By Joseph Cacciotti
The Algonquin Pembroke campus outdoor adventure program is creating a new order of the Jedi through a focus on the mentorship and sharing knowledge in a peer-to-peer environment.
The Jedi program has been set up to encourage students from later years to pass on knowledge, advice and experiences to first years in the interests of providing a more solid foundation to begin their education.
“If we think of the biggest picture what our Jedis are trying to do, they’re really there as the wise second years,” said Jeff Jackson, Co-ordinator, Outdoor adventure program, “They’ve been through first year they know how it works, they know what that’s all about.”
There are many students taking interest in the program and some of the current Jedi mentors have a very positive vision.
“What I’m expecting to get out of it is a reminder of what it’s like to start and the growth that the students are about to go through, you kind of don’t digest that stuff until later,” said Julia Chapeski, Jedi-in-training, outdoor adventure naturalist program, “I’m curious to look through them and to see all the stuff I’ve already been through then maybe close the loop on that learning,”
Going through college is a life experience that everyone faces differently; however having the support of peers who have been there can go a long way to helping first years make that transition.
“I think this is a great opportunity,” said James Klein, Jedi mentor of police foundations, “Sometimes being a first year student coming into college for the first time can be a little bit overwhelming first of all being integrated into the college itself and then also into the program,”
“Six months prior I was in the same situation they were, so all the trials and tribulations I experienced while going through the course were still fresh in my mind. I was able to tell them what I did that worked well, and also what I could have done differently, what paid off in the long run helping the first year students.”
It is important to remember that the Jedi program is student-based and it is on this level that they communicate.
“There are a lot of things that the Jedis are not. They’re not tutors or teaching assistants and they’re not real academic roles; they’re just somebody who knows how the program works,” said Jackson. “They know the inside because they’ve been through it once.”
More than just advice from one student to another, Jedi mentors pool their life experience to detail the characteristics of their best mentors and discuss traits that have led to success in their fields.
“They did an exercise where everybody said some words about what they thought was important about their mentors; what makes them who they are and it was pretty inspirational to see them all up on a board together,” said Chapeski, “You start looking at that list and you think wow, I wouldn’t mind having a few of those under my belt.”