Special Topics Day 1

Dear Journal,

November 11th was the first special topics day of the year. The theme was Racism and Colourism, with a quick Remembrance day segment in the morning.

I wrote that sentence the same day, before we even sat through various workshops and informational sessions about the conflicts and troubles faced by people around the world every day. I can’t say that I have much more to say about it; the words are still resonating in my brain two months later, but they can not yet form words that accurately express any of what I’m trying to say.

It was eye opening to hear the stories, the strife, to offer an ear to lend and extend a helping hand to those who really need it.

I will say that after this day, my view of everything I’ve learned in regards to culture and colour have changed. I can no longer walk into a discussion with the same mind I had before.

If I got anything from this day, that I can say without worrying it’s not phrased quite right, is that there is an urgent need for people to open their ears and minds.

And, lest we forget.

Sincerely,
Kirsten.

 

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Project Week 2k15

Dear Journal,

I wrote a lot about project week. In fact, I made sure to dedicate time every single day to talk about all of the excitement I experienced from October 25-November 1. But unfortunately even the best technology has flaws. Some time between November and now I managed to completely fill up my Macbook storage, meaning I lost a lot of things including this blog. But there are still a few things I can remember well.

For my very first CAS Week, formerly known as simply project week, I stayed with a family just outside of the city along with a classmate from Russia. They were very nice, giving us our own space in the basement apartment and free access to the hot tub during the day. On various occasions they took us out to dinner, to a friend’s house, and even horseback riding at a stable. We also got lessons in how to make beautiful jewelry. It was like a week in paradise, almost.

For our CAS activity PCERT (Pearson College Emergency Response Team) we did some volunteering at two organizations, Soap for Hope run by Disaster Aid Canada, and another group that sends packages of things such as clothing, school supplies, sewing machines, and other useful items to places around the world that need help. At Soap for Hope we helped rebottle soaps for both overseas and local women’s shelters. We also visited the police department’s 911 dispatch and learned more about emergency preparedness in downtown shopping areas.

On Halloween some of us got together and went trick or treating. It was the first time for a few people, so it was kind of an exciting experience. I was going to dress up as a surgeon but I switched with a friend so that the costumes fit better. I ended up being a witch, and a lot of people thought I was 12 or something. It was funny (but I got more candy).

It was a very exciting week, and even though I spent most of it sick, it was a great experience. I can’t wait for the second term project week.

Sincerely,
Kirsten.

It’s Just a Week of Excitement

I apologize for the crazy delay in posting this. I was waiting for a picture for the featured image, but I never did receive it.

MONDAY

Dear Journal,

It’s election day! The excitement and tension filled the air. Most of what I did today was pretty average. I went to class (physics, TOK, french, philosophy), ate food, went to PCERT in the afternoon. While we were practicing our medical skills I received an email from the admin building noting that a packaged had arrived for me. I was super excited and before meeting with my CAS week group I ran to pick it up. It turned out that I actually had two packages, one from my grandparents and one from my parents. The excitement couldn’t be withheld. I could not wait to open then, but I would have to.

In the evening we gathered in the LLT to watch the elections as they progressed. Newfoundland was a stunning red all over, putting the liberals in an early lead. I didn’t stay for the entire thing, but I remember being excited as I went to bed, so I could wake up in the morning and check to see who had claimed the seat.

Of course, it was Trudeau.

THURSDAY

Dear Journal,

Of course this is the one day I wake up early. It was still dark as I got out of bed bursting with energy. The two boxes on my desk screamed my name. The first one I opened was from my mom and dad. There were rocket lollipops, beaded chocolate candy, moose poop, a Newfoundland scarf, a seal stuffed animal, two bottles of soup wrapped in socks, some pins from Newfoundland, a “letter from your Mother” to hang on my wall, and at the bottom three cards. I laughed as I read the notes from home and began to cry, overwhelmed with emotion. Then I opened the box from my grandparents which contained two bags of Purity candy, two boxes of jam jams, a card and a stuffed cat. I cried more. Everything in both boxes meant the world to me. Newfie themed and childhood reminiscent is the way to my heart.

My first class of the day was Math. I walked in early with my head held high and a sense of happiness nothing could break. My friend walked in not long after and literally threw a Snickers bar, popcorn, and chocolates at me. Happy Birthday! I couldn’t be more thankful for her friendship, let alone snack food on top of that. When everyone else got there someone announced it was my birthday and the class began singing. I felt wonderful.

During lunch there was more singing about my birthday, this time in the caf. So many people wished me a Happy Birthday it was slightly overwhelming. While I stood in line, my houseparent came up from behind and attacked me with a hug and well wishes. I’ve never felt so special in my life.

The day was pretty average. We had classes and meetings instead of fitness. I had phone calls with both of my parents, my grandparents, and my aunt. It was so nice hearing from them. I started to feel slightly homesick, my first birthday away from my family. After dinner I went to my room and spent some time online, browsing through the birthday wishes on my wall. To my surprise, the lights in our room began flashing. I turned around to see my roommates as well as other girls from our house and who were close to me. They had a cake, vanilla with cream and butterscotch(?) chips on top. It was homemade, baked in our housebuddies’ kitchen. We sat in my room and talked for an hour, eating cake and spending time together. It was such a good time.

By nine I was ready for bed. I was so tired. I went outside to go to the washroom and brush my teeth. There were some of my close friends standing outside. It was sort of weird, but I ignored that because Pearson IS weird. When I came back they were still there. Out of nowhere, one of the girls started screaming and running towards me, covering my vision with a hat. Then another one got my shoes and they spun me around and took me.

We walked around for a good few minutes. It was a spiritual journey, one of which I was sworn to secrecy about. But at the end we ended up in my house’s dayroom where there were people standing around, singing, playing piano, and turning on the projector to show show a video of well wishes from people around the campus. I cried hearing the care and love people showed. There was a cake on the table with candles and a card just above The cake was a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, my one birthday wish for the year. The card was in the shape of the Newfoundland flag and had signatures from all over. This was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, especially for my birthday. We ate cake and talked and a couple of people wrestled while others played music. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had.

FRIDAY

Dear Journal,

What’s the way to end an average day? Let’s have a hair cutting party!

We gathered in the common room and brought the scissors, the shaving kit, anything we needed to cut hair. It was done in the spirit of donation to organizations that would use it to make wigs for cancer patients. People from all over campus joined up with braids in their hair to donate. Some of the boys and even some of the girls shaved heir heads, right down to the stubble. Others just took the minimum required length. I guess I was somewhere in the middle, already having fairly short hair I opted to cut two ponytails off and keep my hair at a reasonably short length. Not quite a shave, not quite a cut. One of the “house buddies” assigned to my house helped me fix it after the big cut. It was a wonderful night, with a cascade of regrets in the morning I’m sure.

Sincerely,
Kirsten

SHAD Meetup: Vancouver Edition

Dear Journal,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday was just an ordinary school day. The sun was shining, the air crisp with excitement. But by three pm, everything had become quiet on the campus. Not only had the weekend begun, but it was a long weekend, the perfect opportunity for students to travel outside and visit unseen territory.

I began the long walk up Pearson hill with another student. We heaved our bags on our backs in hopes to catch the bus out of town. A teacher came along and picked us up, dropping us at the bus stop on the other side. We were very thankful for the temporary ride. We waited on the side of the road impatiently but the bus never came. My advisor did, however, and offered us a ride to the bus stop in the city. It was an interesting drive filled with conversation and laughter. We ended up in front of a newspaper office waiting for the final leg of our journey. It was less than a minute before we set off for the ferries.

After a long and draining bus ride, we arrived at Swartz Bay terminal. The line seemed intimidating but it wasn’t long before I got to the counter and secured my 6:00pm ticket. My friend decided to stay and wait for the 7:00.

Within 15 minutes we boarded the boat and got ready for the sailing. I sat myself in the middle of the lounge area and braced myself. At first I felt pretty sick, but it quickly died down and by the end I somewhat wished we had more time.

My friend from Shad was waiting for me on the other side. Meeting again was almost like a movie, it felt as if it were in slow motion. I couldn’t believe I was finally there.

After a long ride back to her house, we settled down for a late dinner and conversation. There was supposed to be apple pie for dessert, but it would require slightly more baking than we had planned for. So we had ice cream instead, and spicy indian food, and I went to bed fairly early because I was exhausted.

Saturday morning we woke up somewhat late and had a great breakfast of french toast and our Shad favourite, cream cheese raisin bagels. It was really funny how she remembered my favourite. We made fun of the fact that last time everyone was skeptical about her drinking coffee but now we both made our way through multiple cups.

After lunch we headed out to the mall. For the first time ever I got to take a sky train. It was so cool! The view was beautiful, and it’s crazy to think that they’re automated. When we got to the mall we walked around, going to various cool stores and waiting for my friend’s friend to arrive. Eventually we ended up meeting her in Coles and getting lost on our way to find the Halloween store. It was a pretty fun afternoon.

After that we headed home to watch a movie. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, my absolute favourite. We were interrupted for supper, but we also had popcorn and pudding afterwards. By the time we finished it was time to go to bed.

Sunday morning we got ready a bit earlier, had breakfast, and went to a farmer’s market type mall to look around. There were handmade items in shops, stationary, souvenirs, anything you could imagine. We got fudge and friendship bracelets. There was also a claw machine that bears the slogan “everyone’s a winner”. We struggled to even get the small prize. For lunch we ate at different places. I had fish and chips because the beckoning of cod can not be ignored.

After lunch we went to the Vancouver Aquarium. I really hate aquariums and zoos, especially those that have whales, dolphins, or other big creatures in tanks. No matter what they preach it will never ever be okay to keep them in such an environment that’s harmful to them. But it was cool seeing sloths, fish, etc. We also watched a 4D movie which was the best part! I really wish they’d consider more humane ways to let people see animals.

After we finished, we went home to watch a movie. It took us a crazy amount of time to decide which one but we finally settled on Atlantis (Disney movie). We also made pillsbury cookies and tried making the pie, which failed. Instead we had to go out and buy pre done pie halves. It was hilarious.

Monday morning we got up early and baked croissants and cookies before two other Shads came over. The four of us went to the mall and had lunch, walked around, went to build a bear workshop and did a 4D roller coaster. I got a werewolf bear and named him Remus Lupin. It was really fun.

After we finished at the mall, my friend and her dad drove us back to the ferry. I was lucky enough to make the 3 pm ferry, just in time to get a ride back to campus with one of my houseparents. I was super tired, but I made it back in time for the thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes!!! That was the best part.

Overall it was an amazing weekend.

Sincerely,
Kirsten

P.S. Although I wrote this at the beginning of the week, it is posted today on Asia-Pac regional day. That would totally warrant it’s own blog except I’m really sick and I have not even close to enough effort to try to write about it. So Happy Asia-Pac day!

Weekend Shopping

Dear Journal,

Weekends at Pearson have started to become both the busiest and the most opportune moments out of the entire week. It’s not to say that I don’t like being so tied up with activities and commitments, but sometimes it can get very exhausting. So last weekend I went to Victoria with a friend and a friend of their family to get off campus and enjoy some shopping and sightseeing.

First we ventured to Shoppers Drug Mart in search of blister nexcares so I wouldn’t have to suffer out the four blisters on my feet. I won’t go into detail about that story, but hiking and then swimming in the lake with sandals in October is not a good idea. While we were there, we also got maple cookies and popcorn on sale. I love sales. It’s so much more fulfilling to buy needs, like toothpaste and floss, when it costs significantly less money than it should.  Before leaving the area we also went to bulk barn for snacks and a nice bread place where I got a preally good pizza bun. And I don’t even like pizza.

Then we went into the city. Downtown Victoria is a wonderful place. After we found a parking spot, we split up and went in search of various things. I went with my friend to MEC and while she bought kayaking gear, I went to Davids tea across the street and picked out some new flavours to try. They include African Mint, a nut mix, and a type of earl grey. After tea, we went to a huge Chapters store and looked at all of the interesting books and toys. There were three floors. It was so cool. Then we went to the bank so I could check my balance and take out my cash for the month. That usually coveres bus tickets and random stuff, although this month it would also be covering ferry tickets. Then we went into a toy store where I got some glowing stars for my ceiling. It wasn’t too long before we met back at a place, went to another bookstore where I got a signed poetry book, and then left to head back towards the college.

On the way back we stopped at a Superstore to pick up grocieries. I was super happy to find yogurt, cheese, extra creamy kraft dinner, and various other things including my most favourite granola bars and bologna. You know you’re Newfie when the one thing you miss is bologna and kraft dinner. I also picked up some cutlery on sale for me and my roommates. It’s convenient to have your own fork when you’re eating outside of the cafeteria. I love grocery shopping, and buying healthy snacks (as well as non healthy things sometimes) makes me so happy. 

Sincerely,

Kirsten.

Service Day

Dear Journal,

Thursday, October 1st was something called Service day. I woke up in the morning to discover there would be no class that day. Instead, we were to meet with our advisors for breakfast at 8:30. Another student and I went to the cafeteria a few minutes early to help our advisor get the food to bring to our meeting place, the Jane and Jack Matthews room. We had eggs, bacon, sausages, fruit and orange juice to share amongst the group. We sat with another as well, who made the smart choice of also bringing toast and bagels. We all sat around the table and discussed various questions related to service and our experiences. It was really interesting to hear the meaning of service in other countries compared to our own.

Then we had presentations in the Max Bell for the morning. We heard from various speakers, including teachers, faculty, and outside presenters. One of the houseparents talked about her experience in Malawi, founding a girl’s school that became something great. It was very inspiring to hear about the people she’s met, the help she’s given, and her own personal incredible journey and battle for her life. She’s truly a hero. We also heard from Habitat for Humanity, a wonderful organization making an impact on people around the world.

After lunch we had the opportunity to go to individual workshops that we had chosen beforehand. The first workshop I attended was in the spiritual centre. It was about the AIDS group working in Victoria to provide safe needle exchanges and other resources. It was fascinating to hear about how they help the community, facts about AIDS, and how it’s viewed by other people. Then I visited the calgary house dayroom for a workshop about riding therapy. We learned about the various volunteer positions and what they do as a service. There was some cool information and great opportunities for the future. My third and final workshop was with the MS society in the philosophy rom. We talked about what MS was, the opportunities for volunteering the MS society was willing to offer us, and we tried tying shoelaces with oven mittens to help us get an idea of what MS could be like.

Then we had a late cookie break. We got the opportunity to mingle with the presenters before heading out to our CAS week meetings. My group met in the cafeteria to talk about the new plans we had added to our upcoming agenda. After that, we were free to go. There was an optional presentation in the evening about adventure therapy, but I was exhausted so I went to bed early.

Sincerely,

Kirsten.

Get NARDY

Dear Journal,

Good morning! It’s 5:30 am and where is everyone? Oh yeah, that’s right, doing the sunrise hike. Think that wasn’t enough of a wake up? Let’s blast music! And you’re still tired? Don’t worry. At 9:00 am we had our polar dips, where you had the chance to jump into the bay wearing the most bizarre clothing you could find. Of course, I didn’t jump. I only took pictures of the crazy people who did. There were a lot of interesting costumes, and even more interesting jumps. What a great way to start the day before having a “north american” brunch.
Bannock might not be done right at Pearson but food in general sure is on special occasions. There were chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon, bannock, fruit, and most importantly, strawberries available for the latter part of the morning. Flags from Canada and the United States were hung around the cafeteria as eloquently as your grandmothers new drapes. The meal was delicious, a refreshing change from the usual display we usually encounter.
After brunch we had some free time to ponder before joining in on the many workshops available for the day. We began by rotating through three, from writing notes to those students who disappeared in Mexico last year, to learning about indigenous issues in Canada and the States, to having a mock debate based on the upcoming election. I had the honour of representing the Conservatives. Go pipelines, support our troops!
The second set of workshops were a bit more laid back. My second year from Newfoundland and I ran the best thing we ever could: we had a good ‘ole Newfie screech in. There was no screech to be gotten, however, we did have plenty of Purity Syrup, a foam lobster, hats, candy and spirit to go around. Are you a Newfoundlander? Deed I is me ole cock, n’ long may your big jib draw. We also put up a list of place names such as Lawn, Dildo, Joe Batt’s Arm, and others to let people guess which places were legitimately in Newfoundland. I’ll give you a hint… all of them.
After the workshops we all got ready for the formal dinner. We had assigned dates, mine a second year from the USA. People scrambled to find dresses, shoes, makeup, and someone with enough patience to wrestle their hair. I went with a classic suit and nice little bun. Stayin’ sharp my friends.
Dinner was standing room only, with stations of fancy “cocktail” drinks, mini sliders, salad, poutine, and quesadillas. Laying around were also desserts from Quebec, a very sticky delight. My date was unfortunately serving so I paired up with another dateless person. She borrowed both my dress and I for the evening. There was a live band playing while we mingled and snacked. There was even a bit of uptight dancing before we spread out to get ready for the show.
The show was an experience in itself. Up to the Max Bell, we all introduced ourselves from NA. “Whadda yat?” the two of us Newfs shouted to the crowd as they cheered each province on. Then we began to perform various serious, and non serious acts. I messed up the line dancing but overall everybody did fantastic.
And then the real party started. We made our way outside, to a clearing behind the basketball courts. There were lights, music, a fire and dancing. It was a good time, like a shed party without a shed. It’s not where it’s held that matters, it’s the essence of the experience.
Sincerely,
Kirsten