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

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

Reflections on the Duke of Ed Gold Trip to Colombia

Colombia_HikeOn March 5, 2018, I, along with 31 other students, left Bogotá in search of the Ciudad Perdida. We embarked on a journey that would eventually put our physical and psychological limitations to the test, and allow us to look at ourselves and others in a different light.

Coming from Montreal, or the West in general, we almost always take things for granted. It is part of who we are and the way in which our lives work. However, in Colombia, that is not a relatively universal concept. While hiking through the jungles and exploring the beauty that is nature, we often encountered other people – not tourists, but locals. Even our guides and staff were local Colombian workers, waking up before sunrise to make our journeys more comfortable. They would still have to hike the same treacherous paths that we did, but with the weight of cutlery, crockery, water, and several others on their backs.

The other type of locals that we observed and, in one evening, listened to, were the indigenous peoples. The native Kogui tribe has been a significant part of Colombia’s rich history for centuries. Often, they are the voice of all native tribes in the nation, unwavered by the events that have taken place, socially or politically. One of their most respected leaders discussed their culture and the context in which they live. He explained the idea of ‘Big Brothers’ and ‘Little Brothers’, the former being the indigenous and the latter being the immigrants. That idea elicited an internal reaction from all of us. In Canada, the deep-seated issues between the natives and the nationals have been the root cause of many problems that have arisen. We have all been taught about the hardships and unfair treatment that the native peoples have had to undergo. Listening to the leader of the tribe and his calmness was an incredible experience for us.

In terms of the actual hike, words cannot express our emotions and feelings. Hiking and struggling together brought everyone closer to one another, creating bonds that will definitely last a long time.

In a few campsites, we had the opportunity to go swimming in a river or creek. Personally, that was the best part about the hike. Most people don’t get the opportunity to go swimming in a native, traditional Colombian river in a winding jungle. I think that everybody took that to heart as we all jumped into the freezing waters eventually. It was an incredible experience to just look up and understand where we were. The beauty, the environment, the people – all pieces of the exhilarating puzzle that was this hike.

At night, along with playing several variations of cards, we would sit in small groups and reflect on different parts of the hike. We would mention the names of people who deserved credit on this hike. People would speak about those who were not feeling well during the hike, who were obviously struggling, but still moving. Others spoke about the people who motivated and supported. I believe everyone played a role in how we all finished the hike. If it wasn’t for the support of this person, or the humour of that person, it would have been difficult to find the courage and persistence to go on.

This hike, overall, was unbelievable. Sitting atop the Lost City and looking out changed the perspective for many. We all found something we never knew about ourselves and about each other. And that, in essence, paved the way for the rest of our lives. – Sahil Tyagi ’18

Student Exchange: Adventure in Australia

2017_2018_Rebecca_Yedid_001Since arriving in Melbourne, Australia, two weeks ago, my experience has been really eye-opening.

I am attending Carey Grammar School with my exchange, Taylah. This school is so different from LCC. To get from class to class, you have to travel outdoors, so we spend most of our free time outside. This is a very big contrast for me because at LCC, the only time we go outside is for lunch recess and gym in the warm weather.

One of the many differences from LCC is that the year is split into two semesters (four terms) and for each semester they have three electives. Their electives are things that we at LCC would never think we would learn, like fashion, wood, food (cooking), CSI (as a class), and law and order. I participate in indigenous studies, where we learn about the relationship between the Australians and the Australian indigenous peoples. It is very interesting.

On Thursday, we had summer sports day, a day where all the houses compete in a number of sports, including volleyball, cricket, softball, water polo, patanque and tennis. I played volleyball with a couple of new friends and it gave me the chance to meet some new friends inside and outside my house.

Last weekend, I attended a regatta, which is like a rowing tournament. It was a unique experience and one of the highlights of my trip here. It gave me a chance to meet some more people and create some great friendships while my exchange was racing. Now that I know how the races work, I will be training with my own crew of exchanges from England and will be racing in Head of the River, an overnight regatta this coming weekend.

The Yarra River, where rowing practices take place, is a river that goes right through the city. On Wednesday morning, I had a chance to take a ride on a little boat. This was a very unique way to experience the city, and a big contrast to the way I saw it on foot. There are some cool spots to eat, including one right on the river. It is such a beautiful city.

My exchange and I have done a number of interesting things throughout these two weeks, like going to the fashion festival in Melbourne, the Ed Sheeran concert, and a wildlife sanctuary where we got to see many animals. Although moving into someone’s house and lifestyle across the world can be tough, this experience has been really enjoyable and I don’t know how I am ever going to be able to get on a plane and come back to Montreal. I love it here. – Rebecca Yedid ’20, Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School