Student Exchange: Welcome to Australia!

2018_2019_Alexandra_Payne_004I arrived on a Friday and, that weekend, we had a lot of fun. On Saturday night we went to Brighton Beach, where there are famous beach boxes. It was beautiful and a good way to see what Australia was like, though I was a little jet-lagged. We swam in the ocean and hung out with a couple of my exchange’s friends. That week, I went to Carey Baptist Grammar School and met all of her friends, who were very welcoming! It was really fun and I was excited to meet so many new people.

On the weekend, we went up to Bundalong to the Murray River where we waterskied and kneeboarded. It was so exciting and a great way to get to know my exchange. It was really hot – almost 32 degrees – which is the opposite of home. All in all, it has been a great experience so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here! – Alexandra Payne ’21, Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

Head’s Blog: Appreciate the WOW Moments!

wow-2780576_1280We all live in a digital information and innovation age, and every day we see or consume hundreds, if not thousands, of images and stories through various forms of media. Given that tsunami of information, I sometimes worry that we have all become somewhat immune to wonder and what I like to call WOW moments. That’s when an idea or development stops you in your tracks because it is simply awesome in every respect. Sometimes, we need to stop and think: WOW, that’s truly amazing! That’s happened several times to me in the past few months and I’d like to share a couple of my personal WOW moments.

Seven years ago, Quebecer Maurice Desjardins lost his nose, lips, teeth and upper and lower jaw in a horrible hunting accident after being shot in the face. Consequently, he couldn’t breathe, speak or swallow properly. After healing, he was so disfigured he hid away from the world.

Last fall, all of that changed with Canada’s first successful face transplant. Montreal plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Borsuk performed the 17-hour procedure with the support of dozens of medical specialists. Desjardins also had prepared for two full years for his face transplant, including many hours with a psychiatrist to prepare for the possibility that his body would reject the face or the reality of taking on a whole new identity with a new face.

Dr. Borsuk and his team also practised for two years. The face is not a single organ, but involves many muscles, nerves, bones and skin. The new face came from a brain-dead man whose blood-type, skin tone and facial measurements closely matched those of Desjardins and whose family gave permission for the donation after his death. And a few months following the face transplant, things seem to be going well.

I find the whole concept to be astounding – in a good way – and clearly life-changing for the recipient, with incredible implications for people in the future who may be injured or disfigured in some way. For me, that was a real WOW moment!

Another WOW moment happened for me in December when I watched a segment of the CBS news magazine show 60 Minutes. It profiled Marshall Medoff, an 81-year-old eccentric genius inventor. Inspired by the beauty of his regular visits to a local nature reserve and the constant doom-and-gloom stories about our global environment, Medoff felt compelled to address significant issues harming our natural world. Despite his age and lack of formal science training, Medoff put his personal life on hold and concentrated on finding solutions in a rented garage for some fifteen years. He emerged with piles and piles of papers and hundreds of ideas, many of which he has since patented after seeking support from scientists who helped him move forward.

Three of his ideas are particularly notable and he has managed to receive private funding and turn the ideas into reality. First is the development of a completely plant-based sugar that is not harmful to teeth or the human body. Second is the creation of a kind of plant-based plastic that is fully biodegradable, and third is a fully renewable plant-based fuel that can power vehicles and heat homes. Each of Medoff’s initiatives has the capacity to address major environmental issues that threaten our sensitive global environment. Despite his lack of training, his ideas have developed into reality and the board of his company, XYLECO, is now populated by notable scientists and inventors. Amazing. Another WOW moment!

So I urge you to try and not be too casual about all the news that you absorb today and every day. Seek – and hopefully feel – your own WOW moments in the next several weeks before our spring break. Maybe you’ll be inspired and the next great innovator, just like Marshall Medoff or Dr. Daniel Borsuk. May the force be with you! – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

 

 

“Adapt & Embrace the Change”: Two Students Reflect on their Student Exchange Experience

Elizabeth_AssimesElizabeth Assimes: Last year, I went on exchange for four weeks to Melbourne, Australia, and attended Carey Grammar School. I was very nervous to meet my exchange and had all the typical ‘what if’ thoughts: what if we didn’t get along, what if I didn’t enjoy school or what if I didn’t like the family I was about to live with? Mainly, I was scared to spend a month on the other side of the world and not enjoy it.

Today, I can happily say that my exchange has become one of my best friends. Australian schools are really cool, and I now have a second family on the other side of the globe. The most important thing I learnt on exchange is to have an open mind and to stay positive. Remembering that you’re travelling to another continent to experience and embrace the differences of other places is the key to enjoying an exchange, because it’s really amazing to live in a culture unlike our own.

Exchange was one of the best experiences of my life and I will hopefully will return to Australia this upcoming summer!

Isabelle_WhittallIsabelle Whittall: Last year, I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I had already met my exchange, since she came here first, so I wasn’t as nervous. Because I chose to go to Argentina, I experienced culture shock. I had to speak Spanish with my exchange’s family and friends, which was hard at first, but I ended up improving my Spanish a lot and the people I spent time with improved their English as well. I went to a music festival, a lot of quinceaneras (a girl’s fifteenth birthday celebration), ate empanadas, and learned how to play field hockey. Essentially, I experienced life as an Argentinian teenager for five weeks. I became best friends with my exchange, and I talk to her all the time. In fact, I spent a week with her and some of her friends in New York this summer, which was amazing. Becoming best friends with an Argentinian girl ended up being one of my favourite parts of the experience.

Elizabeth: Isabelle and I both had great times on our exchanges and loved the experience. But I’m not going to lie: even as someone who has lived in three places and two continents, I was scared. It’s scary to go to another continent and possibly not have a good experience, but you shouldn’t let yourself miss this amazing opportunity LCC offers based on ‘what ifs’. Exchange is all about adapting and embracing the change and it’s something I highly recommend.

-Elizabeth Assimes ’20 & Isabelle Whittall ’20

 

 

Head’s Blog: Healing Art

By LCC Student Sara Graveline '18

Cliff City in Italy, by Sara Graveline ’18

One of my favourite things to do when I have free time is visit museums or art galleries. When I travel, I visit them pretty much everywhere I go, and there’s often a crowd. So why are so many people drawn to art?

I’ve always been impressed by the creativity of gifted artists and the unique perspectives these talented people are able to represent through their work with different mediums – drawing, painting, sculpture and others.

Great artists are actually able to create a wow effect, which forces you to stop, think, and wonder how the artist developed such a different idea or perspective. In addition, artists find special ways to make a statement on social issues or controversial topics.

The fact that art frequently challenges us is very healthy. Think of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, as an example of art that challenges, provokes and engages. It was considered very controversial when it was installed in the early 1980s. Its creator was Maya Lin, a 21-year-old art student at Yale University, and her design was chosen in a national competition that included 1,400 entries. To symbolize the impact of war, she chose to literally cut into the earth. She created a long black granite wall and a journey for the viewer from one end of the wall to the other – an intimate place to see the engraved names of the 58,000 soldiers who lost their lives. Some traditionalists wanted a more “heroic sculpture,” and some initially referred to the wall as an insulting “scar in the earth.” Yet, nearly 40 years later, the abstraction and striking symbolism of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Wall has actually made it one of Washington’s most visited and memorable sites.

Art not only challenges, it also inspires, by evoking a sense of extraordinary beauty. A good example of this would be Monet’s famous Water Lilies or many of the other striking works by the renowned French Impressionist painters.

Here at LCC, I am particularly impressed with the talent of so many emerging artists. Our gifted art teachers consistently bring out the best in our students. I love looking at the art on our walls in the Junior School and up on the third floor of the Assaly Arts Centre. In fact, sometimes I’m left speechless by what our students produce. That has also been the case in recent years when senior art students have held a special vernissage and exhibition in a professional art gallery in downtown Montreal.

I don’t just appreciate art, it also makes me feel better. So I wasn’t surprised to read recently that viewing art is actually good for you. Studies show that slowing down and viewing art is good for both our physical and mental health. It increases two chemicals in our bodies – cortisol and serotonin – hormones that also have a positive effect on us when we exercise. Viewing art can be effective in elevating those hormone levels and diminishing several diseases.

A new pilot project has just begun at the Musée des Beaux Arts here in Montreal, where doctors are prescribing museum visits to help diminish a wide variety of health challenges. These are the first legitimate medical prescriptions of museum visits.

So if and when you’re feeling a little anxious or stressed, sweating it out is not the only way to calm down. Viewing art is also effective personal therapy and helps you to relax and feel more balanced. I hope to see you soon at a local gallery! – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

 

 

 

Head’s Blog: Kindness Fuels Hope

kindness-1197351_1920Every life journey is different and challenging. We all share common bonds by triumphing over our personal challenges. Despite the rosy picture others may project on social media with snapshots of a perfect life, it is actually important to acknowledge reality with young people. Life is challenging and sometimes very hard.

Given that we all face obstacles and bumps in the road – often beyond our control – we should help each other by simply being kind. A smile, a word of support, a positive action or gesture can go a long way. Kindness fuels hope like a bright light that cannot be snuffed out.

Look at politics to the south of our border. In recent months, we have all witnessed a lot of negativity, bullying and division. This polarizes people and we should not be swept up by it here. A simple antidote is a commitment to our core value of respect. Spreading kindness has the capacity to be more powerful than negativity. Regular and random acts of kindness can notably change things for a person, a group, a community, or even a nation. We just have to want kindness to be a norm that spreads. It certainly has the potential to overwhelm the negative forces in the world. This past week, I had an opportunity to remind our students that kindness is a choice. Committing to respect, we can each help to build us up as a community. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster