This was a life-changing experience for me. I believe that KPU should have more of these classes which offer different learning opportunities for students. Participating in this course was even more interesting while being on location in the Amazon. This further enhanced the experience by allowing students to get out of their comfort zones and be exposed to new environments. As a result students were able to tap into themselves and develop personal skills that may never be developed in a regular classroom setting. I felt like I was working on my development as a person and not just focusing on hard skills. I believe that in traditional classroom settings students rarely get the chance to focus on themselves and are not fully engaged. IDEA courses allow for freedom to learn without too many restrictions. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to experience something life-changing and with much personal growth. Being a part of this course while being in the Amazon rain forest is something I will never forget.
Before making the decision to travel to Colombia as a representative of KPU I carried a burden in my heart that prevented me from feeling completely satisfied with my experience as a student. The routine I developed, reading books and attending lectures, was no longer fulfilling so I shifted my focus toward finding a way to be a part of something more, something great. The Amazon field school was just that. Being a member of the Amazon field school program not only provided an opportunity for me to be a part of a life altering journey, it also changed how I view education. Furthermore, being a member of the program offered more than an opportunity to learn about Colombia and its culture, it also provided me a safe outlet to break personal boundaries and increase my self-awareness. By participating in the Amazon field school I acquired knowledge not only about Colombia but also about myself and recommend that students who are searching for direction (in their personal lives or in their studies) partake in the Amazon adventure.
The Amazon experience allowed me to flow like the river itself, in such a form where each day was lived fully and intensely. It inspired me to create more, and use the living spirit of the forest as my vessel of expression. Getting long hours of sleep, waking up early and rested, ready to encounter a new day. The air was constantly electrified by sounds from nearby nocturnal wildlife. It was interesting to notice the Yin and Yang in the forest, for which by day and night are were completely different. I am both humbled and awed by all the generous, intelligent and creative Colombians that we met along this journey. It was a heart-guiding experience for most of us. The opportunity that KPU gave me to experience this is something I will be eternally grateful for, and I encourage further Colombian and jungle field schools. For me it was an extremely rich experience. I gained knowledge on the biodiversity of Colombia, experienced the wild, thriving nature for myself, and gained creative inspiration that will direct me on multiple levels of my life and academics. I indulged in various local Amazonian artistic media, while also learning about the politics and social issues of Colombia as well as the ecology of the land. I came back with a new drive and broadened perspectives. I came back with a new layer of skin and soul that share the same storytelling nature as the layered trees.
The IDEA 3100 Amazon field school was a life experience that I will never forget and one I will always brag about! IDEA has such a unique approach to student learning, and I am so proud to be studying at a University that has program like this. I have never, in my 6 years of university, felt so involved in my learning. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this IDEA course. In IDEA you touch on multiple topics, and experience multiple views and reactions. The course was very interactive. Every student in IDEA 3100 wanted to be there, making the learning process that much more interesting and rewarding. I feel like a better-rounded student and person after just one IDEA course. Not all students are traditional learners and I feel IDEA has an approach to education and learning that the world needs to adopt; IDEA’s teaching methods seem to fit more learning types. This program is something to be proud of. Thank you to Ross and Lucie for being the such passionate instructors. It’s refreshing to have instructors that are so dedicated and involved with student education and learning.
The Interdisciplinary Expressive Arts Amazon Field School was a great experience. The instruction of this course embodies most learning styles. This allows true learning to take place, each student at their own speed. Personal reflection allowed me to garner a deeper understanding of myself and the information I learned on this trip. The IDEA course structure of hands on experience and self-reflection allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the material ultimately accessing higher intellectual thought. Everyone I have told about the Amazon has been really excited to experience the field school vicariously through my photos and account of the trip. One thing that stood out to me after a conversation with a friend was, “Jeez, if my school had trips to Colombia I woulda stayed in school.” I really believe this sums up the benefit of having this Amazon Field School: it puts KPU on the map.
The Amazon field study was an ambitious endeavour to give students a transformative experience, and KPU’s IDEA program was truly successful at doing so. This adventure to Colombia is something that I will never forget. When I started at KPU I had a goal to further educate myself, I never thought that my time at university would also lead to such an amazing experience such as this. I thought University would be a place and time for me to grow in a sense of education, however this IDEA field study helped me to grow as a person, which I believe in combination with my education I have received will help me to be successful in my future after I graduate. It is because of the IDEA program that I have become a more rounded student, with not just in classroom experience but a more international perspective. Which is what I believe will help me to go further in both studies and career goals. Sometimes it takes straying from routines and pushing yourself past where you thought your limits were to help further develop yourself. This is what the IDEA program does; it gives you that push past the routine and into the unknown. It is a program that allows for one to further develop themselves in ways most traditional education doesn’t. It is the non-traditional ways of IDEA and the fact I got to go to the Amazon Rainforest as a field trip that have made it one of my favorite classes at KPU.
KPU was the first school in Canada to embark on an adventure to the Colombian Amazon, and I was fortunate enough to be one of its first participants. We hiked through the Amazon rainforest with shaman guides, sometimes during rainstorms; we had an evening boat ride down the Amazon with nothing but the stars and galaxies to light our way; we met with professionals and locals to hear their tales of social responsibility, global issues, and magic; and we witnessed countless rainbows, sunsets, and thunderstorms, showcasing the diversity and complexity that is the Amazon. I remember on the boat ride to Calanoa there was an intense thunderstorm – lightning bolts illuminated the night sky as fireflies danced between the trees – and all I was thinking was: the adventure has officially begun. I am eternally indebted to Ross, Lucie, Marlene, Diego, Carolina, Daniela, everyone at Calanoa and KPU for providing this transformative experience. I learned so much about myself, about Colombia, and about the world around me. Ultimately, this was an experience I will never, never forget. It was expensive, it was terrifying, but it was exciting, necessary, and infinitely rewarding. I will recommend this field school to whomever I can for as long as I can.
The IDEA Amazon field school has reminded me how much I enjoy learning. I have always found that I have had problems connecting to the material in a traditional classroom setting. I have difficulty focusing during lectures, as I know that my style of learning is a kinesthetic one. I learn best when I am actively engaged, and generally rely on trial-and-error to solve problems and understand material, (which is not necessarily conducive to receiving high grades). While I do remember material easily when participating in discussion, I am often one of only a few members who are interested in speaking. Despite my relatively high grades, I do not consider myself to be a good student. I procrastinate often, rarely read assigned materials or texts, and draw pictures instead of take notes. I calculate grades and percentages to determine the minimum amount of work I can get away with doing and still maintain my GPA. I do not blame the school for my general lack of motivation, as the traditional system is something I simply do not fit into. IDEA does not only encourage participation; it demands it. It demands 110% in everything that is done, and I was more than willing to accommodate that demand. The student-directed approach to learning is one that really appeals to me as well; I am much more willing to put effort into a project that I devised, or devised within a group, than I am with an assignment that is imposed upon me, or that I do not understand. I feel as though my input is welcomed, and the learning environment is one that is receptive, friendly, and encourages personal growth and development. I love that every student gets a chance to speak. The concept of open discussion is embraced, and IDEA is one of only a few classes where I felt challenged to honestly and openly reflect on the material presented to me. I will continue to take IDEA classes during my time at KPU, as I believe the skills I have developed this semester as an IDEA student are skills that I will keep with me, and continue to use, for the rest of my life.
In Colombia, I went on an amazing journey – and not just within the trip itself but also an emotional roller coaster. I experienced so many eye-opening things that I have difficulty putting it all into words. One of things that I really wanted to do when I was on this trip was to go into it without letting fear stop me. There was no doubt that I had fears and anxieties about what I was getting into but I realized that this was an opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to make as many memories as possible. I wanted to do everything and experience everything because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. I tackled my fears while I was there and it has given me a new sense of courage now. It was frightening enough just to decide to go to the Amazon in the first place knowing that I would be in an truly unfamiliar environment. I didn’t know how I would feel while I was there. I felt that I pushed myself to be brave and not worry about the outcome as much and I always ended up realizing that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I surprised myself with how I reacted emotionally to the situations I was put in. Even though overall I had anxieties there was something internal pushing me to be brave. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before.
During this field school I learned that I don’t know very much about the world, but I know I really want to. Colombia made me realize that university alone does not shape you into knowledgeable person. Experiences such as this are essential to being a better rounded person. IDEA exposed me to so many avenues of study that I was not aware of, and many that I am genuinely interested in. This is the first course in my 6 years of university where the grade was not the focus of my study. I believe that this is the reason why I fully engaged in the process and the journey. Our group reflections helped me break out of my shell. They were an important part of this process for me. I was shocked at the way I was able to speak to the group. I was much more open than I am used to being. It was not just about facing fear, it was about trusting others. Something I feel I had lost. Now, I want to only associate myself with things I believe in and things I am proud of. I want to see the world. If Colombia alone has taught all this, I can’t imagine what seeing the world would do. Life is a journey, and I think that mine is finally taking off. I want to have more of these experiences; they are priceless lessons; an entirely different type of education. Thank you Ross and Lucie for pushing for this field school.
I now know a calm peace within myself like I have never known before. Spending two weeks walking side by side the group, everyday has been the catalyst for this. I realize now that I cannot move forward alone, I must engage and be part of the greater whole in order to realize any true and lasting meaning. Our group and the people of Colombia, the Amazon and certainly the villages have shown me that it is possible to be happier with less. Watching the children of the village on the football field proved this to me. We are all connected. I can now feel the connection after living it, it came from the Amazon and the people – it was not there before we left Canada.