I was approached by representatives of Concordia University’s journalism program to be this year’s Journalist-in-Residence, and wow, was I surprised, to say the least!
I was even more shocked – and delighted – that Concordia would be giving me carte blanche to make the winter semester my own. I just had to come up with a topic that made sense and was worth pursuing with my students.
So I thought about it, not too long really, and the Mohawk language – Kanien’kéha – became our focal point.
Fast-forward to now, as I’m writing this before deadline day at a busy community newspaper, and I can honestly say it has been eye opening and oh so positive!
And I think that’s what everyone wants out of teaching, isn’t it? To do something you know has some sort of impact and long-lasting effect.
I think this project, named “Living the Language: The Mohawk Revival,” has done all of those things and so much more.
It opened a world to my students they had no idea existed. It opened my world to them, as their professor.
It opened everyone’s eyes.
Now, my students can speak about many of the issues in our communities – most notably the effects colonialism has had on us, and, especially, our difficulties due to outside forces, to retain and speak our own language regularly.
Teaching, to me, is a microcosm of life.
You take the good (bright students, an interesting subject, powerful people) with the bad (dodgy interview subjects, scheduling conflicts, equipment malfunction), and you just run with it.
Life throws you issues to deal with, and this class was no different.
But it has taught me so much and I have learned right along with my students.
My hope is they never forget what they learned during our short time together, and I can see in their eyes they have changed.
They are that much smarter now, which is what teachers always try to do – make them more intelligent, free thinkers – but they also enjoy what they’re looking into and learning, and they’re not just waiting until the end of the year to celebrate.
The amount of media interested in our project was amazing as well – at last count: CBC Daybreak, APTN, Radio Canada International, the Montreal Gazette, Le Soleil, the Concordian, Global TV - with others promising some sort of coverage in the near future.
Concordia is also like a family, and my short time here looks like it could lead to something more longer term – a possibility that thrills me.
There is so much support around me and I am happy to have accepted this unique and wonderful opportunity.
Although I obviously have a full time job as editor/publisher of The Eastern Door, I carve out time for the university because it’s important to give back, to teach students about our lives and truths, our history and our struggles, and to build bridges.
I also enjoy it because I get to meet new people and continually learn new things.
Life, after all, is a school and we’re all just students at varying levels trying to get by.