Five team members volunteered to put their summers into concise stories and share a photo that goes along with their themes. We asked them what they were involved with over the past few months, how it worked out for them, and what lessons they learned.
Here’s how they responded:
Location: Nuhlunbuy, Australia
“That didn’t go according to plan: I have been living on a boat for the best part of this last month.
“My priorities are currently: ensuring that…
- I’m awake at 4:30 for a 5:00 am start.
- I eat enough to sustain 12 – 14 hour days of non-stop manual labour.
- I keep mentally healthy enough not to snap under the immense physical and psychological pressure.
“The job itself is too menial to even bother explaining, so I won’t bore you with it. Safe to say I’ve added about ten kg to my body mass though, on three meals a day.
“I’m working just off the coast of a place called Nuhlunbuy (Gove is the colonial name for it) on the northern tip of Australia. Every night I see sharks and dolphins around the boat, and I’ve watched technicians pull out tens of thousands of beautiful pearls from the oysters we grow. I’m not sure how it tees up with my veganism- I’m banking on bivalve molluscs not having sentience (which is what the admittedly limited research suggests), but I’m forced to admit I’m corrupted by the necessity for income for the next year in Vancouver.
“I’ve been reading as much as I can, but you tend to need to meditate, eat, and sleep after days out here. In 19* more sleeps I’m free from the chains of the farm, and will find myself hitchiking across the continent from Darwin to Perth. I’ll be back in Canada on the 19th, but am planning to be back in service qua Kite and other commitments a little after that – keeping in mind I left Vancouver to come straight here, and thus have had extremely minimal time for reflection or relaxation in 4 months.”
What lessons Archie has learned this summer are incoming… as soon as he finds the time to jot down his reflections.
*[UPDATE: safe and sound, working on Kite events back in Vancouver!]
Location: African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
“Summer 2018 started rather unconventionally for me. In early May I embarked on the longest flight I have ever taken (a total of 23 hours travel time). My destination: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It was my first time visiting the African continent. To provide some context, in the previous four months before my departure, I had been enrolled in a UBC global seminar called African Security from African Perspectives. The seminar basically focused on the current state of African interstate relations, more specifically looking at issues related to security. While that all sounds super heavy, it basically meant that I had the amazing opportunity to actually visit the capital of the African Union – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – with the group of 17 other students (and Tanzania as a solo-trip beforehand) to dive deeper into the topics we had discussed throughout the previous term.
“For fear of over-simplifying my experience, the brevity of this blog post makes it so that I cannot even begin to articulate the immense learning that this trip provoked. I went into my trip feeling very naïve and shy about engaging with African political issues, especially having just starting studying these topics and knowing that I come from a position of relative privilege that biases my understanding of the world. Despite these worries, I feel extremely thankful to have had the chance to explore a new part of the world and, by consequence, begin to scratch the surface of the extremely complex histories and state of current affairs of these two countries, as well as Africa as a whole. My time on the continent reminded me that the narrative of global issues can drastically change depending on what part the world you are in and who you speak to. Although it is impossible to fully understand the perspective of those living in a particular region as a mere visitor, sitting down and listening to the lived experiences of people can be an eye-opening first step.”
Location: Chishang Township, Taiwan
Chasing Slow Living:
“We live in a world where we are habituated to approach things with urgency. Our society praises speed so we can reach maximum indulgence in all parts of our lives, but my heart was unable to keep up. I was doing more but experiencing less.
“Biking through the rice fields made me think of the connection between the climate, the farmers, plowing, planting, and harvesting. All the relationships formed through this patient process to bring food to our plate and to our health.
“Health comes from the word haelen, meaning ‘whole.’ It’s difficult to be in a state of wholeness when the mind, body, and spirit are separated. Therefore, we can not separate ourselves from the environment and the beings residing within it. One reason that motivated my plant-based diet.
“Nature has provided me with a space of solace, a space to slow down my mental tempo, and space for me to practice gratitude. If anyone is ever feeling lost or overwhelmed in this speedy world of ours, adopt the pace of nature, it’s amazing what it can do.”
Location: Tripoli, Lebanon
“It is my pleasure to share memories of my summer with you.
“I was lucky to have had the chance of going back home and spending this summer with my beloved ones in Lebanon. I have missed everyone and everything so deeply, and it was very touching to see that after all this time, everything was just as I remembered, and everyone was still waiting for me to come back. Without doubt, I became emotional more than I ever have been; as separation teaches you the hard way how to appreciate everyone and every single detail you left behind.
“I celebrated my birthday six times this year! And it was surprising every time as if it was the first!
“This was my first year to grow older apart from home, so it was an occasion worth the recall. But what I enjoyed more than free cakes, were family gatherings around the dining table and sharing mom’s delicious meals. I am grateful for such moments, and I will cherish their memories forever. I was proud to see how my beautiful friends are still advocating and fighting hard for our animal welfare organization and how far our dog shelter has progressed in less than a year. I can’t describe the happiness that struck me when I saw our rescued dogs healthy and happy and running freely in their new home. Their grateful eyes are what make you forget all the trouble and struggles you’ve come across and all your hard work and effort worth it.
“To be honest, I never imagined that I would miss Vancouver pretty much as I have missed Lebanon! Vancouver really feels like my second home now, and I was very excited to get back and enjoy the last few weeks of summer within the heart of its glorious nature. Being away for a while has made me appreciate the healthy, safe, and prosperous environment we are blessed with over here, and taught me to never take such blessings for granted.”
“I worked 4 jobs this summer, but I got fired from one of them. I was always a Mad Scientist, but, this summer, I also became a Clinical Research Assistant, a street fundraiser, and the ED of Kite. I’m currently running a Mad Science camp for Aboriginal kids from Kindergarten to Grade 8, and I am still on the UBC diabetes research team. So, guess which job I lost?
“Kite, serendipitously, has been my mainstay throughout the summer having multiple weekly check-ins with different members of the team and, every Saturday, with my friend, mentor and advisor, Joshua Morgan.
“I’m also venturing to finish 20 books this summer (a more difficult undertaking than I had imagined; 5.5 books and 2.5 audiobooks later). I end up picking up a bunch at once and finishing the one I like most, which is not such a bad strategy. After all, this is how our book list was created.
“So, what are some of the memorable moments from my summer involvements? Well, I’d actually like to thank my friend I visited in Jackson, Wyoming last week for those. For the past 3 years, he has been running a soccer camp armed with his determination to share his love of the beautiful game with the Jackson Hole community, especially the under-served youth population. I had the privilege of being part of his tight-knit community for the final week of camp and coaching some truly inspirational kids. I also cooked carne asada for the 50+ campers and their families on the last day, which was spectacular. In good food, celebratory spirits, and with a park full of new acquaintances I truly got to know what the camp’s motto meant; see, what really motivates my friend is Más Que Fútbol, it’s a thriving community.”
“If there’s anything I’ve learned this summer, it’s this: no matter the activity or job, whether it’s the inaugural day, or the eighty-first year of operations, the way to get the most out of every day is having people to count on and friendships that make the time worth sharing.”