Saturday, October 23, 2010

Perth - Gracias 2010/11: Canada World Youth Adventure IV

Lanark: Country roads, take me home!
We're already at the end of the Canadian phase of our program!!!  We still have another week in Canada, but due to some unexpected events, I probably won't have time to send another update before heading out to Honduras on October 30th!So, without further ado, I will try to sum up the last incredibly eventful 3 weeks of my life!  It looks like this update will be full of web videos!
Gaby's first frost
Firstly is probably thanksgiving.  Happy belated Thanksgiving!!!  My family (including my brother) all came down to Perth for Thanksgiving and celebrated it with my counter-part, host family and their parents and kids as well!  It was really great!  It was also very well timed.  The night before Thanksgiving we were making pumpkin pies and playing board games and not really paying very much attention to the temperature outside.  When we woke up in the morning we realized that we had gotten our first real frost!!  Gaby was VERY excited when my Dad came to pick us up for breakfast to see the frost!  We didn't get a chance to return to the farm until after we had met up with everyone and had our pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner in town. . .but when we got back, we realized that the frost had killed everything!!  Although I know it is the natural cycle, it was quite sad to see the crops we had worked so hard on for the past 2 months, dead.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving was a lot more clear and real to me this year.  Giving thanks for the year's harvest, that so much, for a relatively short period of time, was sown from the land. . .and now to enter into the cold, fallow winter.
The next week we had our EAD led by Erin and Gaby (another Gaby!).  They had us focus on toxins and harmful substances contained in everyday things that we use.  They presented "The Story of Stuff", to give us a quick outline of the impact a consumerist lifestyle has on our health, human rights, the environment, etc.  It's a very interesting video that I saw a few years ago but was very good to revisit.  I highly recommend it! 
Following their EAD we had an interview for a learning forum in Montreal and then went to a meeting in Perth for a "transition town" initiative.  First I will talk about the interviews.
Canada World Youth redesigned the way they run their programs due to threats of funding cuts last year.  Now, all of the programs that CWY does are 5 year programs where the youth change each year, but the exchange destinations remain the same.  As a part of this, CWY, along with it's many partners have decided to hold Learning Forums as well.  This year will be the first Learning Forum in Montreal where youth from many different groups participating across Canada, with their many counter-parts from around the globe will all meet together to discuss the learning that is going on in the program and youth involvement. The good news was that our group needed to be represented at the forum, the bad news was that only 2 out of 18 of us could be funded!  So we had to have interviews for the forum.  Our group is full of amazing individuals and really, anyone would be fully capable of representing our group at the forum, but in the end Juan Carlos and myself were chosen as the representatives!!!!! :D  So, I will be heading off to Montreal tomorrow until the morning of the 29th (the day before we leave for Honduras!!) for the forum.  I'm really looking forward to it! :D
stop climate change clothesline!
So onto transition towns!  The idea of a transition town is to create a tight community that is committed to curbing their use of non-renewable resources (namely oil, gas, coal) and investing more in their community!  Here is a very informative video about it!  Judging by the number of people who came out to the meeting, it looks like they might be able to get this idea up and at least walking pretty soon in Perth!
Then on 10/10/10 we, along with 7343 groups in 188 countries, participated in a public action for stopping climate change.  The action was organized by Erin in our group as a part of her work placement and  Our action involved painting t-shirts with messages about stopping climate change and hanging them up on a clothesline to promote the idea of air-drying your clothes to cut down on both energy usage and expenses.  We did the activity at the farmer's market in Perth and it was very well received.  We got our pictures in the Perth Courier, EMC and there was an interview done for one of the local radio stations as well!
10/10/10 clothesline for international event
The following week Annabelle and Dyana did their EAD focusing on indigenous people.  They brought in a very interesting guest, Ben Powless, to talk to us about some of his experiences as an activist for indigenous rights.  We also had a visit from Shalak, a Montreal artist who taught us more about art as a means of expression and tool for social change.  She let us experiment with some spray paint, caps and wooden boards that she prepared for us and taught us how to make sweet graffiti letters!

That pretty much brings us to this week where we have been doing our debriefing of the Canadian phase of the program.  This week we've been talking a lot about power and privilege in our group, stereotyping and what to expect in Honduras, etc.  We watched this TED talk which was extremely interesting, about the dangers of the "single story".
Shalak's workshop
Fall in Perth!
Tonight, finally, we had our Thank you dinner for the Perth Community.  It was a Hallowe'en, potluck, costume party and it went AMAZINGLY.  We started off the evening with an activity where different tables were given different numbers of coupons to determine how many helpings of food they could get.  Some tables had 4 coupons each while other tables had only 1 coupon each.  We made the guests believe that there was no option for more food and no possibility of getting more than their coupons' worth.  This obviously created some frustrations and anger, to the point where a few guest yelled at us for our unfairness.  When everyone was sitting again with their various portions of food we read the "if the world were a village of 100 people" statistics.  Everyone immediately understood what we were getting at.  Since our program is focused on Food Security and that is interconnected with access to food, we decided to incorporate that activity into our Thank you dinner to facilitate discussion about the issue.  It went very well.  Following that, we had the typical sentimental Thank yous, gifts, awards, presentation, weeping, laughing, singing, dancing AND SNOW!!!!!!!  Yes, we just had our first snow here in Perth this evening!  All of the Honduran participants were SO excited!!!!!  It was really the perfect ending to phase one of the program.
So tomorrow I will be saying a goodbye to my host family/work placement and the wonderful community of Perth to head off to Montreal for the learning forum and this time next week I will be just a day away from HONDURAS!!!!!!!!!!!
Canada World Youth REPRESENT!
Wish me luck!  I will try to send more updates if possible from there too!
AND  if you, or anyone you know is interested in doing a CWY program, APPLY!!!!!  You must be a youth (between the ages of 17-24)!! Application deadline for next year is December!

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