Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Year Come and Gone

Well it's been a while since I've blogged which is really quite sad considering the amount of spare time I've been granted.

I thought it would be fitting, seeing as it's New Years Eve, to reflect upon the year that's drawing to a close. It's been a hot trend, especially amongst the blogging world, to highlight 11 moments and events of 2011. I'm finding it difficult to chose only 11 pieces of this action packed year to highlight, and since I like to find joy in the little things, I thought I'd list some memories big and small that I will take with me into the new year, and many years to come.

In no particular order:

- ridding the trolley cars through the hilly streets of San Fransisco
- sitting on Citadel Hill in the gorgeous city of Halifax with my baby brother
- beginning the last year or my high school year. That first day of school, being greeted as "The Grad Class of 2012"
- crossing the great Capilano River with some of my favorite people in the world
- canoeing in Deep Cove with 2 Japanese students, who lived such different lives from us Canadian children, yet were probably more similar than one would think- despite a great language barrier
- each and every day throughout my 5 weeks in Quebec, eating my meals with 15 vegetarians from across Canada (and Boston)
- sitting in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham, poutine in hand
- emceeing my grandparents 50th Anniversary, and celebrating with my huge extended family and my grandparents many, many friends
- enjoying the incredible atmosphere of my home city during the Canucks playoff run (before the game 7 incident)
- road-tripping around the Cabot Trail with the fam. Stopping for some great hikes, Maritime history, Eastern-Canadian culture and even some traditional celtic music.
- singing in the world-renouned Carnegie Hall with my school choir
- taking a bike-trip to "The Falls" outside of Trois-Pistoles with some of my greatest friends from Explore
- an epic, 5.5 hour hike from Grouse Mountain to Riverside Drive with Jess and Hip
- touring the Winchester House with my beloved hockey team
- enjoying a short clip of Mount Seymour's much anticipated "Canadian Little League Championships"
- having a sushi date with two of my childhood and current best friends, Brooke and Olivia
- snowshoeing with Ashley when she fell through the snow and into a river
- dancing, outdoors and shoeless for 4 nights straight with a bunch of French hippies at EcoFete (an environmental/music festival in Trois-Pisoles) and of course listening to some great French bands
- that fulfilling feeling I got, speaking French with my taxi driver as he drove me to the airport after my 5 Week French Immersion Program, something I most definetely would not have been able to do just 35 days before
- sitting on the pier on the St. Lawrence River, starting the night in French and slowly transitioning to our mother tongue
- picking up a local newspaper at a golf course in PEI, and seeing a friend from Encounters being featured as Valedictorian... it's a small world
- standing on the upper deck during Grad Boat Cruise in freezing weather wearing only a little black dress, simple to enjoy the fabulous scenery of this city
- reuniting with my Students Live crew for the 1 year anniversary of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
- interviewing Jay, Sekou and Eon of Bedouin Soundclash
- camping with my grad class on Twin Island, a Seycove tradition
- going on a boat trip with my good friend Brianna and her lovely family to the West Vancouver outstation
- spending Canada Day in Peggy's Cove
- running the 5km Santa Shuffle around the Sea Wall with my mom (our 2nd annual)
- crowd-pumping (round 2) at We Day Vancouver
- my weekend at RYLA, with Rotary youth from all over the world
- our day at the high ropes course with Catching the Spirit as one of our training sessions
- late night talks with Nayaab, Alissa and Emma comparing our lives at different ends of the country
- skinny dipping on Bowen Island with my softball team, who also happen to be my best friends
- reminiscing with Emily and Dharra at the Cottage Deli Cafe, my favorite little gem of Vancouver
- hiking Quarray Rock and sushi date with my Dad after returning home from Quebec
- Valentines Date at a vegetarian restaurant and cruising around Vancouver with my neighbour, Ashley
- standing on top of the world- or on top of the Empire State Building
- midnight walks to the Deep Cove government dock with Brookie
- instead of doing homework; having conversations over Google translate with Blake, just to annoy Mom
- my second and third visit to BC Student Voice (and getting interviewed by CBC)
- seeing Once Upon A Cure come alive, after months and months... and months of planning. And seeing $90 000 raised for MPS-II. Seeing Will Blunderfield perform live wasn't bad either
- family dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, their three kids, and each of those kid's three kids- first time together in a long, long time
- dressing up as Guidettes for my Halloween weekend soccer game

I'm impressed with my memory, and am grateful for all these joyous moments I have to hold close to my heart.

Happy New Year to all! May 2012 be just as memorable as the last.

As for a New Years resolution... I've come to terms with the fact that they never follow through as planned. So in that case, absolutely nothing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation Movement Supports Youth Homelessness

My article, as found on Youthink.ca



Image credit: Ksenia Orehova | Bedouin Soundclash take a photo with Broadway Youth Resource Centre alumnus Maddy (middle) and Centre Manager Robert Wilmot (right)

Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation Movement Supports Youth Homelessness

by Lisa Odland - Seycove Secondary, North Vancouver BC Dec 19, 2011


In Canada, there is currently 65,000 youth without a place to call home. With youth homelessness being such a big issue in our country, Virgin Mobile and its non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, founded the RE*Generation movement back in 2008 to fight this growing problem.

The RE*Generation Movement has been hugely successful having raised over $800,000 to date, and to continue their great work, Virgin and Juno award-winning Canadian Ska/reggae band Bedouin Soundclash teamed up earlier in December for a benefit concert in support of the Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC), one of Vigin Unite's partners.

Despite their busy schedule, the Bedouin boys - Jay Malinowski, Eon Sinclair and Sekou Lumumba - spent their afternoon at the centre to learn more about the impact their efforts would make, as well as the great work the BYRC does for youth.

The band was given a tour of the facility from the rooms where youth under the age of 25 can come to wash their clothes, to art studios where distraught teens can come express themselves. Bedouin Soundclash saw it all and were genuinely interested ine learning about the centre that they were helping to support. "We like to try to make sure that we get involved with things that are taking the right precautions, to ensure the money gets to the right places," explain Sinclair when asked why they chose to get involved with this particular initiative.

Futhermore, Malinowski feels that getting involved in the RE*Generation Movement really helps to put things in perspective for them. “Doing this kind of thing reminds you, or brings you back down to the things that are important in life. You know, you can get so tied up worrying about other things.” At the end of the day, lending a hand and helping others is always a win-win, and after speaking with Maddy, an alumnus and youth leadership graduate of the BYRC, it was obvious how much it meant to have Bedouin support a place that means so much to her. “Someone up there in society really truly does care about us. And they do want to see us be better, and they do want to wish us well,” comments Maddy.

Now an intern at BYRC Maddy is a beautiful example of a success story from the Broadway Youth Resource Centre. “When I was younger I was just this crazy 16-year-old that didn’t care about nobody,” she describes. “I didn’t go back to my foster place most of the time.” After eight years of help from the centre, Maddy is soon embarking on a new journey. “Now they’re [the BYRC is] going to pay for me to go to BCIT to do half business, half secretarial to come back here to benefit them”.

This is the kind of change that the RE*Generation movement pride’s itself in. They “aim to empower a generation to help its own,” which is what Maddy hopes to do. She was overjoyed to speak of not only how the BYRC saved her, but also the people that supported her during the tougher times. “The staff here wear their hearts on their sleeve, and they’re really here for the youth’s best interest. You’ll see all the staff here do overtime. There was one staff that was here until like 9 o’clock at night still doing paperwork to make sure that youth all got what they needed.” Maddy is more than thankful for the support she’s received and is hoping to give back as much as she can.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

count all the things you have that money can’t buy

My mother showed this to me the other day.
A beautiful story.
Isn't that what moms are meant for... never failing to put a smile on their child's face?
And it's very fitting for this blog.


"37 Seconds To Read: May Change Your View For A Lifetime" was a post by Eric Allen Bell on April 2, 2011 on his blog called "Global One TV Inward Revolution Creates Outward Revolution"


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’


Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Family

This is unusual... it's 9 o'clock on a weeknight and The Big Bang Theory isn't blaring on the TV; so loud that I want to scream.

I'm sitting in my freshly cleaned pajamas, drinking a large mug of Twinnings Earl Grey Tea. The house is dead silent tonight. It's beautiful. If I wanted I could turn on some soft Counting Crows ; but this silence is precious. It happens so seldom that it is something to be cherished.

I'm beginning to feel the emotions described to me by last year's graduates. "Enjoy grade eleven while you can; grade 12 is hard and stressful." They warned.

figuring out your future
school applications
mounds of homework
sports
scholarship applications
work
social life
family commitments
community involvement
and lastly
... sleep


This past little while more than ever, I've been feeling the pressure. The effects of sleep-deprivation are beginning to catch up with me. Last night I was so exhausted I had to go to bed at 8.

In stressful times like these, you need to have something to look forward to. Something to motivate you to keep going.

For me right now, it is this...

It's my trip to Lethbridge next weekend to see my Grandma and Grandpa who just yesterday celebrated their 58th Anniversary.

It's being there to celebrate my Grandparent's 50th Wedding Anniversary.


It's about seeing these cousins who I don't see nearly enough for my satisfaction. (Tegan- on the right- turned 14 today!)

I'm excited to visit this place, where I spent every summer of my childhood climbing hay stacks and picking strawberries.

Realizing that it probably felt like yesterday that my mother's family was the same age as mine is now. How precious time is.

The three Odland girls.

It's the precious family moments like this.

The graduations.

The sisterly-love.

The card games.

The parent-to-be's.

It's the bromances.

Right now, it's my family that keeps me going.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts and Vibes

Please meet this beautiful and adorable family; the Purcells.



Sadie, Ryan, Trey, Deb and Avery.

September was a very successful "Once Upon A Cure" fundraiser, raising over $90 000 for Hunter Syndrome. October was a trip down to the University of North Carolina for this hopeful new IT trial. And now, since returning only a few days ago, Trey has already been through emergency surgery to remove his infected intrathecal port.

What a crazy few months it has been for the Purcells. As wonderful as all this treatment has been; no child at the age of 7 should have to be dealing with any health issue of this scale.

Of course this takes an enormous toll on the whole family. However, Deb and Ryan have been amazing throughout the journey... always staying strong, never giving up or losing hope.

For me, following this roller-coaster ride has made me so much more appreciative of the health I was granted. Yes, I have been suffering from a knee injury and I get the yearly flu, but I will never take for granted how lucky I am to have the health that I do.

Please keep the Purcells in your thoughts. They could use all the good vibes you have to send.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Me In Media

After a Public Town Hall dialogue, weekends of workshops, trips to the Museum of Vancouver and the Woodward's building. After many late nights or reviewing and revising, what seemed like endless streaks of writer's block and coffee shop meet-ups with the editor; my "Me In Media" article has officially been published in Schema Magazine!

Photo is courtesy of Lara Hill, United Nations Association of Canada



It was an amazing experience for me, and a true look at what it's like to be a journalist. Stressful at times, frustrating, makes you want to just give up... but that only makes seeing the published product all the more rewarding.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We Day Vancouver 2011

We Day 2011 has come and gone and inspired another 18 000 youth to get out there and do something to create a better world. That something could be anything. As simple as a smile, or as grand as fundraising to go on a humanitarian trip.

This year, Vancouver had an amazing line up of speakers and special guests. Mia Farrow was amazing, Shaquille O'Neal got his dance on, Craig and Marc touched hearts as always. Spencer West gave the message of 'anything is possible', and Michel Chikwanine said nothing at all. For me, however, the most impressive performance was by a name unknown to me-- Noah Kaplan. His spoken word titled "Be the Spark" was mind blowing.




Now my only hope is that these 18 000 youth that lined the seats of Rogers Arena didn't just sit there and enjoy the music by Hedley, Down with Webster and Classified, but that they actually soaked in the message and will go out and do something.

For me, the moment I got home from We Day, I was on the computer organizing a fundraiser for the (MOB)ilizers.


We are the movement.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Appreciation

Today, my heart aches for Jamaica. All I can think about is that tropical sea breeze, the sound of soothing Reggae music and the smell of those crystal clear waters. The freedom of waking up whenever your heart desires, and having nothing to do all day but read a book and soak up the sun. I can almost taste the fresh squeezed orange juice that was was my breakfast each morning, and I can almost feel the sand on my bare feet as I walk along the beach.

On another note; something else that's been on my mind a lot recently is the "Once Upon A Cure" gala. It was this past Saturday at the Sutton Place Hotel. And let me tell you; it was an INCREDIBLE event. The tallies aren't even finalized yet, but we're at $90 000 raised!! Aside from the fact that the majority of Vancouver's big actors and actresses were there, and that the event was being filmed for an episode of "Cupcake Girls", the vibes of the place was just inspiring. There was so much positive energy and hope towards a brighter future for children with Hunter Syndrome. I was blown away by the generosity of everyone; from raffle tickets, 50/50's, auction items and general donations, people were spitting out their cash like there's no tomorrow. In particular some of the big name celebrities, who not only agreed to come to the event, but tweeted about it leading up, cheerfully took pictures with die-hard fans, and bid $1000 on a silent auction item valued at $65. When a group of people so dedicated and passionate come together to create change, they are a force to be reckoned with. I myself was even emotional that night, so I was amazed by how well Deb, Ryan, Heather and others held their composure. The amount of work put into this event was grueling. The hours and hours spent getting sponsors, special guests, decorations, auction items, a venue... it really was an unfathomable amount of work. The fact that so many people; from friends and family of the Purcells to complete strangers came together to make this happen, restores my faith in mankind. SO much effort went into the gala, and it was absolutely worth every second. I honestly can say that I didn't even imagine the event to be as huge of a success as it was. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
Here is a wonderful video on the event.

And the last topic on my blogging agenda today, is my knee. My poor right knee. Yesterday during my hockey practice, I fell in an ever so graceful manner and ended up twisting my knee in a way it is not supposed to go. At the time of the injury, it didn't actually hurt all that much. I could skate just fine, only with a little bit of pain. It wasn't until later that night when I was doing homework, sitting in the same position for hours on end, that it really began to hurt. When I got up to make myself a cup of tea, I could barely even walk to the kettle. Moral of the story is that after the pain I endured last night, I need to start being thankful when my body is at full strength. It's just like when I got my wisdom teeth out and thought of how thankful I will be when I can eat without pain again. But nothing really changed. Or when I got home from Quebec, and I thought I'd have a new appreciation for being able to communicate effortlessly. That only lasted a few hours. But it's true that I don't often realize how lucky I am to have a body that allows me to do all the things I want to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When life gives you lemons.

What a day.

I ended up being late for my "Once Upon A Cure" volunteer orientation, a project I have been working on for close to 9 months now because I got caught up in the thrift store finding a Halloween costume that I just couldn't let go.

After missing the sea bus I had intended on taking, I ended up on the next one... right beside the new born baby who didn't seem to be happy with the way things were going. And on came the headache; probably partially from lack of sleep the night before, partially from dehydration, and without a doubt, largely caused by this young child's piercing scream.

I figured the responsible thing to do would be to call and let someone know that I was running a little bit late. To my pleasant surprise, when I took my phone out of my pocket, the screen was black. Lately it has enjoyed randomly shutting off and not turning back on until it's inconveniently plugged back into a power source.

The skytrain was my next adventure. That went fairly smoothly, except for the old lady who spilled hot coffee on my arm; and that I was just about a strand of hair away from being slammed by the doors of the skytrain because I was caught in a daydream when we reached my stop.

I arrived at the Sutton Place Hotel surprisingly not too behind schedule. I was a little wet for my liking, however, and not exactly wearing the proper footwear for the amount of rain Vancouver can douse. As all the volunteers stood in a circle learning about what our jobs entail, I was looking around the floor at people's foot attire. Plenty of UGGS, some gumboots, leather boots, and the odd Toms. There I stood with red, numb toes in my ever so suitable Birkenstocks.

The rest of the meeting went fine. Might I add that I am super excited to finally see this thing happen. I've seen all the sweat and tears (hopefully no blood) that the Purcell family, and so many others have put into this. Endless newspaper articles, television news features, tweets, statuses and blog updates about finding a cure for the monster we call MPS-II. Compared to the work everyone else has put in, what I've done seems quite minimal, but I am proud of the contribution I've made.

On the way home I decided it might be faster to bus home rather than hop aboard the sea bus. Much to my surprise as I approached the bus stop, my bus was there- almost as if it were waiting for me. Maybe the first thing that had gone my way this entire day. Turns out the reason the bus was waiting there, for me, was because it was out of service; having technical difficulties.

I'm a pretty patient person, but here's where you would start to loose it. I took a few deep breaths and took a seat under shelter. The worst case scenario would be waiting 20 minutes for the next bus, and that was if this bus wasn't fixed before that. Twenty minutes was the perfect amount of time to do the assigned reading for my Lit class.

I sat there trying to read. The bus driver was near by having a smoke when a curious commuter began asking questions about Translink, Bombardier, trolley-cars and subway stations. From a passer-by, these two middle aged men could have looked to be lifelong friends. Moving into conversation about German engineering, the economy in the United States and even night life in Vancouver. I learned a thing or two as well. Who would have guessed that the new Translink buses cost $500 000 a piece. With his Eastern-European accent, this bus driver explained the new transportation route that may possibly go in to conveniently connect UBC with downtown Vancouver.

For me, this was one of those moments that makes you smile. I sat there in the pouring rain, waiting for a bus that was shut down, pretending to read a book while actually eavesdropping on a conversation between two random strangers who could have been cursing the circumstances, but instead took it as an opportunity for conversation and learning. After all that had gone wrong in my day, I found something to smile about. I love Vancouver. The sound of those rain drops on the bus stop's roof, and watching the hustle and bustle of the West Coast's jewel was a moment to cherish. People rushed by. Up and down the staircase leading to the underground skytrain station. Lots of business people carrying briefcases, families with kids in strollers, and what you could call the dread-locked, sustainably conscious hippies.

That wasn't the end of my bad luck, karma, stupidity; whatever you want to call it. About 10 minutes into my bus ride, it occurred to me that the bus I was on was heading to the North Shore all right, but not via the Lions Gate Bridge; therefore not by Lonsdale Quay where I had left the car. By this point, a realization like that doesn't even begin to get to me. I guess I will just have to catch the 239 Park Royal upon my arrival at Phibbs. Lets consider it taking the scenic route.

I finally made the trek back up (in the rain; without an umbrella) to the car parked on Lonsdale and 6th. Now I am absolutely starving, and some liquids in me wouldn't hurt either. As I drove back home; roof over my head, good music in my ears- I let out a deep sigh. Everything is okay. After all that; what some might have considered to be an obviously horrible day, I have nothing to complain about. My life is absolutely fine. And can a day be really all that horrible if you're coming out of it with a little extra knowledge?

So since I started writing this, my little brother has deleted a good half an hour of my hard work right off my computer. Better than 3 hours, I guess. And I couldn't help but feel, as I stuck my hand in my backpack to take out some books, that a bottle of shampoo and conditioner have leaked everywhere. First off, who keeps shampoo and conditioner in their backpacks? And secondly, I guess out of anything that could have spilled, shampoo and conditioner are some of your better options.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Growing Up..

Today as I sat in the backyard I've grown up playing in, I listened to the neighbors music. The same neighbors that have also been my best friends since day one.

I read a book in the sun, but found it very hard to concentrate. Not only because of the scorching sun, but also because every time I had enough focus to get through a paragraph, that question would come up again. It's a question that has been far too familiar with me lately. At the dentist office, and the hockey rink, at the airport and in my own house: "Do you know what you want to do after high school?"

The answer is always the same. "I have no idea." or sometimes it's "Well I know nothing to do with sciences."

I've always been told that you never really need to know. It's ridiculous that society expects 17 year olds to decide what they're going to be doing for the rest of their lives. But judging by the frequency I receive this question; I'm starting to think it's an important one. And I need an answer. Soon.

But I don't have that answer, as much as I wish I did. And it's not the kind of question that you can give a half-ass answer to. This is the rest of your life we're dealing with here.

In exactly 12 months I will be beginning the next chapter of my life. Maybe moving out and going to school. Maybe traveling or working. I'm not even sure what the possibilities are, but I guess that is something I will be figuring out soon enough. Or more realistically, I'll probably never know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Caught the Spirit

It's been 52 days since my last post. Summer is for getting outside, not sitting infront of a computer. But here's my post for the "Catching the Spirit blog:





Well, that’s a wrap. The final CtS weekend of the summer is in the books, and I’m filled with memories to last a lifetime.

Last weekend I had one of those “this is what I live for” moments. We were sitting around the campfire on Saturday night, it was the end of an incredible day of stewardship, scavenger hunts and sustainable eating activities. I couldn’t think of a better way to end off this day but with a campfire and the Cap River crew. We took turns around the campfire sharing our “magical nature moments”. For some, it was “right now”. For others it was when they’d found a piece of a meteor after watching the most incredible meteor shower of their life. For one of the supervisors, it was riding on the back of a motorbike in France as the sun set behind the mountains, almost like a pastel painting.

Whether the participants shared or not and no matter when or where these moments had taken place, nature is one thing we can all relate to. There isn’t a person who hasn’t had one of those breathtaking moments with the natural world. I am a strong believer that nature is a medicine. It’s a tool to clear the mind of all the stress in our lives. It’s an place where people can feel an instant sense of belonging. I believe that two people- nothing alike- can find in nature, a way to connect.

Then after a downpour of special moments, we took a moment to simply listen to the fire crackle, the trees swaying in the wind, the river gently flowing. After that, I had a new “magical nature moment” in my collection.

As a last camp special, our peer leaders who won’t be joining us next year requested a group sing along to “Lean on Me”. It was as much humming as it was actually singing the lyrics, but when we hit the chorus, everyone was singing along. During that song, I was thinking back to my first experience at Catching the Spirit. My first leadership training where I met the rest of the Cap River crew; the people I would be working with for the summer. But it turned out to be a whole lot more than that. We’ve developed into a family, as cheesy as that sounds. But it was proven later that night after our peer leader debrief. We stayed up for an extra 2 hours, despite being exhausted beyond belief. We sat there recalling memories throughout the years, we created a Cap River mating call and even tried to have a yoga/meditation session.

That right there, is what I call a wonderful summer.

In the words of Nat, “Woo woooo!”

- Lisa Odland
Peer Leader, Capilano River

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Halifax

Can I say I am more Canadian since landing on the East Coast of Canada for the first time?

Last night I tried molasses on my biscuit, apparently a Nova Scotian thing. Strange, but surprisingly good.

I woke up at 10 o'clock this morning... who does that when they're travelling? So little time, so much to do. But I guess the fact that it was only 7am at home might explain things. When I looked out the window this morning, I was rather confused. Had we left Vancouver? Fog filled the sky, much like your average morning in Vancouver.

So we layered up in our rain jackets and took off for the day. First stop: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. To be honest, it was boring. I'm not really a museum person, but overall, just not an interesting museum.

The one topic that I was interested in was an exhibit called "Hello Sailor!" Gay Life on the Ocean Wave. My initial thought was that I'd be learning about the tragedies that homosexuals on board the ships had to endure, but I was pleasantly surprised. The exhibit was in fact about the "gay heavens" that were these boats. Many men looked to the sea for an escape from the homophobic attitudes they were experiencing on land. There were stories about men who were openly gay at sea, but upon returning to their wives they fell into a state of depression. It was explained that for entertainment, gay and straight men alike put on drag shows for their personal fun at first, and later as shows for their passengers. On some boats, over 50% of the crew was gay, and they were accepted for it. Lesbian women, however, not so much.

After not being too impressed with that museum, what do we do but head to a second museum. This one was much more interesting however. It was the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 where thousands upon thousands of immigrants arrived from overseas. Blake and I got our picture under the door where our great grandparents made their first steps onto Canada (known as the land of milk and honey apparently?). Am I ever grateful that they decided to make that move. Canada Day is tomorrow and my Canadian pride is apparent.

Probably my all time favorite exhibit was in that museum; Revolutionizing Cultural Identity. Kip Fulbeck, a professor at the University of California is the creator of this fascinating piece called "The Hapa Project". Hapa: once a derogatory term stemming from the Hawaiian word "half", but is now embraced by many whose mixed racial heritage includes Asian descent.

Kip took pictures of the bare head and shoulders of over 1200 people from all walks of life. With nothing covering their shoulders and little to no makeup hiding their face, we could see these people for who they are. Under their picture was their ethnic backgrounds and a handwritten blurb from each of them answering the question "What are you?". The answers were diverse. Many straightforward and many clever. One of the cuter ones was a young Chinese, Danish boy, "I am part Chinese and part Danish. I don't like to tell people I am Danish though, because they think I'm a pastry."

A Chinese, Japanese, German, Hungarian, English wrote "I am a person of colour. I am not half-"white". I am not half-"Asian". I am whole "other"."

One Japanese, French, Irish lady replied "I am millions of particles fused together making up a far less than perfect masterpiece. I am the big bang."

It might have been the simplicity of this exhibit, or the fact that it is relevant today; not history from 70 years before I was born, but there was something about this exhibit that made it fascinating.

If I had to answer the question, "What are you?" I would probably answer with a Doctor Suess quote "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Gotta love Doctor Suess. He says things like they are.

From there we went on a nice long trek (after Dad had promised it was a short little walk) to the Dalhousie campus. A good friend of mine, Taylor Quinn, is heading there in September to study international relations. I was thinking of him as we walked through the campus of the school founded in 1818, the largest school in the Maritimes and one of the oldest post-secondary institutions in Canada. But I was also thinking of him all day actually, because tonight, as the world tunes in to watch William and Kate arrive for their Canadian tour, Taylor will be in Ottawa to have dinner with not only them, but the Prime Minister, the Governor General and Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children. Taylor was invited to represent the youth of Canada. I couldn't think of a better person to give this opportunity to; he is more than deserving of it.

And to finish off the day- because the Halifax Citadel we were hoping to visit was closed- I sat on the deep green, and freshly watered grass of the hill that overlooks the city and it's harbour listening to Counting Crows and repeating the motion of threading a red and white bracelet. Serenity.

Tomorrow is Canada and we are off to Peggy's Cove.

Goodnight.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fabulous Five

School's out! And it feels good.





I can now do some of the things I enjoy, that I haven't had time to do for a while.

Number one: read some of my favourite blogs. (yes, I'm a geek).

One of my all time favourites is "From the Trenches of Adoption" , written by Valerie Rieben, an amazing mother of eight (yes, 8) children. And we've just heard news that number nine and ten will be joining the family shortly- two boys from Bulgaria with Down Syndrome will be given the gift of love and family.

Of Valerie and Richard's children, three are adopted from Bulgaria, one from Ukraine, one from Uzbekistan and a set of biological triplets of their own. Now that is one amazing family. As if that weren't enough, all of their adopted children have mental or physical disabilities. How this woman has time to blog, I'll never know. But I do know that she is one super human. She has given hope and joy to 5 kids who have been given up on. "When we look at him, we do not see disability. We simply see a precious little boy who desperately needs a family to love him and help him reach his full potential." -Valerie Rieben

Joshua was born with a rare birth defect called phocomelia, which affected the growth of his legs in the womb and left him with legs that end just below his hips. Evan was born with a rare birth defect called Arthrogryposis that is characterized by joint contractures and results in muscle weakness and fibrosis.

Small world, because my good friend Grace Brulotte from the Students Live 2010 crew, also has Arthrogryposis... and she blogs! "Disabled and Living in the Real World" is another one of my favourites.

This post is inspired by an philosophy of Valerie's:
"Several years ago I started keeping a "joy journal." At the end of each day, I would write down five things that had happened that day that made me smile. I called them my Fabulous Five."

What a great idea. I have so many things to be thankful for, but rarely take the time to reflect upon them. Here is my "Fabulous Five" of today:

1. The fact that I was in my pajamas until 5pm today. I normally prefer to be busy and always on the go, but everyone needs those lazy days; especially after 10 straight months of school.

2. Vancouver weather. It was a torrential downpour for a while this morning... but not to worry, 20 minutes later it was sunny and 17 degrees. It's the best of both worlds for our beloved plants and forests.

3. StumbleUpon. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to this fabulous concept of "Stumbling". It's an amazing time waster, but you come across a lot of wonderful things. For example:


Here is a list of popular sayings or “Seuss-isms” from Theodore Geisel “Dr. Seuss”.

1. A person’s a person, no matter how small.
2. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.
3. Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
4. From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
5. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
6. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.
7. If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.
8. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.
9. So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.
10. And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.


I also "Stumbled Upon" this:


Too funny!

Back to the Fabulous Five....

4. New York had news today that made me smile. The NY governor signed the same-sex marriage bill into a law. This new law has doubled the number of Americans living in a state where gay and lesbian marriages are legal! Hopefully other states will follow. What an amazing step towards equality. We are moving forward.

5. Mom and me time. We went shopping today for the first time in a while. Not that I particularly enjoy shopping, but spending time with my mom is always (mostly) delightful. We indulged in the best caramel apple I've ever tasted. We laughed over pick up lines in my French phrasebook. We belted out "Hallelujah" on the ride home- slightly out of tune might I add.


I'm very grateful for all these things. It's the little things that we too often take for granted, so I think I just might regularly record my "Fabulous Five".

Thanks Valerie!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Examination: an assessment intended to measure ones' knowledge

Typical me. I'm only blogging because it's somewhat of a decent excuse for not studying.

This morning I wrote my French exam. I am not an exam person. Quite frankly, I don't know too many people that do well on exams. Sitting in a gymnasium with 200 plus students, listening to the floors creak as teachers patrol the room is not my idea of a comfortable learning environment. Listening to the clock tick second by second, trying to recall the details from that lecture on Canadian Autonomy we had back in October. It's a nightmare.

There's been a lot of talk lately about "untests", and the concept that in a number of years, tests may be obsolete. Of course, as a part of school, there needs to be some form of testing your knowledge. But is cramming for an exam, only to forget everything a few days later the best way to do it? I hope not. I'm very optimistic that my generation will be one of the last ones to be forced to use the cram and forget formula. In the near future I hope our education system can be reformed into one that is based on interactive and personalized learning, where we've developed a better way to test knowledge than a multiple choice bubble sheet.


A man known for his utmost intelligence and brilliance, even wasn't thrilled with his education:

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." -Albert Einstein

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." -Albert Einstein



There was one thing I did enjoy about my French exam this morning. No, not that I'm done French forever like the mindset that got most of the other kids through the exam. The further I got into it, the more and more excited I became to head off to a Francophone town this summer to embark on a journey of French-learning and friend making. While writing my 150 word composition on what attributes make a good friend, I realized that I really do know more French than I sometimes think I do. I'm so excited to be forced to use my 7 years of French to communicate. It will be difficult, but I'm always up for a challenge. Frederick Wilcox once said "Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."


I love when how when I searched images of "Trois-Pistoles" many of the images on the first page were of hockey arenas. I think TP and I might get along just fine.


Here are some photo's of the place I will call home for 5 weeks this summer:



















And this photo makes me outright ecstatic to be spending my summer here.

Well, I've procrastinated long enough, I should probably get back to studying. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(MOB)ilizers

Here's what I have to say about the fantastic Vancouver (MOB)ilizers:

On that first MOB meet and greet on Granville Island where we got to know eachother, and then proceeded to flash mob in the park, I knew that we were going to have a amazing year. After only that one day I could feel the community we were forming. Then there was We Day, Halloween for Hunger, Gandhi Loves to Rave, and my personal favourite the Vow of Silence. With every new fundraising or awareness campaign, I felt closer and closer to the other (MOB)ilizers, and I felt as if I was doing amazing things for our world. Some days, when I was stressed beyond belief, or losing my sanity, I would remember those moments where we stood silent for 2 hours in those friged tempuratures or that day that we pumped up a crowd of global citizens. Some days, the (MOB)ilizers kept me sain. I love you all dearly, and thank each and every one of you for what you have done for me.

Mad MOB love,
and look forward to seeing everyone back next year!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Mr. Harper

Here's one of my favourite school projects I've ever done: a letter to our Prime Minister.



Dear Mr. Harper,


As a Canadian citizen, I believe Canada needs to live up to its agreement as signed in the Kyoto Accord. After reading up on greenhouse gas emissions and learning that Canada is the third worst polluter on the planet, I was shocked. I thought Canada was really advanced when it comes to environment and sustainability, but that’s when I realized that we, as everyday citizens are, and it is in fact our government that is holding us back.

I am only 17 years old, and I may not have quite the knowledge about these issues, but what I do know is that it is my generation that will be most significantly affected as a result of our careless actions. I have been fascinated growing up in this revolutionary era where social media, and the “green” movement are taking over. I have seen more businesses and companies taking on green initiatives, and more environmental organizations being uprooted than I ever could have imagined. Now when people think of Canada, we think of living in a democratic society where the people are represented in parliament, but I have a question for you. Why is it that we citizens are putting so much effort and passion into these movements, and the Canadian government isn’t acting upon it?

Recently I took a school trip to New York where I was amazed by the buzz of the city, but more dominantly disgusted by the horrible condition they’re in environmentally. It was during that trip that I truly realized how appreciative of the clean air, the forests, the mountains and oceans we have here in British Columbia. It’s all fine and dandy now, but what happens in the future when our astonishing natural world is destroyed by the apathy of our government? Then I will no longer be able to look outside and say I am proud to live in such an amazing country, because I will be so regretful of the fact that we could have done something, but instead we didn’t. And this is why we have to act, now.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that greenhouse gas levels are higher than they ever have been before; or at least what has been observed over the past 20 million years. Our earth’s average temperature has drastically increased too. This is definitely not a natural fluctuation; it is result of humans diligently burning oil and coal, and destroying forests. The current Kyoto round for Canada calls for a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 6%. Six percent really isn’t impossible to achieve. Yes, it will be a challenge, but I’ve witnessed an action plan much like this. During Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics, we reduced car traffic by something like 30%. Now we’re only talking 6% here, and if we’re not up for that challenge, than really what are we up for?

CTV News, the Toronto Star and the National Post have all named you as the “anti-environmental Prime Minister of Canada”. I don’t know how you feel about that title, but if I were you, I would not like that, and I would do all that is in my power to change that. The changes that could be done would not only help your reputation, but also the rest of Canada, and the entire planet.

You once said, “We think the deal itself, Kyoto, is simply bogus.” and in a sense, you are indeed right. Kyoto is just a tiny step towards sustainability; however, refusing to even take that first step guarantees failure. When George Bush refused to sign the Kyoto climate change treaty, Australian Senator, Bob Brown began to boycott U.S. oil. So indeed, there are significant economical advantages to Kyoto as well.

In relation to Alberta’s oil industry, many people believe if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people will be consuming less oil, therefore Alberta will sell less oil and make less profit. I however believe that is backwards, I believe the solution is to use more efficient cars and machines that use less oil, which means our natural resource, oil, will last longer, and remain generating revenue for a longer period of time. Oil prices will be able to be raised, because of the fact that their customers are saving money from using more efficient vehicles. In the long run, oil producers would make more money for the same amount of oil.

In terms of saving tax money, much of the ever evolving illnesses and diseases of our world are due to environmental causes. The reason for many of these new-found cancers are because of toxins in our air, water and food. If we take more care of our air, water and food, we could be spending less tax money on health care and medical treatments.

Since Al Gore, arguably one of the most influential people in this environmental revolution, won the prestigious Nobel peace prize, global warming deniers have quickly died off. After all the science, studies and research gone into it, it is almost impossible to deny the fact that this is a huge issue. This is why I get slightly frustrated when I hear comments from you like, “Let’s forget about this unworkable treaty… Kyoto’s never going to be passed.” and “Carbon dioxide which is a naturally occurring gas vital to the life cycles of this planet.”

Have you watched the news lately? There has been an abnormally high number of “natural” disasters. I put natural in quotations because they really aren’t that natural at all, they are the byproduct of our actions and decisions. They really are environmental disasters, not “natural” disasters. And you can’t tell me that these disasters that are killing thousands of people, destroying people’s homes and destroying our world, is something that we can just ignore. We need to take action, now.

One way or another, the decisions you make today will seriously affect the future of our country and world. And although you may not be here to witness the consequences, I probably will, or your kids, or my grandkids.

I as an active Canadian citizen would like to encourage you, Prime Minister of Canada to live up to the agreement as signed in the Kyoto Accord.


Thank you for your time and understanding.


Sincerely,

Lisa Odland
high school student in North Vancouver, British Columbia

Monday, May 23, 2011

a day for discoveries

This is my one hundredth post!



They say that you learn something new everyday.

Well today was full of discoveries and learning. I headed downtown with Heather, Deb and Donna. That is Trey's mother, grandmother and another lovely volunteer. We headed down Burrard St, going from business to business asking for auction donations for Once Upon A Cure. That in itself was a learning opportunity. Some people were amazingly friendly, and others were outright rude.

After approaching literally every business on the block- both sides- we headed to the Cactus Club for lunch. And this was where I really learned.

Deb has always amazed me. A wonderful mother to three young kids; one with a severe illness. Her passion and dedication to funding research for MPS-II is inspiring. You couldn't imagine the hours this woman puts into learning about this complicated disease, travelling to treatment centers, loving and nourishing her children, and organizing events that will result in the some of the only funds in the world going towards MPS-II research. I've only met Deb a few times, but I read her blog on a regular basis. And I think it's because of that, that I've been so drawn to her family. There is something about that family that is so appealing, I feel like I'm part of it. I hope one day that I can be half the mother that Deb is.

The real learning came when we starting talking about "unschooling"- the way Deb has chosen to educate her children. It's pretty much homeschooling, but with a few differences, and a much more modern name. I'm still not sure how the actual learning at home works, but she explained the things she didn't like about the traditional school systems, which really made sense to me. She explained how everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, yet at school it just so happens that if your strengths aren't in the academic subjects, you're viewed as "dumb". Deb didn't want that for her kids.

She also explained that school kills individuality. I one hundred percent agree. If you do not fall into the category of "social norm", you are ridiculed by your peers. But really, who wants to be ordinary...? That's boring.

This whole concept of "unschooling", really fascinated me. It gives you a new way of looking at education.

And then I learned from Heather; also an amazing mother. She used to be a elementary principal, and let me tell you, I can bet you she was well liked by her students. She has the kindest and most nourishing nature. Heather and her husband spend half the year travelling. To Mexico, in their 5th wheel, or recently to South East Asia. They sound like the most amazing travelers. Always down for an adventure, and never afraid to try new things.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Childhood.

Sometimes I wish I could be young again; where my biggest worries were broken pencils and my ice cream falling off the cone.

There are some times where I actually do feel young again. Like tonight. I was babysitting 5 kids; which sounds chaotic, but it was really quite fun. I was playing cars with them, and for a while I felt like I was just one of them. Seven years old again.

Then we watched a movie. I had forgotten how great children's movies are. With the quality of TVs and movies these days, I forgot how good Dream Works Animation and Pixar movies. Monsters, INC was the choice of the night. Re-watching it, quite some years later gives you a whole new outlook on the story. And it really is a great one.


Then I looked through their box of movies... Toy Story, The Incredibles, Cars, The Bee Movie, Finding Nemo. And the entire box was filled with my favourites.

Maybe I still am a kid after all?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Season at CtS

Campfire songs, group hugs, nature walks, team building activities and the "C-Rivz Crew". I can confidently say this was the best weekend I've had in a long time.

It was Catching the Spirit's overnight leadership training. Amazing enough, Capilano River was hosting this year. All week at school, all I could think about was how excited I was to head back to that place I love so much. That place I spent much of my summer at last year. That place loaded with memories. And that place where I will see many, much loved, familiar faces.

It's easy to forget how beautiful our surroundings are here in North Vancouver, and in fact all of BC. It's easy to take it for granted when we're so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives. But this weekend, as I took a short time off from that life, I actually had time to sit down and appreciate the amazing forests we have here on the west coast.

Sitting in the middle of a dense rain forest. In-taking the freshness of the air. Listening to the soothing sound of the flowing river. Touching the bark of those marvelously tall trees. Gazing up at those branches with green leaves that creates the roof of our forests. I can hardly describe how much I love that place.

And I haven't even mentioned the people. We arrived to our supervisors dressed in capes, cowboy hats, Buzz Lightyear overalls, sailor caps and nickname's like "Big Bad Bren." At campfire, we learned a song that you can sing whenever you're thankful of something, and it goes a little like this
Someone: "(Insert memory here) and I'm glad."
Rest of the group: "So glad about it."
Someone: "I laughed really hard today, and I'm glad."
Rest of group: "So glad about it. Oohohoh, I'm so glad to be here." (In a deep baritone voice)

The line "Laughed really hard today" resonated with everyone. From the hilarious improv to the spontaneous accents, there sure are some characters at CtS.

With only spending 27 hours together, we sure got pretty close. I don't even recall how I first heard of Catching the Spirit, but I can't express enough how grateful I am that I am involved in the greatest environmental stewardship program there is in Metro Vancouver- and probably the world!

If this weekend was any indication, we're in for a good summer!











Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's a Small World

It's a world of laughter
A world of tears
It's a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

There is just one moon
And one golden sun
And a smile means
Friendship to ev'ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world

Written by: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman



This was my favourite ride as a child. I made my Grandma ride it over and over again with me- she was a good sport!

Also, there have been many times in my life when this saying has proven to be true. Just last weekend I was playing in a softball tournament. We were in the final game, and I noticed that I recognized the first-baseman(or basewoman). I had met her at BC Student Voice a couple weekends before. I knew her name was Rachael, but as she made an out at first her teammates were calling her Lisa. Throughout the game as I stared at her trying to figure this out, and smiled and said hi, she just looked at me like I was crazy. I was pretty sure she would have remembered me.

Anyways, the game ended and we shook hands and I still couldn't figure it out. When I came home I looked her up on facebook, and told her that I could have sworn I played against her in softball. Turns out, she has a twin sister named Lisa. How's that for confusing? And, Rachel is also on that team, but she wasn't playing in that tournament because she's away in Ottawa at a program called "Adventures in Citizenship". And I figured out she's there with my good friend Ceilidh. What a small world.

Monday, May 2, 2011

History in the Making

It's been a HUGE week in politics.

Last night there was breaking news about the death of Osama Bin Laden. My mom just recently got an iPad, and I was showing her how awesome twitter is, and how to use it when I first learned of the news. Gotta love social media! I found it funny that the trending topic was #obamacaughtosama. Some people are just so clever.

The best tweet of the night:
"R.I.P Osama Bin Laden - World Hide And Go Seek Champion (2001 - 2011)"

There was a lot of talk about how long it took Obama to make his speech, with comments like "I hope Obama speaks before Osama rises from the dead." and "Maybe they need to find his death-certificate before the speech can be made."

Personally, I don't really agree with the way American politics are done. I'm referring to the fact that at the end of Obama's speech he makes references to God, and ends with the final line "God bless America." Politics should not have anything to do with religion. And although the President has made it clear many times that he refers to a non-denominational "god", it still doesn't seem right. What about those atheists out there?

And back to Canada, today was #elxn41 - also a trending topic on twitter!

When I asked my mom who she voted for and she replied that that was confidential, not only did I immediately know who she voted for (not my favourite choice). But I also began to explain my theory on communication. I don't think who you vote for should be confidential at all. If you're afraid to say who you're supporting then what is that saying about them... and even faith in them?

I believe a lot of the world's problems stem from miscommunication. If we don't communicate effectively with one-another, that's when bad things start to happen. We need to talk about politics. We need to listen to each other and we need share our thoughts and opinions with one another.

And this is the reason why I love social media so much- especially twitter! There was so much conversation today and this evening regarding the election that #cdnpoli became a trending topic. It's all about the power of knowledge.

Coincidentally enough, today in Socials 11 we were studying "Trudeau's Foreign Policy". Whether you're a fan, or not, nobody can argue that Trudeau was probably the most influential Prime Minister to date, and he has shaped Canada as it is today. We then got talking about Justin Trudeau; how he taught in Vancouver, and that he's now a politician in Quebec. My socials teacher told us that he's been predicting for a while now that within the next few years, Justin Trudeau will become the leader of the Liberals, and he might be able to help restore the Liberal Party.

Poor Iggy, didn't even win his own riding. After tonight, I think he might just be right! I LOVE school when it's relevant and I can relate it to the real world.

Although I'm not exactly happy with the election results, and the fact that Harper has full control really scares me. But I am really glad that I was old enough to understand what's going on this time around.

Many historic things happened tonight. My personal favourite was the Green Party winning a seat in Ottawa. When Elizabeth May was asked about what kind of a difference one seat can make, she replied "Just watch me."



Next was the rise of the NDP. As a friend of mine put it "Orange Crush! Orange Crush!". Who would have thought? The swap from baby blue to orange in Quebec was unreal.

The fall of the Liberals was shocking too. 34 seats compared to 77 in 2008. Can I hear a Justin?



And after winning an astonishingly low 4 seats compared to 49 in 2008, Gilles Duceppe has resigned, and the future of the separatist party, the Bloc Quebecois remains uncertain.

Does it make any sense that 60% of voters voted left wing, yet we end up with a right wing majority? Not to me.

Whoever said Canadian politics were boring... tonight you were proven wrong!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Paint your picture.

The great musician Kurt Cobain once said "Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are."

This great quote reminds me of the journey of high school. As a good friend of mine describes her blog "My journey of self discovery." Have you ever noticed that it's much easier to describe someone else's personality but when it comes to yourself, it's a different ball game?

High school is all about finding the true "you" before you head out to the real world. In grade 8, we are not who we want to be, but more who we think others would like us to be. As we mature and progress, we become more and more parallel to our own values and morals.

It's that time of year, where the grads are working on their exit interviews. How do you sum up your entire life; your whole self in such a small amount of time?

Just one year from now I will be in that situation. Figuring out how to present a story of my life, and bid farewell to the school that's been my home for the past 5 years. It's so exciting to be moving on to bigger and better things. There is so much out there to discover, and a whole world to explore. The world is a canvas, paint your picture.

I keep hearing amazing stories of friends of mine who are off to Bates College next year to study international relations, and off to Carleton to study journalism and international affairs. I can't help but wonder where I will be in just over a year? As of now I have no idea. So will it just come to me, or am I going to have to start searching?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the Young and the Election

Well, the federal election campaign is well on it's way. It seems as if a lot of people aren't following this election as closely as usual because they think it's unnecessary. But for me, this is the first election where I've actually been old enough and educated enough to be involved.

I'm finding the whole social media aspect to this campaign fascinating. From the alleged Stephen Harper facebook scandal, to Michael Ignatieff having a representative tweeting some of his quotes during the English Language Debate. There is no doubt that this election is targeting the youth more than ever. And what better way to promote than on facebook and twitter. Between my peers, there has been a lot of very interesting online discussion that probably would never happen in a face to face conversation. Social media is changing the way things are done.

Student Vote is preparing to have it's biggest high school involvement ever. High schools all across the country have registered to have campaign posters, ballot boxes and voting screens sent to their school, so that those students who aren't of age to vote, can have their say too. Student Vote will take place on May 2nd or the week prior, and the results will be released publicly on election night, broadcast on National TV and published in newspapers. So although, myself, a 17 year old Canadian Citizen, may not be of legal age to vote, no one can say that I don't have a voice. Because I can be sure, that the politicians will be paying close attention to the Student Vote results. Maybe, the younger generations of Canada have given themselves a bad reputation for their voting turn-out, but I think that's going to change.



One thing that really gets to me about these elections is the negative campaigning. It's easy to find the flaws and the faults in others because nobody's perfect. But imagine how much more affective it would be if political parties focused on their strengths and what they have to offer rather than bashing their opponents, which really tells the citizens of Canada nothing about them, except for the fact that they have sleazy advertising tactics.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Butterfly Effect

We are colours
like paint on a pallet.
Red sits by blue
and purple mixes with green.
But what if
colours could not mix?
If Rosa Parks
remained in the back seat.
Then we'd still be
the primary colours.
And what a dull,
boring world we'd be living.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Wonders of Nature

How fortunate I feel to live in beautiful North Vancouver.

The other day, a friend and I went on a snowshoeing adventure up Mt. Seymour. The memories I have of snowshoeing are from way back, when I was a Girl Guide. All I can remember is my constant complaints about being bored, sore, tired, hungry, cold and thirsty. I have vivid memories of not having any fun. Needless to say, I wasn't a fan of snowshoeing, but considering how nice the day was, and the fact that we have a wonderful mountain practically right in our backyard, I thought I could give snowshoeing a second chance.



As soon as we entered the trails, I felt like I was in Wonderland. The trees were so great, and perfectly dusted with snow, and aside from the narrow trail, none of the powder had been touched. Looking almost like white rolling hills glistening in the sun.

So the original plan was to snowshoe a 2km loop (we didn't think we could manage the next biggest, a 7km). However, when we got to a fork in the path and were informed of a lookout over all of Vancouver, we quickly changed plans.



So up to the lookout we go. And it was a marvelous sight. It was a little foggy, but just clear enough to make out the silhouette of the amazing city.

North Vancouver is the perfect balance between city life, and the natural world!

Reminiscing- A Year Later



Today marks one year since the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. There isn't quite the extravagant celebrations like that of the One Year Olympic Anniversary, but I am sure I'm not the only one reminiscing those amazing games. The memories have lasted a year, and for sure will last a lifetime. Because of Vancouver 2010, the Paralympic Games will never be the same.



Here's a look at my Students Live blog post from this very day last year:

The Life of a Pin Trader

On the seabus and downtown was the journey yesterday in hopes of getting on that popular Robson Square zip-line. Eight hours was what the sign next to us read, and I wasn't willing to wait in line 8 hours for a 20 second ride, so we opted out. As cool as it would have been to have a birds eye view of the city, I don't think I could have wasted half of my day in that line-up.

Instead I used the day to live the life of a pin trader. I learned all kinds of stuff and it was a neat experience. I talked to many of the pin traders, some were quite cranky and others were very friendly, but they were all interesting people. One guy I talked to has been collecting pins since Calgary '88 and has been at every Olympic Games since. He knows pins like the back of his hands, every night he checks each and every one of his pins' values on EBay, and I tell you that can't be an easy job judging by the numbers. This man in particular was so negative towards the Beijing Olympic Games, he said he was there trading pins but he couldn't stand it so he didn't even stay for the whole time. He said he didn't like how dirty it was and the people were so rude. It was really interesting because to this day, he still won't trade anyone for a Beijing pins, to him they are worthless. I can understand if he didn't enjoy the Beijing Games but does that really have any effect on the pins?



I couldn't imagine how pin trading would give them enough money to fly to an Olympic and Paralympic Games every 2 years. I was tempted to ask him if this was his job or if it was just a hobby but I was afraid I might sound offensive in some way. I find it unbelievable that selling and trading pins would make someone enough money to live off of; but then again they are out there every single day of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and taking it very seriously so it makes you wonder? The pins range in price from about 3 dollars to 100 dollars, can you believe it, $100 for a single pin? These traders say it's just like alcohol or gambling, it's an addiction.

I will admit it was fun and interesting to spend a few hours as a pin trader, but I couldn't imagine doing that all day, every 27 days of these Winter Games.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Serenity

What's better than a clear, sunny and plus 3 day up Whistler with good friends and fresh snow? Probably nothing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy One Year Vancouver!

Tomorrow is a day that I have been looking forward to for a long, long time. Not only is it the one year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Game, but also..

1.) because I get to see all my Students Live and Sharing the Dream friends who I love so much, and have missed so much. We will reminisce all the amazing experiences we had at the 2010 Winter Games, and we will take a trip down memory lane to remember how much we grew as people throughout the games. How much laughter and smiles we shared, and the pride we felt.

2.) because Vancouver is attempting to re-create the atmosphere of the games tomorrow night. There will be red. There will be flags. There will be chanting of national anthems and street hockey games on Granville.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



Good morning starshine the earth says hello. - Willy Wonka


Probably one of my all-time favourite movies.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Evenings.

They're the same every week. Regretting leaving homework to the wee hours of the night. But I guess that's just a part of the high school experience.

The more stories I hear, the more I am dreading grade 12. Not the actual graduating part; I am quite looking forward to that! But the university applications, the scholarship applications, reference letters, resumes, cover letters, it all sounds like quite a stressful ordeal. I'm lucky that I have friends older than me though; I get all these wonderful little tips of what scholarships I should bother applying for, and which ones are way out of my league. I get all the helpful hints about not procrastinating, and getting parts of it done in the summer before school hits.

I'm thinking of just fast forwarding through next year, and heading straight to university. Sounds like a plan.

I would like to introduce you to my newly discovered Ian Axel:


Listen to the words: such a great song!

Update

It's been a long time since I've posted. There's been a lot going on.

The Espresso Press is up and running in full swing. Check it out: http://espress.ca/

Today, I stared helping with a project: the MPS Celebrity Charity Gala to raise money for MPS research. As of now, there is hardly any research being done. Since MPS II is considered a "rare" disease (only 20 kids in BC are affected by it), the government doesn't allocate any money towards research, and therefore fundraising is crucial to finding a cure. I'm very excited to be helping with this project. If you have any contacts for celebrities, sponsorships or auction items; give me a shout!

Hockey's regular season has just ended and we are now heading into playoffs. We ended the season off with a win, which brings me hope for playoffs.

The other day at school we started course selection for next year. I can not even believe that this day would ever come where I'm thinking about what I want to take in grade 12- and even beyond. I can still remember thinking grade 7 grad would never come. Time flies.

I got my N the other day! Which is really convenient for my parents, not having to run me all over the map anymore.

New York is coming up very shortly: 12 days I believe! I can hardly wait to cruise around the Statue of Liberty, witness Wicked on Broadway and perform in the famous Carnegie Hall. It shall be a trip to remember.

Also coming up is the big "One Year Later". February 12th marks one year since the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Games. Canada is ready to re-live that excitement and recreate that atmosphere. I am so ready- I've had to go through an entire year of withdraws. And StudentsLive is having a reunion too! Us 24 student reporters will get together to reminisce. How amazing will it feel to sport that red jersey again, and march through the streets of Vancouver, flags raised high, voices belting out our anthem, and smiles lighting our faces. But will it be the same as the Games? Only time will tell.

So there's an update of my life: I hope you've enjoyed.