Friday, January 30, 2009


The other day I was researching about the Bosniak population, who are primarily Muslim (40%), and I can across the word "Ramadan". Being a devoted Catholic who is not very familiar with other religions, I was unaware of what this word meant. That's when I started reading about Ramadan, which happens to be a very important Muslim religious holiday. I found the holiday to be very facinating and below I have included some interesting facts on it:

It occurs during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the moon instead of the sun. Thus, it moves back approximately 11 days every year. This year, 2009, it will be from Friday, August 21st- Sat September 19th.

People who participate in this holiday must fast for an entire month. This includes eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset (until after their 4th prayer). This is a sign of sacrificing for God. It is a time for deepening their faith and spirituality, i.e., praying and contemplating life decisions and what truly matters more frequently. It puts an emphasis on asking for forgiveness of large sins, restraining from everyday evils, and doing good deeds. It also encourages people to increase their " patience, sacrifice and humility". "Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning."

The major focus is religion. In addition to their usual five daily prayer, Muslims participating in Ramadan spend several hours praying and studying the Quran in their mosques. They usually recite a prayer called Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer), which is around 2-3 times longer than the daily prayer. Many pray throughout the whole night.

The 27th evening is the most important time of Ramadan. It is called Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed to be the evening when the Holy Quran decended from heaven to reveal to Muhammad that during this evening God will decide the fate of the world for the upcoming year.

The end of this holiday is a three-day celebration called Id-al-Fitr(the Feast of Fast Breaking). It is on the first day of the next lunar month called Shawwal. People collectively pray with their families and friends, and exchange gifts. Some cities even have fairs to celebrate the end of the religious holiday.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thank You Father David Wynen & Holy Cross Catholic Parish

I have just received notification that Father David Wynen & Holy Cross Catholic Parish will be donating $500.00 towards my Beyond Borders experience. I would like to formally thank them. I must say that I am ecstatic about this news and you all are the first to know about it! :D Thank you again; you have truly made my day!!! :D

~ G.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fundraising Update

As of right now I only have a tentative $15.00 put towards my fundraising. I have sent out letters to priests who once were/ are officiated with my church in Georgetown. As well, I have sent letters to close family members, doctors, and my old boss. I am planning on following up and catch up with them within the next few days. That's it for now. **Crossing fingers**

Slowing Learning the Language...

I thought it would be fun if I posted the words/phrases that I am learning so that you could learn some too! :D I'm going to try to memorize a couple per week. Let's start with the basics:

Good morning: Dobar dan! or dobro jutro (note that the"j" sounds like a "y")

Good afternoon: Dobar dan! (Note: you're supposed to roll your "r"s.. something that I need to practice)

Good evening: Dobra večer (Note: č sounds like "ch" in chick; also note that the ending change... there are many rules that you need to follow in order to determine the ending vowel but I forget them because I haven't taken basic Croat. in 4 years)

The following I already know:

How are you?: kako ste/si? (Note: the "i" sounds like a "long e" as in see)

Hi: zdravo

Bye: doviđenja (Note: "đ" makes the "dg" sound)

You: ti/vi And: i

No thank you: ne hvalano

Thank you: Hvala

Your Welcome: Molim

New Phrases:

I am Canadian: Ja sam Kanadski

I cannot speak that much Croatian: Ne mogu da govorim da mnogo Hrvatske

Do you know any English? Da li znate bilo engleski jezik?

Can you speak English? Da li govore engleski jezik?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Working Center: KW's Very Own "W. Wonka's Chocolate Factory"

Two weeks ago we went to The Working Center, which is where myself and the rest of the BB crew are going to be doing our volunteer services for the remaining months in this term. It's located in Kitchener, and consists of two buildings adjacent to each other. Joanne, your instructor, was right: it IS an amazing, magical place. While getting a tour, one of the students in our class compared it to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory because there are so many hidden corridors and it seems like the possible resources for the underprivileged in KW are never-ending.

Rebecca, our tour guide, and whose family created the center, showed us around. The objective of the tour was to give helpus understand the history of the center. As well, it allowed us to explore our volunteering options within the buildings.

Within the builds there was a bike shop that people can go to buy inexpensive bikes or get their own repaired, a computer area where people can get their computer repaired for a small fee, a soup kitchen where people can get breakfast and or lunch and
where people do arts and crafts, and there are lofts for people coming back into the community after spending time in rehab or jail. They also have a media centre where low-budget films can be edited, an arts and crafts area where people can make papers, soaps, rugs, and clothes, which can then be sold in the cafe downstairs. Their cafe also hosts musical talents, and practice sessions for whose with English as their second language.

It's so inspirational to see a family so passionate about helping those within our community; they dedicate their lives to helping others and creating a resource centre available to everyone. I am very excited to start volunteering.

Last week I had an interview with Rebecca to discuss my potential volunteer opportunities. The two placements that I would love to get involved in are assisting with the arts and crafts & the conversing with people to help improve their English. Hopefully, I'll know my placement by the middle of this week.

Stay Tuned,

Monday, January 12, 2009

1st Ever Blog Entry: "Congratulations! You will be spending Summer 2009 in ... Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Hey guys,

So, mid December I found out that I am going to Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje in Bosnia-Herzegovina for my Beyond Borders summer volunteer placement. I'm SUPER excited. Since then I've spoken to my family, who are also very excited for me. I found out that the placement is in a central town in Bosnia-Herz., which was one of the first places that suffered from the war between Bosnians and Croatians. Since then, many youth centres have been built to try and encourage the youth to peacefully coexist and interact with each other, regardless of cultural differences. During May-August 2009 I will be volunteering at one of the youth centres and staying with a host family. However, before leaving, I have to take courses, participate in seminars, and volunteering within my local community to prepare for the experience.

Last term I took a course called "Current Ethical Issues". I thoroughly enjoyed the course and professor. Throughout the term, we independently read and then collectively discussed "The Plague" and "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". We also had presentations about different summer placements, and discussed some theory on ethics and any concerns we were having with the program. In comparison to this term, last term was very theoretical; however, I think that Professor Kline sucessfully created a balance of theory and discussion. Moreover, I am greatful that Prof. Scott Kline always told us straight up the difficulties each placement will present (instead of sugar-coating them).

We also had to take part in two off-campus conferences/seminars with people from Intercordia. I did one with the students from my university, and another with people from Kings University. I am glad to have had a chance to meet with both sets of students. The conference with people from my class allowed me to get to know them on a more personable level and bond with them. The Kings students were awesome as well, thus I am glad to have met them. It also allowed me the chance to meet one of the students who I just found out will be going with me to Bosnia-Herz.. I can't say enough good things about the seminars. They were fabulous! I also must credit Lisa, and the rest of the people from Intercordia for getting me to FINALLY enjoying writing journals.

I have just starting my final preparation term before heading to Europe. Next week I will be getting a tour of "The Working Centre", which is a centre that I'll be volunteering my time for the next three months. I am also trying to get myself organized so that I can send out letters

and speak with churches, and my family and friends to ask for donations. Today, I filed my
papers to get my passport, and I've completed most of my other papers. The more that is accomplished, the more real it feels.

I'm extremely excited. At the same time, I'm nervous to get all my donations in on time. Stay tuned for my next blog entry.