Reflections on Roméo Dallaire’s Visit to Glendon

Roméo Dallaire recently came to give a lecture at Glendon, as part of the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture Series. He covered a lot in his lecture – equality, change, leadership – but the thing that affected me the most was the challenge that he made to the young people of Canada and the developed world.
Here’s the gist of what he said:Every student who has graduated from high school or university from a developed country should undergo a “rite of passage”: serving in a developing country following graduation. We should all have a pair of dirty boots sitting under their bed, soiled from serving in the developing world.


Dirty boots. They’re not glamorous, or comfortable, or sought-after; they represent hard work, patience, and persistence.
Dallaire’s vision of change was equally as unglamorous. He described it as something built upon:
the choice to feel uncomfortable in the midst of injustice;
the choice to act in a culture of inaction;
the choice to persist for small gains, in the pursuit of long-term goals.
It’s easy to want to change the world, but to work for that change with humility is a whole other story. Dallaire made me check my perspective. My focus is often in all the wrong places, but somehow the image of “dirty boots” centers them all.
Dallaire was the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the genocide that occurred there in 1994, during which over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered. I highly recommend the documentary based on his journey, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire. Find out more about Roméo here.

What is International Studies?


If you’re confused about the difference between politics, international relations, and international studies, you’re not alone.

So what is the International Studies Program?

“International Studies examines how governments, law, politics, and businesses relate on the international stage.”
[The official Glendon International Studies program webpage]

“International studies is an increasingly common major… [what] unites all these programs is that they try to interpret major global trends…”
[Introduction to International and Global Studies, Shawn Smallman]

It’s hard to pin down what the international studies program is about specifically, because it is a multidisciplinary degree. In other words, it combines many different disciplines including political science, economics, and history. This is an advantage, because it allows the student to cultivate a “big picture” understanding of the world. In international studies, a wide range of topics are covered like globalization, peace/security, human rights, and culture.

Why Glendon?

Taking the international studies degree program at Glendon offers some pretty nifty perks.

1. Second (or Third) Language Education + A More Immersive Experience
First and foremost, Glendon gives you the opportunity to develop a second language, regardless of what level of ability you’re at (the last time I studied French was grade 9). Knowing a second language sets you apart in the working world, and is particularly useful if you want to pursue a career in diplomacy, development, or anything else abroad. I realized this when I worked at an international development organization this summer. Many of the people working there were speaking French! Language skills also make your degree practical, improving your job prospects, and likely raising your pay in the long run. Plus, bilingualism opens a lot of doors on a personal level (e.g. it will enable you to speak to that very attractive French guy/girl! I kid, I kid…)

Other advantages: Glendon offers courses in Spanish, has an excellent language certificate program, and runs a Salon Francophone where students can go to practice their French skills with other students.

[Read more about the iBA]

2. Summer Internships
York University offers amazing summer internships with $2000 bursaries every year to dozens of students. Two of my friends have already applied and gone to Costa Rica and the Congo. York has dozens of international exchange opportunities as well.

3. The Opportunity to Make Your Degree International
Glendon offers different variations of the international studies major. One way to customize your degree is to make it international, by taking higher level language courses, and going on exchange to another part of the world during the year. Doing this kind of specialization is another way to add depth to your degree.

Why I decided to study international studies.

Put simply,
I love the world and I want to understand it, so that I can do something to change it for the better.

More complicatedly…
More than ever, the local is tied to the global. The ethnic composition of my community has been influenced by international migration push/pull factors. The coffee that I drink represents complex trade flows and workers’ rights. My human rights are dictated by national and international levels.

In this increasingly globalized world, ignorance is not an option!

I wanted to study something that would give me the understanding I need to live as a globally aware citizen. It’s a plus that international studies will help me pursue a career in diplomacy, policy-making, development work, or law.

If you think you might be interested in international studies, there are a couple things that you might want to do next.
1. Check out the international studies webpage (or scour the internet for more info).
2. Chat with me via twitter, blog comment, or formspring. If you’re interested in the iBA, check out eAmbassador Drew, who’s getting his in political science!
3. Sit in on an actual university lecture at Glendon through our Shadow Program. This is a great experience regardless of what major is interesting you, because it will give you first-hand experience with the university lecture. Find more info about this here.

So those are the basics.

If you have any more questions or something needing clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


I already griped about this in my Lunik post, but I feel the need to say this again. The transition from fall to winter is a cruel, cruel purgatory. Behold: fwinter.
Complaining about the weather is easy, but I’ve realized that there is real beauty in a person who can find joy in all of the seasons. Like lately, my friend has been telling me about her mom, who she says has always anticipated winter instead of dreading it. I respect that kind of optimism.
So here is my attempt at being a more content and optimistic person – I’ve thought up some ways that “fwinter” is special.
The first thing that comes to mind: Fwinter is the ideal time for brisk walks. It’s not too cold, but not too hot. There’s something uniquely refreshing about taking one; it clears out your lungs and your mind. In fact, Glendon is an ideal location for a fwinter walk (nudge), because it’s surrounded by forests.

Side note: tromping through the leaves makes me feel like a kid again.

Fwinter is excellent for drinking lots of deliciously warm homemade beverages. Chai tea, milk tea, hot chocolate with a frothed top… satisfaction is holding one of these babies and wearing an itchy sweater. It’s no mystery why the milk frother is my favourite non-essential kitchen utensil…  
Fwinter is an ideal time to start looking forward to winter. I find that it’s really easy to let a season slip by if you don’t set some goals. So I’ve already decided what I want to do when winter comes, before it comes.

[This is my list so far. Do you have one? Comment below!]
Fwinter is the time to give. It’s right before the holidays, so there are lots of opportunities. This year my family/church is doing Operation Christmas Child, so we’ll be filling up shoe boxes with toys, practical things, and candy for a kids around the world. It’s a small thing, but sweet nevertheless. 
Lastly… fwinter is for Fall Campus Day! (This is technically a fall thing, but for the sake of this post I’m going to pretend that it’s not.) I actually just came from FCD, where I spent the day (wo)manning the popcorn machine. It was an awesome experience, but if you missed it, don’t worry. More events are forthcoming, and you can book a campus tour anytime! 
So the season is good.

Brisk walks. Hot chocolate. Seasonal planning. Giving. Fall Campus Day. What do you do during this time of year? Leave a comment below; I’d love to know!

Ideas for creativity …


Let me tell you a secret. To produce art, you have to produce garbage first – a lot of it. If you want to write something amazing (and you’re not a genius), most of the time you’ll have to churn out a few bad ideas before brilliance hits. This isn’t to say that sometimes artistic genius isn’t struck on a whim. This is to say that moments of artistic genius usually follow many other failed tries.

This realization has helped me with my school work, creative projects, and just about everything in between. When I’m about to start a project, and I want it to be perfect, I’m probably setting the bar too high for myself. The fear and procrastination that result from this get nothing done. But starting something and failing at it is constructive in the long run.

I’m always trying to find ways to be more creative, because I like to write and I dabble in design as well. These are some of the things that I’ve learned from other people that I’ve found useful.

The creation of good art follows many, many, many unsuccessful tries.
In other words: When you create something, don’t expect that it will be amazing the first time you put any effort in. Be patient with your work and yourself. Don’t get discouraged.

Sometimes a good idea isn’t obvious.
In other words: Don’t underestimate the potential of your ideas. Amazing ideas may not look amazing, or even sane, on paper. Take a lesson from da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and the slap chop guy.

[da Vinci’s famous helicopter sketch]

While it is good to be humble about your work, and to be open to criticism from others, don’t give up on an idea that you believe in when others don’t. Once I was listening to Glenn Marais, a songwriter, speak about creativity. Apparently the first time he played his song Everybody Wants to be Like You for his band, they all thought it was awful. Yet he kept working at it and it became the fifth most-played song in Canadian history.

The more ideas you come up with, the more good ideas you’ll come up with.
Write everything down. Carry a notebook (find the perfect one here) so that you can catch every stray idea that enters your mind. On top of developing your creative thinking skills, you’ll be archiving doses of inspiration for later use. Boo-yah.

[My pretentious Moleskine notebook.]

You are what you consume.
In other words: Read, watch, and listen to good stuff, because these things will be reflected in your thoughts, abilities, and ideas. Stretch yourself occasionally by tackling a book/movie/album that you find intimidating or strange. In grade 12 I decided to read Little Dorrit, and while all 850 pages were slightly painful to read, I ended up really liking the book and learning a lot from it.

So that’s all I have. What ideas for creativity can you share? Tell me in the comments!

[Also! Read my fellow eAmbassador Juan’s personal, honest, and sort-of-related post about inspiration.]

*Ideas stolen from Brooke Fraser, Glenn Marais, Eric Courtney, Annalise Huynh, Thomas Edison, the slap-chop guy