Have you ever Considered Volunteering While on Vacation?

Prior to my 14 months of full-time travels, as a teacher I was only able to travel on school holidays. Each summer I would travel to a new destination, often backpacking my way around the country. Each trip that I took, I tried to find an opportunity to volunteer while in that country. I felt it was the best way to get a feel of that place, by getting in with the locals. In Texas I volunteered at a soup kitchen, in Nicaragua I planted community gardens, in Honduras I built wells, in the Dominican Republic I volunteered at an orphanage, in Guyana I taught teachers, but my volunteer experience in Mexico was by far the most impactful–I volunteered at a dump.

In 2010, I traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and vol­unteered at the Children Center of Hope Orphanage and the School of Champions through Feed the Children Vallarta (formerly known as Children of the Dump). Most of my time was spent at the School of Champions volunteering at the summer camp. I had an amazing time teaching English and facilitat­ing games and crafts to the many innocent, sweet, and joyful children who live in and around the dump. Approximately 200 families lived at the dump in the past and, through education and support from Feed the Children Vallarta, fewer and fewer families are depending on the dump for their livelihood. Continue reading

A Somber Day of Remembrance at Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau, Concentration CampDachau, Concentration CampIt was a somber rainy day when I visited Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. The willow trees on the property seemed to weep with me as I walked amongst the fenced-in grounds with the grey clouds hanging heavy above my head, just like my heart. Walking alone through the camp made me feel like I was the only soul in Dachau hearing the  cries of the past being muffled by the wind. The massive camp holds secrets and history of the past. Truth, reality, redemption, honour, pride, and memory. Continue reading

Turquoise Thursday Special: Receiving My MEd

Month 4 Update: 4 Months In and Never Been Happier

MEd Graduation

MEd GraduationMy top 2013 bucket list item was graduating with my MEd! I can now say that I have received my MEd in Curriculum & Instruction/Administration, while also attaining my principal’s certificate and teaching certificate upgrade! I finished my Master’s in June 2013, but did not walk across the stage to receive my MEd until October 24th, 2013. It feels so good to have accomplished one of my greatest goals and to have done it so quickly. I started my Master’s in April of 2012 and finished only 14 months later. I completed the majority of my Master’s while also teaching middle school English full time. I don’t know how I did it. I just did it. I wanted it done and I made it happen. It feels good to see my MEd certificate framed in my house and to know I have an MEd. Continue reading

Meeting Erin Gruwell to Graduated Freedom Writer Teacher

I admire Erin Gruwell for everything she has accomplished. Most people have heard of herErin Gruwell from the Hollywood film Freedom Writers. Erin’s story fascinated me from the moment I heard about the Freedom Writers. Erin helped 150 students, who were not destined to graduate, receive their high school diploma. Many went off to university. She engaged, enlightened, and empowered her students who were nominally deemed as “unteachable”, “rejects”, or “too stupid” to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. Erin’s students followed in the footsteps of the ‘Freedom Riders’ and are known as the Freedom Writers after they published the book The Freedom Writers Diary in 1999. They were writing for change and educating the world through their stories of how a group of “throw-outs” and rival gangs can come together, co-exists in harmony, and teach each other regardless of colour, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Continue reading