|THE CEGEP: AN ESSENTIAL PRESENCE|
WHAT IS A CÉGEP?
In the eyes of a Taoist, it is a well, a spring of fresh, clear water. It is a place for a young traveler to quench his thirst. The liquid in this well is a transformative elixir -- capable of extinguishing the need to know which burns in the mind of life's apprentice. A few swallows and the novice becomes a warrior -- prepared to pursue the path of his choice. Thus, the Cégep is decidedly an essential presence in his life, without which he might die of thirst.
From the Buddhist point of view the Cégep is a temple; a sacred place, a pilgrim's destination; for it is a center of erudition, documentation, and information. According to his philosophy of reincarnation, the college is simply the present incarnation of the academic community which has existed since the beginning of human history. Here, he can devote his time in quest of discipline, preparation, enlightenment and renewal. He knows well that here, in the college, he will be immersed in a universe devoted to teaching and learning; so it is in the Cégep that he might touch the hand of the intellectual creative spirit.
Put the question to a seventeen year old girl within whom beats a feminist heart. She might well answer you that she sees the Cégep as a rebirth canal or a cocoon. Her passing through her Cégep years will metamorphose an adolescent -- and the emerging butterfly will be a wise, mature, and independent woman; who is able to live a valuable day-to-day life . The moment she enters the door, she commits herself to an environment devoted to passing; for it is here that the present team passes the baton to the future team in the human relay race. When she dives into this pool , she plunges herself into the currents of dynamic forces from the future which are already inherent in the present.
And the father of a sixteen year old son: what would he answer to the question what is a Cégep ?
If he is a man who has earned his living through physical labor; a man who knows all too well the meaning of the word "tired", he'll tell you that a Cégep is a door through which his son can access a life less harsh than his own; for it is the place where one can learn to carve a life with brain rather than brawn; an essential lesson in the age of technology.
If he is a middle class professional, who earns his living through his knowledge, he knows from his own scholastic experiences that the Cégep is a departure port; the beginning of a voyage which ends in a state of comfort and security. He'll tell you that the Cégep years are the gestation period which precedes adulthood. It was during these years that he spent all his time learning how to choose his road, direction, and his tribe in life. It is the time when young people acquire an education that is not only academic, but spiritual and emotional as well, to prepare them for life's longest cycle: adulthood.
To the socialist, it's a hub of ideas and ideologies; political and social activities. The past and future political dreams and schemes are here to be studied and assimilated. It is a table at which he can satisfy his hunger for knowledge and understanding of political man through the ages, so that he may become an active participant in today's political scene . It is a place to test and practice his powers of persuasion on the mini-society of the Cégep student body . It is a hive of social change as well as a center for communications and communion. Thus the Cégepians provide him with a population that is ready and willing to learn and explore new ideas.
To the 45 year old man who's going to lose his job after 25 years of service unless he can learn to use a computer, the Cégep offers courses which can bring him up to date in his field.
To the woman who left the workforce for family reasons, the Cégep offers the opportunity to prepare herself for reintegration into the work world. Here, she can find the tools necessary to enter today's job market.
Even the tourist who wants to know the name of a local wildflower, will see the Cégep's library as a source of information.
This is all very nice, but what would your average, run-of-the-mill, materialistic guy; who just wants to make enough money to lead a quiet little life in the suburbs with his wife, his child and a half , and his Honda say?
If he's a realistic materialist, he'll know that the high paying jobs are held by people with diplomas. He'll also be aware of the fact that prices are rising and that lifestyle he's chosen is becoming a pretty expensive undertaking. Finally, if he's an informed materialist, he'll know that high tech employers are crying about a lack of competent employees to fill the many vacancies in a booming business. So he'll say: "The Cégep is my ticket to paradise! It's free, in three years I can learn a marketable trade such as computer programming and repair, and I'll have it made. "
To sum up, it is obvious that the Cégep is many things from many points of view. I see it as a tunnel which transforms the children who enter into young men and women who emerge still young enough to be idealistic, but also mature enough to have learned patience, perseverance, and commitment to a cause. It is also a uterus which births understanding and discipline. On the purely social level, it's a good place to go to play volleyball or to catch a movie at a good price.
In conclusion, from all points of view, when the camera's eye focuses on the Cégep, we're looking at an essential presence in modern society.