Monday, October 26, 2009

The Scarf of Many Meanings

At the end of November the BB Alumni are helping host a fundraising event for the current BB students which will hopefully include potential corporate sponsors. As part of the program, we will be auctioning off items that we brought back from our placements. Although my item is a modest, pashmina scarf, the story behind it is what truly matters the most to me. I hope that the person purchasing the scarf will be able to appreciate the memory and life-changing experience that the item represents. The following will be featured on the back of my favourite Sarajevo post card, and will hopefully be placed near the item during the auction:

The Scarf of Many Meanings

On my last day in Bosnia, I saw things in a whole new light. I had the opportunity to relive a day in Sarajevo- Bosnia Herzegovina’s capital city- and finally experience all the little things I missed the first time around. I.e., I started to notice the countless painted rose petals on the pavement honouring those killed during the war of the 90s, I got to visit the different religious buildings that represented hope for unity and acceptance among diverse ethnicities in Bosnia Herzegovina. Watching the elderly strategically make their move using chess pieces on a human-sized board while finally seeing inside the soul of someone I shared the majority of three months with but never really knowing as a person was remarkable. There in the heart of Sarajevo, while taking in its diverse food, culture, language and markets I was finally able to ‘just be’.

This scarf represents a moment in time. It represents my final day in a country that welcomed and accepted me. It represents a country that was torn apart and is still trying to recover. It represents hope. It represents an experience that truly changed me as a person, making me want a more fulfilled life where capitalistic greed is replaced by true happiness found through love, family cohesion, and continuously become a better and active global citizen through ongoing involvement in local and international organizations and research focused on issues such as poverty, peace and conflict, immigration, sustainable livelihoods, child labour, unjust imprisonment, and environmentally sound initiatives.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The End of One Chapter Means the Beginning of a New One

As the stress of midterms and assignments starts to mount, I find myself reflecting on my experience in Bosnia. Looking at pictures of the summer and things that I have accumulated from my host family and reading my journal entries from my summer abroad makes me reflect and refocus on what's important.

One of the many things is to properly complete my experience. While talking to other BB students, I realise that I am not the only one who, through getting caught up in the hussle and bustle of live back in Canada, has not properly sat down, digest and reflect on the past year. Thus, this past week I have been trying to take time out every night to make sure that I am completing my experience. What does this all really mean?

I have finally had a chance to send out all of my thank you notes and postcards to those who have supported me and who have requested them. It feels really good. In general, I would like to take the time out to formally thank the following people and companies:

  • My friends and family who helped with fundraising, and supported me through thick and thin before, during and after my placement overseas

  • Everyone who helped me monetarily

  • St. Aloysius, Holy Cross HELPS & Knights of Columbas

  • All BB Students from 08-09, BB Alumni, & staff

  • Everyone from Intercordia including the Alumni, students from the 08-09 programs, especially those who spend the summer with me in BiH

  • Zio's Restuarant for letting me host my fundraiser there and all of my regular customers at the restaurant for supporting me

  • The Independent and Free Press for promoting my Event

  • The band (CopperField) who played at my Georgetown fundraiser

  • Everyone who came out/helped out at both the pancake and evenning events

AND the following companies/people who donated auction/door items:

  • Aiden Finucane/Pepsi

  • Benix & Co.

  • Best Western

  • CIBC

  • Curves

  • Glazed Expressions

  • Guardian (Pharmacy) on Main St. Georgetown

  • Jason Rowbottom

  • Metro (Grocery store)

  • North Star Dry Cleaners

  • Ruby from BB

  • Scotiabank

  • TD

  • The Freckled LionThe Power ZoneThe Spa on Main

  • The Wood Heron Studio Gallery

  • Zio's

I also decided to allocated WEEKS of sleepless night on completing a meaningful report documenting my entire Beyond Border experience. I have decided to attach it to this blog. I am sorry in advance for the candid, and at times blunt, stories. I am sorry if I have affended anyone; it was not my intention. At the end of the day I respect everyone and I am grateful to everyone that has been appart of my BB experience.

I hope that I can continue striving for a more fulfilling life and that I can make my family proud.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Nagashir's First Words

If you want to live, live with a smile,

Live with love, don't cry

Don't shed your tears.

There are storms, there are disasters;

In life there are ups and downs.

But don't shed your tears.

Smile- pain is part of life,

But finally you get joy.

If you want to live, live with new hopes,

Live with love.

Live with a smile.

- Nagashir (Me to We, p. 9) is a truely inspiring boy. After everything he's gone through, the years of child labour, THESE were his first words in years.

It made me reevaluate once again what is truely important. That having open dialect, reading and experiencing and LISTENING and then communicating people's life experiences are SO important. AND to LOVE life and live it to the fullest. Thank you Nagashir.