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Nisga'a Dancers welcome NWCC students in unique learning experience

TERRACE Northwest Community College (NWCC) students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program got the chance to meet recently with their peers for a spirited weekend of learning, sharing and culture. The ECE program is offered in aÿdistance format consisting of audio teleconference, weekend seminars, practical fieldÿwork and online learning. While this multi-mode format emphasizes the importance ofÿlearning in students' own communities, the times when they can meet face-to-face are especially valued, says program coordinator Jessica Hrechka-Fee. "Our distance ECE students travelled from Iskut, Smithers, Kinkolith and Prince Rupertfrom throughout the Northwestto Terrace for a weekend of shared learning and culture," said Hrechka-Fee. From here, the Terrace-based students planned and brought the whole group to a Gitlaxdax Nisga'a Dance Group practice at the Nisga'a Hall as part of the program's Working with Families course. It made for a day of traditional dancing, local culture and sharing part of "their community" with their classmates. "ECE students are applying their knowledge in their community," says Hrechka-Fee. "They are showing their understanding of the value of culture, families and community. All together, our students thoroughly enjoyed learning a few Nisga'a songs and dances." "Visiting the Gitlaxdax Nisga'a Dance Group practice was beyond awesome!," said ECE student Kia Morgan. "I couldn't believe how much I have missed dancing. I plan to go to more practices with my classmates." The benefit to students of such an exercise is hard to quantify or describe in a program curriculum, says Hrechka-Fee. "Our students could see the power of culture to a family. They felt the students' emotions when they shared part of their culture with the whole group. Students were able to share a part of who they are with people they might work with. They discovered connecting classroom and community is not difficult, and it helps build relationships, support families and allows learning to occur in many ways." Sincere thanks go to the Gitlaxdax Nisga'a Dance Group for inviting the ECE class to share in the cultural experience and providing such a welcoming environment. NWCC is a valuable community asset impacting the lives of students and our communities. Through its nine campuses, 500-plus employees and an annual injection of more than $30 million in the local economy, NWCC is an economic engine supporting the many communities that look to us to provide innovative programs and services.

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