Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Living My Learning - Lauren Rieck

Coming from a town with less than 1,000 people and working in a town with less than 200, I was a little apprehensive about making the decision to spend a whole semester in Denver, CO. I knew the change from a small, rural town to a metro area was going to be drastic. My first day of driving into Denver was a sensory overload. The amount of traffic and buildings is something I have never experienced before. I knew it was going to take time to adjust to a new way of living in a metro area. However, the Wartburg West program has been one of the best decisions I have made since coming to Wartburg and has expanded my views on the many different aspects of living in a city.
            One perception that has changed since living in Denver, is regarding individuals that experience unstable living conditions (homeless). Coming from a small town that hardly ever sees a homeless individual, was a great shock to me when in Denver you usually see one of these situations on every block. My perception of these individuals changed greatly through my Community Engagement Project. I volunteered at a restaurant in our neighborhood known as SAME Café. SAME Café serves a menu of soup, salad, and pizza from local, organic products. They also only accept payments fair to the individual’s budget or a half-hour of their time to volunteer in the café. Through this experience, I met and worked alongside with many individuals that had unstable living situations and came to SAME Café often to receive a nutritious meal that was a luxury for them. One particular story that stood out greatly to me, was a man that visited SAME Café often and always enjoyed being able to interact with people while volunteering in exchange for his meal. After working alongside of him, I learned he use to hold a career in the restaurant industry until experiencing job cuts. He told me how much he enjoyed coming to SAME Café as much as possible just so he could spend a few minutes back in an industry he had so much passion for. These experiences at SAME Café really opened my eyes to many individuals that have unstable living situations do want to have stable lives but often do not require the resources needed to get them back on their feet.

            The Wartburg West program has truly been an experience of “living my learning”, has grown me as a person and will be one of the greatest highlights of my college career.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sustainability in the City - Mercedes Chambers

             Recently I’ve noticed the efforts of sustainability in the metro area and I feel bad because the most I do to help sustain our earth is to use the same bag when I go to the grocery store.  I have recently read the article “The Company We Keep” which is in the Conspire “Green Revolution” magazine edition.  The author of the article, Lenore Yarger, expressed how she never thought much about sustainability until she met someone that used composting toilets.  She never thought much about them until she became adapted to being around them more and learned how helpful they are to the environment. 
                This story of Lenore and the composting toilets reminds me of an experience that I have had while living in the city.  I am from a rural town in Southeast Iowa where we have to drive everywhere to get to one point or another.  When I came out here I did not bring my car and I was having a hard time dealing with this.  I soon noticed that a ton of people in the Capitol Hill area walk to work or take the bus.   When I first started riding the bus I was very nervous, I did not know public transportation very well and was a little uncomfortable just not driving myself.  Soon I saw two young women who were about my age get on the bus.  I soon realized that just because I never really thought about taking the bus or walking, I just never was given the opportunity and it should not be scary.

                So similar to Lenore Yarger’s article “The Company We Keep” and the composting toilets (which she now owns) that just because an idea is new, should not be shut down completely, new experiences give us different outlooks and the company that we keep very much influence those outlooks.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Advantages of Living in a Big City - Samantha Wipperman

Blog Post Week 9
Advantages of Living in a Big City
            Coming from a decently sized Metropolitan area in Iowa I thought I was prepared for practically everything that would happen in a city the size of Denver.  In some respects I was prepared for the number of people that I would encounter daily but besides that Denver has surprised me in many ways. On the day we arrived to the city we were welcomed by rush hour. Not the best welcome but one of the essential experiences of living in the city. Due to this first experience I have walked to work everyday. It is a great way to start the day and gives time to think and wind down at the end of the day.
             Most people would see this traffic as a disadvantage; but I find it something different entirely.  This traffic forces you to walk around the city and really experience the culture, the people and the amazing places you would never see driving by in a car. This is something I would encourage any city dweller to do. Get out of your home and experience all of the great things that a city has to offer. In doing this I have been to some of the best restaurants I have ever been to. Many of which are small and unnoticeable when driving by in a car. Specifically, Emilio’s served some of the best Mexican food. Beyond this there are pizza, hot dog and breakfast places that are some of the best places to eat but would never be noticed if it weren’t for the people who take the time to walk down the street. 
            Once you have made it out on to the street and taken the time to go into that ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant I encourage you to do something else. Talk to the people that are on the street. Not only will it make their day, but also, it will teach you about the resiliency and love that people have for one another. Everyone has his or her own story and each one is unique, interesting and amazing. I encourage you to do this due to several experiences of my own. Walking down the street I was stopped at a crosswalk by an older gentleman who was nearly blind. He needed help to get across the street. Once I had finished helping this man he turned to me, asked my name and then proceeded to tell me he would pray for me that day.
             For class, we were also required to attend the Point in Time Survey, which asks questions about how long and why those people who live on the streets are homeless. Specifically, I came across one man who had just returned to Denver from visiting his one-year-old, twin grandsons. He was a very proud man that worked a full time job but just couldn’t afford a place to live. This is just one of many interviews I conducted that really changed the way I look at those who are homeless. It is nothing like the stereotype; which is why I encourage you to take the time to get to know these people. It will make their day to have a simple conversation with you.
            Each city has its own specialty, Chicago has its hot dogs, San Diego their burritos and Denver their outdoor activities and breweries. Hiking, skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are just a few of the activities I would encourage any visitor to the city to take advantage of. I went out to a place called Deer Creek Canyon, just a thirty-minute drive from the city, to hike and spent one of the best days, with the best views of both the city and the wilderness that surrounds Denver. It was an amazing experience that you won’t have any other place but Denver. I have also learned to ski while in Denver and taken a few trips to the mountains not far outside of the city. Whether you are a pro or just a beginner it is worth the day to try it out.
            Finally, Denver has a crazy fan base for their sports teams. Especially the Broncos and the Avalanche. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to a Broncos game but I was able to make it to an Avalanche hockey game. They play in the Pepsi Center downtown and it is sold out almost every game. It was a game and an experience I will cherish and will certainly take the time to do again.  Going to a game has gotten me interested in the sport of hockey and more passionate about the city that I live in.
            Over the past few months I have learned a great deal about Colorado, Denver, city living and about myself. The city is a great place to find out who you want to be and where you want to go in life.  While also learning about the way other people live. Being in an apartment setting has allowed for me to get to know the other students in the building and gives us a great opportunity to learn and explore together. Whether you are a current student at Wartburg or someone who has graduated, I would encourage you to take the chance a move to a city. Even if it is just for a little while; whether you like it or not you will learn a great deal. It is something you will never forget.