Welcome to The Belgravia B&B!

 

Please stop in often to find out what is new at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, in downtown Truro, the Central Nova Scotia Area, and around the Province of Nova Scotia! Please click here to find out all about us or here to read guest comments and reviews.

Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna

#WeAllWin – National Edition

As an educator, I firmly believe that much of the significant learning that happens for students happens outside of the classroom; that when learners get involved in their school and community, their educational experience is that much richer.

This month I, along with my academic chair, was privileged to accompany ten of our learners from three different programs to participate in the Enactus Canada National Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia. What a learning experience it was – for all of us!

Annually, the Enactus Canada National Exposition brings together student, academic and industry leaders from across the country to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s future leaders and entrepreneurs. Over the course of the three-day event, students showcase how their community outreach projects and business ventures are enabling progress through entrepreneurial action. Through rounds of live, presentation-based competition, business leaders serving as judges determine which Enactus team and student entrepreneur will be named National Champions and represent Canada on the global stage.

The competitive process, along with additional programming, provides an opportunity for collaboration and best-practice sharing, fosters innovation, encourages results and rewards excellence in entrepreneurial, community leadership.” (Enactus Canada)

We had originally told our team of approximately 20 students that we would be holding auditions to go to Vancouver, as it would be so expensive to get there and we only could afford to take five. However, when our still-new team was named Regional Champion of the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge in March, Jim & I were determined to get all ten of our presenters from regionals to the national exposition – and we did!

The experience was amazing. To be surrounded by hundreds of student leaders, educators, and community who are all working together to make the world a better place through innovation and entrepreneurship? Inspiring… Energizing… Empowering…

I had the privilege of watching one student’s face as we started to taxi for take-off on her first time on an airplane; I can’t put that experience into words.

It was an exhausting and exhilarating week, filled with practice and performance; networking and team-building. In addition to spending most of our time at the conference or practicing, we also made time for sight-seeing, pool & hot tub time, shopping, and celebration. Sleep was in short supply while we were there, but it was worth it.

We won a “Spirit of Enactus” award for our National presentation, and cheered for Enactus NSCC Truro when they won one too. We screamed with joy when Rebecca Dunphy, president of Enactus NSCC Waterfront, won Student Leader of the Year for the country. We recognize that a win for any of our teams is a win for all of us.

There were other opportunities for individuals during the expo: Jim & I attended a faculty advisor session on the first day where we learned from the other faculty advisors from across the country; Kelyn attended the HR forum; Beth was onstage with the Nova Scotian flag during opening ceremonies; Nicole & Jim attended the executive forum; I attended the HSBC Women’s Leadership forum (a highlight of the week for me); and Holly & Emma stayed an extra two days to attend the Unilever Leadership Summit in Squamish.

We were able to record each of our presentations, both of which we are so proud of.

Bethany, Holly, Emma, Hailey, and Kelyn present the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge, outlining our “Raising the Roots” project. It is an honour to think that we were among the top seven teams of 51 in the country who competed in this challenge.

 

Maddie, Samantha, Sydney, Jennifer, Nicole, and Hailey present our National Competition presentation, outlining our three projects and two events undertaken this year. We won a Spirit of Enactus award for this presentation:

National Presentation

The students were all asked to send testimonials about their experience, with permission for me to share. I am humbled when I read them, realizing just how impactful this experience really is for them. When they look back on their time at NSCC Pictou, it is these experiences, connections, and their personal growth that I hope they will remember.

(Note: testimonials are also being complied into a report about our year and our impact, which will be sent to our supporters.)

IMG_9843

Enactus NSCC Pictou on presentation day

“To me, Enactus is an opportunity for individuals to showcase their strengths through empowerment and to build upon existing communities to make them the best places for everyone, regardless of the circumstances. Enactus is a way for students from various educational disciplines to come together and influence one another to build sustainable projects that will help vulnerable populations strive for excellence. This organization allows me to act on my desire to aid others in being the best versions of themselves while also building a strong team of leaders to change the community we live in for the better. By helping people who surround us each day, we are changing the lives of those individuals, while also directly impacting ourselves to continue our efforts for meaningful change. To me, Enactus is a way I get to positively represent those in my community and help them to show the world their incredible potential. 

Last week, our team had the pleasure of attending the Enactus Canada National Exposition, where we prepared a presentation describing the projects we had been working on this past year, while also depicting the impact we had on everyone we got to work with. While being in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, our team had the opportunity to validate our strengths and work toward improving our weaknesses. We had the chance to share with Canada all of the incredible partnerships we have made within our community to help at risk youth, individuals with intellectual disability labels, as well as seniors. Our team had the opportunity to showcase all of the hard work we have put into improving the lives of members within our community. The truth is, it isn’t always an easy task to work in a team, especially when there are multiple ideas of how to best improve the lives of those you are so passionate about helping. This past year has been stressful, slightly overwhelming and some days tiring, but I wouldn’t change anything about how our projects came together or the amazing people I got to share these incredible experiences with. Having the chance to go to British Columbia this past week showed me all of the things I am proud my team has accomplished and has given me much more drive to make this upcoming year the best one yet. 
 
As incoming President for our campus’ Enactus team, I can not wait to partner with my Vice President of Finance, Holly, to lead our team toward excellence and make the biggest impact within our community that our neighbours, business leaders and supporters have seen yet. 2017-2018 is Enactus Pictou’s year! ” ~Emma
IMG_9838

Enactus NSCC Pictou after our presentations

“What an amazing opportunity it was to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia for Enactus Nationals.  As a first year student your really don’t fully understand how much bigger Enactus really is when you go from your small first full year team to the teams your compete against at nationals. How crazy is it that we had the chance to change people’s lives by creating projects and career for people that need it. The amount of opportunities and the experiences Enactus NSCC Pictou has giving me is so much more than I could have thought I would have gain in my first year at NSCC Pictou. The amount of awesome support from our campus and our community is wonderful. I am so proud to be part of something that is is creating a better future for us.” ~Hailey

“What a year this has been for the Enactus team! With our team growing from a small group of six to impressive group of 20 people!
This year has been yet again, another success for us, from winning a championship title in our regional competition in Halifax to getting to walk across the stage again in Vancouver to accept our Spirit Award for 2017!
This is my final year being a member of the Enactus team, and I have been witness to so much growth personally, as well as seeing it in others on the team.
I know that the president title is going into capable hands. I am excited to learn what the team with go next year, with the continuations of current projects and the ideas of new projects!
Enactus has definitely impacted my time at NSCC positively; the skills I have learned while being part of this organization are skills that I will use daily. I appreciate all the support that our team has received over the years: from NSCC Foundation, the NSCC Entrepreneurship team, the staff and faculty at the college and all of our business advisors. We couldn’t have done it without you all!”  ~Nicole
IMG_9872

The three NSCC Enactus teams: Waterfront, Truro, and Pictou

“There’s a special feeling you get when you look into someone’s eyes knowing you’ve helped them, that sends chills throughout your entire body. Being involved in Enactus gives you that feeling over and over again. It’s an extremely humbling organization to be involved in, and is constantly reminding you how lucky you are. We’re not just doing one good thing for someone and leaving it be, we’re continuously changing people’s lives for the better. Even though we’re young students we are leaders, and we prove that every day.

Vancouver was a great experience, there’s nothing like travelling to bring a team closer together. I found we really worked and cooperated as a strong team during the week, and were extremely supportive of one another. The trip bonded us like nothing else could, and I feel even more confident now, going into next year. Listening to the other school’s ideas through presentations were very inspiring and eye opening as to how large of an impact we can make on the world. Although our team is small, we are strong and I can’t wait to continue making an impact on our community with them.” ~Bethany

IMG_0176

It gave me chills to see our team with these Enactus powerhouses – top seven in the Country!  Congratulations to the University of Windsor, who won the National Challenge.

“Enactus has given me an opportunity to do things I never would have done before. I am now more comfortable working with people, and being in front of an audience. Enactus has shown me just how much we can accomplish when we all come together as a team. I was able to see changes throughout our own community, as a result of our work. 

From travelling to Vancouver, I learned just how big the Enactus organization is. I wasn’t aware how many schools, students and faculty are involved in this great organization. I was able to attend the HR forum which allowed me to meet Enactus members from other schools and provinces. Based on the presentations I watched, I was amazed with how much each team is accomplishing to better their communities, as well as Canada.” ~Kelyn

IMG_5141

Enactus NSCC Pictou wins the Spirit of Enactus award in our league

“Enactus is more than just entrepreneurs doing entrepreneurial things. It is about helping people in need, building stronger communities, as well as creating jobs for people in need. We all take the time and see the needs in our communities and think “let’s be that change”. I’m proud to say, we were that change for the people in our community! I’m proud of all the teams that are part of Enactus, especially the NSCC teams, who are just a big family across the province. 

We are so fortunate that we were able to go to nationals to showcase our hard work, network, and see other projects across the country. We are thankful for the donations and support given to us! Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to bring ten team members all the way across the country! Thank you so much!” ~Jennifer
IMG_5142

Some staggering statistics from the HSBC Women’s Leadership Forum – especially impactful when traveling with ten millennial women!

 

“What a whirlwind of a week!! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to go to ENACTUS Nationals held in Vancouver this year and experience it with such a great bunch of women (plus Jim)! Coming from the practical nursing program I loved getting to know other students and faculty members who I most likely would not have interacted with otherwise. It has made my college experience that much more enjoyable. I walk on campus not just as a student coming to learn but I feel a sense of comfort, acceptance…I feel at home.

 The sense of purpose you feel knowing you are contributing to your community in such a positive way..ENACTUS in every way helps feed your soul, however cheesy that might sound.
 Participating at Nationals has not only helped boost my ability to public speak, but also my confidence in myself. Listening to the keynote speakers along with the amazing projects presented by the other schools has helped our team learn aspects we need to improve and inspired us to push the envelope with news ideas to help better our community. ENACTUS provides a platform to help support you as you accomplish your dreams, while seeing other teams in action helps encourage us to strive for better.” ~Samantha
“Joining the Enactus team in September was definitely the best decision I made this school year. I didn’t really know what to expect or what I had truly signed up for until the regional competition in Halifax in March. The energy was high and atmosphere electric. Winning the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge and getting Runner Up for the Scotiabank Eco-Living Green Challenge was awesome! Especially considering that we were competing against universities like MUN and SMU.
 The Enactus Canada National Exposition in Vancouver was even more spectacular. It was amazing to network with other teams and see the impact that students are making in their communities, across the country, and around the world. I never would have imagined when I moved from Ontario to small-town Nova Scotia that I would be given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing team and travel across the country to showcase the difference that we make in our community. 
 I am very excited to continue with Enactus next year in a leadership role and I am very excited to see just how much our little team can do! ” ~Holly
IMG_5172

Enactus NSCC Pictou – final day

“During my two years of being a member of Enactus it has taught me so many skills needed for life that I wouldn’t learn in a classroom. I have met new friends and found a new view at how to look at things in the real world. Without Enactus I don’t know what I would be doing right now when it comes to my everyday life. I’ve made a brand new family that I would not change for anything. When going to school, getting involved is something that I now highly encourage everyone to do because it enhances the value of your education and how you see things differently.

In the most recent event which was the National Exposition in Vancouver we have built new team skills and ways to keep building the team and encouraging people to want to be part of what we are. When away at the national exposition you meet new people, networking and trading your skills that you have learned with other people so that in the end, everyone can succeed.

Although I may not be a student anymore at the Pictou Campus, I will always stay an active member as Alumni to the team and  remember what Enactus has taught me and carry it on for the rest of my life.” ~Sydney

“Enactus has taught me much this past year. From being someone who follows through on commitments, to being someone who goes with the flow, this team has so much to offer that you will not get anywhere else. This team has forced me to grow as a person, to stand up for what I believe in and to have the confidence to stand against things that I do not. 
The trip to Enactus Nationals 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, was an essential component to understanding the impact this organization has on not only Canada, but the world. The team had the opportunity to listen to the presentations of teams who were both new, upcoming novices, and seasoned Enactus professionals. These presentations helped us understand the standards to which all teams must be held to, and strive to become. 
Enactus is an organization that is changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world for the better. The students and faculty advisors volunteer millions of hours to make this world a better place, and we, Enactus NSCC Pictou, are so proud and honoured to be a part of this community of leaders. 
As a consequence of this past year, I now refuse to believe that small things do not matter. Every minute, every second that you spend helping others matters in our ongoing mission to make social change. 
I would like to take the time to offer my deepest gratitude to NSCC Entrepreneurship and the NSCC Foundation for supporting us this past year. Thank you for believing in this small, dedicated team and thank you for helping us be able to do the things we do. 
This support does not go unrecognized or unappreciated.” ~Maddie
18485568_1685279771766478_340771385700662454_n

Part of our welcoming committee/fan club at the Halifax airport – thank you, Chasity, for the photo!

Thank you to our whole team for an amazing year – this includes students; our advisors, both on staff and in the community; our community partners; our NSCC Pictou Campus administration; NSCC Entrepreneurship; the NSCC Foundation; the NSCC Waterfront and NSCC Truro teams; our families, and all of our other community supporters.
Congratulations to our graduates, Nicole, Maddie, and Jennifer. We will miss you, but thank you for all of your contributions and know you will stay involved as alumni. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you, and for our team.
#WeAllWin

 

 

#WeAllWin

One of my greatest joys is that through choices I’ve made, I now have the opportunity to empower others to do amazing things while impacting and transforming lives.

What a rush!

Yesterday, the Enactus NSCC Pictou team won the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge and were runners-up of the Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge at the Enactus Canada (Atlantic) Regional Competition.

IMG_9073

To say we were shocked would be an understatement.

We believe that the projects we are doing are making a positive impact, but we are still a new team (18 months old) and were competing against 13 other really amazing projects from other post-secondary institutions.

When the winners for the Scotiabank Eco-Living challenge were being read, and we heard, “runner-up: Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus” we looked at one another and screamed… and hugged… and cried! What? It was unbelievable!

We had our photos taken and then returned to our seats, still shaking our heads in disbelief, when we heard that our colleagues, NSCC Waterfront Campus had won the category!! We were so thrilled for them and the adrenaline was flowing.

The next category being announced was the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Challenge. The second runners-up and first runners-up were announced, and then we heard words along the lines of, “I don’t even need the envelope for this one. They are not going to be expecting this, but they are a very special group: Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge Regional Champion is Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus”! 

Even I got teary at that. We were crying… and laughing… and screaming… and hugging in disbelief. We went on stage as a group and accepted our award. What an absolutely amazing feeling!

The power, energy, happiness, and adrenaline that you feel in the moment is indescribable  unless you’ve experienced it. These awards are validation that the work we are doing is making a positive impact.

Enactus Canada is part of a worldwide organization partnering post-secondary students with community to enable progress in a sustainable way through entrepreneurial activities.

We presented three of our projects in four categories: “Raising the Roots”, a partnership with the youth homeless shelter in our area; Creating A $olution for Her (CA$H), a series of financial education workshops we’ve been offering to women at our campus; and “Delightful Dining” a brand new partnership with Summer Street Industries, working with their clients who have an intellectual disability label to prepare and deliver heathy homemade food to seniors in our area.

The accolades are fantastic, but the projects we are doing are what is important. Through our partnerships, we are not only transforming the lives of our own students, but also the lives of those in our community who are impacted through our projects.

I am so proud of our team (we have other active members who did not join us at the Regional Exposition) and am so excited that this is just the beginning. For eight out of ten students, this is their first year with the team, so had no idea what to expect, but they shone! My goal is to take all ten of our presenters to the National competition in Vancouver in May, so hopefully our fundraising efforts will allow that. We are fortunate to have supportive administration both at the campus level and at the college level.

By being a member of Enactus, the learners involved get a much richer post-secondary educational experience. They build friendships and networks, and learn to push themselves outside of their comfort zones. They learn organization, time-management, report writing, critical thinking, networking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and presentation skills. They become inspired by being part of a global organization of people trying to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Of the ten students who attended Regionals, we had students representing Business, Social Services, and Practical Nursing. One student approached me and said, “I am so happy I joined this team because I would never have had the opportunity to get to know all of you otherwise.”  Another student told me, “It’s not what I learned in the classroom that I’m going to remember looking back, it’s moments like these.”

When you invest in Enactus, you invest in a better world for us all.”

#WeAllWin

IMG_9070

Enactus NSCC Pictou (Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Champions and Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge runners-up) with Enactus NSCC Waterfront (Scotiabank Eco-Living Regional Champions and TD Entrepreneurship Challenge Regional Second Runners-up) #nsccproud

IMG_9074

The Scotiabank Youth Empowerment and Scotiabank Eco-Living presentation team: Kelyn Palmer, Holly Klein, Bethany Ripoll, Emma Spaulding, and Hailey Conley (l-r)

To see a range of photos from our two days at the conference, please click here.

The Old Man

The tears have all been shed now
We’ve said our last good-bye
His soul’s been blessed and he’s laid to rest
And it’s now I feel alone…

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone, memory lingers on
And I miss him… The old man”

(Lyrics by Phil Coulter)

D’Arcy’s dad passed away this week. When you are 90 years old, it’s never really unexpected, but it was sudden. He died at home with his bride of 61 years sleeping beside him and his two youngest daughters with him as well. His last words were “I’ve had a wonderful life and a beautiful family.”

Click here to view Rollie’s obituary where you can also view the photo gallery and guest book.

14642294_10153887724232401_1277709916606229281_n

Rollie (or “Dad” or “Grandpa”) would have LOVED this week. His family has been gathering from near and far, sharing stories, hugs, laughs, toasts, and tears. There were close to 60 immediate family, and over 500 friends, family, and former colleagues at his funeral mass. He touched so many lives and was remembered as a man of character who – above everything else – treasured his family. He had a genuine interest in people, a love of learning, a sense of fairness, a keen sense of humour, and always – a pocket full of candy.

The following is a tribute, written for him by his nine children and delivered by his daughter, Shannon, with her siblings beside her, at the reception:

“Dad was a true Cape Bretoner – he loved people and was always interested in getting to know them, in finding their story and making a connection. In fact, we remember when we were youngsters travelling around with dad – how we thought he knew everyone – because he always had something friendly to say to anyone he come across. He’d chat them up – Where you from?, Who’s your father?; Any relation to…? and he always seemed to know their name – “Mac”. Eventually we caught on … surely not everyone could have the same name…could they? 

Dad was always ready to take on a new challenge – and with each he exemplified the importance of having work life balance – but also being persistent and not giving up on what you start. When his younger brother started university, it inspired him to return to school to continue his studies. We all know how challenging it can be for any student to complete their degree – well our father managed to complete his degree at Saint Mary’s University with seven kids in tow. 

Dad will be fondly remembered by many as the “candy man”. We are not sure when this became his tag, but it was many years ago when dad – much to mom’s dismay – as the candy budget grew over the years – thought it absolutely necessary to have a pocket full of Werthers at all times. I don’t think we ever saw dad eat them, but he took great pleasure in the smile a candy in hand would bring to anyone he encountered throughout the day. 

Over the past number of years we have had the pleasure of accompanying dad to his medical appointments. We say pleasure, because it was amazing to watch him interact with the staff – he knew everyone by name (the registration clerks, the nurses, the doctors), he was genuinely interested in how they were doing and would ask about their families and he always had a care package for each one (a nice big orange – you know the most expensive ones (size 66 for those in the know) , and a baggy of Werthers). 

Dad lived his faith fully – he believed in the goodness of people and community, and lived by the golden rule, showing compassion for anyone and everyone. To dad, no one was a stranger. 

Mom and dad taught by example…modeling by their actions, a genuine love, concern and empathy for family, friends and neighbors. Our house was a home…as full as it was with all of us, and for a time, our grandfather too…there was always room for more. Growing up on Jubilee Road – our home became a popular resting spot when our friends couldn’t quite make it home after a night of socializing downtown – and they were quite comfortable doing so – some were frequent flyers. It wasn’t unusual for mom and dad (okay mostly mom) to wake up to the door bell ringing and Buddy barking for a 3 am pizza delivery – only to find one of us, along with a few friends, “sleeping” on the living room couch and floor. Mom and Dad always took this in stride…relieved we were taking care of one another and safe at home. 

Dad was, and continues to be through all of us, a man of strong character and unwavering loyalty to his family and friends. Dad lived by the words, “love is not what you say, but what you do”. He was the rock in his own family – always concerned and looking out for his brothers and father and supporting them in their times of need. He was incredibly proud of his family – past and present. He instilled in us, a value for family above all else – the importance of unconditional love and forgiveness and to never give up on one another. We will continue his legacy by instilling these same values in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

When Shannon finished speaking, Alex sang the following (although this was recorded at home, not at the service):

D’Arcy & I would like to thank everyone who has reached out to us personally at this time with kind words of condolence, flowers, safe meals, cookies, hugs, and remembrances. We are so grateful to our colleagues who went above-and-beyond for us at school so that we could spend this week with our family. To those who took time on a beautiful spring-like Saturday morning to come to the funeral and celebrate Rollie’s life with us – thank you – your presence and support was appreciated. And to those who reached out that they were unable to attend but wished they could be with us, we felt your spirits and support in our hearts.

Rollie was interred this afternoon, with his family gathering together to lay him to rest. It was probably the first time ever that the McDonahs in attendance were early. It was a beautiful spiritual rite and we appreciated Father Connelly presiding for us when all the siblings were present; I loved it when he compared Fran to Saint Monica as we closed, and the candid reflections he had.

Back at “Grandma & Grandpa’s” there were more stories, family, food, and laughter. Rollie loved deeply and was deeply loved. Although we will miss his physical presence, his guidance, his wit, his smile, his laugh, his opinions, his admiration, and his love will live on in us and continue to guide us throughout our lives.

(Not that it’s been a problem yet, but) we have vowed that we will continue to love –  and hug –  and will never hold a grudge with one another. We will ensure his legacy continues.

Cheers to Rollie… Dad… Grandpa!

Sláinte! 

Our lives were blessed by being yours! xo

Happy new day. Happy new year.

A new year… a blank page…

Each year has its ups and downs and 2016 was no exception in the McDonah household. We lost people we loved dearly, we had health issues and scares, the stress of the threat of a teacher strike looms, and we overextended ourselves with our time.

Looking back on the year, however, we had so many moments and experiences that I’m grateful for and are worth celebrating . These moments are what I hope will stand out about 2016 in the years to come:

I travelled to Tanzania – twice – this calendar year. How lucky am I?  While I was there I met new friends and built relationships with people. I taught and I learned. I impacted the lives of others. I laughed. Oh, how I laughed!

I delivered 12 hats, hand-knit by Sarah, to newborns in the hospital in Mikumi, Tanzania. The memory, feeling, and impact of that experience will stay with me for my whole life.

I got wet in the Indian Ocean.

Evan travelled to Italy and Greece with his school. He saw sights many people only see in photos, and experienced new cultures and foods.

Alex travelled to Quebec with his school and made memories he will cherish.

Sarah started babysitting.

Alex won the “Triple A” award for excellence in arts, athletics, and academics at his grade nine graduation.

Olivia started learning step-dance and fiddle.

D’Arcy lost 30 pounds.

I won Enactus Canada’s “Rookie Faculty Advisor of the Year” for all of Canada at Nationals in Toronto in May, and my team won the “Spirit Award” in their league.

My teams won Challenge Nova Scotia – twice!

Olivia was invited to her friend’s cottage for the day with a group of her best friends. We are so fortunate for her friends and parents who are willing to go out of their way to make sure she is included even when it means extra work to keep her safe.

Alex played Knickie in his school’s production of Greece.

We spent time canoeing and sailing.

Sarah did well in her highland dance exams and was a party guest and a crab in the Nutcracker.

Olivia made the decision to stop dancing ballet to free up time to “curl five days a week”.

Both Team McDonahs had successful curling bonspiels.

We jumped off a bridge with friends.

Alex got his beginner’s driver’s license.

We had an awesome overnight visit with Mike, Emily, Phinn, and Seamus where the grown-ups went out to dinner and then to Joel Plaskett while the cousins hung out and had fun of their own.

Olivia passed her Brazil nut challenge, leaving her allergies as peanut, egg, and soy.

Evan was accepted to both Dalhousie University and Memorial University of Newfoundland with the intent to study Engineering. (He’s chosen to attend MUN.)

We celebrated D’Arcy’s father’s 90th birthday.

We spent Easter together at White Point Beach Resort with my parents.

I wrote curriculum for a graduate level Advanced Entrepreneurship course that will be used the college in Tanzania. (In the editing stage now.)

Sarah, Olivia, my mother and I travelled to PEI to see “Anne of Green Gables”, the musical.

Evan started playing football on the CEC team.

D’Arcy & I celebrated 20 years since our first date.

We hosted 53 of our loved ones for Thanksgiving Dinner and donated many food items to NSCC Pictou’s student food bank as the result of our family’s generosity.

D’Arcy & I ran a 10km race together and took the time in the summer to go biking together as often as possible. Evan, Alex & Sarah ran the 5km race, and Olivia worked at the finish line.

Our niece, Kelly; and our nephew, Pat, each got married and our family continues to grow.

Sarah & Olivia had a sleepover with their Aunt Erin and went to Sleeping Beauty, the ballet, and had dinner together at Morris East, their favourite restaurant.

We painted the house & garage and D’Arcy rebuilt the Prince Street door steps, a project he’s had on his list for years.

We hosted people from all over the world. One couple, originally from Tanzania, taught us a new tradition which we’ve adopted where we hug each child when they come down for breakfast and say “Happy new day. Enjoy. Help others enjoy. Do good. Help others do good.”

As we begin this new year, I will choose to focus on the good and be grateful for our many blessings as we navigate the inevitable ups and downs any year brings. I extend a warm, loving hug to each of you and offer these thoughts:

“Happy New Year. Enjoy. Help others enjoy. Do good. Help others do good.”

Final thoughts from Arusha

One week after arriving home, I’ve finally posted my blogs and had some time to reflect on my experience, developing some random final thoughts that didn’t fit in to other posts:

img_0135

The BEST welcome home from some special students!

I recognize how fortunate I am to work for an organization that values international partnerships and travel. I am hyper-aware of how fortunate I am to have been offered the opportunity to travel to Tanzania to work twice in one calendar year. It was amazing for me to take some of what Jim & I learned in March and incorporate it into the classroom in November.

I am also so grateful to my faculty team, my support team, my principal, and my Academic Chair, Jim, for supporting me and the students while I was away during classes. As a result of everyone else pitching in on my behalf, my students did not miss any class time while I was gone. I am grateful to my students for recognizing and embracing the opportunity I had, and being patient and encouraging while I was away. (I brought them treats, but they don’t know that yet…)

My experience each time was totally different, but I loved both. I was prepared for the culture-shock this time, and the juxtaposition of traditional and modern ways of life; wealth and poverty; the differences in climate. When I was in Tanzania in March, the average temperature 35*C and this time our average temperature was 25*C which was much more comfortable. The humidity was so much lower as well, so I didn’t have the “African Hair” issues I had last time.

img_7538

Look! No hands!

I am still in awe of the core strength African women have. Carrying 40kg of bananas on your head with no hands while waking up a 70* hill? No problem! And we complain our backs hurt after we sleep funny on our soft mattresses? #firstworldproblems

The freedom the kids in Tanzania have boggles my mind. I was reluctant to let my kids drive their bikes on the street when they were six, let alone be responsible for livestock along a busy highway.

Traveling with female colleagues who are the same age as you are is different than traveling with your male boss – even if you are friends. I would never admit to having more fun this time, but I did definitely have later nights and met far more people! To be fair, at different times on both trips I laughed until my cheeks and belly hurt.

The Supermoon took place one of the first nights we were there. We tried to get a(n unsuccessful) photo which necessitated the creation of the term #womenover40shouldnttakeselfies 

Oh, the laughter!

Tradition and ritual remain strong in Tanzania. At the school, when one of the females I had met before entered the room, I stood up to greet her, and she looked at me and said, “In Tanzania, I must greet the men first” then greeted all the men in the room before coming to give me a warm hug and kisses.

The students were amazing. The work ethic was refreshing to watch. We ran our course from 1pm-6pm so the students could work in the morning before coming to class. Most were women who would have had to go home after class and cook supper and do all the traditional housework in addition to the homework we gave them.  When we ran over time on the first day (by 30 minutes) not one student moved a muscle to leave before we were finished! At home our experience is usually that the students are packed up ten minutes before class is over.

You can’t count on not being bitten by mosquitoes. I have now spent a total of 16 days in Tanzania and until my very last night, had never even seen a mosquito, let alone been bitten. (I even fell asleep on my balcony while watching the stars in March!) On my final night, I got eaten alive. Just finished my last malaria pill yesterday; but before I left, Aturebecca told me I was more likely to contract typhoid from brushing my teeth with the tap water. (I had my typhoid shot too!)

img_0134

So itchy! Time for pants…

Because the weather was cooler, I ate more this time. (I found at 35*C I lost my appetite.) The juices were always freshly squeezed and tasted so amazing! Watermelon with passion fruit and avocado, real orange juice, watermelon, watermelon and mango… I tried some new foods: fried tilapia (LOVE), ugali (LOVE), goat (LOVE).  Being away from Olivia, I ate peanuts almost every day. I gained three pounds (was surprised it was that little, but the food was all FRESH and REAL).

Arusha is a tourist town and other than our first weekend in the cultural village and on safari, and driving back-and-forth to the college, we didn’t leave the “compound” of the hotel much. This visit felt far less “African” and that we could have been at a hotel anywhere in the world. In March, I felt that I got to see more evidence of the “real” Tanzania as we went into businesses and experienced entrepreneurship.

I am a sucker when it comes to the marketplace. I am not a barterer and feel as a “rich” North American any money I can inject into the economy is money well spent.

I texted home on days with reliable wi-fi, but didn’t video until the end when I was on my way home. This made it easier for my kids to have me away.

What are the chances of inviting a random stranger to sit at your table with you at the airport in Ethiopia and then discover they are from Nova Scotia? We have so many small world stories from the B&B, but this was one of my favourites! I also learned that when you have a 16 hour flight, just settle in and make the most of it!

We created a partnership for my Enactus NSCC Pictou team, so I look forward to returning with students in May 2018. Details to follow…

THANK YOU to D’Arcy, Evan, Alex, Sarah & Olivia; my parents; Jim, Dave, Rosemary, Debbie, Goldie, Bert, Deanna and Nicole; Amy, Kellie, and Katie; Lori; Martha & the kids teachers; my Enactus team; my students; and everyone else who made this experience possible for me. I will continue to share my experiences and help others learn through my experiences.

Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater

(Photo heavy post ahead – you can click on individual photos to see them full-sized):

I slept in until 7:30 am today, one week since I arrived home from Tanzania. Travelling from here to there, I found the adjustment to the seven hour time-change easy to navigate, but coming back, not so much. Most nights since I’ve been home, I can barely stay awake after supper, but am wide-awake by 4am. I finally hit a wall yesterday and had an afternoon nap where I fell into a deep sleep for two hours. When, at 8:30 pm, Olivia asked me if I would go cuddle with her, I readily agreed and slept until this morning. I finally feel human again and hope that my body is back on the right time.

Two weeks ago today, on Sunday, November 13, Amy and I were up before 6am to watch the sun rise from our balconies. We had already made the decision that we wouldn’t bother to shower, as we knew we would be getting dusty and dirty during the day. We had breakfast at our table from the night before of fruit, yogurt, and “kahawa” before meeting “Edwin” in the lobby at 6:30 to set out for the day on our safari.

img_7669

It was 8*C when we set out, so we were wearing sweaters. As we left the lodge, we saw our first animal, a kitten. “Edwin” was quick to tell us that it was a wild cat, not a domestic cat. img_3914We had to travel the 600m down into the crater which took some time, passing by the Maasai villages, which I am fascinated by. The Maasai tribe is semi-nomadic and reside in Tanzania and Kenya, co-existing with the animals who roam in the area.  They build large pens of thorny sticks to protect their animals during the night, and the animals graze under the watch of young shepherds during the day. (Young, as in 5-12 years old.)

img_7672

img_7674

During our morning in Ngorongoro, we saw a number of different species of animals and birds, including (but not limited to): baboons, water buck, bush buck, buffalo, elephant, warthogs, Thomas gazelle, hyena, jackal, ostrich, wildebeest, vulture, zebra, Grant gazelle, gray headed kingfisher, hippo, Lion (15!), rhino, flamingo, black-headed heron, crowned crane, quarry bastard, eland, hart beast, and black-footed monkey. Although we did not spot any leopards, there are some in Ngorongoro. There are not any giraffes as they are not able to get down into the crater.

We were so close to some of the animals, it made me nervous. I am going to group the photos by animal, as we saw them throughout the day. The safari in Ngorongoro was so different than our safari in Mikumi in March, but equally amazing in a different way. It is the end of the dry season, so there isn’t a lot of water, and most of the areas are yellow/brown rather than green. There were also different animals in Ngorongoro than there were in Mikumi.

Gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, and a jackal:

Birds:

Wildebeest & buffalo:

Hippos:

We only saw one elephant when we were down in the crater, but we saw four in total while in Ngorngoro:

img_7861

Seeing this happy male elephant on his way to the watering hole next to the safari vehicles gives a sense of perspective as to just how HUGE he was! He passed directly in front of us. Amazing to watch!!

Zebras:

img_7811

My favourite photo of the zebras on their way to the watering hole. So beautiful to watch.

Baboons and monkeys:

Rhino in the distance (they are notoriously shy); we saw four:

img_7768

The rhinos are the two spots on the hill in the middle of the zebras

Ostrich:

Lions:

img_7751

I have a hard time picking my favourite lion photo – we saw 15 of them in three prides, and one female by herself. Watching this male and his female partner(s) was amazing!

img_7933

This guy was shopping for tomorrow’s dinner

About halfway through our safari, “Edwin” turned around to us and said, “My name is Emmanuel; Edwin is in the office.” Amy & I were mortified, but dissolved in to giggles. We had spent 48 hours with him, calling him “Edwin” NUMEROUS times before he finally corrected us. How embarrassing!

We climbed out of the crater early afternoon and stopped along the way to eat our packed lunch that the lodge had provided for us. It included roasted chicken on the bone, a cucumber sandwich, chips, apple, banana, muffin, juice, chocolate bar, crackers, and water; we each had bought a beer from the cafe and Emmanuel had a tea. We ate at a Maasi gift shop where we did most of our souvenir shopping. Amy & I are compatible shoppers and had each other’s backs when the clerks were pressuring us!

We stopped in a village called “Mosquito Creek” on our way back to Arusha so that Amy could buy some red bananas for Dennis, the server at our hotel the first night. My window was open and the vendors along the road started throwing necklaces in the windows of the vehicle for us to buy. We tried to tell them we didn’t have any money, but between us, we ended up buying 11 beaded necklaces (I might have bought 10/11!) We laughed and laughed as we drove away and my “shopping habits” became a joke for the rest of the week.

At the hotel, we said a fond “thank you” and farewell to Emmanuel from “Classic Tours” for putting up with us for two days. He was so patient and accommodating to us!

img_7977

At the end of our two day adventure with Edwin/Emmanuel. We will recommend him highly on Trip Advisor!

We weren’t sure when Kellie, from NSCC International, was arriving, so we made the decision to go to our rooms, have much needed showers, and meet for dinner. As we walked to our rooms, we ran into Kellie who had arrived a short time earlier. We dropped our bags, didn’t shower, and met her on the patio for a beer. As we were chatting, Willy and Sam joined us to talk about the week ahead at the college. I have never felt so grimy and smelly in my life, but they were also very accommodating.

We made arrangements to meet in the morning at the college for planning and we all called it an early night to prepare.

As a comparison, click on this sentence to link to the post of the safari Jim, Saronga, and I took in Mikumi National Park in March of this year.

Animals and acrobats in Ngorongoro

As we were finishing our lunch in Tengaru, “Edwin” was getting antsy that we needed to leave, and at 2:30, stood up from the table and announced, “I must insist we leave now”. We quickly said our goodbyes with lots of hugs and waves, and climbed into the safari vehicle to head north to our destination, the Ngorongoro Crater.

Ready to pull away from the village, we discovered the vehicle would not turn over! “Edwin”got out and opened the hood. Elisante, Stephen, and Hilary joined him and tinkered around while Amy & I sat inside.  He got back into the vehicle and it still would not work. Finally, a number of men came from the surrounding buildings and started pushing us, jumping the vehicle in reverse, which I’d never done before! We waved and blew kisses, and were off on the 180km drive to Ngorongoro.

Travel in Tanzania takes much longer to get anywhere than in Canada. The roads, while in decent shape, are crowded and dangerous. There are always animals (cows, goats, donkeys, chickens, pigs, dogs) along the sides of the road, and cars have to navigate trucks, motorbikes, people, and construction. We drove with the windows down, breathing in the sights, sounds, and smells. It was obvious to us that “Edwin” was in a hurry, and a couple of times I noticed the speedometer at speeds that would make me uncomfortable on a twinned highway at home.

I was amazed by the difference in the landscape from what I had experienced in March. Tanzania is at the end of the dry season and the beginning of the “short rains” We drove through one patch of rain, which barely touched the dust. The farther we got, however, the greener it got.

As we arrived at the Ngorongoro Conservation area, a UNESCO World Heritage site located adjacent to the Serengeti, “Edwin” pulled over at a lookoff and encouraged us to get out for a photo. There is nothing I can compare the breathtaking view to. I was overwhelmed by the size and depth of the crater, and none of the research I had done before I left had prepared me for the grandeur.

The Ngorongoro Crater is a deep, volcanic crater; the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. It is about 22 kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area. Here, the Maasi Tribe co-exist peacefully with the wildlife and with the tourists.

img_7633

We were not stopped for long, before we were back in the vehicle, and entered the gates of the Ngorongoro Conservation at 5:55 p.m. We then learned why “Edwin” had been rushing us from Tengaru and driving so quickly – the gates to the crater close at 6 p.m!

We were encouraged to get out while “Edwin” looked after our paperwork, but not to take any belongings with us because of the family of baboons that camp out in the parking lot. We went through the interpretive centre, where we learned about the animals we would (hopefully) see the following day. I found a poster of an ostrich and got Amy to take my photo for Olivia who was hoping I would find one for her.

We spent a short time watching the baboons use a ranger’s truck as a slide and then propel themselves into the trees. Amy was braver (more foolish?) than I and got right in with them to take some photos.

We entered the conservation area to begin the one hour climb to the Serena Lodge, where we would be staying for the night. Immediately as we entered the park, we encountered elephants! We pulled over and watched them for awhile. They were so large and amazing. Mama watched us carefully while baby ate and put on a bit of a show. Mama started throwing dust, letting us know it was time to be on our way.

During the drive to the lodge, we also saw buffalo, and gazelles. “Edwin” pointed out places along the hills where the elephants dig at night to find the minerals located in the cliffs.

It was just past 7pm and dark when we arrived at the beautiful Serena Lodge for the night. We were offered hot clothes for our faces and hands upon arrival, along with a glass of freshly squeezed juice. The lodge long and low, and is built with local river stones on the edge of the crater, camouflaged in indigenous vines, and invisible from the crater floor. We were told we had 20 minutes until the acrobats would be performing, and that we could enjoy dinner after that.

We were led to our connecting rooms to change, and headed back to the lounge to watch the acrobats. We were seated at the bar, and watching them perform, accompanied by the lively African drumming was a thrill. After the show, Amy & I had a beer while making friends with the bartender and asking MANY questions about what it was like to work there. One of the acrobats approached me to sell me a CD of the show – they can spot a sucker in the crowd every time!

We spent some time people-watching, which I find fascinating, especially in situations like we were in. There was one group of North Americans and the husband and wife were obviously entertaining the rest of the group. The stories were bold, grand, and wild. She was drinking Prosecco and he then switched to scotch. When the bartender poured it neat, he demanded, “fill it up with ice and water”! Amy & I smirked to one another, “obviously not a true Scotch drinker…”

We went upstairs to the restaurant to have dinner, but were not hungry enough for the buffet, so ordered a curried chicken off the menu which was delicious. There is strong Indian influence in Tanzanian dishes and I loved the spices. I could have licked the plate!

We called it a night early after our first full day in Tanzania together – and what a “full” day it was! We were booked to have breakfast the following morning at 6am, and be picked up for a safari in the crater at 6:30am. I’m pretty sure that for both of us, we were asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows!