A Sustainable Greenhouse Growing System… Right in our Backyard!

2017_2018_Greenhouse_001Last year, the Green Team built a greenhouse in the hockey parking lot next to the bike racks. The greenhouse, and its revival, has been our CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project for the year. So far, we have achieved heaps, such as: installing insulation, irrigation and shelves to hold the plants. The greenhouse is almost ready to be used, despite the many, many setbacks we have had. The winter was very harsh this year, so we had to wait until the snow was gone to start putting plants in the greenhouse. Now that the sun has finally come out, it should be up and running soon. Our goal is to use the greenhouse to grow produce that can be used directly by the LCC kitchen and in our community (for example, food banks). We hope to spread awareness about the benefits of a sustainable system and promote community engagement. We aim to do this via our very own greenhouse and, eventually, through a community farm.

We are looking for ideas, no matter how crazy, to get this greenhouse up and running! One idea was to have a bike hooked up to the greenhouse, so that when you cycle, it produces electricity and heats up the greenhouse in the process. We would also love for students to participate in our future community garden project. Feel free to contact us or drop by a Green Team meeting!  – Annie Klar ’18 and MariaLuisa Vigano ’18

Student Exchange: Journey to Cape Town

2017_2018_Student_Exchange_Kirsten_Hardiman_005Life has been incredibly busy since I wrote my last blog.  My host family took me on an adventure around South Africa during our three-week school break. The first leg of our journey started with a flight to Cape Town where I had the chance to go to many beaches, view the city from the mountain, visit an ostrich farm and travel to Cape Point.

Cape Town is famous for its beaches and for the great white sharks that live in those waters. We spent a lot of time exploring the various beaches. Cape Town is equally famous for its mountains. Table Mountain is the tallest of them all and a very popular tourist site. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the top of the mountain and see the entire city far out into the ocean.

Next on our agenda was the ostrich farm where I got to eat ostrich meat for the first time. Feeding the ostriches was a strange experience as the ostrich pecks at your hand when he is trying to eat the food.

Our final stop was Cape Point, which is the most south-western point of the entire African continent. I got to climb a lighthouse and look out onto the ocean. The Cape Point experience was not all fun and games though, as we were confronted by wild baboons who were running around the site. At one point, we made a dash for our car and once safe, laughed our heads off.

After Cape Town, my host family took me to Kruger National Park where I was able to see animals native to Africa.  Although I didn’t enjoy the 4 am wake-up, it was an unforgettable experience.  We spent the whole day in the park and I got to see elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, lions and almost too many impalas up close and personal.  It was especially cool to see the rhinos, given their status as an endangered species.

After the park, we went back to the lodge and played board games, followed by a master chef challenge where all the kids were paired up and had to cook dinner.

This experience has simply been incredible and even though we are back in school tomorrow, I can’t wait for the next three weeks with my family and friends. – Kirsten Hardiman ’20 Exchange Student at St Stithians College

Student Exchange: Lion Pride in Beautiful South Africa

2017_2018_Student_Exchange_Kirsten_Hardiman_003I can’t believe that it has already been two weeks since I arrived in South Africa to begin my student exchange at St. Stithians College. The school campus is beautiful. It consists of girls’ and boys’ preparatory schools, as well as two colleges, sports facilities, fields and housing for teachers. It was a big change for me to go from a co-ed school to an all-girls’ school. Another dramatic difference is the campus itself. The actual classrooms are closed in with walls and a roof; however, as soon as you step out of the classroom door you find yourself outside. With the exception of the classrooms, the entire campus is exterior.

Living in Johannesburg differs greatly from living in Montreal. The biggest difference is the fact that there are walls lining the streets, everyone lives in gated communities and students attend gated schools. Upon entering a gated community, you are first met by an officer and then you have to go through two more gates in order to get to your house.

On my fourth day at my “new” school, the Saints Sports Festival began. This festival takes place once a year and is the biggest high school sports festival in all of South Africa. I took part in war cries and had an opportunity to watch numerous matches, such as netball, rugby, and field hockey.

My billet family later took me to see my first cricket match.  I had a great time learning about a new game, which is one of the most popular sports here in South Africa.

This past weekend, my exchange family brought me to Lion Park near Hartbeespoort Dam. We drove through the park, stopping along the way to get very close and personal with lions, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, wild dogs and many more animals. My favourite experience at the park was petting the lion cubs. They were gentle, soft and dog-like but it did hurt if they snapped at you or got their claws on you. They were very playful and loved belly rubs.

I can’t wait to get closer to my new friends and billet family over the next six weeks; I already feel so at home here. School breaks for three weeks next week and my family is taking me on a tour of South Africa. We will be visiting Cape Town, the port city of Durban and Kruger National Park. I am so excited and can’t wait to tell you all about my adventures! – Kirsten Hardiman ’20, Exchange Student at St. Stithians College.

Student Exchange: Living & Learning in Argentina

2017_2018_Student_Exchange_Isabelle_Whittall_007This past month, I have had the chance to attend school and live with a family in Argentina. It has been an incredible experience, full of new and wonderful things to learn each day.

The lifestyle here is very different. The food consists of a lot of meat, and almost every dessert has dulce de leche, a sweet spread that is similar to caramel. Some of my favourite foods here have been alfajores, empanadas, and asado. Every day we have a fourth meal – tea – in the afternoon, and dinner is eaten around 10 or 11 o’clock. This means we go to bed much later, which I thought might be hard to adjust to, but I became accustomed to the new food and schedule very quickly.

At school, we have class in one room, and the teachers come to us. At Belgrano Day School, there are 10 periods in a day, and many more classes than we have at LCC. Along with the core classes, they have economics, multiple science classes (such as biology and chemistry), and two elective courses, with the choices of art, drama, music, IT, and business studies. Half of the classes are in English and half are in Spanish. Instead of vending machines, BDS has a kiosk outside, where you can buy lunch, pastries or snacks.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we have PE. After lunch we drive 40 minutes to a large campus with locker rooms and fields, where we have class for the rest of the day. Girls can play field hockey or volleyball, and boys can play rugby, soccer or volleyball.

On the weekends, I’ve had the chance to explore the city and experience the culture. I have gone to two quinceñeras, which are traditional parties for girls when they turn 15. They are huge events that last all night, with food, festivities, and lots of Latina music. I’ve also been around the city. Two weekends ago, we took a bus tour around Buenos Aires, going to La Boca, Puerto Madero, Palermo, and other areas in the city. I had the chance to try some food, see some monuments, and overall get a feel for what the life was like.

Last weekend, we stayed at the beach house of my host’s cousin in Mar del Plata, where we had some delicious churros and spent the days on the beach. My first weekend, we went to Lollapalooza, a huge music festival with artists such as Khalid, Imagine Dragons, Wiz Khalifa, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, and more. It was an incredible experience and a great way to start the trip.

Throughout my time here, my Spanish has been improving. My host’s family and the people from school all speak English, so I always have a way to communicate, but I have been trying to practice Spanish as much as I could. At home, the host family speaks Spanish with me and I speak it as well, to practice. At school, the students speak only Spanish with each other, so I am constantly surrounded by the language. My vocabulary has expanded quite a bit and I’ve gotten used to the Argentinian accent.

It has been an amazing month, and it’s hard to believe I only have one more week here. I have met so many incredible people and made so many memories that I will never forget. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend this time here, and know it is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. – Isabelle Whittall ’20, Exchange Student at Belgrano Day School

House Building Experience in Colombia

DukeofEd_Colombia_2018This March break, I, along with 31 of my peers, went on the Duke of Ed gold trip to Colombia where we built a house and went on a five-day hike to the lost city.

During the first two days after landing in Bogotá, we aided in the construction of a house in a borough of Bogotá called Soacha. We arrived at the building site early the first morning after a long bus ride from our hostel in Bogotá. After receiving instructions for the day, we began unloading the building materials from the truck and carrying them up a slope to the structure of the house we would be making. We worked quickly on the task and went on our lunch break. Before the workday and during the lunch break, my friends and I had time to get to know some of the people we were working with as well as the people we were helping by building this house. One of the young neighbourhood children, Philippe, came over to the work site to get a look at what we were up to. He got along very well with my classmates and me, and we all ended up dancing, laughing, and talking to him for the majority of our day. Sofia, Tomas, and Camila helped the rest of us by translating Philippe’s Spanish and our English so we could all communicate. Talking to Philippe allowed us to catch a glimpse of what it was like to live in a neighbourhood like Soacha, which has one of the highest concentrations of displaced people in the country due to the civil war between the government of Colombia and the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group. His childhood was, in fact, extremely similar to each of ours! He enjoyed playing sports, hanging out with his friends, and watching superhero movies. We were all very sad to leave by the end of the day, knowing that we would not be able to see Philippe again because he had his first soccer lesson the next day. We eventually said our goodbyes to our new friend and prepared for the long bus ride back to the city.

The following day, we arrived even earlier at the construction site and finally commenced building the house. Several people, including some university students from Bogotá not much older than us, helped our group with the construction project. Most of us did not know what to expect from the experience as we had never gone on a community service trip similar to this one, so we relied heavily on the help of these volunteers. They spoke to us primarily in Spanish, which ended up improving all of our vocabularies in the foreign language. One of the younger volunteers helped my friends and I speak to the two children who were living with the recipient of the house we were building. The two kids, José and Maya, were thrilled to introduce me to their other friends in their neighbourhood and loved taking pictures with the camera I had brought. At first, they were slightly nervous to talk to us, but after a while of speaking with the aid of the other volunteers, they both opened up! It was important to get to know the people that we were helping in order to find meaning and purpose in the project and have a connection to the community.

Both my group and the other group that was building a different house did not end up finishing due to weather constraints. As much as it was disappointing to not have given the completed house to its new owner, it felt good to know that we had made a difference in the lives of others. The community service project that took us just two days (almost) to complete resulted in a place for someone to call home. This experience was both inspiring and humbling, and I believe that those who participated in the Colombia trip this year would recommend it to anyone considering completing the Duke of Ed gold, or to those simply looking for the trip of a lifetime. – Stephanie Nofz ’18