Edmonds Community College students, faculty, and staff took part in a transformative tribal canoe journey from the Samish nation in Anacortes to the Muckleshoot Tribe via Golden Gardens in Seattle, this summer.
This was the fifth year that Edmonds Community College participated in a tribal canoe journey. Although the entire journey was 100 miles, many people completed portions of the journey.
“I have always believed that education is always most effective when it is connected to the community,” said Tom Murphy, Edmonds Community College chair for department of anthropology and instructor.
There were more than 30 students involved, with half of the students from the Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) school’s Anthropology 201: Human Ecology class. Other students signed up through the Center for Service-Learning as one of their service-learning assignments for their classes (Diversity Studies, Biology, and Anthropology). The trip ran from July 31-Aug. 7.
“Although this year’s canoe journey was my first time participating, the experience will stick with me always. I learned much about canoe culture and the people around me and it was such an engaging experience,” said Megan McDermott, Edmonds Community College student.
“I was challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually and have grown so much introspectively, as well as watching my peers grow too. Being welcomed to participate in the canoe journey is truly touching — to feel the love and warmth of canoe families is unforgettable! I’m hoping to participate in the foreseeable canoe journeys,” McDermott said.
The LEAF school partners with local tribes to offer intensive service-learning experiences for students in field-based courses in human ecology and archaeology, while the Center for Service-Learning helps engage students from across campus in service-learning activities that serve local tribes and the greater community.
Murphy started the LEAF school in 2006, and the Center for Service-Learning in 2007.
“Rather than sitting in a classroom I am replicating ways of learning before we had the modern educational institutions. It is not just one person teaching the class — it was a community that raised the children; I try to take that philosophy and apply it,” Murphy said.
“Students are taught to observe, listen, watch, and learn how to correct your mistakes.”
Opportunities for staff and faculty involvement included: attending a landing event, volunteering with host tribes, assisting ground support, traveling in a support vessel, and/or pulling in a canoe.
Edmonds Community College staff member Maizy Brown got the privilege of joining the canoe journey.
“You can’t stop, you can’t give up. If you don’t pull — you don’t do your weight,” said Brown, Edmonds Community College, Edmonds Career Access Program (EdCAP) Case Manager. “Our students impressed me with their strength and stamina on so many levels.”
Students who are interested in the canoe journey, should sign up for ANTH 201: Human Ecology, Spring quarter 2016 for the paddle to Nisqually.