December 2022

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C M Y K PAGE 2 2 SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS • SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2022 EDUCATION GUIDE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA e experience of a lifetime BY JIM TIMLICK I magine attending classes in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and learning from people whose roots in the region date back more than 800 years. As implausible as that scenario might seem, it was exactly the kind of situation Amy Spearman found her- self in not too long ago. Spearman, who is enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba, spent 10 days in Ecuador in February 2020 as part of Amazon: Rainforest Experience, a Community Engaged Learn- ing program that is recognized as an official experiential learning opportunity by the university. As part of the program, Spearman got to work with members of the Amupakin Collective, a group of Indig- enous Kitchwa health practitioners who provide mid- wifery and other services to people living in the region. She also helped harvest traditional medicines in the field, gather and cook traditional foods, and met with lo- cal Indigenous people who shared their stories with her. Spearman says it was an eye-opening experience. "It sometimes felt like you were out of touch with civi- lization and then you realize civilization has a whole dif- ferent meaning than what western countries think it is," says Spearman, who is currently studying global political economy. "It was cool to be able to challenge my own ideas of what civilization is and my western ethnocentric views. It just went to show how little we know about our world. It was a very humbling experience." Spearman says one of the main reasons she decided to take part in the Community Engaged Learning offer- ing was the fact she is a huge proponent of experien- tial learning. She studied in several different countries throughout high school because she was intrigued by how people learn elsewhere. Brandy Usick, executive director of student engage- ment and success for UM, says one of the most common misconceptions that people have about the university is that it focuses exclusively on theoretical learning and doesn't provide much in the way of hands-on, practical experience. Nothing could be further from the truth, she explains. Experiential learning has been a core component of pro- grams such as medicine, nursing and teaching since the university was founded. More recently, there's been an increased emphasis on providing experiential learning opportunities to students as part of the university's long- term strategic plans, she added. CONTINUED ON PAGE 3 SUPPLIED PHOTO Elder Indigenous midwives in Ecuador showcase a demonstration given to a University of Manitoba group to teach about local tools and medicine used in traditional midwifery practices of the Quechua people. SUPPLIED PHOTO A midwife teaches University of Manitoba student Amy Spearman how to plant a tree in their community's chakras, which are traditional farming systems of the Indigenous people in Ecuador.

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