As the rain falls and the fog accumulates in front of the mountains I am instantly reminded of the quiet equanimity and the mysterious atmosphere that falls over Quest around this time of year. The rain is something that grows on you after spending three years here. At the end of block, students were definitely sporting tired eyes, final papers in hand, and the promise of block break dancing in their heads! With Whistler Ski Resort offered at discounted prices for students, our Adventure Club organizing a surfing trip to Tofino, students jet-setting home to see family, and even trips to Vancouver simply to get off campus, October block break was certainly occupied with much needed R&R.
The block I just finished was Evolutionary Psychology. In this course everything boiled down to sex, reproduction, predator evasion, and acquiring food and resources. It was a fascinating course and I will never look at a relationship the same way again. When learning the evolutionary mechanisms behind our behaviour, our motives end up being quite primal. We engage in mating rituals to reproduce and propagate our genes into future generations. Instead of seeing people as simply reproductive organisms, I had to console myself with the fact that our emotions towards each other and the feeling of love (although merely chemical reactions in the brain) are powerful forces creating strong bonds between humans; not diminished by the prospect of gene propagation and natural selection.
My block break was certainly relaxing and a nice break from psychoanalyzing peoples’ mating strategies! I attended the Sea-to-Sky corridor’s Buddhist Retreat Centre, known as Siddhartha’s Intent. This retreat centre, with which Quest has an excellent relationship, provides volunteers with food, meditation and lodging in return for helping with physical labour to winterize the retreat. It is ‘off the grid’, meaning that the retreat is powered by self-sustainable energy. This retreat provided a much-needed sense of grounding after this intense block I’ve had.
In addition to relaxing this block break, I also participated as a mentor in a ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ program called ‘Go Girls’. This program is the first of its kind offered in the Sea-to-Sky corridor and it offers young girls the chance to learn about self-esteem, body image, confidence, and healthy, active living. Each week we facilitate activities promoting acceptance of differences, communication, and healthy eating choices the girls can implement now and throughout their development. This is just one of the many ways Quest students are becoming involved in the Squamish community. I am focused on this issue because girls at this age (and in this society) are particularly vulnerable to media expectations, stressors regarding body image, and relationship difficulties. Being a mentor is one of the most powerful things I can do to help these girls realize how unique and special they are in a time where the world around them (and their own bodies, for that matter) is tumultuous.
My new block has begun, Child Language, and I am already inundated with assignments and readings. I wish everyone luck in their November blocks, don’t let the rain get you down!