There’s nothing like a preschool classroom at Circle Time. You’re lucky if you can maintain your bright smile and upbeat tone while still being heard above the din. I look around at the children who, expected to sit cross-legged, are all in strange and impossible contortions that allow them to poke their friends, check out the kids playing outside, or grab for the blocks all while still, technically, keeping their feet on their designated dot. I raise my voice and hope to get their attention, starting in on the first verse of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” animatedly working my fingers to the motions in an attempt to encourage them all to join me. A few small voices pipe in, then a few more, louder this time. “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…”
And then, from the corner…Deshon. “So you fancy huh, so you fancy huh, so you fancy, huh?!?!” he sings, bobbing his little 3-year-old shoulders to his own beat. All I can do is sigh, and smile.
Let me begin by saying that I am terribly grateful and horribly under-qualified to be bequeathed the honor of a post on the MAPHtastic blog. So often Maren and the mentors serve to inspire me, entertain me and, on rare occasions, dry my tears of despondency through the words they offer here, and its quite the intimidating task to follow their pens (or keystrokes?). That said, I’ll do my best to inspire, encourage… most likely just entertain… in the words that follow.
The MAPH program’s focus, obviously, is on offering a stellar intensive Masters education to a group of students with vastly broad interests. This is a massive undertaking in itself, especially considering the bureaucracy institutions such as universities can often be. Assisting students in navigating this minefield, and encouraging and supporting them in their passions and interests all the while, is a huge job. This year, however, the MAPH program has renewed their efforts to include another aspect of student life into the fold of MAPH-supported initiatives…that of service.
The mentors and administrators have included service opportunities and community projects alongside the social and academic events on the MAPH calendar, offering students the chance to mobilize outside of the classroom. The benefits to participating in such activities are too numerous to all be addressed here, but I believe there’s one benefit that’s overlooked and very much underappreciated by those of us who are often overwhelmed with the enormity of work enrollment in the MAPH program tends to bring, and that is the beauty of connecting the often abstract and speculative work you do in a graduate school environment with the concrete, unadorned reality of the world.
More on Alissa’s experience after the Jump