Friday, January 30, 2009

Something to laugh about

Since my fellow Beyond Border's students are hungry for more posts to read here goes another;
Yesterday the BB crew reunited for our second full class of the semester, and it was great to see everyone again.. clearly i don't mind admitting that I miss them! Instead of holding a regular class we were all asked to give small presentations either tackling issues about our countries, placements or other topics of our choice. I gave a brief discussion on Los Pipitos, the organization I will be volunteering at, and even though it was only for the small group that I've been able to get to know over the last semester giving the presentation still made me nervous as ever! I will defiantly have to work on this before presenting to complete strangers! It was a nice chance to learn about where everyone will be and what they'll be doing during our summer adventures!

As for The Working Centre, I will be helping in the art space Tuesdays from 1-4. Like I said in my previous post, I couldn't just pick one place! During my meeting with Margaret I told her 'I'll go anywhere the wind blows me.." or at least wherever The Working Centre needed a volunteer. I think that there are so many things to learn from this place that hopefully I will volunteer long after the requirements for Beyond Borders are filled. Once I begin my new placement I will post the updates!

Since the crazy countdown for lift off is quickly approaching I met with my parents last night for birthday celebrations and of course, endless talk about the trip. In my family I'm the youngest by eight years, and having a close relationship with my parents perhaps makes them worry a bit more than the average parent. My step-dad came to dinner full of excitement. He retires May 1 and has practically booked his tickets to come and visit me during the summer, which made me laugh pretty instantly. He's enthusiasm was so cute that i clearly couldn't burst his bubble so we settled on a compromise. The Beyond Borders program ends after 12 weeks of being in the country, however we are able to stay for up to two weeks after that. So I do believe Paul and I will be exploring Nicaragua further for those last two weeks. Not that I'm trying to get away from my parents or anything, but really flying to another country for a 'visit' really makes me laugh.

My fundraising is really coming together which is a huge relief. With school and work being busier than ever it's nice to have that weight lifted a little bit! With the constant snow and freezing tempts I'm day dreaming of life in Nicaragua..and as a hater of winter it can't come soon enough!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Putting some things to rest..

So there are only about three months to go until we all jump on planes headed for differect corners of the globe and spend twelve weeks not only learning about new people and cultures, but also about ourselves! Three months.. that is not very much time! I remember when there was about a year to go.. time has flown right on by and things are getting a little stressful. There is so much to do, and really so little time! These last two weeks have been pretty crazy with fundraising, booking immunizations, figuring out our responsibilities with The Working Centre and ofcourse, finding out more and more about Nicaragua!

Firstly, fundraising has been going great! When I started writing out the letters I was really worried about it. Our goal of two thousand dollars seemed impossible and was pretty intimidating, but as of now I am over three quarters ofthe way done! Having most of the funding is a huge relief.. it allows me to worry about all of the other things! Marissa, my fellow Beyond Bordian traveling to Nicaragua has booked both of our appointments for immunizations, which iI am not looking forward too.. and I met with Margret at The Working Centre to clear things up for the next upcoming weeks.

As for The Working Centre, I'm pretty excited to get started! I have absolutly no idea what I'll be doing because I just couldn't pick one project with all that is offered. As I met with Margret, a Working Centre employee, I told her I'd go anywhere that needed some help, so when I know, you'll know.

Another cool thing that's hapened is both Marissa and I have been able to talk to a previous Beyond Border Student. Becca also went to Nicaragua last year and she helped put quite a few fears to rest. She let us both know how friendly and welcoming they people are and what sights we should see during our visit. I also found out that Marissa and I will be fairly close while we're away. We're not working together but our organizations are onle a short walk ffrom one another, which is really nice. I think it will be comforting to have that 'piece of home' a good friend brings, especially being away from home for the for such a long time!

More fun fact about Nicaragua to come!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Working Centre 101

Off to See the Working Centre, The wonderful Working Centre of K/W!
Yesterday all the other Beyond Bordians, Joanne and I trudged through the snow and freeezing cold temps to check out The Working Centre, located in Kitchener. Not only were we able to have a guided tour around the buildings, we were also able to have a sit down chat with Joe Mancini, the man behind the magic. Before arriving at The Working Centre I had no idea what to expect, but it was exactly how Joanne describe it, 'like oz!' We started our adventure at the Queen Street Commons Cafe, where the open space, bright windows and tantalizing smell of lunch and tasty baked goods were enough to keep us there for hours. The Working Centre is a space meant to help and welcome anyone and everyone that needs it. With hard work and a little elbow grease the old buildings that house The Working Centre have been renovated by the Mancini's and other volunteers to create a great area that accomplishes many different things. The bright colors and green life give the building a pleasent feel that accents the smiles and bright personalities of those both working and volunteering there.

Yesterday we were supposed to get comfortable with the staff and buildings as well as determine which projects we would like to focus on. The latter sounds easy, but let me tell you, it wasn't! There are so many great projects going on it's soo hard to just pick one!

A few projects include:
Queen Street Commons Cafe
- unique space for meetings / lunch
- supported by volunteers
- offers inexpensive vegetarian menu
- unique gifrt shop
- Speak English Cafe (Thursday Nights)

Maurita's Kitchen
-prepars all food sold in the Commons Cafe

Computer recycling
-refurbish old computers / sell them at a much lower cost

Worth a Second Look
- WASL is an inexpensive retail outlet
- run by volunteers
- offers gently used furniture and housewares

Grow Herbal Gardens
- seasonal project that produces quality herbes
-the rest of the projects include recycling bicycles, a sewing space,craft centre, St. John's Community Kitchen and a Job Search Resource Centre

Rebecca Mancini, a former student of SJU and participant of the Beyond Borders was able to share with us what The Working Centre is all about and as a volunteer, I can't wait to jump right in and help! I think that spending time volunteering will help put the skills we've learned last semester to practical use before we leave the country in May! As the date grows closer I can't help to day dream on a pretty consistent basis. More posts to come, especially on my adventures within The Working Centre!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Here We GO!

Hello everyone!

Well welcome to my blog! My name is Jessica DeBrouwer, but most often people call me Jess DB. I am in my second year at St. Jerome's, majoring in English and taking the International Studies option. While at St. Jerome's I have become involved in their program Beyond Borders which is an international service learning program. Each student involved is able to travel to a developing country and work for three months while learning about the culture and living with a host family. It allows students to put their education to use in the pursuit of a more just and peaceful world.

For my placement I will be heading off to Esteli, Nicaragua! Once I get there I will be working with Los Pipitos and my time there will be spent working with children in the area, which is very exciting! As for now, the details are a little scarce but I will continually update my blog as information becomes available. While preparing for our trips, our group took one class in the fall called "Current Ethical Issues" where we learned more about the reasons behind inequality, and in our second semester we are currently taking "Justice, Peace and Development." This class is a little less formal because most of our time is spent volunteering at The Working Center in Kitchener where we are able to put our skills to practical use before leaving the country.

This week will be spent learning more about The Working Center and we will be making plans for our immunizations! This program has been talked about and though about for so long now it is hard to believe in just a few short months I will be headed off to work in Nicaragua!