Category Archives: Canada

Everything to do with my home country of Canada

Back to Business

Remember all that extra time I had off from work not too long ago? Remember how I thought I would accomplish so much in all that EXTRA time? Well it seems this summer was a summer of low tech relaxation. I avoided my laptop like the plague and it felt AMAZING. I should really do it more often, because it meant that I could really switch off and just enjoy life in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I still was addicted to my phone.. but it was great to step away from work and just enjoy being at home.

I did manage to squeeze a lot into all that downtime I had. From flying to Toronto from Singapore, then to Philadelphia with my big sis for a EdTech conference, to Vegas to meet a dear friend from Singapore, to being back on the farm, to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and then back to the farm for other local adventures. It was a fantabulous summer and I got to spend so much time with my family. I loved it. Sister time, niece and nephew time, parent time, aunts, uncles, cousins – gosh even cousins twice removed! It was a fun-filled family holiday! And I also got to see some of my friends in there too! Sadly, I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to… which is always the case for my trip back home. How do you fit a year of being away into only a month?! C’est tout simplement impossible!!

And in no particular order… the highlights.

It was definitely a summer that will be tough to beat. But hey, I like a challenge!

But there is always an end to the summer fun, then the reality of moving back to Singapore sets in. This year, coming back was the hardest I have found it since that day at the airport 11 years ago when I first left. I cried my heart out saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. Then cried through customs. Then on the plane. And once more when I got back for good measure.

As amazing as life is over here, nothing can replace ‘home’.

I miss you guys!!!

xo Pinky

Upside Down and Inside Out

The idea of my parents going through a bit of culture shock during this trip has crossed my mind today a few times. I sometimes forget how long I have been away from my home country. Often times, I find that I experience the opposite effect – the “reverse culture shock”. Meaning, what once was the norm at home, has become different to me.

Some of the things that I feel this effect on when I go home can seem silly to some. My sister thought it was a bit funny that I felt unsafe running through a park alone in Toronto. It wasn’t the park that was scary to me – it was the lack of people. It feels extremely unsettling now to me to run for almost 5km and not see a soul. This simply does not happen here in Singapore. I could walk out of my house right now at 9:30pm and see literally hundreds of people walking around the streets and jogging along the canal.

Something I also notice right away when I am home in a city in Canada is the amount of homeless people and especially those with severe mental illnesses and sometimes with disabilities. I will probably have this site shut down for saying this, but obviously there are people here with similar issues. But where are they? It is definitely a different experience on the streets of Toronto and it is impossible not to notice it when I am home.

There have been many other things that I am left standing with my mouth a little agape when I come home for a visit. Some of the first examples that pop into my head are with food. The grocery store in Canada absolutely baffles me. I have completely forgotten this experience and am in utter amazement every time I step foot into one when I go home. There are hundreds of thousands of options and there is anything that anyone could ever dream of in terms of food, pharmacy, hygiene and more. And that is just at my local small town grocery store. The specialty ones in the city are a whole other experience.

Another shock I had was a couple of summers ago was the quantities in which restaurants served food at times. We were in Frankenmuth, Michigan in the USA and we went for one of the famous chicken dinners. I COULD NOT believe the amount of food that people were consuming in there. This was extreme culture shock for me. I STILL talk about this experience all the time and I still can’t comprehend it.

I could go on and on and on with all of my reverse culture shock experiences. There are many and the longer I am away, the more my norms shift. It is an interesting experience to feel it in your own home country after knowing only that for 25 years of my life. Reflecting on this, I need to make sure I am aware of my own changes so that I can be a bit more aware of what my parents are about to go through during their visit.

My first concern is them navigating the big city of Singers solo while I am at work. I know they can do it and if they are going to go anywhere on their own, Singapore is definitely the place for them to be. It’s safe. Roughly everyone speaks English. And everything is sign posted in English. For me, it seems like the easiest place in the world. To them, it might be a different story. So I am going to have to make sure they are well prepared for their journeys around town. Armed with a local sim card. Our phone numbers already plugged in and also the hotlines for the taxi cab companies… they really can’t go wrong.

Our next big leap will be Cambodia. I distinctly remember my first trip there. It was definitely a new experience and obviously one that has left a very lasting impression on me. There will be people in the streets. But unlike Toronto, many will be whole families. We will come across children begging, selling stuff or asking for us to buy them something. This is the reality of Cambodia, and one that I have unfortunately grown accustomed to seeing during my visits. It doesn’t take away the desire to want to help, it is just less of a shock to see it now for me.

My friend Andrea, who used to live in Phnom Penh, posted a very interesting article about the reality of child beggars in many countries “Keep the Change. Giving money to child beggars is the least generous thing a tourist can do”.  It is hard to look at a child begging you for money or food or pens for school or whatever, and not feel it in your gut that you need to help them. This will inevitably be an extremely difficult experience for my parents, as it is for me every time I go. However, the reality is that if you give them money – the money doesn’t really go to them or their families. Any little gift you give them, will get sold for money. The money then often goes to someone else and even worse (see the article for more details). It is a perpetual cycle and the only way to stop it is by not giving those kids money. It is difficult because all you want to do is to help but the best thing any traveller can do is to give them a warm smile, maybe a sticker (like my friend Kendra always does) and give your money to an NGO that is guaranteed to do something good with your money. Then through their programs they can get the families off the streets, into education and hopefully then into the world of gainful employment where they can earn money to support themselves. Reputable organizations are there to help and they know how it works in the country they are stationed in. Trust in the fact that they are working towards a permanent solution rather than a temporary one like giving a few dollars away.

This is exactly why we are going to Cambodia and what we are there to support. The People Improvement Organization (PIO) gets kids off the street, into school and the ideal situation is for students to then go on to university if enough money can be raised. It is also the mission of the Tabitha Foundation (the organization that helps us to provide houses) to provide more sustainable solutions for poverty. During our trip, we aren’t simply just putting a roof over someone’s head. These organizations to recognize and develop inherent skills and resources in a way that brings dignity and respect to the people whom they help. The result will be in measurable and visible improvements in the lifestyles of the people who they help.

Though it may be difficult to see past the initial culture shock of experiencing the reality of what many Cambodian people live, we are there to help in a way that actually work to allow people to move beyond the poverty which they face. Focusing on the good in people, the kindness and resilience of the Cambodian people who we will meet, and the organizations who are there to support them – my parent’s experience should move from being a shock to them, to that of reward for doing something that is right, sustainable and useful.

Within that one week we will spend there, I am sure that they will fall in love with Cambodia much like I have and their feelings will be turned upside down and inside out. It will be worth every moment.

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Want to help us support the cause?

Go to bit/ly.tabithaca

Canadian Summer Bucket List

Who doesn’t love a long weekend? That’s right – EVERYONE loves one.

From reading all my Canuck friends and family’s facebook posts over the weekend it looks like it was a pretty fantastic May 2-4 weekend (though it doesn’t make sense for it to be called May 2-4 when it isn’t celebrated on the weekend of the 24th, but I guess it’s it is actually called “Victoria Day”). 🙂

Seeing all of those fantastic photos of people at the beach, with fireworks and campfires and camping has again made me crave a bit of Candiana. I can’t wait to get home and see everyone and do everything Canadian I can fit in to one summer holiday. Many people ask me about the things that I miss most about Canada, so I thought I would give you a little list of my most-missed experiences that one can only get in Canada.

Starting at #12 (I had to add a couple more than a regular Top 10!) and working my way to my most missed items… Keriann’s Canadian Summer Bucket List.

12.  BBQ hotdogs. It’s sick, I know. But I love Schneiders Red Hots hotdogs. They are the cheapest and sketchiest, but there is something about them that remind me of summers and childhood and home. I love them.

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11. Lululemon Athletica. I love Lululemon. Yes there are places to buy this in Singapore but the clothing is crazy expensive and they don’t have all the choices like a real Lululemon store has in Canada. I can’t wait to go shopping for some new gym gear. Guilty pleasure indeed.

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10. Farmer’s Markets – I love all the homemade pies, pickles and preserves you can buy. The produce is so fresh and delicious and all the homemade food items are like getting a taste of everyone’s grandmother’s kitchen. So GOOD!!!

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9. Daylight – Yes I realize that there is daylight in Singapore, but when it is summer in Canada the days last forever! The longest day of the summer and the sun sets around 9:00-9:30pm! I love how long the days last and the sunsets along the shores of Lake Huron are amazing.

Sunsets in Grand Bend are the best!

Sunsets in Grand Bend are the best!

8. Red Lobster’s Ultimate Feast – I need to go at least one time per trip home. The Ultimate Feast is always ordered and an afternoon of fasting always precedes the restaurant experience. Slow and steady wins the race because I like to take all the seafood out of the shells before even starting to eat. Everything must be drenched in the butter bowl for dipping. I know there is far fresher and better seafood out there (and right here in Asia) but you never have it served with the butter bowl. It is essential. Not to mention the unlimited biscuits and caesar salad….

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7. A Day at the Beach – I love going in to Grand Bend, Bayfield or Goderich for the afternoon and packing a cooler with picnic food and drinks. The water is freezing (in comparison to the waters around Singapore and SE Asia) but the smell of the fresh water beach is unreal. I wish I could bottle it and spray it around my house. I love it.

A regular day at the beach in GB!

A regular day at the beach in GB!

6. Jerry Rader’s Potato Salad – I could eat a huge container of this by myself. I sometimes eat it for breakfast. I love it! Obsessed. Even better when paired with a side of fresh sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper. Unreal.

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5. Toasted Marshmallows on the campfire. Must be toasted to perfection over hot coals (no flames, just the coals). And of course you have to make a few ‘smores with those marshmallows as well.

My niece demonstrating how messy toasted marshmallows really are.

My niece demonstrating how messy toasted marshmallows really are.

4. Starlite Drive-In Movies – Not everyone has an old school drive-in movie theatre a 3 minute drive from their house. This is a classic summer experience. You have to wait until it gets dark enough for the movie to even start and have to “tune in” to the movie through your radio. It’s essential to arrive early enough to get a good parking spot. And a new and updated improvement is to bring my parent’s “gravity chairs” to sit in bundled up to enjoy the films. It’s awesome.

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3. Caesars. These drinks are an essential part of my summers. I have tried time and time again to recreate an amazing Caesar in Singapore and I have all the essential ingredients to be able to do so… it’s just not the same.

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2. Peaches and Cream Sweetcorn (must be eaten on the cob with lots of butter and salt). It is just the best – there is nothing the same anywhere I have been and I have tried to find it in MANY countries. However, there is nothing like picking it up freshly hand-picked that day from a homemade stand on the side of the road, husking the corn out at the edge of the field and then eating about 10 cobs of corn for dinner. Good for the digestive system too 🙂 I’ve even brought back a few cobs of corn with me to Singapore last summer to try to have one last meal – sadly I think the flight ruins the taste but even then they were better than the corn you can buy here. Mouth watering.

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1. Obviously my most missed part of Canada is my FAMILY and FRIENDS! I can’t wait to see you all!

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*Disclaimer* Yes I am completely aware that a large portion of this list is unhealthy food intake… guess I am going to have to hit the gym before getting on that plane in just over 1 month!

“May Weather” vs. “Mayweather”

Tomato. Tomato? Potato, Potato?

ok that saying doesn’t work when you actually just write it in words out but you get the drift…

May is upon us and it is so great to hear that spring has sprung and jumped straight into summer back home in Canada. But all of the lovely status updates on Facebook from my friends means that I am itching to get outta Singapore and back to good ol’ Canadian soil pretty soon. Much to do before that happens though (probably booking an actual flight would be a step in the right direction). But I am definitely looking forward to it! Canadian summers are on the brain and it’s hard to focus on “the now”

 

One thing that I need to get completed this week is responding to all of the emails that were sent to me before and after the fight. I had about 60-70 of them in total and I want to be sure that I send a message back. No matter how long it takes me to get to them all. They are there and definitely not forgotten, but have just been pushed onto the back burner until I could get some things for work completed. I also have about 125 more thank you cards to write this weekend too. I always love to write them and I know how much I love getting something in the mail and a good ol’ fashioned thank you card is sometimes becoming more and more rare to receive these days. Now, I do realize I sound like a wise old grandmother talking about the good ol’ days, but I do think it is important to take the time to do this. The “thank you” is just as powerful as the support that was given in the first place.

So along with the May weather playing with my brain and not assisting me in any way to get all my tasks completed, Rey is also messing with my brain during training. Now that we don’t have to work on “our battle plan” we can actually do the fun things that come with boxing. So, our new goal is to train my brain to do some of the combination training that Floyd “Money” Mayweather does.

Now, Mayweather is a real jerk in my opinion (ok I have other words I would prefer to use, but I want to keep this blog clean). And after watching his fight this weekend I unfortunately have to admit that he is a pretty phenomenal boxer even if he probably deserves a punch in the junk. I told Rey that the only reason that I struggle to complete the 9 punch combinations that he is teaching me is because my inner-self is in conflict with wanting to do the combinations because of my disdain for that man. Obviously, it has nothing to do with me being crap at it… that’s just silly talk. 🙂

Wasting colossal amounts of money while people are starving in his country... well done.

Wasting colossal amounts of money while people are homeless in his country… well done.

Choking out a competitor...  displaying horrible sportsmanship.

Choking out a competitor… displaying horrible sportsmanship.

The best photo of him I have seen yet... going to jail for domestic violence charges

The best photo of him I have seen yet… going to jail for domestic violence charges

So – rather than focusing on the d-bag version of May(weather), I would far rather think about the amazing May weather in Canada that will eventually lead to June weather and my arrival back on Canuck soil. There is nothing better than that!

Bring on the summer!!

(as I sit at my desk during student-led conferences… May’s weather has definitely gotten the best of this Canuck!)

 

Days 99 & 100 – Like Father, Like Daughter

For the past few days I have been working to get things arranged so that my parents can watch the fight *live* on Saturday night (Canadian Saturday morning). During all of this, I have ran into a few road blocks (i.e. the event venue treating the wifi password like it was the secret codes to the pentagon, while having to “test-drive” a few options of how to make this possible over 3G). I think that I have worked something out, but along with some of these things happening on my end I have also had my father on the other end of the technology trying to get this to all go through his “Smart” TV (which he is currently calling his “Dumb” TV).

To get this all working, we have been texting and skyping and using many different forms of technology to communicate with my family back home. At one point, I was on Skype and could hear and see my father perfectly, and he could see me, but he couldn’t hear me. So I was writing notes and holding them up to my screen and my father was talking to me (and also to himself when he was kind of losing it and saying some very unpleasant words at his TV). Which was completely hilarious to see his frustration unfold over the wonders of the internet.

However, last night I went to do a post on my blog and technology was NOT working in MY favour…. and then I did exactly what I watched my father do that very morning. I swore at my computer, threatened to throw it across the room and then kept muttering about it under my breath while Kelso watched me out the corner of his eye in bed beside me. It’s not so funny when it is happening to you.

And I came to the realisation – I have turned into my parents. 🙂

However, we have prevailed and now it’s up and running and all is right in the world again (well, my world at least). So this is what I wanted to post last night before my computer decided that it didn’t want to cooperate.

Shout Out to Southwestern Ontario!

Over the past few weeks, I have done 2 radio interviews that have aired on radio stations back home. I’ve gotten messages from people telling me that they heard me on the radio too which is pretty fun. Here in Singapore I would be called an “Artiste” with all the media coverage I have been getting. It is pretty fun to hear and I am so happy to get the message out there to everyone.

I am still working on how to get the clips into my FB page, but myFM radio has also posted them online through this link:

http://www.exetertoday.ca/default.asp?pid=497316&wireid=00053_Kerrian_ORourke_Boxing_1_081952

And, Kate Dubinski from the London Free Press, has also written an article about me and the upcoming fight. You can read the article here:

http://www.lfpress.com/2013/04/18/huron-county-born-teacher-taking-part-in-charity-boxing-match-in-singapore

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*sidenote* I found out that Kate’s husband is best friends with a couple who I am good friends with here in Singapore! Small world!! 🙂

All this coverage has been wonderful and I am thankful to everyone who is showing their support to this little Huron County gal tomorrow night.

I know in my heart that everyone is cheering me on and I will post the fights as soon as possible after it is all over – and post the results of whether I win or lose here as quickly as possible too. Thank you to everyone who has shown their support for me in both my fundraising and my boxing. It has been a wonderful experience and many continue to do so by donating in my name at

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/IFS_WhiteCollarBoxingSGP/wcbsingapore_20april2013

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t say it enough! 🙂

Days 31 & 32 – Sugar Ray Leonard boxing gloves

The past few days have been rest days for me. I took Tuesday night off of training in hopes that an evening of rest would help to sort out the problem. Apparently miracles take longer than one evening. Thus this has lead to 2 days off work, a chest x-ray that thankfully informed me that I did not have pneumonia as my Doctor had suspected, an arsenal of new drugs (antibiotics, steroids and a nifty inhaler) and Doctor prescribed rest. Wednesday was ok because I was busy going from the doctor’s office to the hospital etc and ate up a little bit of my day, but today was painful. Stir crazy is an understatement. Other than my cough I actually felt not too bad today, but the doctor told me not to go in especially with the number of children I teach in a day incase I could spread whatever I got. One thing I did notice during all the tests and during today is that I am lacking in my ability to breathe normally. I am having a hard time taking deep breaths and also blowing out enough air. I did a small test where I had to blow into the tube and my doctor actually laughed at my first attempt until she realized that it was actually the best that I could do. Hopefully each day will make some improvements.

So, during my stir crazy waiting today I obviously resorted to perusing the internet. Some of my friends were posting this great video of a little girl boxing with her father in Russia. She is amazing and makes my last 2 years of training look like I just started boxing last week! Check her out!

It also reminds me of an “incident” I had with my best friend, Meagan Ratz, from home when we were probably about the same age as the girl in the video. We by no means had the skills of this girl, but one year Meagan received a pair of Sugar Ray Leonard boxing gloves as a present. We thought these were amazing. (Did I mention that we were “tom boys”??) So, as any kid would do, she shared them with me. I got one glove and she got the other. We did our best version of boxing, but I think Meagan may have given it a big swing and we kind of spun out of control and ended up with Meagan smashing her face into the top of my head and breaking her tooth off on my noggin. It was horrible. Meagan was in obvious pain and my father came running down the stairs in a hurry to help her. I was a little perturbed that he rushed to her care first since I was his child and my head was throbbing, but obviously Meagan needed immediate assistance. I like to think that I knocked her tooth out with a Sugar Ray Leonard-esque amazing combination, but unfortunately the story is of two girls who should never be given a set of boxing gloves and left to their own devices.

Meagan reminded me of this this summer when I was home for a visit. On my second last day we were once again boxing. Bare knuckled this time (no, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all…) and I was showing Meagan some of the combinations I had been learning. This is the parting gift she left me with this time.

Always a lasting impression boxing with Meagan.

Always a lasting impression boxing with Meagan.

 

I guess we are even now?!?!

🙂

 

Ms. Loebsack and her Crew from Room 16 Rock!

I received a message from an old friend from my summers in Grand Bend this morning – Jenny Loebsack. She is a teacher at King Edward Public School in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and her class is doing some work as a part of the “Me to We” movement – Free the Children. She was filling me in that her class is learning about blogs and they are brainstorming purposes and how blogs can connect/raise awareness around the world. Ms. Loebsack is going to share my blog with her kids. Awesome!

So… “Holla Room 16!”

I hope you guys find my blog interesting and informative. I think it is a great way to raise awareness and get people interested in what you are doing, and in my case, what I am fighting for. Check out all the different pages and links you find on my blog and send me any questions, comments or just give me a “shout out” from KW! Would love to have you guys as followers!

Off to head to the boxing gym now – check out how tiring this boxing stuff really is…