Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Little Caribbean Island of Jamaica

Vacation is for relaxing and leaving everything behind. Which is why I wasn't blogging on this adventure to Jamaica. But I did have a little journal, keeping notes and thoughts. Here are my reflections of our visit to the most beautiful Caribbean island I have seen. Also the only one I have seen. But beautiful none the less.

All I can say is "yah mon", Jamaica really is paradise. If you're looking for the most laid-back people in the world, I think I've found them. Right here in paradise.

"No problem", is the most popular phrase, and when we though that out tour guide was playing it up for us outsiders, we were mistaken. "Even if there's a problem; there's no problem."

It was such a dramatic shift from the uptight and stressful nature of school and even just the culture of North America. And as much as I love to be busy; I think I could get used to this; bask in the sun, no responsibilities, nothing to worry about.

I've seen the roads in Cairo, and I didn't think they could get any worse. I still don't think they can, but the roads in Jamaica are not too fabulous either. Right after stepping out of the airport we learned "The left side is the right side, and the right side is suicide." We also learned that in order to drive the roads from Montego Bay to Negril, you need a PHD: a pot-hole dodger. Just as we saw in Egypt, Jamaicans love to use their horns, only they use it out of courtesy, not for road-rage. If you're going to pass the car in front of you, honk to let them know. Or if you're a taxi driver, honk at every gringo you see, in hopes of picking up some business.

The Jamaican people are as friendly as they come. As an outsider, every local wants to shake your hand and inquire your name. So far I've met a Rasta Johnny, Reggae Ricky and even Morgan Freeman himself. After learning we're from Canada the response is always "Cold, cold, Canada" or some comment about ice and snow. We explain that no, we don't actually live in igloos, and in fact in Vancouver it rarely even snows.

"Welcome to Jamaica! First time?"
"Yes, first time."
"You liking it?"
"We love it, beautiful country."
"Alright, respect man, respect."
*And then we pound it*

We learned early on that Jamaicans say "respect", rather than "thank-you". But I think it has many more meanings than that. There is a lot of respect existent on this island. And the moral of 'help a brother out', is lucid in Jamaica. "One Love", as they say is the belief that all humans, no matter the colour, race or religion all share the same blood. We are all the same- "One Blood".

One Love is also the name of a very famous concert in Reggae history. Jamaican legend Bob Marley, along with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer performed a concert in Kingston in 1978 which lead to a peace movement and the 'one love' philosophy.

As we drove from the airport in Montego Bay to our hotel in Negril we passed the burial site of Peter Tosh. As our tour guide elaborated on the history of Reggae in Jamaica, I had recognized the name Peter Tosh, but I was surprised by the rest of it. So, Peter Tosh had moved to Kingston when he was only 15, after being raised by his Aunt because his parents were too young to care for him- which is where his speaking out for those who cannot fight for themselves came from. Once in Kingston, Peter met a boy named Bob and taught him how to play the guitar. Little did he know that this Bob would go on to be the number one most famous and influential Reggae artist on this planet.

Peter Tosh jumped on board and embraced the whole peace movement. He spoke out about political issues, and human rights. But ironically, after one of Peter's peace concerts, he was beaten by the cops for his political voice and then after a different peace concert, Peter Tosh was shot to his death. Slightly different story from Bob Marley's who over-dosed to his death. It was hard to believe how famous Peter Tosh was when I had barely heard his name. But as the Jamaicans say, "It's all about Bob Marley."

The Jamaican flag is one of the brightest ones I know. Bright yellow, lime green and black. We learned that the black represents the people, the green represents vegetation (Jamaica grows a wide variety of agriculture, from sugar cane and ackee fruit to coffee and ganja- the Jamaican word for marijuana) and the yellow represents sunshine- they have a lot of that too.

People say Vancouver is known for its’ fine cuisine, but the Jamaican food was wonderful- this Caribbean island really knows how to use spices. Jerk Chicken is the most popular dish, but our tour guide, Leroy, cleared it up "don't think the locals are calling you guys jerks." Jamaica, also known for it's Rastafarian has lots of vegetarian food as well. Leroy having short hair but claiming to be a Rasta himself, explained that the dreads are just for show- a Rasta is just at heart. Jamaican food also consisted of a lot of seafood. Their wide variety included snapper, lobster, shrimp and conch. My personal favourite dish: Rasta Pasta- penne pasta with assorted vegetables, a creamy coconut sauce and ackee fruit- a Caribbean fruit that tasted more like a vegetable, and is poisonous until it has naturally opened.

As we drove past these little fruit stands and barbecues selling jerk chicken on a deserted road, you can't help but wonder how these businesses make enough to live off of. But apparently they do. I guess the locals eat a lot of fruit and jerk chicken.

It was the first time I haven't been in Canada for Christmas- my first tropical one. And I must say, I much prefer traveling to the Caribbean over presents under a Christmas tree. Christmas Eve was a nice family dinner at Norma's- a famous Jamaican chef. And Christmas morning we got up to go jet skiing. It doesn't get much better than that.


One day we spent at YS falls, where we swung from a rope like Tarzan and enjoyed the natural beauty of the waterfalls. One day we went snorkeling at a beautiful reef, seeing all sorts of gorgeous fish, and a puffer-fish, which I attempted to make puff up, but failed. Even when we were just swimming in the shallow waters, occasionally you'd see a sting ray swim by, which makes you jump a little- don't want to get stung by one of those. One day we went to the world famous Negril cliffs, which I must say were pretty spectacular. We made a stop at the lighthouse where you have a fabulous view of most of Negril. And then we took a turn cliff jumping and watching some Jamaicans dive from incredible heights and doing insane tricks. And of course, we relaxed on the beach, soaking up some vitamin D, and hitting the ocean when we got too hot.

As us tourists bask in the sun, having spent at least $500 on a flight alone, there are locals marching the length of the beach with fresh squeezed orange juice, handmade jewellery or "sugar cane, pineapple, coconut, papaya", who probably hope to make $20 dollars a day. You can't help but feel guilty about how we live such luxurious lives while these people in front of us struggle to meet their basic needs. Also the fact that we are spending as much on a single meal, as these people are making in an entire day of work upsets me a little.

But there were two people I saw that really got to me. One was a young boy, he said he was in grade 7, but he didn't look older than 10. We got out of our taxi at the Negril lighthouse, and he approached us asking if we wanted to buy his cookies so he could go to school. 50 cents apiece he was selling them for. Imagine a 10 year old boy raising money, 50 cents at a time for his education. I asked where he went to school, and he said he has to taxi to and from school every day since it's too far to walk, and there's no public bus in the area.

The second person was a man who was walking down the beach, like all of those vendors. Except he was doing it a little differently; without vision. With every step, he swept his cane on the sand in front of him to make sure he wouldn't run into anything. He would take a few steps, then stop to stick out his hand. The part that got to me was not that no one was giving him money; it was that no one even acknowledged his existence. Can you imagine not being able to see, little own being totally ignored by everybody around you? And if blind people here in Canada have a hard time functioning in society, then imagine how difficult it would be in a country like Jamaica where they are not as advanced in science and technology.


It's hard to say, but I think think this might have been one of my favourite Christmas' yet, even though it hardly felt like Christmas at all.


Jamaica = love

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

World Peace.

RCMP officer by day and musician by night, Jesse David Weeks writes his songs about his encounters as a police officer. It may be about the people he meets, the fights he breaks up, the speeding tickets he gives or even the protesters of the G20 summit. All his songs give one clear message; and it's about world peace and a safe place for everyone.



"Big groups march down to the city
Each one with concerns on their mind
Each holds dear a cause to which they’re proud
Each story demands to be spoken
Each message deserves to be heard
Everyone wants their voice to be heard loud

Many march to their own beat
Caution now has reached its peak

How can we hope for world peace?
Tough enough to find peace in one city
Can we hope for world peace x3?
People protest police while misguided hate runs wild in the city
Can we hope for world peace x 2?

Leaders of nations are gathered
While public dissent is made known
Will scales balance and cooler heads prevail?
Police cars burn in the city
Rebellion reigns supreme
Riots become the climax of this tale

As quickly tension levels rise
Its only anger in their eyes

How can we hope for world peace?
Tough enough to find peace in one city
Can we hope for world peace x3?
People protest police while misguided hate runs wild in the city
Can we hope for world peace x 2?

Why can’t we all just get along?
Why can’t we sing the same song?
Why can’t dream the same dream?
How can we change this bitter scene?
"

Monday, December 6, 2010

2030

I sit here typing, just because I'd rather do this than answer questions about Canada's economy in the 1920s. Ahh, procrastination at its best.

Lately I've been attending many school board meetings and reading lots of blogs and articles about revolutionizing the way we learn and the way our schools are run; about teachers being innovative and incorporating technology into classrooms, while keeping traditional values and creating a sense of global community. Teachers have quite a challenging task ahead of them.

But it got me wondering; if I were born in lets say 2030, how would I be learning about Canada's economy in the 1920s? I'm sure it will look a lot different from what I'm doing right now- pen, paper and a text book.

We have an exciting future of endless possibilities ahead of us.

Santa Shuffle

I've grown a strong liking to these 5k runs. In October was the Run for the Cure, raising money for cancer research, which my mom and I finished in 40 minutes, and this weekend was the Santa Shuffle, raising money for the Salvation Army, which we finished in 35 minutes. Not only does it feel great to run through the finish line after a 5k run, but it also feels great to know it's for a good cause. I think I'll be doing more of these!


Girl Effect

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CBC Newsday in BC

This is coming to you a little delayed, but November 18th was Newsday in BC!

The 30 finalists from across the Lower Mainland filled the Atrium at CBC, as we celebrated the hard work we had put into our stories. For many of us, it was the first time working with professional journalists and mentors to help build our stories. Although this was the 3rd Annual Newsday in BC, this year was the biggest one yet. More students came to audition than ever, and this year CBC partnered with the Vancouver Sun to showcase print work as well.

I know that many of us have learned a ton about the media industry, and have a better sense of how things work. We've learned how to come up with a good story idea, how to conduct an interview and edit clips. The biggest lesson that was learned is that the story idea you start with will not necessarily be how it turns out. You have to be ready for sudden sharp turns in your path, and persevere through the obstacles.

Personally, my original story idea fell through when the plastic water bottle banning campaign I was going to follow, fell through. Others were stuck in a dilemma when the people they hoped to interview refused to speak with them. Or for some poor people, they were told just minutes before going on air, that their story was cut, because there wasn't enough time. Luckily they changed their mind, because that would have been tragic. We really got to live the life of a journalist for a short period of time, it can be hectic, stressful and crazy, but it's so rewarding when you see the final product published in the newspaper, on the radio, online or on TV.

The whole experience sure has given me a better understanding of what a career in journalism or broadcasting might look like, and I do like what I see. It's a job where you're constantly learning, and soaking in information. Although it was a lot of work for a 3 minute story, it was well worth every second I put into it!

Here is my story: http://www.cbc.ca/bc/newsday/student-reporters/transgendered.html







For the Love of the Game.

This weekend is the Hayley Wickenheiser tournament, taking place at the Burnaby 8 Rinks. It started on Friday morning with a game against the Czech Republic. This was the first time I've played a team outside of Canada and the United States. We were all extremely excited for this amazing opportunity, and we'd heard that their players ranged from age 14-30, but we really had no idea how they'd be. What we really weren't expecting was that their smallest girl (or lady, I should say) was probably 5'9, and they had 4 players on the Czech National team. The day before, some of our team had said they'd seen the Czechs and it looked as if some of their girls were young: after playing all the 30 year-olds we're thinking we might have seen their children. So as you could imagine, the game was a blow-out. The score keeper stopped putting goals up after they were up by 10 but I believe they got up to 17. A happy ending though, we scored in the last 30 seconds making it 17-1! Although we were destroyed, we didn't get down, and the sportsmanship was admirable- that is what international hockey is all about. Canada is known for being good sports and I think we demonstrated that for the Czechs.

Also as a part of this Wickenheiser tournament, there has been many different workshops for the athletes. I've been to two of them, and they were both quite something. On Friday night was the "Hot Stove" where they were discussing the future of women's hockey. Haley along with teammate Carla McLeod, and two other influential people in the female hockey world were leading the discussion. It all started on February 25th, literally moments after the Canadian Women defeated the Americans 2-0. After what had been the most intense year of training in their lives, and after a long stretch of rivalry between the two teams. Jacques Rogge made a statement that women's hockey might not be seen in the next Olympic Games; and from that moment on, there has been much discussion over the topic and lots of activism to be sure that that doesn't happen. At the "hot stove", we got to hear the issue being discussed from the perspective of many different roles in women's hockey. It was almost surreal to be sitting
in front of Hayley, this woman I've watched for so many years, and looked up to since I was young. She has been a huge spokesperson for women's hockey, and listening to her speak was something special. My favourite quote by her was when a young peewee girl asked her what her favourite Olympic memory was and she said "champagne and cigars after the gold medal game." very sarcastically. The Canadian women got in lots of trouble with the media for having champagne and cigars after winning their gold, but when the men did it, it's not problem. Another young girl asked why there's no women's NHL and women don't get paid 6 million dollars a year like the men do, and Carla MacLeod replied "because it's a mans world." And in the hockey world it really is. Canada has the most girls playing hockey in the world with 85 000 girls enrolled but many other countries have enrollment numbers in the low hundreds. Although there is no longer a threat about the sport not being in the next Games, these women are still working hard to try to bring the sport to the next level and help it grow around the world. I was sitting right next to Hayley's parents, and I had a giggle when her father asked a question about if a women will ever be inducted into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame, because although a great question, we all know that when is does happen, it will without a doubt be his daughter we see in it.



The second session I attended was one of Carla Macleod speaking about her Olympic experience, and more importantly the long journey she took to get there. She couldn't emphasize enough, that although the Olympics are the most incredible event to be a part of, they are only 2 weeks of a very long road taken to get there. I loved that people used to tell her "Carla, you're just too small.", and at 5'4 she is fairly tiny, but she didn't let that get in the way of her dreams (not the one she dreamed when she was 4, of playing on the Oilers, but her 12 year-old dream of representing Canada on the International stage.) We got a sense of hell that the boot camps are that the national team goes through, burning 4 000 calories a day. We got some inside scoop on the slogan "Mile 0... to Mile 25 500" which represented from the time the team started their first boot-camp of the season in Dawson Creek (a.k.a. Mile 0), to the time they hit the ice in Vancouver, they will have traveled 25 500 km. You could see it in Carla's eyes that although she has recently retired from the National Team, that her passion for the game continues to grow stronger, and her dedication to get more girls involved in inspirational. Since announcing her retirement, Carla has been coaching a college team in her hometown of Calgary, running all sorts of camps, and traveling to tournaments to speak and tell her wonderful story.




Hearing Carla's memories were like reliving the Winter Games all over again. I felt like I was back in the rink when Canada beat Slovakia 18-0, but at the end of the game, the fans gave Slovakia a standing ovation. That was the sense of sportsmanship and respect everybody had for each other. Carla had played college hockey with many of the girls on the American team, but she said when you're on the ice, you don't see faces and friendships, you just see the maple leaf or those stripes and stars. Give it your all on the ice, and as soon as you're off the ice, you can suddenly see those opponents as your friends again.

Tomorrow we play Kelowna. Us Avalanche have had a long-time rivalry with them, much like that of the Canada-US. Pretty well every year we meet Kelowna in the provincial finals, and every year it's a close game, but we've seem to alternate who takes home the gold each time. Last year though, the Avalanche didn't even go to provincials, so we haven't seen them in a while. Lets hope we will play the role of team Canada tomorrow, they can be the Americans.

I am silent, are you listening?

Well, I did it. I did not speak for an entire 24 hours on Friday, and I learned one thing for sure: the Vow of Silence is not fun. But it's not supposed to be fun. It was so frustrating to have no voice, and not being able to speak your mind. But that's really what the Vow was all about. Every time I was annoyed because I had something to say, but I couldn't say it, I thought of those children in Uganda who are forced to kill their families, their friends and capture their peers, and how they have so say in the matter. And then suddenly I don't feel so bad. Now I was silent for 24 hours; just imagine 24 hours 365 days a year- I can't.



Today was S I L E N T C I T I E S where all 24 MOB cities across Canada were silent from 12-2. The Vancouver (Mob)ilizers stood in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in plus 2 degree weather, and we were freezing. But then we saw pictures of Saskatoon standing silent at temperatures of negative 30- now that is dedication. We were all in our white t-shirts, with the causes we were supporting written on them- homelessness, poverty, right to education, clean water, child soldiers, abused children. My shirt said "I AM SILENT" on the front "for Evelyn, a 9 year old, LRA abducted child" on the back. I had just met Evelyn a few days ago, and she told us her story of being abducted by the LRA when she was only 9 years old, how she was beaten, traumatized by the deaths of friends and family, bombed at, and much more. After Evelyn escaped she had half her jaw blown off by a bomb, and as she struggled to find her way back to her family, no one would give her a place to stay, food or clean clothes because of the way her face looked. Evelyn was extremely fortunate that some American family has heard of her story and payed for her to come to America to get surgery on her jaw. Then, when the teenager went back home, some neighbours became jealous of Evelyn's trip to North America and decided to poison her pregnant mother. The two were killed from the poison, and as if Evelyn didn't already feel terrible, her father decides she's brought nothing but trouble since she's been home, so he abandons her. All this before the age of 18. What a story; a horror story. And that was who I was silent for today.

Although we were only there for 2 hours, we picked a high traffic area, and there were many people curious as they walked by, grabbing flyers and taking pictures. Many also just walked by as if they didn't notice, but if we as a MOB could make a statement and touch even a few people, then we have succeeded and made a difference. There was a great turnout, and although we were not speaking, I think the event unified us Mobilizers. I will be seeing them all again tomorrow at our workshop.
MOB FAMILY LOVE.



Friday, November 12, 2010

Roméo Dallaire

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing an amazing man speak.

A senator, the Lieutenant-General, the Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of National Defence, an author, the recipient of the Officer of Order of Canada, the Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec and the Aegis Award for Genocide Prevention. That is quite a mouth full; but that doesn't even do him justice.






After the incredible speech was over, I found myself speechless. This man had so much to say, and said it with such passion that I was lost in thought. After a lot of thinking and processing, I can now say that what I heard last night was nothing but astonishing.

If you've ever seen "Hotel Rwanda",
Nick Nolte played the part of
the Canadian general in charge of the United Nations Mission to Rwanda, also known as Roméo Dallaire. How a single man can be such a huge part of ending the Rwandan Genocide and how one man can have such a strong voice for children who have none, I will never know.

" I am dedicating the rest of my life to eradicating the use of child soldiers and eliminating even the thought of using children as instruments of war." - Roméo Dallaire


The general theme of the evening was about how this generation and is in an era where we think of our society as progressing. Because we are putting so much emphasis on the environment and making sustainable choices we think that we are doing the world so much good. But why are we worrying about the environment when just over that little pond called the Atlantic Ocean there are hundreds, thousands and millions of children being used as instruments of war? And why are we worrying so much about our environment and not worrying at all that at any moment an atomic bomb could explode and kill masses of people? Why are we saying as a society that we are progressing, when 80% of human population live in poverty? Us, the 20% of the population who are lucky to live in righteous conditions, we need to do something for that other 80%. Whether that be go overseas and work firsthand with children and families affected by war, or whether that looks like writing a one-line email to your MP every day, encouraging them to do something about these horrid issues.

The part of the presentation that got to me the most was when
Roméo described a memory of his. He said he'd never forget the time that he was in Rwanda; him and a few peace keepers were driving through a town where they got out, only to see dead bodies everywhere. Amongst all the lifeless bodies, there was a boy; covered in dirt, surrounded by flies and looked like he hadn't eaten in days. It was when Roméo looked into this boys eyes that he realized those were the same eyes of his 7 year old son he had left at home. That young boy living in these wretched conditions is just as much of a child as all the kids in Canada that have a home, a family and a school. No human is any better, or more important than the next, and in North America if there was an amber alert for any child, we would respond in an instance. So this is the question: if we saw our kids in a condition such those that the African children are in, we would act on it. Why aren't we helping these people who need our help? They are no less human than we are.

It really makes you think.

In a way I feel guilty, but I know that's not the message Rom
éo wanted to give.

Join Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire’s Zero Force, the global movement of everyday people united by a common goal — ­ to ensure that no child is ever again used as an instrument of war.
"Even one child soldier is too many."
Enlist at: http://www.blogger.com/www.zeroforce.org



Sunday, November 7, 2010

ENCOUNTERS!

What. A. Week.

I don't even know where to start. My past week in Ottawa was easily one of the best of my life, and I must say now that I am home, away from my 93 new friends, I feel a little lost, like I don't know what to do with myself.

Before I left, people told me that the people you meet will be some of your best friends, and I thought to myself 'How can you become so close to people in only a week'. Now I completely understand what they were talking about. It's amazing how 93 youth from every province across Canada can come to the Terry Fox Center, not knowing a soul, and leaving 6 days later with 93 new friends. The amount of tears shed as everyone departed on Saturday was unreal. The fact that we didn't sleep at all that night might have triggered some emotions, but it was like leaving your family, and maybe not seeing them ever again.

Remember that sense of pride and unity Canada felt during the 2010 Winter Games? That is what I felt during my week in Ottawa. Never have I learned so much about other regions in Canada. We learned that:

a. Farm kids go to school
b. People from PEI don't live in light houses
c. the terms LG and LB are a west coast thing
d. in Toronto sweat pants are called joggers

Throughout the week, I realized how great it would be to be bilingual. One of my good friends was from Quebec and she spoke just about as much English as I spoke French. It was neat that we became such good friends when we could barely communicate. Soccer is to thank for that friendship; the only word I needed to say was "ici". This trip also made me realize how little French I actually do know, and how much I really want to learn it.

From day to day, people became more open and friendships grew tighter. When a friend told me that by the end of the week you will be a big family, I didn't believe her, but it is totally true. On the last day we had a talking stick ceremony, where we sat in a big circle passing the stick around, where you may only speak when you have the stick. The comments ranged from a Quebec girl saying "You people are all so nice, I have no clue why Quebec would want to split from the rest of Canada" and then breaking into tears, to Hal saying "I met three amazing people this week; Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, an Hermione Granger." Most people said how they love everyone and will miss everyone and we are all amazing people, and although it was repeated more than enough times, every time I couldn't agree more. Tonight, I sit here missing all the amazing people I met, and a year down the road, I won't forget them one bit.

I must say, I am glad that I am one of the 42 or something people there from BC because that way it is easier to reunite. If I was one of the 2 from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick it might not be so easy.

Well, as I keep rambling on about how amazing the past week was, and how I'll never forget it, it kind of dawned on my that I just missed 5 days of school, and I probably should do a little bit of homework. Oh the harsh realities of coming home.

But to end on a good note, I'll just say: Solidarity Forever.
(Probably the most overused, yet the greatest phrase of the week.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Snorkelling Cats, Flying Elephants, Snake Charming, Sail Boating.

I dreamed last night of snorkeling with a purple cat with fins, and riding a flying elephant through the clouds. Then I ended up in India charming snakes, and then on a sail boat in the Mediterranean sea with the Chinese diving team and Johnny Depp.



Have you ever wondered where your mind comes up with these things in your dreams? I've always found dreams quite fascinating, and usually I wake up wishing my reality was as exciting as my dreams. I hate it though when I wake up knowing I had a good dream, but I can't remember it, and all day I'm trying to pick at my memory.

Or have you ever experienced a series of dreams that relate? Every now and again I dream of the the same science lab, doing all sorts of crazy experiments. And I have a crazy scientist friend with a giant red afro and laser vision goggles. One night I found a formula that can grow you a tail and a few weeks later I came up with a chemical that can make you any pet of your choice in a matter of minutes. If only this were true... I could be a billionaire!


15 Fun Facts:

1. When you are snoring, you are not dreaming.
2. Toddlers do not dream about themselves until around the age of 3.
3. You forget 90% of your dreams.
4. Ex-smokers have more vivid dreams.
5. 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color.
6. People tend to have common themes in dreams, which usually relate to school, being chased, running slowly, sexual experiences, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, teeth falling out, flying, failing an exam, or a car accident.
7. Our dreams are frequently full of strangers, but your mind is not inventing those faces – they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The psycho man with a gun may be a waiter you had at Boston Pizza 3 years ago.
8.
Normally you have four to seven dreams in a single night, and on average you dream from one or two hours every night.
9. Studies have proven that animals dream too.
10.
Five minutes after the end of the dream, half the content is forgotten. After ten minutes, 90% is lost.
11.
In your lifetime, you would've spent about 6 years of it dreaming. That is more than 2,100 days spent in a different world.
12. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 have the most nightmares of anyone.
13.
Studies have shown that our brain waves are more active when we are dreaming than when we are awake.
14.
Blind people dream too; whether visual images appear in their dream depends on whether they where blind at birth or became blind later in their life. Vision is not the only sense in a dream; sounds and smell become hypersensitive for blind people and their dreams are based on these senses.
15.
A lack of dream activity can mean protein deficiency or a personality disorder.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We Day Insomnia

Besides the fact that I had to get up at 5am for hockey practice this morning, I barely slept last night. And it's not because I'm an insomniac, I think it has to do with We Day.

Yesterday morning I woke up to my radio blasting. Now, normally I would hit the sleep button and put off getting up for as long as possible. But as soon as I heard "You know I know how" the first line to 'Club Can't Handle Me', I jumped out of bed. This is one of the We Day songs that the entire 20 000 youth occupying Rogers Arena will be dancing to. What a nice change to be excited to jump out of bed.

Then, for the past few hours that were meant for homework, I've been glued to cbc.ca watching "Shameless Idealists", the talk show hosted by Craig Kielburger himself, that I will be live in audience watching after We Day.

I can't see myself falling asleep easily tonight.



And after tomorrow's volunteer orientation, I can't see sleep being easy either.

Vancouver We Day 2010 begins in 37 hours.

Here we come world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank you- Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have a lot to be thankful for! It was only the other day I was sitting in the gymnasium at Argyle Secondary listening to two young Ugandan men speak about how they never really had a childhood and how they have always lived in fear. They grew up in Northern Uganda during the civil war and were forced to leave their families. They slept most nights in the bushes hoping not to be discovered by the soldiers.

Something like this really makes you realize how good you have it.

I'm thankful to live in such a safe, developed country.
I'm thankful for my childhood.
I'm thankful for such a loving family.
I'm thankful for great friends.
I'm thankful for the roof I live under, and the food I eat.
I'm thankful for my education.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to play sports.
I'm thankful for my health.

The list could go on for a while.

I know that these days we probably don't take enough time to acknowledge everything we're thankful for, but we really should. This weekend I was in a soccer tournament, I had hockey practices, I went to the Canucks game, I was at the We Day crowd pumping rehearsal, and I hung out with amazing friends.

This is why we don't have time to think about everything we have going for us; life is just too busy these days, but the fact that life is so busy, and that we can do all these things is something to be thankful for in itself.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Run for a Cure

Did I mention that I ran in CIBC's "Run for the Cure" last weekend. It was so much fun, and such a nice day for a 5k jog. Besides from that though, the atmosphere was just amazing. Some 22 000 Participants were there, creating a sense of hope and power. It felt like such a tight-knit community but it was a bunch of strangers. When people come together for one common cause, it's like a wave of spirit hits everyone. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces and were cheering each other on as they ran. It gave me shivers when I saw one lady walk up to a stranger in a Survivors shirt saying "You inspire me- I am running for you." To see people with such warm hearts rally for a cause and raise $3.6 million in a single day brings me great hope that anything is possible. People do care, and we can change the world!



More exciting news- I got the "Congratulations!" email today, about CBC's News Day in BC! I made the final 30, so I will now be paired up with a mentor and will have my story on the news on November 18th.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Irony

There's been a lot of talk about 21st Century Learning and Personalized learning. My favourite quotes from last night at the Education and Program Standing Committee meeting were "Learning styles are as diverse as fingerprints." and "Teaching is the most complex job on the face of the earth."

I found it ironic this morning while in French when a international student from Germany asked if he could use his phone as a dictionary because we don't have German-French dictionaries in the class. The teacher who I shall not name, but am not very fond of sounded appalled "Absolutely not!". I find it quite interesting how there has been so much talk about technology in the classroom and how can we take it to the next level, yet something as simple as using a cellphone for educational purposes is absolutely unacceptable.

We talked today in DSLC about keeping balance between technology use and still focusing on the fundamentals and relationship building. We discussed how it's crucial that teachers encourage teamwork and using diverse personalities to our advantage. It has been proven that students learn great deals from each other, so collaboration is very beneficial, yet this same teacher refuses to let us talk to each other. This is outrageous; we're learning a second language in silence. You are not to speak at all, it's like we're learning sign language.

Teachers have a revolution to create before this "21st Century Learning" ideals are reached. Here is a list that we came up with today of things we need to see from our teachers:
- engaging students to the global world
- assignments being able 24/7 and accessible anywhere
- creating balance between fundamental skills, technology and personal relationships
- flexible curriculum that works with for a variety of diverse students
- a Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

AND all this, while the budget is rapidly decreasing. All this while the class sizes are sky rocketing. And what I find the worst- all these young teachers who are passionate about changing the education system, and all the young teachers who are innovative and creative being laid off while the old, pen and paper, textbook teachers are continuing to teach the way they like- not what's best for the students.

Anyways.... on a lighter note here is a treat from Ben Lee. I love this song- it's a breath of fresh air, with every song these days revolving around sex, drugs and alcohol.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fill In

Life's been crazy, which is why you haven't heard from me.

I've been busy at school.
Hockey's started, soccer's started, field hockey's started.
I'm still trying to come up with a great story idea for my CBC News Day Audition this week.
I'm writing for The Espresso Press, which launches this weekend, so articles need to be created.
I've been working on this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPIrUm_Btrc

To fill you in on the weekend, we had the Vancouver (MOB)ilizers kick-off. Looks like a great group of youth, and it's going to be a fabulous year of social change. I'm counting down the days until WE DAY. (15!)

I helped at Walk for Smiles where we raised $20 000 for the Starlight Foundation work with experts from pediatric health care, technology, and entertainment to create programs that educate and entertain children with serious illnesses.

Next on the agenda was BC Rivers Day; a international festival (World Rivers Day) to celebrate and educate ourselves on the importance of rivers, and how to conserve them.

And of course, to the CBC broadcast centre for a great journalism workshop, where we met some big name reporters. I am more than excited to audition this weekend!

What a great weekend! And I even managed to get almost everywhere by bus, from UBC at 6am to Granville Island, I'm getting pretty good at this independence stuff!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday.

Wednesday; the half-way point.

To be honest, I'm really enjoying school so far- but that could very well change once tests, projects and homework begin to pile up.

Today, in socials we read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and then discussed issues such as the time when a BC baby was in need of a blood transfusion, but the parents wouldn't allow it because was against their religion. We discussed our views on the situation; backed up by the Charter we have the freedom of religion, but everyone also has the right to life, so here's a dilemma. Myself, being a very non-religious person thinks it's ridiculous to even consider religion over life, but after some good discussion I was convinced that religion is a powerful thing for some people and even if it comes to life-changing decisions they will not go against their faith. I have come to realize that as crazy as it may sound to an outsider, you have to remember that this is how they have been brought up, and it is something that is we have to be open-minded and tolerant about.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Charity Water

Yesterday, I ventured to Gastown for lunch with a few of the most amazing youth in Vancouver. I hadn't seen these girls for a long time, so we had much to catch up on. Emily had been in Germany, Hungary, Switzerland and Austria this summer, and is now fundraising to go to India next summer with Free the Children. Michelle has been to Turkey this summer with the World Youth Congress- as the youngest delegate there. How cool? And Dharra has started a exciting new chapter of her life- University. She's at SFU studying the arts, and loving it. When I gather with this group of powerful, motivated ladies, I feel like there's hope for our future, like anything is possible. If only every youth could be as involved and as passionate as these girls.

Now here's a video that caught my eye!


If you look on the right hand side of my blog, you'll find a Charity Water widget, you can take a few moments out of your privileged life and be part of something huge!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Fast Life

Have you ever felt like your life is playing in fast forward and you're sprinting just to keep up. September is always like that for me. And now that I think about it, the entire year is probably like that, but you get used to it and tend to not notice as much.

Yesterday, I got home from school, I hung out with my friends which I don't get to see nearly enough, I went to band, I ran home, got changed and ran off to soccer. After I showered, I checked my emails. I was flooded with emails about helping out at Walk for Smiles, our (MOB)ilizers kick-off event, a volunteer appreciation night, a reminder to sign up for Outdoor School and a recruitment for volunteers at BC Rivers Day. I looked at my calendar to see how much of this I can possibly squeeze in; and then there were the replies, "Yes, I would love to help out, but I might be there slightly late as I'll be running there from another commitment. Is that alright?" After it's all done, I look at all my orange highlighted events on the calendar and wonder how I'm going to do it all.

It's funny because I really don't enjoy reading Shakespeare's work, and today my English teacher said something to us that I thought was golden:

In today's society, life flies by at a hundred miles per hour. Shakespeare wrote in a time when life was much simpler, so in order to really understand the beauty and the plot of Shakespeare's work you need to put your life on pause, and focus souly on the story.

As much as I struggle to enjoy Shakespeare, I do think that what she was saying applies to any writing. And I believe that's why I enjoy to read and write. It's one of the only opportunities I get to calm down and leave reality behind for just a short while.

This picture is the definition of slowing down for a few moments, and taking the time to relax.

Many people are complaining about these hour and twenty minute classes, and I will admit; I'm not a huge fan. There's no way a teenager can focus for 80 minutes with no break. But I can tell you that when it comes to Spring Break and we are off for 2 whole weeks, I'm sure it will all be worth it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The MOB

"Social Justice isn't a hobby, it's a lifestyle."

"Our purpose is to be a megaphone for the masses."


I'm excited to say that I got my official "Welcome to the Vancouver Mob" email today.



"Over the last five years, the Me to We philosophy has taken on a
life of its own. We’re seeing a grassroots movement rise from the
ground up, a movement of student activists who are fearlessly
taking on some of our world’s most pressing challenges."

"We are the idealistic, the dedicated and the dynamic. And we are the change we want to see in our world. We tackle serious issues together, because we are serious about our role in society. It's through our daily choices in what we say, buy and think that we not only support, but live the worldwide movement of WE."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11

Exactly nine years ago today.

I can remember that morning, near the beginning of grade 2: I walked out of my room, my Mom telling me of the shocking news, being 7 years old I doubt I fully understood what was going on, but at school when my teacher brought it up, practically every single 7 year old student knew about the tragedy. I then realized that this was big news, and it was one that would go down in history.



Death toll- 2,996.

I can't help but cringe at the thought of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It really makes you wonder what went wrong in the lives of these people that they felt they had to take the lives of so many innocent people. Can you imagine spending your life planning out a plot to kill thousands and thousands of people and yourself. How great would it make you feel when you've just accomplished your goal or taking the lives of thousands. What was wrong in the minds of these people?

I'm currently watching "Inside 9/11" a documentary telling about what went on that nobody saw coming and how people tried to stop the attacks. What really gets to me is the recorded calls from a passenger to their loved ones, "I don't know what's happening, but I just wanted to tell you that I love you." Can you imagine?

"We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us." - Osama bin Laden
What a sick, sick man.

A thought goes out to all the families and friends who lost loved ones nine years ago and to the victims themselves who didn't deserve to die.

We can only hope that a tragedy like this will never happen again. There is no need for it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reality Check

Well school was in full swing today, and there's already been homework thrown at us.

I think I've found my favourite course, and it's barely even started. Social Justice. In the first class we already got talking about Free the Children, Invisible Children, Rosa Parks, sweat shops, brothels, child trafficking and the Great March on Washington. We've already started sponsoring a 4 year old girl to put her through school, and we've already talked about field trips to see plays on the Holocaust and discrimination. I love the sounds of this.

Other than that, school is school. The sound of that bell, and the secretary on the PA speakers with our "morning announcements" really hit me with a wave of reality. I can't say I'm dreading this year at school, in fact I'm not at all. But 80 minute classes- those could kill me. 75 was long enough, and even with 60 minute classes kids have trouble focusing throughout the whole thing, so I can't understand what they think 80 minutes will do for us.

Anyhow, I have a feeling things are going to get busy very quickly, so don't expect frequent blog entries. Although what usually ends up happening is I will blog late into the night instead of doing homework- that proves my procrastination skills.

Monday, September 6, 2010

BC's Capital

Yesterday was a very nice, long day spent in our provinces Capital city. We were up at the crack of dawn for the 8 o'clock sailing and back on the 9pm one. It was a long day full of shopping, sightseeing, moving Derek into his new house, and cute little coffee shops.

Besides the Parliament buildings and the beautiful harbour I'd have to say my favourite thing about Victoria is it's cute little coffee shops, with abstract paintings hanging on the walls, the smell of fresh brewed coffee and such a welcoming atmosphere the minute you step in.

Here are some pictures from the west coast Capital:













This is the cute coffee shop that we had lunch in.


While we were downtown there was a Public Market taking place in China Town.



There was all the typical market-like stuff: jam, hats, scarves, local produce, blankets, puppets, jewelery and art work, but what I was excited to see was a tent called "Freeset"



Freeset is a fair trade business that "offers freedom through employment to women trapped in India's sex trade." This unique bag-making company's slogan is "In Business for Freedom" which I thought was a really powerful message. This company is not a business to make a ton of money or to sell the best products, but their main focus is to give women in India a job that doesn't include selling their bodies. Freeset hires women not for their sewing skills, but on the basis of their need for freedom. Included in this job are things unheard of in India such as health benefits, pension funds, literacy classes and day care for their children. And most importantly these women are given the opportunity to have a job they can be proud of, and have the right to freedom. Not only are these women being free of prostitution, but they are now making a very fair wage rather than 50 cents a day which is hardly enough for one simple meal.

This tent was probably the busiest in the whole market; not only were people in love with the bags, but everyone was gathered around to read about the business too. It brought a smile to my face to see all those people who truly do care.

Friday, September 3, 2010

School- Summer- Friends

This may sound crazy, but I will admit I'm excited for school to start. I don't want summer to end either, but I like having a routine to my day and being busy.

I was down at the school for the first time on Thursday to show the international students around. There was 40 of them from countries like Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Norway, Korea and Hong Kong. It was really neat to see so many different cultures and so many new faces immediately bonding together. I guess when you come to a different country not knowing a soul, you better be open to anything. As we sat there complaining that school starts ten minutes earlier and goes ten minutes later than last year, the Germans were telling us that back at home they start school at 7:30 and end at 6:00, so they were not complaining about this 8:30 to 3:00. It's a really gutsy move to come to a strange country that speaks a different language, and I was expecting them to be quite timid, but that was totally wrong.

I'm cramming in all those summer activities that soon will be out of reach. Yesterday, I went to Ambleside beach with some friends. We played some volleyball, soaked up the sun, and went swimming with the whales- just a few days earlier a grey whale was spotted at Ambleside.

And some exciting news: I got a call yesterday that I was selected to be a part of the PNE Youth council. And better yet, two of my friends were too, who I didn't even know applied. Taylor Quinn who's part of my Student Leadership Council, and was a fellow "reporter" during the Games, but with a different program. And Samaah Jaffer was a Students Live reporter with me. I'm so very excited to see both of them, this summer they've both been circling the globe. Taylor to Shad Valley in New Brunswick and then Kenya with Free the Children, and Samaah was in England and Iran. Both amazing people, I'm excited to see them and hear of their amazing travels. We're having lunch with the president on Monday- president of the PNE that is. I'm looking forward to this year!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tibet. Canoes. Circus.

What a great day!

To start off the day I watched the end of the movie that I had fallen asleep during the night before (which is a bad habit of mine). Anyways, it was "Seven Years in Tibet" a 1997 movie with Brad Pitt. It's the true story of an Austrian mountain climber who is climbing the Himalayan mountains when the war breaks out; he's placed in a prisoner-of-war camp and eventually escapes to Tibet where he becomes friends with the Dalai Lama. GREAT MOVIE! I learned so much about Tibetan culture and about the Dalai Lama- who knew the Dalai Lama could be a teenager? And in Tibet, they believe that any living creature could have been your mother in it's past life which is why they treat every living thing with great respect.



For the past few days my lovely friend Jessica has been staying with us; it's not often we get to see eachother, but when we do, we have fun! Today we decided to go on a canoeing adventure, and so the newly repaired canoe hit the top of the van and into the water. We paddled from North Van all the way to Coquitlam- that sounds quite impressive, but to be completely honest it was less than half an hour paddle. How lovely it was to be out on the calm waters. And it must have been jellyfish season because wherever you looked there were endless layers of jellyfish beneath the boat. Thousands and thousands like I've never seen before, and a giant red one, dead on the beach. With the sun shimmering off the water, it was just gorgeous! There's no way I'd rather spend the last few days of my summer.

Then we went for a family dinner in Yaletown; Derek's heading back to Victoria for year 2 of University soon, so it was somewhat of a farewell dinner. And it was just so convenient that from there we could walk straight to the circus tents for Cirque de Soleil- the much anticipated entertainment for the evening. AND IT WAS FANTASTIC! I can't even explain to you the precision of every move, the strength, the balance, the flexibility and the coordination of every single performer. The amount of rehearsal time that must go into the show is unreal, but the outcome was mind blowing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rain, Rain, Movie Day

It's pouring today. And I mean pouring. You know that saying "It's raining cats and dogs"? That's never really made logical sense to me. But today, I can see where it originated from.

It's sad because I had visions for today, like going to Spanish Banks, or biking along the seawall, or even a nice hike up the grouse grind, but it looks like today's going to be a movie day. Time to catch up on those movies that I've meant to watch all summer, but never got around to.

The list:

Patch Adams
Bowling for Columbine
The Time Traveler's Wife
Blindsight
An Inconvenient Truth

And when I get through those, maybe I'll even read a book. Three Cups of Tea I'm reading at the moment, but then there's Alcatraz, Secret Daughter, I am Hutterite and Still Alice. I was hoping to read a stack of books this summer because as soon as school rolls around, I know I won't have time, but the plan didn't go so well either.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Conflict Mineral Free Pledge

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I recieved an email from Nintendo in responce to my "Take Conflict out of your Products" pledge email. Although it wasn't a personal responce, Nintendo was the only one of the 21 companies that bothered replying at all. Other companies included Dell, Canon, Panasonic, Blackberry, Motorola and Intel.

I pledged with a campaign called "Enough!" on raisehopeforcongo.org:

Help us increase demand for conflict-free electronics. Urge the 21 biggest electronics companies to make their products conflict free. The message is clear: “If you take conflict out of your cell phone, I will buy it.”


This is the message I sent:

To Whom It May Concern,

I know that many, many people- with the number is growing daily as the word spreads, and people are becoming educated on the topic- would be far more likely to buy your products if they were garunteed Conflict-free. It is no longer about who can make the cheapest products, that's not at the top of my worries anymore. No price is too much, if I am garunteed that there was no rape, slavery or torture in the making of the product. And I'm not the only one, everyday people are becoming more and more aware of these global issues; no one wants to support those causes. I challenge you to help create a better future for your company and for our world by making conflict-free products. This is the future!

Sincerely,
Lisa Odland



and here was Nintendo's responce:


On behalf of Nintendo I appreciate the opportunity to respond. Nintendo does not purchase any metals as raw materials. As a remote purchaser that buys finished components made from many materials, Nintendo requires its suppliers to comply with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Procurement Guidelines, which stipulate suppliers comply with applicable laws, have respect for human rights, and conduct their business in an appropriate and fair manner.

Sincerely,
Dervin Camden
Nintendo of America Inc.


That was quite nice to read, but I can't understand why out of the 21 companies only Nintendo bothered to respond, does that mean the others have nothing good to say about the topic on behalf of their company?

Watch a Congo conflict mineral video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF-sJgcoY20

If that video was enough for you to want to take action, then you can learn more, or sign the pledge at http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/action/commit-purchase-conflict-free-cell-phones-laptops-and-other-electronics.