Friday, February 27, 2009

Emotional Road Block

Thus far I have been a huge advocator for the Beyond Borders Program. It has helped me grow as a person and helped me gain a support system and valuable friendships. It has also pushed me to expand my knowledge on diverse cultures, religions,and experiences. It truely has become my niche. Moreover, I know that at the end of this experience, I will become a more knowledgable person who has grown spiritually and will be able to be a better Catholic or Public school teacher. With that said, I feel like I hit an emotional road block Thursday morning. While taking a break from an assignment in a lab on campus, I came across an e-mail that had my mark, thus far for the BB class, and some comments. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. To say that I was appalled and hurt would be more accurate.

The past couple of months I have dedicated the majority of my free time towards researching Bosnia, i.e., different religions existing in Bosnia, historical conflicts and resolution tactics, demographics, etc.. I have also been reaching out to other Beyond Border students. I have read a summer's worth of blogs from two students who have previously been through the Beyond Border's experience, I have commented on their blogs, inquired their Bosnian experience, and have contacted others. I have also spent numerous hours editing my blog and making sure that my entries vary in content and length. It has become my journal that I have put my heart and soul into. Although many people were unable to comment on my blog due to a previous setting, I have had an outpour of support and positive feedback from a number of people, including friends and family. Thus, I was crushed to hear that my Professor thinks that "several of [my blogs] are fairly superficial." Even a few days later, I still can't get over that. It has definitely tested me. However, I know deep down that I've worked harder on BB assignments than anything I've ever done in University. Although I feel that my work and my sincerity should not be judged and has not been marked accurately, I have comfort in knowing that many people do support me, are rooting for me, and believe that I am doing an excellent job. I can't please everyone. Thus, I need to continue focusing on my goals, i.e., ensuring that my fundraising event coming up runs sucessfully and smoothly. Moreover, I need to take Professor Randy Pausch's advice and I break through this emotional wall.

~ Georgie

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My New Favourite Book: The Last Lecture

I must start off by saying that this was one of two books that has ever made me tear up. It is a truly inspirational novel about a father's last words to his family and his motivational words to the world (at the time he was dying of pancreatic cancer). I recommend it to anyone and everyone; there are life lessons for all to learn.

If you aren't one for reading, I recommend you watch his lecture on YouTube. It will be 1.5hrs well spent.

(Disclaimer: Do not read the rest of this post if you don't want parts of the book spoiled)

Here are some of the many parts that stuck in my mind:

"If you can dream it, you can do it." "...when there's an elephant in the room, introduce it." p. 16

p. 23 "Just because you're in the driver's seat," "doesn't mean you have to run people over."

Ch.5- The elevator in the Ranch House(Allow children to be creative, i.e., allow them to paint their room with random objects. By allowing kids to be creative, you're enabling them to explore their dreams.) (LOVE this Chapter!)

Ch.6 "head-fakes": Lessons that teaches people things they don't realise they're learning until well into the process

Ch. 13- The Man in the Convertible
p.64 "From the side, she could see that the man had a slight smile on his face, the kind of absentminded smile a person might have when he's all alone, happy in his own thoughts."
(Role down the window, blast your music and live life like no one’s watching you. Life's too short. Capture those great moments and hold onto them for dear life. Those are the moments that will get you by during the most trying times in your life. )

Ch 14 p.68 "a Dutch uncle": a person "who cares enough to tell [you] the tough-love things that [you] need to hear."(Don't we all need more people who will tell it like it is.?! Personally, I'd rather have someone tell me when I've wronged them than have an elephant in the room for an infinite amount of time.)

Ch. 15- Pouring Soda in the Backseat
(Don't sweat the small stuff. Let kids be kids. Everyone makes mistakes.)

"... The brick walls are there to stop people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people." p. 73 They're there to "give us a chance to show how badly we want things." p. 79 (Persevere and work HARD!)

Ch. 18- Lucy, I'm Home
(Again, don't sweat the small stuff, and only fix the essentials. His parents taught him well. Refer to the car incident.)

Ch. 20 (Not all accomplishments need to be voiced. It's nice to leave suprises.)

Ch. 22 The Truth Can Set You Free

Ch. 23 & 24 (Humorous)"Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids' dreams, too." p. 133

Ch. 31- (Side Note: memories of a dear family.)"Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier." p. 139

**Ch. 33- Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom ** (Something we all can relate to I'm sure)

Ch 34- Don’t Obsess over what People Think (Do what makes you happy)

Ch. 35- Start by Sitting Together (Great ice breakers for group work)

Ch. 37- Watch What They Do, Not What They Say (Actions speak louder than words)
"People will show you their good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out." "If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you." p.144

Ch. 39- Be the First Penguin"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." p. 147
"...the notion that when penguins are about to jump into water that might contain predators, well, somebody’s got to be the first penguin." p. 149

Ch. 40- Get People's Attention

Ch. 41- The Lost Art of Thank You Notes (People, myself included until recently, don't realise the importance of this type of note. It can make a world of difference in the way people view you. Make an effort to ensure these last touches are done right.)

Ch. 45- Send Out the Mints (Another way of thanking those around you, while motivating them.)

Ch. 46- All You Have is What you Bring with You (Be prepared for anything. Have at least one contingency plan. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.) "Hard work is compounded interest in a bank. The rewards build faster." p.165

Ch. 47- A Bad Apology is Worse Than No Apology (Agreed) "You are only as good as your words." p.163 (But back those words up with appropriate actions.)

Ch. 51- No Job is Beneath You"I had arrived in a place (Disney as an Imagineer) where my academic credentials meant nothing. I became a traveler in a foreign land who had to find a way to come up with the Local currency- fast!" "The reason I tell this story is to emphasize now sensitive you need to be when crossing from one culture to another" p. 170-1 "If you find yours footing between two cultures, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds." p. 171 (Sometime we should all strive for)

Ch. 53- Never Give Up

Ch. 55- All you Have to Do is Ask (You'll be surprised at the amount of opportunities you can gain) "Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?" p. 180

VI Final Remarks (Prepare for waterworks!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reading Week

I just spent the day with my family (both on my mother and father's side) and it made me realise how much I'm going to miss them. They are my rock. (It was so much fun visiting my dad's side for the first time in almost a year, rocking it out "Rock Band" styles with my mom's side, and teaching my cousins how to say Happy Birthday, " Sretan Rođendan", so they could say it to my two uncles and Baka (who's b-days are all within the month of February).

With that said, I would like to thank my parents for supporting my Beyond Borders experience, especially my mom who has always been my biggest advocate when it comes to this experience. Financially and emotionally she has supported BB even before the journey began. Thank you. I would also like to thank my grandparents for increasing their support and financial contribution.

Through the next few months (I can't believe there are less than 3 to go) I will be spending as much time as possible with my loved ones. Moreover, hearding about my uncle's side trip to see my extended family in Croatia, and conversing with past and present students going to BiH has made me esctatic yet a bit nervous.

On a different note, if anyone has connections to people in the entertainment industry please let me know.

~ Georgie

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Purchases, Connections, & Pics

Today I finally had a chance to go to Chapters. Unfortunately, they don't carry any books on BiH. Thus, I had to buy Croat phrase books; I bought 2 that are pocket-size. The Croatian and Serbian alphabet look to be the same (they don't mention Bosnian). Here are some useful phrases:

Excuse me (to get attention): Oprostite (aw praw stee te)
Excuse me (to get past): Ispričavam se (ee spree cha vam se)
Sorry: Žao mi je (zha aw mee ye)
I (don't) understand: Ja (ne) razumijem (ra zoo mee yem)
I don't speak Croatian: Ne govorim hrvatski (ne gau-vau-reem hr-vaht-skee)
Leave me allow (lol): Ostavite me na miru! (aust-ah-vee-te me nah mee-roo)
Go away! (lol): Odlazite! (aud-lah-zee-te!)
I'm lost!: Ja sam zalutala (fem) (Ja sahm zah-loo-tah-lah)
Does anyone here speak English? Dali ovdje itko govori engleski? (dah lee auv-dye-eet-koh gau-vau-ree eng-les-kee?)
Can you help me? Možete li mi pomoći? (mau-zhe-tee lee mee pau-moh-chee?)
I speak very little Croatian: Govorim samo malo hrvatskog (gau-vau-ree sah-moh mah-loh hr-vaht-tskog)

I'm going back to Chapters tomorrow to get some Europe travel books. I also need to pre-order Bosian books/CDs. Moreover, I bought some recommended books for my pre-departure, and my stay in Bosnia.

Moreover, I have reached out to past Beyond Borders/ Intercordia students who have gone to BiH. One is meeting me to show pictures of her stay in BiH. The other has sent me his blog site. I've already read 1/4 of his entries and they're making me so excited. The following are some of the points that stood out to me:

• Everyone knows each other and or they recognize foreigners VERY quickly
• “Everything is a memory”: They don’t like visitors taking pictures of things that have been shot at because it is not a fond memory for them to relive
• He got a tick, which I’m worried about (he calls it "an adventure" and recommends that I stay clear of the tall grass)
• Most structures have bullet marks from the war in the 1990s
• Cafés and construction are the main source of employment for citizens; however, according to Mike many people just lounge all day
• 1 side is abandoned and the other side is full of people staying in apartments
• With that said, there seems to be more buildings and cafés than people
  • He hid his passport under the rug and feared it getting lost. (I'm glad that I'm not the only one)

    Here are pics from Mike (BiH volunteer 2006):

Art Academy at the University of Sarajevo


Memory of the War

Typical Homes in BiH (note the bullet holes on the side of the house)

One of the Homes

Apartments in Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje

Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje Walking Home from Youth Centre

On the Hill Looking Down on Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje

Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje Youth Center


(Thanks Mike Little - SJU)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

First In-Class Presentation

Today I had my first presentation on my country and placement. The slides I just uploaded onto my blog are the ones I used during my presentation. (I briefly described the location, demographics, transit, currency, purchasing tips, food, and placement (Gornji Vakuf- Uskoplje)in Bosnia Herzegovina. Since I had practiced in front of SJ Union members during our bake sale, in the mirror and in front of my house mate while walking to class, I was fairly prepared. However, I did forget to mention certain things, i.e., that I have websites on my blog that other BB students can go to to find out about VISA requirements and recommended vaccinations. As well, my nerves prevented me from answering a couple of the questions to the best of my knowledge. However, all in all it was fairly successful.

Side note: I'm glad that I didn't devour all of my Baka's "Pita" because it was nice to get to share it with my classmates (bring some of my culture into the classroom).

Afterwards, my friend Jen presented on her country: Ukraine. I absolutely love the creativity she has. It definitely gave me some ideas on how I can improve my Power Point before presenting at my fundraiser in March. Thanks Jen :D

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back from a Busy Weekend

The weekend was fairly busy. I went home to pick up the cheque from my Parish, received some donations, gain some more contacts, and discuss a fundraier with my old boss. I still need to raise $1150 (I have received $550 and will be getting another $300 during reading week). After visiting my old job (my home away from home) my boss agreed to hold a fundraiser at his restuarant on the last week of March, which is also the 4th anniversary of his restaurant. Right now we are seeking entertainment. Hopefully by the next week I will be asking local companies for items I can auction off during the event. We are all very excited for the event but it will definitely be time consuming and a lot of work. :D I have also gotten into contact with the two other Intercordia students who are going to BiH. We are all really excited to be going and I'm definitely glad to have the chance to converse with them beofre leaving. Lastly, on Thursday myself and Jen will be giving presentations on our countries, and our class will be discussing a group fundraiser that will likely be on the first Sunday in March. Our last Intercordia seminar, which I'm SO excited for, will also take place during that weekend.

That's it for now,


Friday, February 6, 2009

Fundraising Update

With $1500 left to fundraise I'm getting ready to send out my second batch of letters. It feels so good going home and talking with people who support me wholeheartedly. I am so grateful to my grandparents for helping me out even though they are terrified about me going. I am also going to my old job, and home away from home, tomorrow to discuss a potential fundraising event in the restaurant. I'm hoping that my fellow BB classmates are doing well in their fundraising events and I'm happy for those who have completed their fundraising. Moreover, I'm excited about our group fundraiser on the second Sunday in March and I'm very grateful to those who have helped me brainstorm.

General Info for Traveling

Hey guys,

I've been looking into information about immunizations, healthy water, etc. Below I have included some useful sites:

Creating Healthy Water:

Traveler's Health Guide:

(Choose your placement and you will get info on Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, Medicines you might need, Other diseases found in your area, food and water precausions, what to do after returning home, etc.)

Traveler's Report:

This site includes info. on warnings and recommendations, registration recommendations, safety and security, entry and exit requirements (INCLUDING VISA INFO), Canadian government contacts (i.e. Cdn Embassy in host country), health info needed for traveling, laws and customs, currency, travel tips, natural disaster and climate, traveler's checklist, and travel insurance.

Info on Main Health Risks, foos safety, immunizations and medications, contacts for health (i.e., hospitals and doctors in host country), emergency contact info and general climate:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Speak English Cafe

Last night was my first 2 hrs volunteering at TWC. I participated in the “Speaking English Café”. Last night, the SEC consisted of two parts.

The first was a "BINGO" type activity where we were given roughly 25 questions, i.e., Are you afraid of heights? We had to circulate the room finding people who could answer "yes" to the questions. When we found those people, they had to sign their name beside the question. Each person could only sign each page once. The goal was to be the first person to complete the task and receive a high five, and more importantly, to start warming up to each other and practice speaking English. This was a great ice breaker. Personally it helped me meet different people and remember them by word associations (which many of you know is the key way that I remember people's names).

The second part of the evening was working through a verbal activity in our table groups. My group consisted of two gentlemen recently from Columbia, an intelligent and worldly man from India, my friend Sebastian, another person from KW and a woman from India. As a group we decided to discuss each question presented on the paper. An example of a question was: If you could write a book what would it be about (i.e., genre, type of characters, etc). After answering these questions we had to look at some Idioms. After reading them aloud, we allowed the recent immigrants to guess on the different meanings. Then we would help describe any idioms that they had difficulties with. These activities were a fun way of getting to know people as individuals and in a small way we helped their understanding of the English language.

Relating this to Friere, this was much more effective than getting the people to attend a lecture on the English language. We all got to engage in a dialect together and to educate each other on our different views, knowledge and experiences. It was very satisfying.

After leaving TWC, I couldn't help but wonder if Bosnia has a program similar for foreigners, like myself, or locals who are seeking to learn foreign languages. In the weeks prior to overseas adventure, I hope to find out if such a program exists.

Moreover, as most of you know, I aspire to become an elementary teacher. What most of you don't know is that that has been my ideal job since I was a little girl teaching my Croatian grandmother, Baka, English on my weekly visits. Being able to not only be involved in these adult’s journey through improving their language skills, but also learn more about their worldly experiences, is such a blessing to me. It was just amazing to interact with such a diverse and positive group of adults. I am so thrilled to have had this opportunity with TWC and I am looking forward to volunteering there in the weeks leading up to my departure to Bosnia.