#DiscoverDagoretti: RTA Community Engagement in Kenya (Part 1 of 3)

By Hayley Graham, Undergraduate student at the RTA School of Media, Faculty of Communication and Design

I’ve always loved storytelling, whether it be listening to a story or telling one. So, when the opportunity to take the RTA International Development course to work on a storytelling project for Amref Health Africa came about, I couldn’t let it pass me by.

Along with 6 of my fellow classmates and our professor, Lori Beckstead, I travelled to Kenya for 2 weeks in February 2017 to film two projects.

During the first week, we travelled outside of Nairobi to Magadi to film a documentary about Amref’s project, Alternative Rites of Passage on the topic of female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital circumcision.

For the second week, we travelled back to Nairobi to film a social media campaign on Amref’s Dagoretti Child in Need Project.

For the campaign, we filmed 30-second videos highlighting a child at the centre and the subject they are most passionate about. We had little teams of three filming, so the team I was in filmed a handful, but the video that became my baby, for a lack of a better term, was Sophia’s “I am an actor.”

 

 

For every video we wanted to find a child who could not only highlight a particular school subject, but also who represented what the Dagoretti Child in Need Project stood for.

For acting we chose Sophia, and she was great. She was the most hardworking child in the class, and took it very seriously. We spent half a day filming and interviewing her. When we got back to Toronto, it was our responsibility to edit the footage down to a 30-second video, and deliver a product that we were all proud of.

 

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To learn more about Ryerson’s partnership with Amref Health Africa, see “Kenya welcomes students for immersive education experience” in Ryerson Today.

Seeing life in a new light: Looking back on my exchange at Ryerson University

By Jade du Preez, Inbound Exchange Student from the Journalism program at Edinburgh Napier University

“Yeah, but why Canada?” This was probably the most commonly asked question from local Torontonians. They couldn’t understand why someone as well travelled as myself would spend four months in Canada, of all the countries I could have picked. And here’s why; Canada is the most beautiful and polite country I’ve ever visited. Never have I encountered nicer people in such a big city, and I’ve lived in a few cities!

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but moved to the Highlands of Scotland when I was nine. Then I left to study Journalism at university in the capital, Edinburgh. After two years, I moved to Toronto as part of the Ryerson International exchange program – and I never met the person I exchanged with, but if they ever want to swap lives again, I’d happily accept. In fact, my parents just about had to drag me back home after a whirlwind four months at an amazing university, with amazing new friends. If I had it my way, we’d all stay in Toronto and never leave. I couldn’t understand why locals were so dumbfounded to find that I’d fallen head over heels in love with the city.

Toronto has everything you could possibly want as a student – the bright lights at night, the beautiful harbour, and the surrounding areas are amazing; Scarborough Bluffs are insane on a warm day.

People kept telling me that they’d love to leave Toronto behind and move to Edinburgh for a few months, even though they had what I viewed as literal paradise on their doorstep. This was madness to me. I couldn’t understand their confusion, just as they couldn’t believe mine. Then it struck me, the novelty of things wears off when you’ve been around them for too long. You forget the beauty and wonder of sights at home when you’ve walked passed them a million times, or how delicious things taste when you’ve eaten them once a week for your entire life.

I’d never looked at Edinburgh from a tourist’s perspective, because I wasn’t one, but when I had the excuse of acting like a tourist for four months, I realised how good it feels. I was witnessing and experiencing everything for the first time, and I was viscerally very aware of that. It was like every second spent with my new friends; eating, exploring, trying, it was all on a heightened level of happiness, as I totally immersed myself into Torontonian life.

I rode the TTC, ate Beavertails and shopped in Kensington Market, whereas at home I would take the Night Bus, eat Tunnock’s Teacakes and shop at the Grassmarket. I could do all of these things at home but it wasn’t the same; I had to learn how to see things like it was for the first time again.

 

Toronto showed me how to do that. I’d never experienced a baseball game in a stadium as amazing as the Rogers Centre, or eaten maple syrup that wasn’t a cheap exported knock off of the real deal, or walked for hours to get a great view of the skyline.

I still miss the reassuring sight of the CN Tower from my bedroom window, or the adventurous friends who were always up for a laugh, but I made more memories in the time I was in Toronto than I ever did when I was at home, so if anything, my exchange has taught me a true lesson. To value what is around me and never take for granted the place I live in, because there is always an adventure waiting for you around the corner, you just have to go looking for it.

Toronto awakened me to the fact that there is so much to see and do, no matter where you are. So, take that holiday and see the world, even if you don’t go very far, make sure you make the most of it and make all the memories you possibly can.

Moving to Toronto was the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve learned so many life lessons from it. It truly was a magical, beautiful and worthwhile trip. I can now understand people who aren’t content with where they live, but I can’t understand people who don’t go on exchange whilst they still can. It’ll change their lives.

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For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange, click here.

Working Towards Achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Reflections on my AIESEC exchange in Taiwan

By Michael Pham, Undergraduate student in the School of Business Management, Ted Rogers School of Management and President of AIESEC Ryerson

Note from the Editor: AIESEC is the world’s largest non-profit youth-run organization. It helps develop global-minded leaders by sending students and graduates abroad through its global volunteer, talent and entrepreneurship programs. Michael Pham participated in AIESEC’s Global Volunteer exchange program, which focuses on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

I chose to go abroad because I feel strongly that in the landscape of today, the key to leadership is to understand the world around you.

My entire world has always been the city I live and study in. Before participating in AIESEC’s exchange program, I knew that I wanted to challenge myself.

I once heard a quote saying that you only grow as a person when you are uncomfortable and I knew that I was too comfortable in my city, in my bubble. I wanted to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Having never been outside Canada before this exchange, my view on the world was solely from the Canadian perspective. At that point in my life, I hadn’t even been to every province in Canada, so for my first international experience, I thought why not go directly to the other side of the world – and so I chose Taiwan.

I chose to do AIESEC’s Global Volunteer exchange program, where I would volunteer for 6 weeks at an elementary school called Nan’an, located just north of Kaohsiung City in Taiwan. I taught English and created structured lesson plans for topics based on Diversity, Cross-Cultural Sharing, and Climate Change. My exchange focused on working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Quality Education (SDG #4) and Climate Action (SDG #13). I was able to not only be a teacher to the students at the school, but I was a student myself learning from the culture of Taiwan. I was able to take part in religious and traditional celebrations at school.

My favourite part of my exchange was the entire experience of course! The food was so cheap and delicious, and the sights were beautiful and surreal.

It is so hard to narrow it down to what I liked most, but I think it would be the people that I met on the exchange. Every person who I met has made a lifelong impact on me and I was able to develop bonds that I will have for life. My host families, my students, the teachers, the fellow exchange participants, and the friends, as well as fellow AIESECers who I met abroad are all people who I will always remember. Even after the exchange, we still stay in contact, sharing daily slices of our lives, even though we are on the opposite sides of the world.

I think the beauty of an AIESEC exchange is that the experience doesn’t end after your exchange. If I could give any tip to someone considering an exchange, it would be to always keep an open mind.

There will be ups and downs, and challenges. The exchange is meant for you to discover yourself and unlock your leadership potential through cross cultural understanding. It isn’t just a vacation, although sometimes it feels like one. Be willing to accept the fact that you will only grow by feeling uncomfortable.

A final tip I would say is go somewhere you never imagined yourself going to because you’ll find yourself wanting to go back immediately once you leave.

Evolving Life Perspective through World Travels

By Nikita (Mykyta) Drakokhrust, Undergraduate student in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Arts

Note from the Editor: Nikita Drakokhrust was 1 of 13 Politics and Governance students who traveled to Washington DC from March 4 – March 12, 2017. The trip is a major component of the course CPOG490: Politics and Government in Washington DC.  

Canadian seat at the Organization of American States (OAS)

Whether you have traveled before or not, your expectations are usually very different from what your experiences turn out to be. Having traveled to several countries before, I figured Washington DC would be another trip with tourism and of course school work. But it wasn’t.

Photo with Steve Scully
Senior Executive Producer and Political Editor at C-SPAN,
who has been nicknamed “the most patient man on television” by John Oliver

Washington DC is of course the capital of the most influential country and currently one of the most controversial. But when you ask an average person, especially outside of America, what they know about the history of Washington and the answer will probably be ‘not much’.

For me politics was always a passion, and understanding the various governmental systems across the world and the organizations that aid each government has always fascinated me. Visiting Washington was probably one of the most breathtaking experiences. But not breathtaking like the view from the top of a mountain, or a sunrise in the Arctic, but rather the amazement of the grand-scale of the American government.

The group with Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania (front center) at the U.S Capitol

The moment you step foot outside of the Ronald Reagan airport you begin to get a sense that there really are no limits as to how far mankind can go. This feeling begins with the architecture of Washington DC. The grand marble figures of past presidents and important historical figures, 20 foot ceilings, and the overall neoclassical architectural style of buildings reminding you of the great Roman and Greek empires.

Everywhere you go in Washington DC there is an immense presence of power and importance. Having spent quite some time in Ottawa, and inside of our government buildings, I was able to draw a comparison between the two countries and their scale of government operations.

The Ryerson students had the pleasure of being in Washington with students from Penn State University. Throughout our trip we got to discuss the difference between our governments, and also learn a lot about the functions of the U.S government. Many of us had different experiences and understandings that we took away from trip.

My personal lesson from this trip and from my past few travels, was perspective. Once you witness how diverse and complex the world is, you begin to realize what is really important in your life, and the lives of everyday people. Those small things we used to worry about all the time no longer seem stress-worthy, and I was able to understand how privileged and lucky I am to have had such an amazing opportunity to travel and learn about the world outside of my classroom.

Now, when I go about my everyday business, I look at things a little different, and often if I find myself stressed about something I always reference it to how my actions and worries compare to the grand scale of things in life.

As cliché as it sounds, traveling really changes your life and gives you a new perspective on things. I would encourage every person take the opportunity to travel and experience new things without hesitation.

Visiting the Pentagon

Click here for more information on CPOG490: Politics and Government in Washington DC.