Five days. 37 faculty sponsored projects across the country. Why do we allocate 10% of our Spring Trimester to Project Period? Because we believe deeply in the value of immersion learning, and Project Period provides opportunities to dive into learning experiences that simply do not fit into our regular academic schedule. As we kick off Day 3 of Project Period 2019, we explore the history, goals, and impact of this program on our community.
Project Period has not always been a part of Proctor; it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that Project Period was first introduced. Over the past forty years, the program has evolved, morphed, went away for a brief period in the early 1990s, and most recently re-centered on a nearly five day immersion learning experience where faculty create learning experiences around their passions. Hiking in the White Mountains, learning expedition skills, teaching fitness and finance as the foundations for life, dog sledding, taking a hunter safety course, or learning the intricacies of quilt making are just a few of the dozens of projects offered.
Photos and video clips are flooding our inbox from all over the country (and even internationally) as groups of students and faculty not only take a deep dive into a specific discipline or topic, but develop bonds that will transcend the five day project and impact the rest of their life. It sounds corny, right? The friendships you make and skills you develop on Project Period will last a lifetime...but it is true.
The goals of Project Period are layered. We want students to learn a new skill, be exposed to a different world view, engage in community service, and find a new passion, but we also want students to break outside of their normal social structure and develop relationships with others who may not run in their usual social pack. Mixed aged groups draw students from varying backgrounds together around a central topic, and the results are amazing both immediately in the project and throughout the rest of a student's Proctor experience.
Rarely in our lives are we granted the opportunity to put all else aside and focus on one project. We love the stimulation that comes from our normal academic schedule; always something new, something exciting, jumping from one class to another, one conversation to the next. But focusing on a single project for five straight days? Never do we allow ourselves this freedom. As adults, this is perhaps the most exciting aspect of Project Period. Project Period grants us this rare window to take those passions that usually operate at the periphery of our lives and move them to the center. What a gift.
The other beauty of Project Period emerges each year as we watch our students shine in ways we never knew possible. The unique talents of a learning population as diverse as Proctor’s are not always apparent in the traditional classroom, but in Project Period, we are reminded of our students’ gifts. We still have two days left to see these gifts impact others during Project Period 2019. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see updates throughout the week as our projects wrap up Saturday morning.