Semester 36 is in Full Swing
I am sailing to Athens! Make voyages! — Attempt them! —There’s nothing else!
-Tennessee Williams, Camino Real
Orientation Week has flown by as students are settling in and getting to know the lay of the land here on our beautiful wooded campus in Pisgah Forest. We began the week with three days of backpacking in the nearby Pisgah National Forest. We were rained on for the whole time, but spirits remained high as students gained valuable backcountry skills! We’ll have more about trek on the blog soon; it was a great experience. Upon returning home, the faculty greeted students like heroes with hugs, applause and a hot pot of Tomato-Coconut Milk soup, with fresh bread and cookies thanks to Hannah.
The rest of the week was full of learning. Students learned about the systems that make campus life possible- how to prep and clean the kitchen, how to make announcements, what songs to sing, and how to use the laundry room and the office. Students learned the Good Morning and Goodnight Circle songs and are getting better and better at the lyrics everyday. They got a chance to check in with their academic faculty and sign up for arts classes. Our arts offerings here are Ironwood, (Blacksmithing/Woodworking), The Art of Place (Visual Arts) and Appalachian Sage (American Folk Music). Students talked being clean and safe in the Sun Lodge Kitchen with Ashton and then Kyle taught them how to heat their dorms with a wood-burning stove. Students learned about the “Adasahede” or leader of the day role, and have watched faculty model the leader’s responsibilities. They have been making journals with Hannah which they will use in their classes.
One of my favorite parts of Orientation Week was a group poetry activity called “exquisite corpse,” which involves a group of people writing poetry in a circle one line at a time. The kicker is that you are only able to see the line immediately preceding the one you are writing, which leads to strange narrative directions and quickly changing topics. I’ve typed up my favorite of these to share with you here:
The flowers grew from her ears, her face was a garden
That never once withered.
The garden was silent, as forever often is.
But every now and then, one lone cricket would sound,
It sounded like a choir was nearby
Holy Voices, Sacred Songs, Harmonies of Heaven- Dirges, but Divine
And it lifted me up, to place so sweet, beautiful- almost like heaven to me
And I realized there was no place I’d rather be-
At home with my wonderful family
Calm and at peace.
We are now in the full swing of our academic program here. Students have had a chance to attend all of their classes and are now taking on the leader of the day responsibilities. They know the systems and their way around campus now. We are so excited for this amazing group of young people and for their journey together.