I am studying Divinity and have an amazing opportunity to go to Jerusalem next semester to study the history, archeology, anthropology, liturgy, and social culture of biblical times. I am hoping to offset the cost (trips like these are expensive… as is being a student) and have created a Go Fund Me page.
Please consider helping in any way you can- check it out at: gofundme.com/2p9p5cfk
Now is crunch time- so naturally the perfect time to write a blog post.
A few weeks ago (November 10th to the 14th) I flew to Dublin, Ireland to take part in the Undergraduate Award Summit. At first when I learned that I would be joining 149 other award winners/ highly commended people in Dublin (let alone fully paid for by my university) it was daunting. I was beyond excited that I had been selected, but I felt completely inadequate.
Suddenly I was going to be found out- I’m not as smart as they think I am.
I decided nevertheless to go, if nothing else it would be a great networking opportunity. When I got there I was completely surprised at how… normal… everybody seemed. The conversations that occurred were intelligent and passionate, but above all- they occurred naturally. Now of course when I say we’re “normal”– what is normal? We all have our quirks, I still consider myself a very strange person. When I say we are normal I mean I wasn’t faced with a daunting group of geniuses who I could never in my wildest dreams have a meaningful conversation with. You could say in a sense that:
You would think, that when you are spread across 25 categories, and you’ve spent the last 4 years of your life gradually developing your knowledge in one or maybe two of those, you are going to run into people with whom you have nothing in common with. *AWKWARD PENGUIN*
The thing is… that’s not the case at all. You have a ton in common with these people– for one thing, you’re all here (most of you for the first time). You all took a chance by submitting your work to this academic competition, and you all have been decided by panel of judges to be the top of your fields. I also noticed that I was not the only one that felt intimidated by the thought of meeting my fellow summit attendees… Maybe self-doubt is more common than we think in high-achieving people.
I think its important to acknowledge that that is how I felt (and how others felt)- and to reflect on why. However it is also important to acknowledge that I was wrong- I did fit in, as did all these attendees. I encourage people to submit their work- whether they think it will go anywhere or not, if its eligible- put it in. I submitted 3 pieces and the one that made it was not the one I thought might have a chance. Some other people submitted to three different categories and was highly commended in all three.
The Undergraduate Awards though is really an embodiment of that age old expression: “you will always miss the shots you don’t take”(Wayne Gretzky– there I’ll just say it because I’m Canadian). Normally I’m not one for sports metaphors, but it works. What have you got to lose?
As a bonus: who doesn’t love having their intellectual self basically get flirted with for four days straight? No seriously- you really feel the love from the UA team- if nobody else makes you feel at home, they will at least tell you how brilliant you are non-stop until the end of the conference.
Tonight was one of the most wonderful nights, and one of the most horrible. Tonight was the last night of the Undergraduate Award Summit in Dublin, Ireland- we went out to Johnnie Foxes, the highest pub in Ireland. We had a blast. As we boarded the bus to go back to the hostel, many of us pulled out our phones, and filling our news feeds were reports of the mass killings in Paris, France. As I write this, the death toll is over 100 and France has closed its borders, calling a state of national emergency.
Just yesterday, at UPresent, along with other top-of-their-field scholars; I presented my research on radical ideology- focusing on the conflict between ISIS and everyday Muslims. While no official explanation has been given- people are saying the coordinated shootings and bombing in Paris were the acts of Muslim extremists. Please do not believe this. They are radicals, they are extremists, they are terrorists, and they might even say they do what they do in the name of Allah or Islam… but they are not Muslims.
I don’t agree with France and how they treat the situation HOWEVER I will not blame the victim. And I certainly won’t stand by and say that these innocent people deserved to die for living in a country that has questionable policies.
Please, I beg you, as you read your news stories… as you reflect on the situation unfolding… as you think about responding…
really think about and know what you say… words can’t be taken back… and actions can’t either. Join the movement, Muslim or not. Don’t be a bystander. Don’t let this continue. It is neither your fault and you might not even be directly affected– but it is the world you live in- and as a member it is your responsibility to help shape it. Do not think that your voice doesn’t count– it does.
There are two current crises I’d like to talk to you about tonight. The first is the refugee crisis Canada, and the world, is facing. The second is very close to me, the death threats made towards students and professors at the University of Toronto.
Last week, as you probably already know, the world was thrown into turmoil and outrage when a 3 year old boy drowned and his body was found washed up on a shore in Turkey. If you haven’t seen the video already, watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko-LsHE3lxo
There was once a time, within my lifetime, that Canada was #1 in the world for peacekeeping and the compassion that is associated with it. We are now #67. John Davidson, the man who walked across Canada (twice) in an effort to raise funds for muscular dystrophy (you might have heard of Jesse’s Journey– Jesse was John’s son) has come up with another challenge for Canada: the #RedTapeChallenge. Inspired by the video of the drowned Syrian boy, John is challenging every church, every synagogue, every mosque, and every temple across Canada to each raise a goal of $30,000 to sponsor a refugee family. It is also a challenge to the government to cut down on the amount of red tape involved in these claims.
All you have to do is make a donation at your local place of worship, and write “refugee fund” on the memo line. Then when you are done take a piece of red duct tape and rip it, you can make a video of it if you choose. Put the duct tape somewhere visible (on a mailbox, a door, a backpack, a tree… etc) so people can see you’ve put your money where your mouth is. Then pass the challenge on to someone you know.
Please consider joining this cause.
Now to switch gears. Anonymous online threats have been issued stating that people are going to walk into various classrooms this week as classes start at the University of Toronto and shoot professors and students alike- in particular anyone who calls themselves a feminist. Instructions on where to get access to a gun has been given in the threat. As you can imagine this does not create the most ideal atmosphere to walk onto campus tomorrow. Security has been increased on campus as a response but it does little to ease the tension. Police are saying there is no credible threat, but how many stories have we heard about people who weren’t taken seriously and then ended going on a shooting spree– too many for that statement to give me any peace of mind. Another article reveals that similar threats were made in June, ones that took an alarmingly long time to become public– so this isn’t the first time…
The very fact that threats like these are still made in today’s culture disturbs me. As a woman, as a feminist, and as a student of the University of Toronto, I’m not feeling the greatest about walking onto campus tomorrow- and I will probably be uneasy for the days to come.
I have a request for you all- keep the refugees and U of T campus (especially women) in your prayers– if you’re not religious, keep us in your thoughts.
Well in case you hadn’t noticed… it’s hot. Although the lake water is still frigid, so no way am I jumping in there. But I thought I’d jump back on here and give a summer update- so much has happened. I’ll begin by updating the “summer plans” list I made awhile back but some stuff is new.
So first off I was excited to be back as a Junior Leader at ALYC this year. The weekend had its ups and downs but overall I was glad to be back with these people who have been like an unconditionally-loving second family to me.CHECK
Related to the first, I was so happy to be at Diocesan Synod. I am part of a committee that was very involved in the theme of this year- go EnviroAction!!! I got to meet people that are so important in this sphere and so humble, I also got to have a few chats with people that I will probably get to know better when I get to Toronto.CHECK (deep green is the highest level of achievement for environmental awards)
Have postulancy conversation: Well I had it, I think it went well-ish, I’m always really nervous when it comes to these kind of things, and rightly so- its not like my entire meaning in life is riding on it or anything– oh wait it is! I’m still waiting on some forms to be sent out to me, though I’ll probably freeze in terror when I get them, it’s what I did momentarily when I got the MDiv rubric from Trinity College– and that is just a course list. – CHECK... sort of
Submit paper to international contest… I actually ended up submitting three papers, I’ll find out sometime in September whether I won or got an honorable mention or anything like that. I’m kind of anxious- I’m full of self-doubt but still have hope too. CHECK,CHECK, ANDCHECK
GRADUATE!!!! – HELLACHECK!!I am a degree-wielding theologian. Suck it! (Don’t call me immature, I worked for this, I’m allowed to be excited… but seriously- especially to those sexist/chauvanistic/fundamentalist pricks who said women can’t be in ministry and women are dumb etc, you especially can SUCK IT!)
Turn 24! – CHECK– not a milestone or anything but hey… its another year
Pending job, go to Michigan for Compton Traditional Archery Rendezvous: well I had a babysitting gig so I didn’t go- but my parents did and they seemed to enjoy their time as usual… so I did originally say pending job so I’m gonna say checkanyway
Road trip to Detroit: unfortunately some unforeseen financial circumstances came up for my friend Benjamin as well as a lack of good timing… trip got cancelled– or more accurately indefinitely postponed
Did I mention its hot? The air is so dry that I literally got a nosebleed while typing this… yuck I know
Back to the list:
Become an Aunt: another HELLA YES!! baby Cameron is SOOOOO CUTE!!! so close to being a Canada Day baby- my sister went into labour in the afternoon on the 1st, and Cameron was born sometime around 4 or 4:30 in the morning on the 2nd… you understand if I dont remember the exact time- I was exhausted… just kidding it was 4:41am.
Get ready for Toronto: inprogress. I do have a place to live so that’s a check, but I grow more nervous by the day- my entire life is being uprooted in about a month… although if I’m being honest- was I ever really rooted in the first place?
Renovate: my bedroom is the family TV room, my bed is the pullout couch, my alone time is non existent except for evening walks. IN PROGRESS
I did mention the babysitting gig, I also spent about a week cutting flowers out at a farm, and when I’m not babysitting I’m a receptionist, covering for a woman on maternity leave. It’s not a spine-tingling job but some of the customers/ callers do keep you on your toes, and it pays well so…
I am certified now with SFA/CPR-C/AED, which I needed to get because… I was offered the camp counselor job at the end of August!!!
In the meantime I am attending a baby shower (still have to finish the stitching on that blanket). I am hanging out with friends before leaving for Toronto, I am leading my first ever service/ delivering the sermon on August 9th. and then after camp I try to organize my many boxes of stuff and move to Toronto.
I’m also a total Harry Potter geek so I am waiting on a time-turner necklace that is supposed to have arrived by now- but its coming from the US so it may have got caught up in customs.
I’ll be posting again soon about Bangladesh so watch carefully…
A lot of people have been asking me “What are your plans for the summer?” Well let me tell you:
1) be a junior leader at the annual Anglican Lutheran Youth Conference, as I have for a few years now (minus last year because I was in Bangladesh)
2) go to Diocesan Synod as a youth delegate representing the Deanery of Huron-Perth (alongside the other youth delegate from my area)
3) have conversation regarding postulancy
4) submit a paper to a contest that I shall leave nameless for the time-being so as to avoid bias in judging
6) turn 24
7) pending on whether I have a job or not yet: go to Michigan for the Compton Traditional Bowhunters Rendezvous
8) take a road trip to Detroit with my good friend Benjamin
9) become an Aunt for the first time– shoutout to my sis and her baby bump
10) get ready for the newest step in my journey in Toronto
11) all this time I will probably be helping my parents renovate what is currently their room, my room, and the laundry room — hopefully by the end of the summer it will be 2 larger bedrooms
WOAH– that’s actually more than I thought. This is going to be a big summer for me, my family, and my friends. But I have those jittery feelings that just tell you its all gonna be really really good. I’ll keep you updated on how all the things unfold and hopefully will blog some more about my adventures in Bangladesh as I haven’t finished those yet… wow- actually I just realized as I was writing- it was a year ago today that I left Canada… although because of the flight length and time-zone change it was the 9th when we got there. Anyway- like I said- will post more soon
Technically my graduation date is on June 16 (2 days before my birthday). But my last exam is tonight, it’s for a course that has been an intense slog to get through but has had genuinely wonderful information contained within it. As it turns out I didn’t need to take this course- I thought it was required but when I had my grad check done I was informed that I in fact did not have to.
Oh well… I probably would’ve had to take it in my next degree anyway because of the cross-listing that happens with these courses.
People ask me if graduating feels surreal. Well yes and no. Does the past 4 years feel like they’ve just blown past in a few days? Yes. Am I excited to be done this degree and pursuing the next stage of my journey? Of course. Does it feel surreal? No more than the overwhelming surrealism of every day of my degree.
I have wanted to study theology since I was 13 years old. At first I was too nervous to admit this to anyone and pursued another path first, one that I have found ways to incorporate into my new one (or is it my old one?). This will be my second post- secondary graduation as a result. So if you add all that up… I spent a lot of time waiting. Waiting for it to feel right, waiting to be brave, waiting for my acceptance, … waiting. There have been times during this degree where I am tempted to pinch myself- because I can’t really be here- right? Although I never did pinch myself because I decided I would rather live the dream as long as possible and then wake up if I had to. Plus pinching hurts.
I’m not gonna lie, sometimes moving to the next step feels scary– but if I don’t step forward I’m just standing still- and you’ll never get anywhere that way. So off I go… one left
Getting back to Bangladesh… I realize I haven’t posted in awhile, and even longer since I posted on my experiences in B-desh. (I swear it’s going to be a while before I get through it all- if my posts are chronological, I’ve posted about experiences that happened in the first week and a half actually in the country).
I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted and down lately and I thought maybe making a post might help– if not then I’m one post further into my quest, and no worse off.
Children can be so full of energy and happiness that even when you are feeling your worst- you can’t help but admire them and try to join with them in the wonder of life. I had the privilege to be spending a lot of my time at a daycare- and while there were many kids there, there were a few who became very dear to me. I can’t say their real names because of privacy reasons but let’s call them: Pam, Sara, Rebecca, and Rachel. I miss them…
At this point in the trip, I was starting to question why I was there- what difference was anything making? I was struggling with my emotions, and of course, as I always do- trying to hide that fact. Unfortunately for my secretive habits (maybe fortunately for me- I’m still on the fence about that) I was part of a team, a team that made sure we all embraced vulnerability and stayed open with each other. Back to the kids- I walked in that morning and found a whole crowd of little faces smiling and laughing and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh a bit myself. I gave Pam a drawing I had made for her and she was extremely happy- up to this point Pam had been a little distant (which is fair enough given various circumstances) but it made me so happy to see that I was able to get through her shield. Sara also came running up to me and jumped into my arms- she had on a bright yellow dress and clung to me like a little lemur. Rebecca was quiet and didn’t say much (at any point during my time there) but she reminded me of a girl I knew back home- which made there to be (at least for me) an instant connection- she was my piece of home, half way around the world. Rachel was causing a bit of trouble this day (I got the sense that she had a bit of a impish personality- much like me at her age). Both Rachel and Pam, in their interactions with me and my teammate, found my weakness– tickling. They had me on the floor, muscles spasm-ing because of their quick fingers.
This day- because of the children became a turn-around point… it didn’t last forever but it got me out of the funk I had was in at the time.
In addition to all of this we saw another Caucasian on the street during our free time. Most of our team was Caucasian but it was different seeing someone we didn’t know- I had started to get used to not seeing people of my own ethnicity outside of our team so it surprised me. We had a short conversation and went our separate ways but it made me aware of just how much we stand out.
Another thing to add on- at the end of the day we found out that a fellow team member had stumbled upon a humorous mispronunciation– she was saying “donnopat” when she meant “donnobad”… so instead of saying “thank you” (donnobad) she was saying “holy fart” (donnopat)
A sneak peek at my next B-desh post: it wasn’t long before my self-doubt and generally negative feelings resurfaced. I love the Bengali people, it had nothing to do with them- and everything to do with my personal journey.