Thursday, September 24th, 2015...2:14 pm

One Week and a Grad Escape Down

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Elvis from CCP introducing Aboriginal Elder, Great-grandmother Pauline

Elvis from CCP introducing Aboriginal Elder, Great-grandmother Pauline

By Kathryn Clark, Gradlife Ambassador

The first week of school is finished, and along with it the first Grad Escape! This past Sunday, a group of graduate students joined the Centre for Community Partnerships (CCP) and Koffler House in their effort to clean up and give back to the community that we get to call home for the next little while.

The Cleanup was an initiative developed by WWF and the Vancouver Aquarium

The Cleanup was an initiative developed by WWF and the Vancouver Aquarium

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup was part of a bigger, Canada-wide campaign to clean up our waters and give a whole lot of very necessary – not to mention stinking cute – animals a better chance at survival. I went into the event expecting to meet some fun grad students, swap stories, and hopefully help generate communication and new connections; what I, and I hope the grads who attended, got was a whole lot more.

As part of our ongoing responsibility to honour the land upon which we’re learning and building our own futures, the CPP and Koffler house asked an Aboriginal Elder (Great-grandmother Pauline) to speak to the MASSIVE group of volunteers about the significance of the water we were hoping to clean. While Elder Pauline did do this (with a beautiful water song to boot!), she also shared with us the importance of stories.

Woodbine beach: the shoreline cleanup location

Woodbine beach: the shoreline cleanup location

She told us that we are each of us a story waiting to be told and passed on to the next generation. She spoke of how the water was each of us, and how it was our responsibility to preserve it because, in her words, it’s our future.

Listening to her talk, I couldn’t help but think of how connected Pauline’s words were to the work we do as grad students.  Whether we’re studying international relations, learning to be teachers, delving into political science, or researching ocean currents, we’re all of us creating stories (perhaps more technical ones, yes, but stories nonetheless) that we hope will have an impact on future learners.

We were lucky enough to spot some very cool kites while at the beach!

We were lucky enough to spot some very cool kites while at the beach!

Echoing the words of Pauline, and thinking back on the great connections I DID make with some of the grad students who came out to the event, I’m reminded that the work we do here, and the studies we pursue, are not arbitrary. Perhaps we are not all of us following our passion quite yet, but that doesn’t mean that what we’re doing right now isn’t important.

As we begin to settle into the routine of grad life, research, and writing in the coming weeks, I hope you continue to remember that you are significant, that your story is important, and that your decision to endeavor to leave something for future learners to study is a good one. I hope you remember this every day, but especially on the ones when you might feel overwhelmed, or isolated, or like you’ve made a complete muck up of your life choices (or perhaps a combination of all of the above). The work we do here is valuable. You are valuable.

A few of the great grads (and honourary wee ones) who came out to help.

A few of the great grads (and honourary wee ones) who came out to help.

In the words of Pauline, a.k.a Thunder Woman, “Always ask questions. It’s how you know yourself, it’s how you know the world around you.” That’s exactly what we’re doing, and  so long as you keep asking questions (and remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question!), not only will you complete your grad programs, but you’ll have created lasting stories that can be told and passed down after our time here is done. Now THAT’S a legacy.

I had a great time hosting the first grad escape, and can’t wait to see some familiar faces – and meet some new ones! – at our next grad escape (yoga!) on September 30th. Don’t forget to sign up here.

 



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