the games, much of the performative aspects were difficult for me.  Whether I was walking the plank or trying to sing like an animal shaped like Fallopian tubes, there was almost always something that I never thought I would have or could have done.  While it wasn’t always the most comfortable experience, I think the environment of the class really helped.  Sure at times I was embarrassed, but literally so was everyone else.  It was nice to have a community where we could do things without feeling extremely judged.  While I think that a lot of this comes from having a prof willing and able to create this kind of environment, I do have to give a lot of credit to the class.  I am honestly blown away (and a little emotional) by the people in this class.  Hearing people’s ideas, dream jobs, hobbies, stories and proposals was so endearing and inspiring and I am just honestly grateful for all these amazing people.  The kind of optimism I saw in this class doesn’t really exists a whole lot within the Criminal Justice Public Policy major.  If you aren’t learning about the prison industrial complex and the deplorable states of our prisons, then you are probably learning about all of the fucked up policy in Canada.  Not only was this extremely refreshing, but I think it was also sorely needed for me this year.  More time on student and University boards has started to make me even more pessimistic and it can be hard to find this kind of thing within other classes.

My involvement in student politics was not something I had really anticipated when I entered University.  I was here for the Criminal Justice and I slightly resented the Public Policy that they had tacked on.  As I took more and more political science classes I started getting really interested in the subject matter.  In my last two years I ended up taking almost exclusively political science for my major.  At the same time I was looking to get involved on campus in second year, so I started working with the Guelph Resource Center for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRCGED).  After a year as am M.I.A volunteer, the coordinator suggested I take over the seat for GRCGED on the CSA board.  And so it began.  In the beginning I wasn’t all that engaged (boards are like really confusing and scary) but as time went on I started speaking up more and eventually (kind of) enjoying myself.  Personally, I like the drama of boards.  I like the passion, the arguments, the rivalries, the alliances.  The board meetings became my stage and it’s where I learned to perform.  So while I started figuring out what I wanted to be involved in, I kind of forgot about what all of this meant for the future.  My dream of being a Forensic Psychologist seemed far off, as did most of the other jobs I once considered my ‘dream’.  So while I am not ruling out Elizabeth Fry or the supreme court (and law school of course) I don’t that this is exactly my dream job anymore.  I am not totally sure what my dream job is but I feel like I am getting closer.

Overall I am very pleased that this is one my last class at Guelph.  My courses were honestly amazing this semester and for that I feel beyond lucky.  So thank you Mark, thank you Megan (lol), and thank you to everyone who made this class so special.

Love,
Olivia

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