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

The Unfair Four

palm oilThere seem to be certain issues that get pushed aside by the media and most of the world because they are deemed to be not as important as everything we do see on the news, however, they are very important to me. This is all in regards to the unjust treatment of non-humans. While I have chosen only four items to speak about, it is important to keep in mind that there are so many more which need attention as well.

Firstly, there is the issue of shark fin soup. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and a few other Asian countries, made by using the fins of sharks. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed per year for shark fin soup, and, in reality, the fins actually don’t add any flavour to the soup, but considering that a bowl costs upwards of $100, it is a huge money making industry that has no plan in stopping anytime soon. Unfortunately, for the longest time sharks were the face of beasts and killers, which makes it harder to get people to agree to save them. But considering the ratio of 100 million sharks we kill vs. the less than one human that they kill per year, I’d say it’s time for their image to change.

Secondly, there is the issue of palm oil. Big producers of palm oil destroy rainforests and the natural habitats of animals like elephants, orangutans, tigers, and rhinos. Not only does it destroy their homes but it can also seriously injure them since one of the methods used to gather palm oil is by burning the trees. In fact, one of the top producers of modified palm oil is the brand Nutella. However, palm oil isn’t only found in food but also in products like creams, soaps, shampoo, and many others. So, in the future, check the list of ingredients of a product and if you read “Modified Palm Oil”, take a moment to consider whether it’s really worth it.

Thirdly, I’m sure that nearly everybody has been to a zoo before, and maybe even got the chance to pet a lion or a tiger, either an adult or perhaps a cub. However, most people aren’t aware that those poor animals were actually drugged. Sometimes to make them fully unconscious, but most of the time just to make them a little bit calmer than they should be, because to the zoo workers the only well-being that matters is that of the people who are paying. Also, most zoos really don’t care about their animals since an animal like a polar bear, that should be living in the snow at negative temperatures, is currently living in San Diego, baking in the sun.

Finally, I think that most people have heard of the controversy at SeaWorld. Recently, ex-SeaWorld trainers began speaking out about what really happens within the walls once the spectators leave. Orcas are actually very similar to humans in the way that their brains function and that their bodies and health need to be maintained. Long story short, the whales were being kept in dirty, small enclosures, which damaged their bodies and even drove some to the point of insanity where they would try, and sometimes succeed, to commit suicide by ramming themselves into the metal walls. Females are forced to breed, only to have their babies taken away from them right after birth and moved to another park thousands of miles away. In the wild, Orcas usually live until about 50 or 60 years old, when they usually die of old age. In captivity, orcas very rarely make it past their teens, and none have ever died of old age. This past week, an 18 year old female orca named Unna died at SeaWorld San Antonio after “contracting a harmful strain of fungus”, which was due to poor living conditions. Campaigns like #emptythetanks and #thanksbutnotanks have been popping up all over the place, and you can do your part by taking part in the movement, and also by informing yourself more by watching BlackFish, which was the first push made by ex-trainers when they began speaking out, and it is really an amazing film. Also, try to inform others and make sure that they don’t buy a ticket.

There are a few people or small organizations that inspired me the most to make changes in my everyday life to help these beings. The one that influenced me the most is Keiko Conservation. Their main goal is to spread awareness, and they are so inspiring to me because they are three young girls from different places in the world who are actually making a huge difference and shining light on so many things most people don’t even know are happening. Black Jaguar White Tiger is a sanctuary in Mexico where they take in felines from zoos and circuses that have been mistreated. Third is Shark Addicts, from Jupiter Florida, and they go down into the ocean everyday to take hooks out of the mouths of sharks that people tried to fish. I love what they do because they have really helped changed the image of sharks to a species that desperately needs our protection.

On top of the ones that I mentioned, there is so much more that occurs everyday regarding beings other than humans that we could try to help end. Sadly, it would be nearly impossible for a small group of people who care to stop the Japanese dolphin slaughter or save rhinos from poachers, but we can all start with small things, like throwing your trash out so that it doesn’t end up in the ocean, or simply by cutting down your meat intake. Another great thing to do is to check out, where you can subscribe to them to get updates not only about animals but about plenty of occurrences around the world that aren’t featured in the media, and that with your signature you can help end.

Thanks for reading! I hope that I have brought awareness to these important issues and that you can help me and the thousands of other people in speaking for those without a voice. – Alyssa Obrand ’16

Humility First

DSC_9239The past week has been a very good one for LCC Athletics. Congratulations to the Juvenile Girls Soccer and Bantam Boys Soccer teams who won the championships in their respective GMAA soccer leagues. My congratulations as well to all other teams during our fall athletics season – and to all coaches for their significant support and guidance of our scholar athletes. Some of the most memorable experiences in athletics this fall may have come from students who were not on championship teams; there was surely a lot learned in a wide array of experiences – in living them and reflecting on them.

This brings me to sport at the international level and lessons learned from a titanic match played last Saturday in the final of the World Cup of Rugby that occurs only once every 4 years. For those who are not big rugby fans, it is worth noting that rugby has a wide global audience in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In fact, the World Championship tournament, hosted this year in the UK, is the world’s third largest sporting event after the World Cup of Soccer and the summer Olympics. It runs for weeks, culminating this past weekend with a TV audience of more than 120 million.

On Saturday, New Zealand and Australia met in the World Cup final match for the first time, despite their excellent reputations and deep rugby traditions. New Zealand was the defending champion from four years ago, so the team was also vying to be the first country to win back-to-back world championships – a very tall order indeed.

Going into the game, both teams were undefeated with spotless records in the tournament. So with millions of fans watching, a lot was on the line – and a lot of pressure was on the shoulders of those professional athletes and their coaches.

The match itself did not disappoint. Played at Twickenham stadium in London in front of 85,000 fans, it was a very impressive display of skill and competition at the highest level. The New Zealand All-Blacks emerged triumphant after a very memorable hard-fought game played by what were clearly the two best teams in the world today.

Interestingly, I believe there is something special to be learned from this tournament and the New Zealand All-Blacks in particular. It has to do with something fundamental that I believe has been lost among many professional athletes in Canada, the United States, Europe and South America. That something is humility with a strong focus on sportsmanship and genuine respect for one’s opponent.

In our culture of athletic trash talk and media denunciation of peers by some professional athletes, it’s often unfortunate that certain players are role models – and too often the behavior and attitude drops down to youth sport, which in my view, is a true disappointment and at times a travesty.

New Zealand has always embraced rugby as its national game and a great way to build friendships and community. Most children in that small country of only 4.5 million people play the sport, starting with organized touch leagues for 4-year- olds and they progress from there. At every level there is a strong emphasis on sportsmanship, and it’s only been about 25 years since the men on the national team have been paid professionals. Until then, farmers, mechanics, teachers, office workers and others would rise to the national level and would have to take holiday time from their full-time jobs to experience the distinct honour of representing their country at the international level. But once an All-Black, always an all-Black, and men would take that mark of distinction to their graves. Whole communities were proud to have an All-Black in their midst, even under a gravestone.

So after more than two decades of professional rugby, where even the All Blacks played their sport full time as professionals, in came coach Steve Hansen in 2012. He took issue with the verbal snipes and jibes that our media culture helps to make the norm in professional sport and he set out to change it. And change it he has done, embracing what can only be called “old-school values.”

Despite the strength and dominance of the All-Blacks, Hansen emphasizes respect for the effort and contribution of all players in a match to do their best – on both teams. So Hansen decided to do something radical in professional sport:  At the end of every international match the All-Blacks invite their opponent into their dressing room as a sign of respect and camaraderie. That’s exactly what happened at the World Cup matches in the UK and the effect has been notable and positive.

Team results remain hugely important, but Hansen didn’t want them to be the sole mechanism by which his team is judged. Nearly as important is the manner in which his players conduct themselves on and off the field.

Hansen has ben quoted as saying “we acknowledge we have played another group of men who have tried to do what we have done. So we say, ‘would you guys like to come into our changing room?’ They are all ordinary guys and they make lifelong friendships.”

Players from Namibia and Georgia were blown away to be invited into the All Blacks’ changing room after their matches in the World Cup. Their players queued for the opportunity to be pictured with the All-Black veteran star players and didn’t want to leave. They arrived with jerseys to hopefully swap and cell phones poised for personal keepsake photos. They expected ferocity on the field and had no idea they would encounter such warmth and camaraderie off of it. It was a massive gesture by the All Blacks – as few champion teams would extend that sort of invitation and engage for so long and readily with any opponent

In our hyper competitive culture of athletics and media presence, there is much we can learn from that small nation in the pacific. What’s the core learning? In essence, humility, respect and community always trump greed, arrogance and trash talk.

I have asked our high school students to give this some thought as they begin their next athletic season, in their dealings with friends, debating opponents or colleagues at Model UN’s or other activities. Competition is healthy, but respect and collaboration trumps undermining one’s opponents. We all need to think about that in practice! – Christopher Shannon, Headmaster


Solisterra: Building Model Rocket Stoves & Memories that will last a Lifetime

LCC is privileged to go on annual trips to Solisterra. Whether for grade 8 enriched math, Green Team leadership, or senior service trips, we have been going on these trips for the last five years.

The very first year LCC students went to Solisterra, they built a three-storey playhouse fully equipped with a fireman’s pole and slide. The next year, the students participated in a community project building a gazebo in Kazabazua made from the ruins from the oldest house in the town. During the third year, our most “ambitious” year, the students built an 80 foot tall windmill made with cement blocks weighing 1.2 tons each–not to mention the straw bale workshop as well as chicken coop which is now home to 15 roosters and hens. The following year, student leadership along with the grade 8 enriched class built a solar shower, straw bale generator shed, chicken run and rocket stove to keep the chickens warm. In April of this year, the senior service trip students finished the solar shower and straw bale workshop. A big thank you to all who have participated over the years.

I was lucky enough to be a part of this year’s enriched math trip and I would like to share what it was like for us.

Three weeks ago, 20 of my classmates, Ms. Webster, Ms. Saunders, Mr. Clark, M. Tremblay and I embarked on a three-hour bus ride to Solisterra not quite knowing what to expect. When we arrived, we quickly learned that bug spray was absolutely no help against the vicious swarms of insects that attacked us the second we walked off the bus. Ms Saunders got us quickly engaged building model rocket stoves followed by roasting marshmallows and a nighttime hike. For our sleeping quarters we were separated into two houses, Pinia and Rose.

The next day we were on the building worksite by 7:30 am after consuming the best homemade bread ever. One small group went to parge, another worked on the rocket stove bench, and the other worked on a pizza and bread oven. The work was hard and tiring, but always exciting and rewarding. Thank goodness for the amazing snacks and meals that were made for us by Deb! We spent the next two days alternating projects and having a blast. It goes without saying that we were all a bit reluctant to get on that bus back to the city.

I’m so grateful to all the people who helped to make this trip a reality and on behalf of all the students who attended, wish to thank to Ms. Saunders, Ms. Webster, Mr. Clark and M. Tremblay. We had a great time and we made new memories and strong bonds that will last us long past our graduation. –Emma Belhadfa ’18

Ma deuxième semaine à Paris: La ville est plein d’histoire et de culture

IMG_2675La deuxième semaine d’école vient avec beaucoup plus de facilité et d’aise. Tout le monde est extrêmement sympathique, et je me suis déjà fait plein d’amis. L’école Alsacienne spécialisent en l’indépendance des étudiants. Au lunch, nous sommes libres de faire ce que l’on veut pendant deux, trois heures; c’est à dire rentrer à la maison, manger à un restaurant ou même se promener dans Paris. En plus, les cours de sport ne se passe pas à l’école mais dans les Jardins du Luxembourg, rien de moins! C’est tellement spécial d’avoir l’opportunité de vivre l’expérience de Paris, même quand je suis en cours!

Cette deuxième semaine a été marquée par une fin de semaine passée en Normandie. La Normandie se compare un peu à Tremblant. C’est l’endroit où les gens achètent des maisons de campagne pour être capable de passer le weekend avec leurs familles. La seule différence c’est qu’il s’agit d’une version complètement amélioré. C’est sur le bord de la mer, tout tranquille. Il y a plein d’activités comme le vélo, karting, bowling, tennis, plage, etc… Mais au surplus, la Normandie est remplie d’histoire. C’est le lieu du débarquement des troupes alliées en juin 1944, qui marque le début de la reconquête de l’Europe aux mains des Allemands.

Pour conclure, j’ai beaucoup apprécié ma deuxième semaine ici à Paris. J’adore les gens et la famille qui m’accueille, et rendu là où j’en suis, j’ai réalisé que Paris c’est une destination ou la ville est l’activité principale. La ville est plein d’histoire et de culture qui ne fini jamais, on a définitivement pas eu de problème à choisir des activités dans cette ville extraordinaire. – Ryan Garber ’17, Exchange Student at École alsacienne