Friday, January 29, 2010

In Need of Some Inspiration

I’ve been so busy lately, I feel a little out of touch with what is going on in the world around me. I love being back home with my friends and family and I love that I have found a new place hat I can feel like I’m giving back even just a little to my supportive community, however I miss the global learning and exposure that the diversity that university life allows me. At school there are always new issues brought to light, always students working toward a new cause, there is always someone to learn something new from especially when working with people as dedicated and compassionate as my fellow Beyond Borders students. Today I found some time to catch up on some of your blogs. You all share such inspirational and insightful stories and it really made me realize how much I miss getting to talk everyone! As I was pondering what to write my blog about this week I couldn’t help but think that my blogs would be a whole lot more interesting if I still had the same depth of discussion with other students as I did last semester. As stressed as I would get, trying to get through reading whatever book was due for class each week and trying to come up with some deeper, more insightful message that I felt would be up to par for class on Tuesday, those discussions were extraordinarily beneficial. It was weekly reassurance that the stress was well outweighed by the work that we will all being getting the chance to participate in. Even in classes where I would feel less comfortable sharing my thoughts, and I would opt to do more listening than speaking, I grew so much from hearing all of you share your thoughts and opinions and letting my view of the world grow. I loved running back from class and sharing what I learned from all the readings and discussions with anyone who had never read the book or article. My boyfriend Mike got a phone call every Tuesday like clockwork, during which I would just gush to him about all the amazing things I had learned or about how he just HAD to read such and such a book because it would just totally change his outlook on the world!! But now I feel like getting slightly off topic and I want to make my point. I really miss getting to read books and articles by authors like Jean Vanier or Paulo Freire or Ursela Le Guin because they truly made me think about the world I live in, the impact that I have on others and what is truly important to me. I realize I am missing that constant motivation, reassurance and growth that reading these authors’ stories gave me. And so, I have decided that what I need right now is to get back to reading those kinds of works. I have some books in mind that Joanne mentioned over the course of the term but I would also like to reach out to my blogging community for some suggestions. If there is anything that any of you have seen or read lately that made you think twice or inspired you I would love to hear about it! Hopefully next week I will write to you with a renewed outlook!!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cards That Care

With less than a month until Valentine’s Day, I’m buried under a mountain of cards and card orders, and my finger tips have become permanently dyed pink! The response to Cards That Care has been overwhelming. You would think that with time I would get faster and faster at putting together these cards, but time has proved just the opposite. The more cards that I make, friends that I talk to, and craft stores that I visit the more intricate techniques I learn, and the more new tools I find that I need. What used to take 30 minutes now takes hours! I must say the cards have greatly improved but my stress level hasn’t! Check out some of the new stock:

It sounds strange but I get attached to my cards! Some of them I don’t even want to sell I like them so much. When you invest this much time working on something it’s hard to just let it go. People ask to see them and I’m almost hesitant to show my favorites in case they like the cards as much as I do and want to buy them before I’m ready to part with them. But this is a fundraiser and I sadly that is something I’m going to have to get over. I will have to part with them all if I hope to raise the rest of my money. Only around $700 to go thanks to all who have bought cards or donated money!
It has been an interesting experience doing all this fundraising. As if classes weren’t stressful enough, we also had to worry about meeting our fundraising deadlines. And I remember as the first deadline got closer I was scrambling, calling all my family to see if they could help me get together the funds. At that point I wondered how I was ever going to survive 8 months of that kind of stress. But from that point it’s been pretty much uphill. The cards are a tone of fun to make and I’ve had an overwhelming response from my community as well as people I’ve never even met. I love that often when people call about cards or donations they share their stories with me. They tell me about places they have travelled in India or missions trips they or people they know have been on and I really love hearing how excited they sound. Hearing from them makes this journey seem that much more real for me. Right now next September seems really far away! Although, if I keep living from one card holiday to the next, the time is just going to fly by!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Supper Club

I’m a few hours out of my first night of volunteering with the Supper Club at Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst. It consists of a vibrant group of volunteers who come together each week to cook and serve a warm meal for anyone who needs it. I am going to be volunteering there every Thursday night and I'm happy to say my mom is going to come and volunteer with me. On the menu tonight – chicken burgers, perogies, sausages, bean salad, coleslaw, and trifle for dessert! I had a lot of fun getting to know the regulars. I was very touched by the sense of community that was shared between the volunteers and those coming to eat. The guests pop by the kitchen regularly to joke around and even lend a hand in preparing the dinners. On my way in I met a young man. He was the first to welcome me and talk to me as the rest of the volunteers were busy in the kitchen. I assumed he was a volunteer but he was there with a group of his friends to have dinner. Instead of sitting with his friends right away, he stayed in the kitchen and helped us plate food until everyone else had been served. After the meal was over this same young man and a couple of his friends stayed behind to help put away tables and mop the floor with the rest of the volunteers. The program and volunteers are all there to help them and yet these young men are going out of their way to help the volunteers wherever they can – and it wasn’t just these young men. Most of the diners were jumping to help where they could. For me it was a brilliant example of how the spirit of helping others spreads. Even in helping in what may seem like a small way can inspire others to do the same.
On the same train of thought: Earlier today my family and I got talking about making donations to charity organizations as Christmas presents and different people who I know that have done that. A conversation which concluded in my parents deciding that sponsoring a child in a developing nation is something that they would like to look into. I was so proud of them :) Hopefully soon I will have a sponsor sibling to tell you about!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Welcome to Month 5

Heres a chance to catch up on the last 5 months and learn a little bit about me!

A Little About Me.
I’m a second year Arts and Business student at the University of Waterloo and I am majoring in legal studies. I’m not so sure where that will take me yet but I am hoping to work in international or family law. I grew up in a small town but my community is about to get a whole lot bigger. As a University of Waterloo student I have gotten the chance to be involved with a program called Beyond Borders. BB is a program through St. Jerome’s University that allows undergraduate students a chance to use their studies for the benefit of others while promoting involvement in the global community. Not only do we get to spend a term volunteering abroad in a variety of placements, but we also spend 8 months preparing for the trip. Welcome to month 5!! We have each set up a blog to share our journeys with people like you. Thank you for your support!

September 2010.
Next September I with be travelling to Madurai, India to volunteer with a service learning program at Lady Doak College. Lady Doak is a Christian women’s college where service work is requirement for graduation. I don’t know what I will specifically be doing there yet but it is my understanding that they are involved in multiple service programs including work with orphanages, inmate rehabilitative services, and children with disabilities to name a few. I am really interested in working in India but beyond that I’m pretty open to any kind of work. I would be happy in any of these placements. I am really excited to be living and working with university students from another country and getting to learn from them. In the coming months I will have more information on the placement and I will keep everyone posted!

Learning from Last Term.
Monday meant the start of a new term and I can admit with relief that I felt a whole lot more prepared walking into the classroom than I did 4 months ago. Last term in RS 283 we looked at examples of oppression, learned from those who fought against it, explored ways to become a more fulfilled human being and got inspired by people who have dedicated their lives to helping others – and that barely touches the surface! It is hard to describe just what last term meant, but for me it certainly meant a lot of growing up and learning about myself. Going into Beyond Borders I had no experience in looking at these types of issues or exploring humanity. Day 1 sitting around a table with 11 other students who seemed so much older and so much more experienced was terrifying. What had I gotten myself into?? But the term went on and you know what? I made it! It was a challenge- my “Organizational Gold” tendencies were completely thrown by the free structure of the assignments and class discussions. But as frustrated as I got at times I don’t think I would change it. It pushed me outside what I was comfortable with and forced me to adapt – I really don’t think there’s any better prep for life abroad. I don’t really know how or exactly when it happened but all of a sudden I feel like I’m ready for this. Some of my friends have commented on how much I’ve changed this term. It’s not a specific in way or in a type of behavior, I just feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and I’m where I am supposed to be, and apparently it’s noticeable. :)