Saturday, October 15, 2011

Voicing Hamilton

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I had my very first university level class today!

It is part of a pilot project that McMaster University has created to help those who cannot afford a university education get a taste of what being an adult student can be like. The course is in the Humanities studies and is called Voicing Hamilton. We will be looking at the history of Hamilton from the viewpoint of various native Hamiltonians who have written books, personal histories, photographed, and poems about it's people and the city itself.

The class is on every Saturday until the first Saturday of December. The morning session will be a lecture and discussion on the materials we had to read during the week leading up to the class. There will also be special guests who have been invited to share with us their viewpoint on Hamilton. The afternoon will be breaking up into smaller groups and beginning to work and develop the final presentation on our personal take of Hamilton, in other words, making our voices heard. We will have the assistance of McMaster arts and science students who volunteered to help with the course. These students will also enjoy learning alongside of us all about Hamilton. The nursing students graciously offered to cover for lunch and today's was excellent with 4 varieties of pizza along with a delicious mixed greens salad, coffee, pop, tea, and desert! cookies, squares, mincemeat pies, and apples.

The wide range of people who are attending this course will make it that much more interesting as we (they) cover a span of experiences from newly arrived to long time resident. The disparity in ages also gives the viewpoints an interesting twist which I feel will make the class that much more interesting as we have people in their early twenty's to people in their retirement years. The Spectator has a nice article in the Saturday paper about this class.

I am looking forward to hearing our professor speak about Hamilton. He is a well educated man, broad minded, and comes across as a receptive participant and is as excited as the rest of the students in the class, perhaps even more excited as at the end of the first day, the dynamics of the group were already becoming distinct and the various ideas, suggestions and as end of course presentation ideas were voiced, sparked even more discussions and created even more excitement as everyone realised that "Yes, we are doing this!"

There are 2 people who figure in this undertaking; the first is the coordinator, Jeanette Eby, she is the go-to person, the one who contacted various groups and urban cores to recruit students. She was also the face of Voicing Hamilton during the selection interviews, the scheduling and organizing the nitty gritty stuff that makes this class tic. The second person, which I first met during the Meet 'n Greet a few weeks ago is the professor; Daniel Coleman. I had no knowledge of this man before this class started, but from the moment I shook hands with him, I knew that there was a gentle soul, someone who truly cared about what information and wisdom he imparts to those who take the time to listen. He is an energetic man who loves to learn just as much as he loves to teach or maybe teach is the wrong word, but more loves to share what he has learned along the way with people. And by sharing, he also learns new things himself, so the class is more of a symbiosis than the typical teacher student relationship. He would be an amazing native story teller... perhaps he was in a previous life...

During the meet `n greet a few weeks ago, one of the things that was discussed was each of us choosing a subject and media to present our voice of Hamilton. I had 4 distinct ideas of things I wanted to further explore relating to the city of Hamilton and it's inhabitants. After today, I have narrowed my choices down to one, the one that I feel will satisfy my own curiosity and thirst for knowledge as a Métis person. What impact did the settling of this area have on the tribes and peoples already living here and where have these people gone in today's Hamilton. Now what remains to figure out is how I will present this research once it is completed. I found it very exciting that once I had voiced my choices, that I had several people already willingly contributing sources of information for my research. Just by that action, I knew that was the subject I had to do, not just for me, but for those around me, for the peoples and for Hamilton. 

I look forward to next week's class since by then I will have read several chapters in the book "Hamilton; A People's History" by Bill Freeman. and jotted down some thoughts. Hopefully by then, I will also have an idea of what media I will use to present my research. So far, I have a sense that it will be organic in nature; since I am a tactile and visual learner, I tend to present my findings in a tactile/visual medium. I know while I can write somewhat well, I'm always hesitant of writing a long involved thesis and have no one interested in reading it. Certainly, it would represent my findings as well as my feelings on those findings and possibly some conjecture, but in the end, would anyone else care? I feel that a more 'artistic' presentation may attract more attention and make people 'look' instead of glance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go sister!!!! I'm so happy to hear the enthusiasm and delight in your voice because of this class. :) s