Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Dream

How do you create a "Global Citizenship Legacy?"

It's a challenging question; one that The 2010 Sharing The Dream Webcast Team has spent the past seven months trying to answer. And really, the truth is, I'm not sure that a single, concrete, right answer even exists. What I am sure of is that creating that legacy is possible. I know because I've experienced it. I've become part of it, and it has become part of me. It's been a journey that will continue, I'm sure, for the rest of my life.

The first challenge of creating a Global Citizenship Legacy was defining what, exactly, those words mean. To this day, it is a definition that is steadily evolving in my mind.

Before the games, I thought that to be a global citizen, you had to make these huge sacrifices – had to organize a charitable event or travel to Africa and build a school, but over the past year, my definition of global citizenship really broadened. Of course, being a global citizen is still participating in those huge humanitarian endeavors, but I've come to realize that it’s also the smaller every day actions. It'sthe guy who gave me directions to Thunderbird Stadium when I was lost on the Sky-train, even though he was carrying a Swedish flag and I had a maple leaf drawn on my cheek, or the fact that I can honestly say that I’ve made friends with student reporters from London and biathlon fans from Germany. Over the course of my Sharing the Dream experience, I really learned that Global Citizenship is more than one action or one event. It’s a lifestyle.

As for what a legacy is, that definition has also grown and expanded for me. In it's most raw and simplified form, a legacy is what is left behind. It is the residue of the Games - the venues that are now recreational centres and the celebration sites that will continue to promote culture in our city. Our legacy, however, also consists of what hasn't been left behind. It consists of a carbon neutral torch relay, that has allowed future generations to live greener lives. It is also what is passed forward. It's the lessons and mistakes that we are able to learn from as London 2012 and Sochi 2014 fast approach.

This morning, at Sharing The Dream's final webcast, John Furlong spoke about the idea of the "human legacy". To me, this is the most important part of legacy, the part that we've chosen to focus on the past year. It involves instilling the Olympic and Paralympic ideals in our youth, and promoting the values of the Olympic Truce.

It wasn't easy to come up with these definitions. Even as I type them out now, it's hard to summarize properly. Each person we met along our Sharing The Dream journey had an important piece to contribute to our definition.

The Governor General spoke on peace and solidarity and the importance of youth in establishing the two. Paralympians Andrea Holmes and Donovan Tildesley spoke about equality and over coming obstacles. Author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson stressed the importance of communication and establishing strong relationships when trying to achieve peace. Humanitarian, Craig Kielburger, was dynamic in the message he gave to youth, urging them to "be the change they wish to see in their world". Minister of Education, Margaret MacDiarmid, explained how education plays a role in developing global citizens.

This morning, we had our seventh and final webcast. We were lucky enough to have John Furlong as our keynote speaker, who stressed the power sport has to unite people of all backgrounds, and John Edwards tuned in from London to speak about his experience as an athlete and LOCOG member creating peace through sport. Olympic ski-cross competitor, Julia Murray, and Paralympic ski-cross competitor, Tyler Mosher, both spoke about their journeys to 2010, and educators from both BC and London taught us about how important youth are in global citizenship movements. From our studio audience and a group of young leaders in London, we had the chance to hear our peers' thoughts on the Games and peace-building.

Honestly though, as cheesy as it may sound, some of the most important definitions came from the other members of the "Dream Team". We often joke that it's unfortunate we don't have cameras on us during every day conversations, because, often, that is when the most valuable understanding of global citizenship emerges.

As a team, have spent hours discussing culture, sport, education, social justice, religion, and the consequences and benefits when of when they all collide. We've had conversations on aboriginal rights here in Canada, the caste system in India, poverty in Mexico and Africa, disaster in Haiti, and censorship in China and within our own system of government. This morning, we had a lengthy discussion on Hijabs and arranged marriages and how they relate to women's rights. These startingly honest and insightful conversations have taught me so much about the world around me.

In the end, as previously stated, it's hard to say exactly how you create a Global Citizenship Legacy. It takes a certain amount of dedication to the cause, and a healthy appetitite for learning. It requires a willingness to make (many) mistakes and learn from them, and an openess to change and new ideas. A passionate team of both youth and adults is necessary.

Other than that, however, I think that the possibilites are endless. And, maybe, that's the whole point of the legacy, proving that "If you dream it, you can do it."

Sharing The Dream has been a truly incredible, inspiring, and life-altering opportunity for me, and to close this blog, I'd like to end with one of my favourite quotes in the entire world. It's from a book called Footfree and Fancyloose, by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, and I think it sums up my past seven months with Sharing the Dream in three simple sentences:

"Dreams are complicated. They almost never turn out like you imagine - they almost always change. Sometimes, they change you."

You can find out more about Sharing The Dream, as well as view past webcasts, at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Toronto Star Article

My latest Toronto Star article discussed The Olympic Truce and the Governor General's youth Forums. You can read the article here:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sharing The Dream in Victoria

2 days after Vancouver 2010
It was an early Monday morning for the members of the Sharing the Dream team. We were downtown by 6:30, in order to catch a 7:20 flight to Victoria. Call me a beginner, but the idea of boarding a seaplane was definitely enough to get me excited and out of bed.
Luckily, the flight did not disapoint. A brilliant sunrise hit the horizon as we waved goodbye to our sleepy city.

We landed in Victoria's sunny harbour and caught a shuttle over to the Legislature building, with it's freshly manicured lawn and impressive stone stature. Inside, we were quickly escorted upstairs to film a short segment with the Honourable Margaret McDiarmid, Minister of Education. Like the last two times we met, the minister was very warm and welcoming, even remembering our names as she introduced us to the camera.

From there, we were escorted to a meeting room, where we met our interviewees for the press conference: Lauren Groves, a 2008 Olympic triathlete and London hopeful; Ryan Cochrane, who won bronze for swimming in Beijing and is also a Londong hopeful; Sean Leslie, a CKNW journalist; Hon. Ida Chong, Minister of Sport and Healthy Living; and Deb Whitten, the Vice Principal of Claremont Secondary and a 1992 olympian in field hockey.

We quickly went over introductions and questions, before heading to the conference room. Minister MacDiarmid facilitated the event, and each member of Sharing the Dream asked a question. I asked Ms. Whitten about what the Games meant to her as an educator, and she spoke about the importance of participation over medal winning. "It's not about the triumph, it's about the struggle." She said.

I also asked Lauren Groves about why she thought sport had the power to overstep cultural barriers. She explained how the key values of sport are universal, and that, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, we can all embrace the Olympic ideals.

After the conference, we had the chance to speak with various MLAs and both the ministers. This was a particularly memorable experience. It's not often you find yourself in a casual conversation about the values of sport with two women who need to be addressed with the title "The Honourable" before their names!

We were also lucky enough to get a private tour of the Press Gallery. As an aspiring journalist, it was particularly fascinating to see the cluttered workspace the print journalists work in. It is honestly the most intruiging office I have ever set foot in. It looks like something out of a 1950s movie, where journalists in black fedoras flip their pads of paper open and lick the tip of their pen.

The furniture is old, made of dark wood, and the windows and tall and allow sunlight to pour in. Teetering stacks of paper lean against desks and on top of filing cabinets, the walls are plastered with political cartoons, articles, family photos, and bumper stickers. A can of spam sits on top of one of the dividers, and ties hang off a lamp. When you first walk in, the light overhead has beads draped around it and rolled up newspapers tucked into it. Talk about character.

From there, it was down multiple flights of stairs to see where the radio reporters work. Our guide joked that they'd been banished there after a particular Premier grew tired of their forceful questioning. He spoke about the continous struggle between the press, who always want more access, and politicians, who always want more privacy.

In the cramped basement quarters of the radio reporters, we were continually told "Not to let this office turn you off journalism. It really is a great job." Frankly, though, despite lacking both space and windows, the environment struck me as exciting and dynamic. Like downstairs, the walls were covered in newspaper clippings, the shelves stocked with antiquated radio equipment, the air filled with sarcastic banter.

We regretfully left the legislature to head back to Vancouver around noon. We picked up sandwhiches from a little deli and ate them sitting on the docks at the harbour, soaking in the gorgeous sunshine. It was a beautiful flight home, admiring the islands that dot the Strait of Georgia.

Back in Vancouver, and exhausted after such an eventful morning, we crowded around a table at the office and had a conversation on legacy and our final webcast, which is coming up on Thursday, March 25th. Sleepy as we were, we found the energy to discuss how amazing our Sharing the Dream experience has been, and our hopes for the students in London.

Approaching Vancouver

Please tune in online at on Thursday morning to watch the team's final webcast, as we pass on the torch of Global Citizenship to our peers in London.
The Team

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Water's Edge Music Festival

Day 10 of the Paralympic Games

I spent the final afternoon of my Vancouver 2010 experience in the Tri Cities, at (as far as I know) the only Cultural Olympiad event to make it's way out here. The Water's Edge Music Festival has featured a series of performers over the past weekend, and today, Lisa and I were in for a choral performance by the Coastal Sound Youth Choir and Musica Intima.

Although Musica Intima headlined, in my mind, the opening act stole the show. The youth choir presented a variety of pieces - from lyrical compositions describing the prairies at dusk, to rhythmic Brazillian songs to a sarcastic analysis of arguements between males and females. The finale was a haunting rendition of U2's "With or Without You", composed by their accompaniest.

Ranging from ages 15 to 25, their young ages gave the performance life, without losing professionalism. In comparison, Musica Intima was a little less playful. That being said, however, their talent was incredible, their voices filling the room effortlessly.

Lisa and I grabbed the chance to talk with a couple Coastal Sound members during intermission. They spoke about the opportunities that the Cultural Olympiad has opened up for them, including singing at the Opening Ceremonies, and the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves or even their choir.

For me, their stories are perfect example of how these Games have created opportunities for youth - and Canadians in general - to exhibit their talent and interest in art, culture, and music.