RSIS Peru 2016: Service Trip a Rewarding Experience

Gift exchange with the local kindergarten children

Over the course of my Senior School years, I have been involved in numerous Round Square related activities. In grade 9, I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend six weeks in South Africa on exchange. The following year, I attended an eight-day conference in Los Angeles, which turned out to be equally as memorable. I was, therefore, very excited when I decided to go solo on a three-week service project to Peru this summer.

One heavy bag, two stressed parents and a cancelled flight later, I miraculously ended up in Cusco on July 11. There, I spent the first two weeks with 18 other students who had travelled from all the edges of the world. Along with the two adult leaders, Andy and Nina, we formed team “Llama”.

The two first days were planned primarily for us to acclimatize to the high Cusco altitudes (3,400m) as well as get to know one another. This was accomplished by taking part in creative activities. First, we travelled to a place called Apulaya Music where we spent the entire afternoon learning about Andean art and music. I was taught two new ways to draw: Kaninpacha and Ukupacha, which give life to inanimate objects. As well, I added another instrument (along with the French horn!) to my list of skills by mastering the Andean panpipes, something we all played at the end of the day for our final celebration.

Second, my group and I successfully completed a Via Ferrata, a form of intense rock climbing that has become quite popular in South America. This adventure required us to climb up a 400m ladder that was both vertical and horizontal. Once at the top, we took six zip lines back to the bottom, something I had never done before!

After these orientation days, we were eager to get to work and headed to a town called Kaninchimpa to begin our project. During these eight days, we were split into three local families. My host parent’s names were David and Ophelia. They had a daughter named Olga and a niece named Vanessa. They also had (get ready for this!) a dog, two cats, five cows, five chickens, a dozen lambs, three pigs, two oxen and 60 guinea pigs! Everyday, we’d wake up, feed the guinea pigs, and then walk up to the work site where we’d spend the entire day. Our goal was to build a school on top of the site since the school the children are going to now is extremely far away from their village. To build the school, we first made a solid foundation by digging and filling the holes with rocks and mud. To then build the walls, we had to make bricks (which took four to five days to dry!). This was one of the best parts of my trip as we were given welly boots and had to walk around making mud for hours. This may seem like an easy job (I sure thought it would be at first) but I can assure you it is difficult as the mud is thick and hard to pop in and out of. In fact, one day, my boot got stuck and I ended up walking right into the mud with nothing but my sock! By the end of our trip, we had built half of the school, something we were all very proud of.

Kaninchimpa was certainly my favourite part of the trip. The bond I made with my host family was truly special. Although communicating with them was quite difficult, we tried our best to interact and play with them. I would always help them with dinner, ask them for different words in Quecha and even taught them multiple card games like Uno and Spoons, which became our daily activity. As well, I realized during my stay, that this type of experience was something I knew that I wouldn’t have the chance to do again. That being said, I tried to be adventurous and take advantage of every opportunity and new thing that came my way. For example, despite my small stature, I was always offering to do mud mixing, wheel barrowing and brick carrying. Also, I tried lots of new food (even guinea pig!).

After having worked for eight days straight, we all got to reward ourselves by visiting the one and only Machu Picchu! Team Llama was out in the bus line at 4 am, however, we only started our tour at the site at 7 am. Once the tour was over, I was allowed to spend the entire day (a whole 12 hours on the site) doing whatever I wished. Although I really liked the Inca Bridge and the Sun-gate, simply being there was amazing.

So that is what I did for the first part of my trip with team Llama. The group left on the 25th and, on the 27th, my new team, team Condor, arrived in Cusco. I was with this team for half of their journey as a student leader intern. Now, you may be wondering: what exactly is a student leader intern? I, with three other students that had been with me in team Llama, redid the trip with team Condor. This time, however, we were in charge of running it.

Being a leader is scary enough but I was even more nervous to be a leader in PERU! Nonetheless, the student leaders had an entire day to prepare with our new leaders, Andrea and Freddy. Had it not been for their expert advice and confidence in us, we would not have been able to have done such a good job.

Leading team Condor taught me numerous things about myself. First of all, I was rather nervous about the prospect of leading students my age. My experience was limited to being a CIT for a bunch of 3-6 year olds last summer. Having to lead a group of people my age seemed more difficult, as I wanted them to respect me but at the same time, like me! Also, going into the trip, I did not think I’d make the same bonds with team Condor that I did with team Llama. Needless to say, I was so wrong! I connected with everyone on team Condor just as much. As well, they all felt comfortable enough to come to me for advice and questions, which I really liked.

Secondly, I am considered to be extremely organized. This was both my biggest strength and weakness going into the trip. Let me explain: sometimes, I like to plan out my entire day to the minute. This means that I do not like change. Being adaptable was therefore a strength I wanted to develop. On my day to lead, as usual, things did not go as planned. Two teammates had to go back to Cusco and some people did not have proper equipment. Handling these problems and making changes to the schedule without freaking out was a skill I definitely learned that day.

Lastly, since I had already experienced the trip before, I was considered an expert and, because of this, I didn’t think I’d learn anything new. I was, once again, wrong. With team Condor, I continued to learn and experience more and more things. I did this by asking lots of questions. For example, I learned that some houses in Cusco have two bull statues on their roofs, which stand for protection. Also, at Kaninchimpa, we organized a soccer game with all the local children. That night, we played for hours with the sunset in the background, an image I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

In conclusion, the RSIS 2016 Peru trip has been, like my other Round Square experiences, absolutely incredible. Even though team Llama was great, I thought that my time as a student leader intern was the most memorable and helpful. As I go into my final year at LCC as Round Square Head, I have lots of new ideas and leadership skills that I will most definitely be using because of what I have learned in Peru. I cannot wait for the year to start! – Abby Shine ’17

Design and Innovation: Demo Day Outing

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.51.50 PMLast week, on Wednesday, December 2, three of us had the opportunity to attend the InnoCité MTL and Founder’s Fuel Demo Day event at the beautiful Olympia Theatre on Ste. Catherine Street.There we watched a dozen or so pitches from local start-ups who were either working toward making Montreal a more “intelligent” city or strengthening the community. The products being presented ranged from ground-breaking earthquake sensors and an app to help you find parking to easy-to-use portals for citizens to communicate with their local governments and a 21st century tutoring over text service. The projects were all fascinating and extremely creative, yet also very well thought-out and thoroughly developed!

Now, you might be wondering what on earth three LCC students could possible gain from an experience such as this! We are all participating in LCC’s Design and Innovation Challenge, which is a co-curricular that students can apply to be part of in the fall. Then, over the course of the school year, the students have to invent something, and design it, build it, develop it–whatever it–to present to a panel at the end of May. This invention could be anything: a product, a service, an app, a proof of concept… the possibilities are endless! The point of the project is to learn about the process of designing something from start to finish, including keeping decent documentation, collaborating with mentors, and working in facilities such as LCC’s new Fab Lab, as well as self-growth and independent learning. To give you an idea, some inventions between the five of us in the group include a mirror that compliments like a human would, an app to take you to the nearest safe location no matter where you are, an interactive 3D surface and a hairbrush that removes static. Quite the variety!

Back to the Demo Day, the three of us got a chance to witness genuine start-ups who had to start from scratch, like we were doing, in order to build a product that would interest the general public. We learned about the kind of risks involved with starting start-ups, as well as some challenges when trying to get your feet off the ground as an organization with extremely limited funding. It takes true passion, dedication and grit to do so, but judging by the excitement in each of the presenters’ voices, it was all well worth it!

For those who are interested, here are the start-ups that participated:
Innocité MTL:
prkng –
Sensequake –
Digitalstate –

OneSet –
GradeSlam –
zora –
SpherePlay –
periodic –

Ultimately, we learned a lot from our experience and were inspired by what the start-ups had to offer. We can’t wait to apply it to our projects in the months to come. Stay tuned!

– Adam Vandenbussche ’17, Abby Shine ’17 and Amy Qin ’16

A “Soft” Pitch for Key Work Skills

2013_14_Career_Day_031We are holding our annual Career Day today. This student-organized event brings professionals to the school to speak to LCC’s grade 10 and 11 students on the nature of today’s workplace.

The concept of “career” is complicated for many young people. Jobs are shifting and changing more rapidly than ever in the past. Some examples of lucrative jobs that didn’t even exist 10 years ago include: App Developer, Social Media Manager, and Sustainability Expert. The list is actually quite lengthy.

On this shifting career landscape, one thing is certain. What were once considered “soft skills” and designated as less important than technical skills, are now considered significant attributes that employers actively seek. More and more, employers are sending messages that they can teach technical skills to their employees after being hired, but the soft skills need to be embedded and need to be strong from the outset. In fact, they now require a new focus, perhaps just as important as technical skills.

So what are soft skills? They include attributes such as: verbal communication, capacity for teamwork and collaboration, tact and diplomacy, empathy for others, creativity, cultural sensitivity, resilience, and flexibility. A positive mindset is also very important.

In his book, Hiring for Attitude, author Mark Murphy claims that close to 50 per cent of all new hires fail in the first 18 months, and of those new hires, 90 per cent fail for reasons associated with attitude and weak soft skills.

So we cannot dismiss soft skills as “fluff.” They seem to be emerging as key skills in today’s workplace. I expect this message will be reinforced in today’s career seminars with our many guests. – Chris Shannon, Headmaster

Procès simulé: Palais de justice de Montréal

IMG_2554Lundi 1 décembre 2014, la classe de droit de 10 année est allée au Palais de justice de Montréal afin de faire un procès criminel simulé. Nous avons eu la chance d’être accueillis par le Juge André Perreault et son adjointe, madame Masson.

Nous remercions aussi Me. Marin Cojocaru (au centre de la photo) qui a travaillé avec les élèves lors de la préparation du procès en leur offrant de précieux conseils.


Aujourd’hui était très intéressant. J’ai vraiment aimé l’expérience, particulièrement quand on m’a donné l’occasion de parler et d’être mis en doute, c’était tout à fait stressant, mais cela m’a enseigné beaucoup et je suis heureux de l’avoir fait. J’ai aussi aimé la visite à la Cour d’appel, car l’édifice était spectaculairement beau. J’aimerais certainement travailler là-bas dans le futur. – Ryan Hawa ’16

Pendant la classe de droit nous avons pratiqué un procès simulé. J’ai beaucoup aimé mon expérience aujourd’hui à la Cour d’appel et aussi au Palais de justice. J’ai appris qu’après et pendant le témoignage, le juge a le droit de poser quelques questions. C’était une très bonne expérience et je pense que ma partie préférée était la visite de la Cour d’appel. – Rebecca Ross ’16

J’ai aimé plusieurs éléments de cette expérience comme le procès simulé et la visite de la Cour d’appel. J’ai appris que le juge a le droit de demander des questions à l’avocat et au témoin. Le procès de LuKa Magnotta se déroulait en face de la salle où nous étions. Je remercie toutes les personnes qui on aidé à réaliser cette journée possible et mon professeur M. Maurice. C’était une expérience dont je me souviendrai.– Joshua Mindel ’16

Au cours de ce procès, j’ai appris plusieurs choses. J’ai appris à écouter l’information qui m’est offerte. J’ai aussi beaucoup appris sur le déroulement d’un procès et sur la Cour d’appel grâce à notre visite. Le fait que le procès de Luka Magnotta était juste en face de notre salle m’a fait prendre conscience de la réalité dans laquelle nous étions. – Matthew Tabet ’16

La classe de droit de M. Maurice a passé la journée au Palais de Justice et à la Cour d’appel. Cette journée unique était magnifique comme expérience pour nous. Nous nous sommes préparés pendant le mois de novembre pour le procès simulé au Palais de Justice. Ma partie préférée était les remarques faites par le juge Perreault à la fin de notre procès. Aussi, le procès de Luka Magnotta se déroulait juste en face de notre procès! Quelle bonne journée! – Christina Papageorgakopoulos ’16


Australia Exchange: Reaching New Heights!

This week I went to the Eureka Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform, which I loved! It was rather amazing to see all of Melbourne from a height of 88 stories and as we went at night, I was able to see the city all lit up. We went on the Edge, a glass cube suspended 300 metres above the ground, where at first the glass was foggy so we couldn’t see anything. The glass cube started moving outwards, hanging three meters off of the building and then the fog on the glass disappeared and we were able to see the whole city and it was AMAZING! However, due to the fact that I have a fear of heights I was really scared.

I also saw the play, Wicked, in a historic theater that has been around for more than 100 years. Wicked was an amazing production and I couldn’t believe the power in the voice of the main character. I also got to see a netball game due to the fact that Sianna plays and I thought it was rather similar to basketball but looked more difficult. I am still loving Melbourne and I can’t believe that I’m half way through my exchange.

Morgan Folkerson ’16