SHARE: How Did You Come to Be Here? -- Ideas for the Classroom and Beyond

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Bulldog Welcome Week (BWW)
The first assignment for UMD Seminar is a reflection on Bulldog Welcome Week.  During the Convocation and in their Rock Group curriculum, they will be introduced to the first questions of "How did you come to be here?".  This assignment asks them to begin to reflect on that question in the context of their transition to UMD.   The assignment is below.
UMD Seminar: Invitation to Possibilities   Bulldog Welcome Week Reflection Assignment (2011)

 “The ability to think straight, some knowledge of the past, some vision of the future, some skill to do useful service, some urge to fit that service into the well-being of the community—these are the most vital things education must try to produce.” 

-- Virginia Gildersleeve, Dean of Barnard College 1911-1947

 You are stepping into a journey that will take you to new places, introduce you to new ideas, and meet new people from all around the world. 

Knowing the information from Bulldog Welcome Week is just the starting point. When you take time to understand what you have learned, to think about how it can apply to your life, to break it down and analyze it, to figure out how this relates to what else you already know, then meaningful learning truly takes place. This assignment asks you to think about some of the events at Bulldog Welcome Week and how they might impact your first semester at UMD.

    Your paper should include thoughtful answers to the following questions:

  • In the Convocation, you were introduced to the reflection question of “How did you come to be here?”  What is your story of how you decided to go to college at all?  Why did you choose UMD?  How did you come to be here?
  • You have chosen to be at UMD and to study, learn and grow in this community. What messages from the College Welcome (Friday, 2:00-5:00) were most meaningful to you and why? What did you discover regarding faculty expectations of students both in and out of the classroom? What three academic success strategies will be most useful to you in your first semester?
  • The theme for the workshops on Saturday and Monday was “Building Success at UMD.” Which three workshops did you choose to attend and who were the presenters? Please choose two of these workshops and share a few ideas of how the information presented can help make your freshman year successful at UMD.
  • Bulldog Welcome Week included both academic events as well as social activities.  Both are important parts of your college experience.  What activities did you attend? What did you enjoy most and why? How do you plan to balance the demands of your course work with social opportunities during your first semester?
UMD Seminar (SSP:1000)
UMD Seminar Instructors will be building on the "How Did You Come to Be Here?" theme that was introduced in BWW and in the first class assignment by asking questions throughout the semester for journal reflections.  They will be asking students to think about:
What is your family's journey that brought you to UMD?  How did you come to be here in this country?
            If you were born here, how did your parents, grandparents or ancestors come to be here
            If they came here from another country, from where, when, how, and why did they come?
            If they chose to come, what did their journey to get here look like (if you don’t know stories from your own family, what can you discover through the stories of others that were in similar experiences?)
            If they were forced to come here, what did their journey to get here look like (if you don’t know stories from your own family, what can you discover through  the stories of others that were in similar experiences?)
            If some or all of your ancestors were indigenous to this country, where did they live and in what ways were they impacted by immigration and colonization? If they lived in different areas at different times, when, how, and why did they move?
            In what ways did your forebears lives impact and shape the lives of their descendants?
  • In what ways do your stories and histories impact your present life and future journey?
  • In class discussions, students will share their stories with others in the class.

The final integrative exercise for many of the sections of UMD Seminar is called the following:


How did I come to be here?
Who am I becoming?
How will I be a part of change in the world?
How will I interact with and impact the people around me?

The first reflective prompt of the final will be:

·       Reflect on how you came to be here.  What is your family’s story of how you came to be in college in northern Minnesota? In what ways do your stories and histories impact your present life and future journey?

Liberal Education Courses

Introductory Courses
Psy 1003 - Introduction to Psychology

Discipline Specific Courses

Co-curricular Integration
  • R.A. Training Inclusive Campus, August Training 2011

    The University’s Strategic Plan - Goal 2: Create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by
    advancing equity, diversity, and social justice.

    When we talk about human difference, it’s important to remember that we are more alike than we are
    different. It’s also important to self reflect in order to know and understand ourselves, our identities,
    our cultural backgrounds, and our personal bias.

    Hat Activity [20 minutes]: Using the “Who Am I? How Did I Get Here?” materials you completed
    prior to training, create a hat of your identifiers. Include aspects of your identity and history that
    represent you and that you feel comfortable sharing with others.

    Small group activity [25 minutes]: Break into groups of 4-5 people using bookmarks [5 designs
    with quotes] to separate into groups.
    a. Talk about your hat (each person gets 2-3 minutes). Within your comfort zone, share what
    you learned about yourself from your cultural investigation. What does your hat mean to
    b. Where do we get messages about who we are?
    c. Where do we get messages about other people?
    d. Do others “see” you accurately?
    e. How might you be perceived inaccurately?
    f. Do you perceive others accurately?

    Normal learning and critical thinking [5 minutes]:
    a. It is natural to learn in patterns or by grouping information that is similar.
    b. Two reasons for that:
    - Much of life has patterns.
    After being stung by a bee, what do you know about bees?
    Don’t touch the burners on the stove.
    - Standardization - by accepting a common standard, life becomes easier
    How many ounces are in a bottle of soda? (20 ounces)
    What number do you call for an emergency?
    c. Overgeneralization: Accepting a pattern that may not always be accurate:
    - As children, we learn not to talk to strangers: Are all strangers bad? No.
    - We do this to protect against the small percentage of strangers who may be bad.
    d. We “learn” some things as children and later learn they are not true:
    - Tooth Fairy
    - Where babies come from?
    - Things your neighborhood kids told you
    - Professional wrestling
    - Headlines in the Inquirer
    - Beliefs about groups of people or individuals (that become generalized)
    e. The key is critical thinking: Day to day there are patterns we accept that make our lives
    easier. Because life often follows patterns (rarely contradicting the norm), we frequently
    don’t challenge our thought process. When we apply these patterns to people and apply our
    personal values, it is called prejudice/bias.

    Dissonance, unlearning, and critical thinking [5 minutes]

    Current US Culture - Dominant and Subordinate [10 minutes]
    a. What dominant and subordinate groups are you members of?
    b. What is power? Where does it come from?
    c. Are these positions static (unchanging)?
    d. What does it take to create healthy, positive change?

    The University of Minnesota Duluth [5 minutes]:
    a. What are the demographics of UMD?
    b. Who are our students, and what perceptions do they bring with them?

    It’s 2011. Why are we still talking about inclusion? Does bias still exist? [10 minutes]
    a. Does bias still exist at in the US, in Duluth, and/or at UMD? (messages to Melissa, 2011)
    b. What might affect our personal and collective awareness of injustice? (Johari Window)
    c. A drop in the bucket becomes drops in the bucket (and eventually the bucket overflows).

    Small group reading and reflection [10 minutes + 10 minutes]

    Reflect again on the University’s mission and the H&RL mission [10 minutes]:
    a. Consider examples of past programming that is non-inclusive and/or hurtful
    b. What can we do to make UMD a more inclusive campus? (brainstorm and/or handout)
    f. Tone setting
    g. Programming efforts (student development, community development)
    h. Involvement and connecting students to the University (inside and outside the area)
    c. Students are unique and at different stages. How can we be effective?
    d. What do we do when we become aware of incidents of injustice? (handout - H&RL reporting
    procedures, University reporting procedures)

    Evening/weekend assignment: Create a bulletin board mock-up (building opening series) that
    sets tone and supports inclusion
    • Who am I?  How did I get here? (Self Exploration exercises attached below)
    • Dominant/Subordinated Groups (attached below)
    • Mother Jones Story (attached below)

Paula Pedersen,
Oct 26, 2011, 8:43 PM
Paula Pedersen,
Oct 26, 2011, 8:45 PM
Paula Pedersen,
Oct 26, 2011, 8:38 PM