Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWC: Until Next Time...

The past few days have been bitter-sweet. I was finally able to complete my volunteer hours, but more importantly I was finally able to spend a few days in Kitchener & in WTC, which was very enjoyable.

Last Thursday I took part in my last "Speak English Cafe" for the term. It was nice to see familiar faces and catch up with them, and to meet people I would have never have had the opportunity to meet if it weren't for BB. I spoke with my friend from the Middle East, Krista's friend, and a few others. It was great to find out what they've been up to, their future plans, and get some closure. During SEC, we had to answer questions that related to Earth Day (which was on Wed). I always love hearing about other people's experiences. My favourite part of the night was learning about ways different parts of the world conserve. For instance, in Columbia and China, among other places, people are only allowed to drive every other day. Thus, half of the people (organized via licence plates) drives one day while the other half drive the next day. If they are caught driving on the wrong day they get a pricey fine. We also discussed a need for better transportation systems in KW and other large cities like a subway system or cable cars. We also discussed how some countries conserve energy during the extreme seasons: they allow their employees to dress season appropriate and keep their AC/heat to a minimum. For instance, in the summer employees are allowed to wear shorts and short-sleeve shirts, and the AC will only turn on when the temperature reaches a certain point. If only Canada could jump on some of these bandwagons...

After hearing raving reviews from Kate- another BB student- about baking in the kitchen at TWC, I was finally able to volunteer there yesterday. Although it was stifling hot in there, I enjoyed my volunteering experience tremendously. I loved the people there and I was allowed to bake and test out brownies, double chocolate cookies, carrot cake, and coconut balls. It was heaven! Then I helped the staff clean the place, which reminded me of my jobs at an outdoor education camp during my second year of university and a restaurant in high school. The people there were very kind and very appreciative of my hard work which was nice. One person said she was sad that it was my first and last day, while another joked, "See you tomorrow?!!" Unfortunately I won't be back today because I'm leaving KW, but I definitely plan on coming back to the kitchen and the SEC!

Before leaving TWC I noticed an elderly man front SEC drinking coffee by myself in the Cafe, and I decided to chat with him; it was very nice.

Finally, as I made my way to my bus, I noticed representatives promoting Greenpeace on the sidewalk and decided to chat with them. After having an in-depth conversation about conservation initiatives and Tar Sands, I decided to sign up and received a book, which I'm very excited to read in BiH.

As the days go by I am falling more in love with KW. The people are always so helpful and the atmosphere is great. Moreover, I am so happy to have had the opportunity to get involved within the community; it has definitely humbled and grounded me. I can't wait to help out when I return to Canada.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Future Plans / Passport

A week ago my friend and I were discussing future involvement opportunities within the University. After more than a year on SJ Union, we've decided to embark on new experiences. The only question left was what should we do? Right away I thought of creating a conference. Initially I wanted to create a fun, leadership conference, similar to the ones I participated in during high school, i.e., HOBY, MYAC, OSSA, and GO. However, after conversing with one of my close friends from WL and my BB professor, I have started to refocus creating a conference that will allow students to become aware of ways they can become involved in the local community and on campus. Moreover, with the approval of my BB professor, I am fairly certain this conference will be a component of my final BB project. I know that it will be A LOT of work, but I know it will be worth it. I've wanted to co-create an initiative-based project since grade 11 when I co-founded a volunteer club. This will definitely be an outside the box project and it will be a great way to end BB and my university experience.

Side Note: I JUST received notice that my passport has arrived! :D:D Now I need my tickets! (One of the IC students going to BiH has just received his today.) It feels so surreal that in less than 2 weeks I will be in BiH. Although I'm already half packed (I got excited a week ago), I have a lot more prepping to do.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thank You for Your Prayers

I just wanted to say a quick thank-you to everyone who kept me in their prayers. My documents are all in order for my travels. :D



Friday, April 10, 2009

BB/Intercordia Meet-and-Greet

Earlier on in the week, prospective BB students had a chance to meet Alumni and this years BB students. Before attending, I sent an informal invitation to all my University friends who are still going to be in UW next year. I was happy to see 2 of the 20 people at the meeting, and 3 others expressing an interest in the BB program. The meet-and-greet, in my eyes, was a success. After Elyse, Lisa & Elyse (people working for BB/Intercordia/the University) presented, students previously and presently enrolled in the program had the chance to speak to the prospective students about their BB experience. After a Q&A period and refreshments, I was able to speak one-on-one with Sarah, an Alumnus who went to BiH. A lot of my last-minute questions were answered, which I then relayed to the rest of my BiH group via facebook. After conversing with/visiting the blogs of 5 prior BB/Intercordia students who went to BiH, I feel A LOT more prepared for BiH.

Sretan Uskrs!! (Happy Easter)


My New Adventure Begins in Less than a Month!

With less than a month to go, I have finally received my ticket confirmation from Intercordia! Moreover, we (myself & the 4 other Intercordia students going to BiH this summer) have started receiving e-mails from Mediha- a worker at the Youth Center- which is quite exciting.

It feels so surreal and yet finalized. My mind is full of lists, i.e., packing lists, last minute questions to ask Alumni, things I need to accomplish before departing from Waterloo and Canada. It's crazy to think that in 23 days I will be out of North America and immersed into a different culture. In less than a month I will be beginning my informal ethnographic journey- observing and interacting with people from a different culture for a long duration in order to learn from them.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Until Next Time...

End of the Year Party at Joanne's House - BB 2008-9

It was the perfect ending to an amazing phase in my life/ two terms. There were lots laughs, some tears, embraces, A LOT of photos and sharing of memories. One of my favourite/emotional moments of the night was the web of friendship & will wishes. (I initally learned about this activity at a conference 5 years ago; I still have the string/memory).

Web of Friendship & Well Wishing:

We created a circle. Lisa, our Intercordia "mom", held a ball of yarn. She explained that we had to hold on the end of the yarn and then throw the rest of it to someone in the circle. Before or after throwing it we had to express a wish we had for the person. This wish had to relate to their overseas journey/placement, i.e., I hope that your placement lives up to your expectations and that you come home safely. This continued until everyone had a piece of yarn and we have formed a web. Then one by one we had to say a "well wish" for the entire group, and then cut one piece of the web. This occurred in a clockwise motion until everyone had spoken and we each had part of the web. Our yarn ties us all together. In midst of our saddest, loneliest or dark days we call look upon our wrist to the bracelets we've made, and remember that across the oceans and or the fields there are people that can relate, and that love us for who were really are.

This experience had helped me gain 13 friends. People that love me for ME. They see through the surface and can see deep into my soul. They know my weaknesses and still love me, maybe even more now that they have had the chance to know me in my entirety. I will always cherish these past few months. I will cherish the moments we've had and how we've helped each other heal, grow, and preserver.

Thanks to my BB family. I wish you all the best on your placements. Make sure to use your 5 senses and your instincts. I look forwards to seeing you all at reintegration in August. :D


Warm Fuzzies

Grammys Collaboration 2007

This song will always remind me of Union and BB. I loved sitting in the Union office this term, putting this collaboration on YouTube and writing in my blog. It always relaxed me and helped me focused. The lyrics are a bit sad on two of the songs but I love these artists and listen to them on a daily basis. Matt has gotten me addicted to listening to Jason Mraz as well!

Anyways, enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dragon, Princess & Wizard Named Bob

The other day while cleaning my room I came across a story one of my students wrote and gave to me as a gift.

For 7 of the past 8 years I have worked at my uncles' educational summer camp. Last year I was a teacher for the 2nd time; I taught grade 6s. Those who have worked with me at the camp know all about Chris. He was a VERY gifted, very smart child, but he was also VERY disruptive to the rest of the class and a bit of a character. To minimize his tendencies to disrupt the class, my T.A. and I would allow him to write grade appropriate, short stories. Near the end of the summer he even presented to the class. Although he wants to become a marine biologist, I encouraged him to continue to write because he has a true gift. One day I asked him to write me a story, and he did. The following is a copy of his story about a dragon, a princess and a wizard named Bob.

Although I'm going to miss the kids and my coworkers immensely, Chris' story will always be a fond memory of the camp. It reminds me of the importance of capturing memories so I can cherish them for years to come. On a more practical note, the story reminded me of all the innovative activities I have done with children over the past 8 years in my numerous teaching positions and at my leadership conferences. During the weeks leading up to my departure, I will be going through my activities, workbooks and arts & craft supplies, including my sticker collection, to come up with ideas for interactive activities that my group and I can potentially do at the center. I am also excited to converse with my fellow BiH Intercordia friends about the types of supplies we can take to Bosnia.

Moreover, as I am starting to shop for supplies, I am getting excited and nervous about the trip. Today my mom and I bought a bunch of stuff at Costco. My favourite items, like always, were books. We bought two "Where's Waldo books" and a VERY thick "Search & Find" book. In the latter, there are nouns such as "turtle" and "fish". The kids have to find the objects in the scene (similar to "Where's Waldo"). I think this book could be used for a great interactive learning activity for the students at the center. We could teach the students the nouns during the week (writing the English word beside the Croatian word on the blackboard). Then at the end of the week we could give them photocopied sheets of the activity to test their memory in a fun way.

I'm also going to try and post some activities I have learned from past jobs/conferences that can be played during our placements. Most of them require little if any equipment, and some can be done in confined areas.

Oh the excitement of camp/teaching... :D

Outside my classroom on the last day of camp (We had a Masquerade party)

The students brainstorming ideas for our "Halloween in July" Day

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Drawing Strength from St. Thersa of Avila

Tonight my dear friend, Holly, sent me an e-mail with a "pretty powerful" prayer to pray before going to the passport office.

I think it is a great quote for my BB friends to remember during their placements abroad:

Let nothing trouble you.
let nothing frighten you.
all is fleeting, God alone is unchanging.
patience obtains everything.
who posses God wants nothing, for God alone suffices.

-Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila

Warm Fuzzies

As the school year draws to an end, I'm getting very sentimental, reminiscent and a tad sad. Watching the finale of The Real World Brooklyn, like most RW finales, has increased my emotions. I have created strong bonds with a few groups of individuals in my life. The end of the term signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of my next one. I am sad that this indicates the end of a time in my life where I was blessed to have met so many supportive people through residence, work, Union & BB. With that said, I know that our lives with intertwine and that I've truly made some life-long friends. As I am writing down the remaining warm fuzzies to people from Union and BB, a song comes to mind: "Time of Your Life" by Green Day. Enjoy!

Warm Fuzzies: They were first introduced to me in high school when I used to be involved in numerous youth conferences. Near the end of the conferences, once everyone had gotten to know each other, time was put aside for each of us to write down nice thoughts about each person in a group. The thoughts are then collected to create a booklet of “warm fuzzies” for each of us. They had to be positive, non-physical attributes that we admired about the individual. They could be anonymous or signed comments. Ultimately, it was an accumulation of affirmations from our peers that we can look upon in the future. They created a positive and lasting impression on our experience in the conference and with our group members. Warm Fuzzies was one key element in the conferences that I will always remember. I felt that it was an important booklet for BB students to have during their next chapter: volunteering abroad. Whether we’re home sick, or sad, it will be something that we can hopefully draw strength from. I hope that this becomes a tradition for future BB/Intercordia Canada students.

Moreover, through watching The Real World Brooklyn I have discovered a way to enhance this item. In TRWB, Ryan, one of the housemates, was deployed to Iraq. His housemates wantedto motivate him to continue making plans to pursue his dreams once he was home from Iraq. Thus, they put “warm fuzzies” in a journal that he could take with him on his journey. He could read their warm fuzzies for motivation and comfort. As well, he was encouraged to use the journal to brainstorm him “bucket list” for when he comes back home.

I think it would be beneficial for future students in the program to use the Intercordia booklets as warm fuzzies/ journals for their overseas placements. Here is the link to TRWB episode. Note: it is the 8th part in the 12th episode (it starts mid-way through the clip). Moreover, to make the booklet more memorable and artistic, students can collage and laminate (or put sealing glue) on the cover of the booklet. (My friend/BB pear, Katie, gave me that idea).

Awards Night Pictures March 2009