This is only the second week of classes at Miami University, and already we have had a busy start to the school year. We welcomed our new students to campus, attended the first Myaamia Heritage Class, and gathered together for a retreat. The start of the school year is always busy, but allows us to kick-off the school year together as a community and set the tone for the rest of the year. This year we have 44 Myaamia students enrolled at Miami University, our largest cohort ever.
First-year students moved to campus on Tuesday, August 16th, and that evening we gathered together with the students and their families to talk about the Myaamia Heritage Program and what they could expect from their time at Miami University, but the majority of the pre-semester program took place on Wednesday. The program is intended to bring together the first-year students from the day that they arrive at Miami so that they know one another and feel comfortable with what to expect. We spent time on an art project, learning Myaamiaataweenki, and playing games. In addition, the students were able to tour campus and find their classrooms. We had several upper-class students who served as mentors for the program and were able to answer questions. The intention of hosting a pre-semester program is that first year students have some additional time to acclimate to Miami and the Myaamia Heritage Program.
Last Tuesday was our first Myaamia Heritage class of the semester. Every year the first class is a pizza party, but in addition to sharing a meal, we start with introductions so that everyone can get to know one another. The theme of this year’s class is Language and Culture, so we will be spending most of the class time practicing Myaamiaataweenki. The goal of the class is that students are able to communicate with one another, so they will be helping to direct the language that they want to learn so that they can use it with each other.
Every year, we host a start of the year retreat on the First Friday of classes. Although our senior students aren’t required to attend the Myaamia Heritage classes, they come to the retreat so that the entire group can get to know each other. After starting out with some games and socialization, we took a group photo. This task gets harder every year as our student numbers increase, but this is one of only a few events each year where all the students attend, so we make sure to take advantage of the event to get group photos. Throghout the night, we do a variety of activities together, including icebreakers, listen to presentations from students who studied abroad, and play Myaamia games. Additionally, we talk as a community about what the students would like to do this year outside of class. There were many request for activities, workshops, and trips, which makes us excited for everything that is yet to come this year.
We are only one week into the school year and are already physically tired from all of the events of the last few weeks, but more than anything these events energize the entire community. The past few years have been a challenge in gathering together safely, but we have renewed focus and ideas for what we can do moving forward. If you would like to stay up to date on everything that the students are up to, be sure to follow the Myaamia Center Newsletter for more details.