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World Vision’s One Life Experience

Update from yesterday : credit card-y things sorted themselves out late this afternoon. What a relief!

While I was waiting for everything to get sorted, I went to the West Edmonton Mall, which was awesome. Friends have often pointed out that it’s weird that I love shopping so much, because it sort of clashes with all of my other passions and beliefs. I don’t get it either. It’s not even buying stuff – I just like being in stores. I didn’t actually buy anything today, I just walked around for hours (which you can definitely do at WEM!)

While meandering, I stumbled upon World Vision’s One Life Experience.

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It’s an interesting concept. They’ve (kind of) re-created an African village. When you walk in, they give you an ipod to listen to, as someone recounts a story of a now-sponsored World Vision child – stories of rape, kidnappings, etc. I’m still not sure what my impressions are. I tried to put myself in the mind of someone who doesn’t know about these issues. I can imagine that it could be scary, or touching, or painful. This blogger has a good post about the exhibit, saying that it’s not an accurate representation of the African continent (check out the rest of the blog for more amazingness). However, One Life only claims to tell you about one child’s story, in their village, and I think that this exhibit was effective in communicating that one child’s life/village/experience. World Vision needs to fundraise, after all, and if that’s the way forward, then more power to them. It’s better than showing pictures of starving children with a sad voice-over – at least the pictures in the final station were of smiling, chubby children.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people in this field about the effectiveness of intervention and aid. A lot of it is dramatization and trying to pull at people’s heartstrings, and the question I always end up with is this: What’s important? That the people who were at the mall today felt pity for these children, or lucky about their lives, or even inclined to sponsor a child? In this case, I don’t think so. I think that the most important part of this exhibit is that at the end of the day, a few more people will find out that child soldiers and everything else in the exhibit do exist. Sure, they’re not representative of the entire continent, but they are a real issue, and at least WV is bringing attention to them.

I also met this girl, who is fasting for a month, or until she raises $3500, to feed kids in Haiti. Click on the link for a more eloquent description of her adventure.

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Bathtub laundry, aka my fave thing (not)

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Remember when I was all excited that everything I needed for my 3 week trip fit in my carry-on? It worked, but it also meant that I had to plan to do laundry twice along the way. I was able to do it at my parents’ house after the first week, but my plans changed last weekend and I wasn’t able to do it when I was with friends who have a washer and dryer. As a result, I got to spend my evening last night washing my clothes in the tub – the same soaker tub with jets that I was hoping to actually soak myself in! Good thing I have a lot of sink-laundry experience.

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In other news, read on if you want to know what I’ve been up to lately.

Two weeks ago, I left Vancouver for Regina, Saskatchewan. This also meant leaving +6 weather to go to -44 weather. Let me just say, at this point, that Regina has a lot to make up for when I’m back this summer. I was only there for a day for quick meetings, before heading on to Saskatoon where I got to hang out with a good friend, check out Canada’s largest independent bookstore, interview a couple people for work, and stay in a lovely boutique hotel (boutique hotels are my new favourite thing.) Saskatoon more than made up for Regina, and I’m excited that I get to go back next month.

From Saskatoon, I got to go home for two very packed days! I saw my nephew a lot, and a bunch of friends, and my parents. I feel super lucky that my job allows me not only to spend time travelling, but also to go home more than I expected. From there, I went to meetings in Montreal, which was great – I got to spend the week there. I ate way too much poutine, and way too much dessert, but I have no regrets.

Yesterday morning, I left Montreal for a much anticipated trip to Edmonton. I’ve actually been talking about how excited I was to come here for weeks, because I’ve always wanted to go to the West Edmonton Mall. I also got an email a few days ago from the Delta hotel: I booked my room here because they had great rates and aeroplan points. Turns out I was upgraded to a premier one bedroom suite, for free! Needless to say, I was looking forward to a great couple of days in Edmonton meeting with new staff and shopping.

Unfortunately, my first day here didn’t turn out so great – my work credit card is maxed out. Luckily, the Delta was very accommodating and I was able to check in anyway, but I haven’t been able to rent my car, which I need to get to Calgary. Hopefully everything will be sorted out today. If they don’t sort it out, it means that I can’t go shopping, and if you know me, you know that I’m devastated.

I guess I can’t really complain: my room is wonderful, the hotel is in a mall (not THE mall, but a mall nonetheless), I’ve had great interviews and meetings already, and I was allowed to order from the kid’s menu for dinner last night (grilled cheese and a sundae ftw). As long as I can get to the mall today, all will be well.

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