Bees Didn’t Write the Book
Air Date: March 22, 2021
#3 Bees Didn’t Write the Book
March 22, 2021
17:42 Adam Lawrence, Dean of Students
30:55 Charity Hill, Alumna, Youth and Children Studies
Thank you to Serena Austin, One Market Research Assistant, Melissa Weaver for graphics, and Nicole Morgan for campus promotion. Music by Scott Holmes. We are grateful for the financial support from the Senior Executive Office.
Bruce Gillespie 0:02
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. On this episode, we hear from Laurier Brantford’s first Canada Research Chair and her work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Then, we get an update from our Dean of Students as we look back at a year of remote learning. And finally, we catch up with a recent Youth and Children’s Studies grad to learn about her new job as a family service worker with the Child Welfare Agency of Six Nations. Plus, we’ll hear about DIY graduation ceremonies and the hobby that keeps you buzzing. All that and more coming up on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is Bree Akesson, a professor in the Social Work program who was recently appointed Canada Research Chair in global adversity and well being, the first such appointment on our campus.
Bree Akesson 0:58
First of all, it is a huge honor to have received the chair. I was really, I put my application in early on in the process, I didn’t know it would, you know, that it would go as far as it did, and that I’d actually get it. So, it was really exciting for me to do that. And the Canada Research Chair program, I think it’s such a, it’s one of the things I really love about Canada and Canada’s support for researchers. They really value, the government really values quality research, and so they have lots of programs to support researchers. And one of them is the Canada Research Chair program. And it’s a program that provides funding for researchers who are establishing their research program. So, I’m a tier two chair as opposed to a tier one chair. And that’s more of an early career researcher. So, it’s, you know, for early career researchers who are starting their research program. And it’s funding that will help, you know, to support students who can work with me with all my research projects, and it provides money for salary. So, it provides money towards my salary for the university, and it provides course release as well. So, it just gives me time, resources, personnel in order to really expand the research that I’m doing. And like I said, it’s quite an honor to have my research recognized in that way because it is a bit of a competitive process. So, I’m really lucky in that way.
Bruce Gillespie 2:26
You’re very humble, so I will tell listeners, it’s a hugely competitive process. And this is a really big, sort of, feather in your cap. It’s a really big recognition of the kind of work you’re doing and the kind of trajectory you’re doing, you’re on. So, congratulations. It was, I think, when all of us heard that news, we were so excited for you.
Bree Akesson 2:42
Thank you. And I was really excited that I could bring this to Brantford, to Laurier Brantford, and recognized, because I think, at Laurier Brantford, there’s so many wonderful researchers here, we’re doing such interesting work. And it’s oftentimes not maybe recognized. And so, I think to have this chair at Laurier Brantford is, I’m just really proud of that.
Bruce Gillespie 3:04
We’re proud of you too. Thanks for making us all look good. So, you work on a wide range of research projects. So, I want to talk specifically about one that I think will be, sort of, timely for a lot of folks, because you work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. And of course, there was a giant explosion last summer in Lebanon. So, I was wondering how that has, sort of, affected the people you’re working with and the research you’re doing.
Bree Akesson 3:28
Yeah, it’s been quite an interesting ride with with my research in Lebanon. First of all, I’ll just say I love absolutely love working in Lebanon. I started working there in 2016 and fell instantly in love with the country. The people are amazing. And I’ll also note that the food is wonderful. I love a research site where I can enjoy and partake in the local food and culture, and customs, and so forth. So, no, it’s a wonderful country. And it’s a really interesting country to conduct research because it’s very small. So, you can actually drive from, Beirut is kind of in the center of Lebanon, you can drive from Beirut to the north, to the top of the country, to the border, in probably an hour or two. And then, the same for to get to the bottom. So, you can really get around easily if you’re conducting fieldwork. So, it’s really geographically an interesting place to work. And there’s so many interesting things happening there.
So, Lebanon has taken in the largest number of Syrian refugees than any other country in terms of per capita. So, the common statistic is that one out of every four people that you see on the street in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.
Bruce Gillespie 4:50
Bree Akesson 4:50
So, it’s a natural place to conduct research. My research focuses on refugees, displaced populations, and so on. And so, it’s a natural kind of country be able to conduct that. And you’re right, Lebanon has had a very rough time over the past several years. Not only have they had a large number of Syrian refugees who’ve crossed the border, but before that Lebanon was was struggling economically. The infrastructure has always been a challenge in Lebanon, the government has had lots of turnover, lots of problems. And then, there was a worsening economic crisis that actually began to get much worse in 2019. That was in October 2018, and then Coronavirus hit, right? And that was, you know, about a year ago. And so, Coronavirus hit and it’s hit the country, like a lot of countries, pretty hard economically and so forth. And then, in August, there was a massive explosion, which I think a lot of people might have heard about. And it was a really, gosh, you know, I remember getting the news about that and just my heart sank. It was, I think, 3000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which blew up in the port, which is in the center of Beirut, and it killed over 200 people and it wounded 6000 people. And so, I think these kind of disasters upon disasters upon disasters have really weakened the country, have really tested the resolve of the people. Things have gotten even worse since then. Coronavirus, has wrecked havoc even more more recently, and there have been protests as well. So, you have the combination of Coronavirus where people are not able to work because of lockdowns, government imposed lockdowns. And you have, you know, people not being able to work who are completely struggling, even without Coronavirus, to put food on the on the table for their families. So, there’s been large protests, some, you know, turning violent against the government. Lots of road closures. So, imagine doing research in that context.
Bruce Gillespie 7:02
And from Canada, right?
Bree Akesson 7:04
It’s quite, yeah, it’s quite the challenge. And so, yeah, I haven’t obviously, like all of the professors here at Laurier, we are not conducting field research. So, I have an amazing team on the ground there. We hired hired some people to help us collect the data to do the research part of our research team. And so, we also had a graduate student who was going to be starting at Laurier in September, and he wasn’t able to get his visa. So, he was actually on the ground there so that he was able to help us, kind of, get things started in Lebanon before he came to Canada.
Bruce Gillespie 7:38
So, was any of the research actually ongoing, or is on pause for now?
Bree Akesson 7:41
Yeah, well we started it last year. And then it was on pause during one of the lockdowns, there was a lockdown for maybe a month or so. So, we stopped. And we tried to collect maybe data over WhatsApp and Zoom and so forth. And then, during lockdown when we’re not collecting data, our team does a lot of the analysis of the transcripts that we have collected. And then, Lebanon was just in a lockdown for about two or three months, I can’t remember, and it just lifted this week. So, I’ve just been on WhatsApp all morning with one of my research team members about her scheduling some interviews this week. So, things are picking up, things are picking up now. But again, we know, we’re following all COVID precautions. We’re, you know, social distancing, wearing masks. But, it’s interesting because the families we’re working with it’s, Coronavirus is really not a priority for them right now. It’s really not something that’s at the forefront of their mind. It’s more of an inconvenience because of lockdowns and things like that. But, you know, the thing that people are struggling with the most is economic issues, is putting food on the table, is having enough money to support their family getting there, getting their children to school and so forth.
Bruce Gillespie 8:59
That kind of work must really give you a perspective on on your own life, sort of, in Canada compared to what’s happening there.
Bree Akesson 9:06
Absolutely, absolutely. And I probably, I definitely, I know people are struggling a lot with Coronavirus this last year and with lockdown restrictions, and it puts everything in perspective for me. When I think about how, you know, things could be worse. You know, and I’m very, very lucky. So, I’m very grateful for that. And I’m also grateful that I can have a such a great team that is able to conduct research because I know a lot of researchers have just had to put the research on hold. And actually, I thought at the beginning I’d have to do that. So, I’m lucky that I’ve been able to really rely on such amazing people to help me collect the data and to, you know, move the research forward. It’s definitely, you know, we’re, like a lot of people, behind. But, you know, we have wonderful data, we’re able to, you know, move forward in that way and hopefully make a contribution sooner than later in terms of the research.
Bruce Gillespie 10:02
Well, this is it, right? I mean, it’s important research because it’s about refugees, right? So, it’s not research you can put on pause for four or five years and come back to later. Your research will hopefully have an impact on the material lives of these people, right? So, the fact that you can keep doing it is actually really encouraging.
Bree Akesson 10:19
Yeah, and Coronavirus, the pandemic has also added this extra layer that’s so fascinating from a research perspective to add into there. You know, before that, before the pandemic, you know, life was very hard and mobility was restricted, and financial concerns were a priority for families, and then looking at, you know, how has that changed with COVID? How has that really changed your life? I think it’s an opportunity to really explore how these policies are impacting people. So, we have, we have a study that we’re trying to get off the ground in Ontario looking at refugees, as well, who are in Ontario. We designed this research before the pandemic, so it was really about, kind of, the experiences of living in Canada and experiences of mobility and so forth. And so, with the pandemic, we’ve actually kind of pivoted a bit and restructured the research and we want to look at, you know, how has the lockdown impacted your, you know, your family’s capacity to connect with the community, and to feel at home in Canada? And to do the things that you would like to do, to feel like a part of the community and things like that. So, you know, the pandemic has offered an opportunity for research as well as many challenges.
Bruce Gillespie 11:42
No kidding. So, in addition to all the various research you do, and these are just two of the many projects you’ve worked on, in your spare time, you actually do something completely different, which is also interesting and we’d love to hear about. You tend to bees.
Bree Akesson 12:00
Yeah, I love bees.
Bruce Gillespie 12:02
How did you get interested in bees?
Bree Akesson 12:05
I was, I was living in Montreal, and I just got connected with this collective, this group of people who were interested in bees as well. And I thought, “Well, how cool.” I’ve always wanted to learn about beekeeping and so forth. And so, I just joined this group and we took care of some beehives that were on top of the McGill University campus, which is where I was I was doing my PhD at the time. And it’s just addictive, it was so much fun. And I love the people that I was working with, we learn from each other. And I just love taking care of the bees. And I really enjoy just how every time I work on a beehive I learned something new. And there’s I have, you know, 20 books on my bookshelf about bees, and I can look stuff up on the internet. But, every time I open up the hive, something different happens, and it challenges me to think differently. And there’s a quote that we like to say in the beekeeping world is that “Bees didn’t write the book, we wrote the book.” Bees didn’t write the book, so they’re not going to follow the book. I love that idea of just, kind of, being challenged in that way and learning new things. So, I’ve been doing it for, I guess, 10 years or so. And just, yeah, I just love learning about it. And I really love also that having a hobby, having something different. And I know you interview people on on this podcast, you interview other researchers, and students and staff about it. There’s more to our lives, right? Than our work. And I always encourage my students to have something you’re passionate about, have something that you really, just gets you really excited that doesn’t have to do with, you know, research and your schoolwork or, anything like that. So, that’s my thing, it’s beekeeping.
Bruce Gillespie 14:05
And so, do you have hives in your backyard?
Bree Akesson 14:07
Yeah, so my house is in the middle of Brantford and we have a, you know, a small to medium sized backyard. We have three beehives in the backyard which takes up a good amount of space, but I love them, so it’s it’s okay. And our neighbors don’t seem to mind, I give them a jar of honey every year. But, the bees tend to not, they don’t really go into the neighbor’s yard they go up and over. And Brantford is located in such a great spot where there’s so much farmland and wild flowers, and everything, so the bees just thrive here. I had bees on my rooftop in Montreal and they did okay, they did fine there. But, you can tell the difference. There’s a lot more nectar here. There’s a lot more flowers. There’s a lot more for the bees to gather here than there wasn in a city.
Bruce Gillespie 15:00
So, can you actually taste the difference between honey that that your bees would have made in Brantford versus what your bees would have made a Montreal?
Bree Akesson 15:08
You know, maybe a more discerning palette, but people say that my honey here is really good because it’s so many different kinds of wild flowers and different kinds of tastes. But, yeah, and there’s actually things you can do, you can send your honey away to the lab and they’ll tell you, like, what percentage is goldenrod, what percentage is lavender. What percentage is all the different kinds of flowers that the bees collect from. Which I’ve always wanted to do that, I haven’t done that yet.
Bruce Gillespie 15:40
And how much work is it to maintain a colony on a regular basis? I have no sort of context for this. Like, is it something you have to do everyday?
Bree Akesson 15:50
It’s not every day. So, it depends on the season. So, for the last, you know, five months or so I have done nothing, which is great. It’s the time to rest and plan in the beekeeping lifecycle, and then now things start to pick up a bit. So, as soon as the weather gets warm, so above, maybe about above five or 10 degrees, then the work starts to pick up. And then also, as soon as you see the flowers start. So, as soon as you start to see flowers come up, then that’s the time where the bees start to be active. And that’s the time when the beekeepers start to be active. So, I would say typically throughout the spring and the summer, it’s probably once a week. And maybe an hour, a couple hours once a week, working on the hives, just opening them up checking on things, seeing how things are going. Although, you know, like I said, whenever I open the hive something crazy happens. And then, it takes, you know, I’m three hours later fixing something or, you know, there’s always activities. So, you know, painting hives, making sure they’re in good shape, or making sugar syrup for the bees to feed them or, you know, trying to find the queen and replace her with a new queen, those kinds of things. So, there’s always something to do.
Bruce Gillespie 17:07
Wow, it sounds fascinating. I think you should have a whole podcast dedicated just to your beekeeping.
Bree Akesson 17:15
I’m gonna look into that.
Bruce Gillespie 17:17
Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been great to hear about all the work you’re doing both in school and out of school.
Bree Akesson 17:23
Thank you so much, Bruce. It’s such a pleasure to chat with you and to connect. And thanks so much for for keeping One Market going. It’s such a great podcast and I love hearing from from all of my colleagues, and students and staff.
Bruce Gillespie 17:36
Our next guest is Adam Lawrence, Dean of Students at the Brantford campus. As you might imagine, he and his staff have been busy supporting students throughout the pandemic. So, I asked him to start off by reflecting on the past year.
Adam Lawrence 17:48
When I think about the past 12 months I first think about a little bit before last March was when a lot of student affairs, Academic Advising and different groups had moved into One Market. Into the new student space and the new learning space. And there was a lot of excitement, and we were really excited about this, what I’ll call “the next chapter”, in how we were engaging students in Brantford. And then in March I remember meeting with some of the team in One Market, saying, you know, “It seems like, you know, Coronavirus. We’re gonna need some take some time off away from the campus, you know, we’ll see you in three weeks.” And now, it’s been 52 weeks, and a lot has happened in those 52 weeks. And Bruce, first and foremost, I’m proud of all the work that our staff and faculty have done. You know, Bruce, right away, we were, you know, we were one of the first universities really to, you know, we came up with the Golden Guide to Remote Learning for students. Our off campus program, the LOCUS program, right away created a Laurier Stays at Home program and really began to engage students over the course of the summer.
But, all that being said, Bruce, it’s been, you know, I’ve talked to a lot of students and my counterparts on the Brantford campus and Waterloo. You know, it’s been a tough year. For not only students who have their expectations of being in a community, surrounded by friends, they’re now at home, or they’re in their student housing and there’s a little more isolation. There’s classes being online, it’s been a difficult transition for lots of people, including our staff and faculty. Not only with, you know, teaching remote or providing services remote, but really that high level of service that they continue to provide is now happening online. And it’s been a difficult transition, but, Bruce, one that I’m extremely proud of. And I think that our services, I think of the Dean of Students Office, and Andrea, and Melissa, and Adam Bloomfield, you know, really being able to have that high level of integration with students. I look at our Academic Advising that are available to meet with students online. It’s really shown us, Bruce, that when we do start to look to our return to campus and getting back to campus, you know, we can deliver services online and in person at such a high level, that I’m really excited for what the future holds. And eager to get back to our beautiful, wonderful campus.
Bruce Gillespie 20:37
That’s so true. And it’s, again, still so weird to think about this being a year in the past. But, I remember I was teaching in One Market last year, and there was a moment when there was still some construction going on. So, there was a day we came in and the wall where, beside our classroom where we used to be, the wall was gone. And you could see right into the new student space and the Dean’s office space. It was just this beautiful, bright, clean space, and everyone was like, so excited to be there. And it’s hard to think that it’s been a year since we had all the energy and those places opened. But, you’re right, I think there’s lots to reflect on in terms of how we’ve really, and I think that’s true for students, and staff and faculty, really risen to the occasion as best we could. I think we’re all doing things that a year ago we would have thought was probably impossible.
Adam Lawrence 21:24
Yeah, you know, that’s an interesting story, Bruce. We had a student, I think the student had just left Kris Gearhart’s class in One Market. And Adam Bloomfield and I were showing a student, we had some rolling whiteboards out there. And the student came over to me and said, “Is this ours to use?” And yes, you know, Bruce, as we return to campus in the fall, what that looks like, and in the future, you know, we’ve added more spaces. So, we have a student games lounge in One Market, the Indigenous Student House has been totally renovated. We’re renovating the second floor of the Student Center where our Wellness Center is and the Center for Student EDI. So, you know, these spaces, you know, with feedback from students, we’re really looking to make them spaces where students feel comfortable, where they feel safe, where they can engage with their friends. And that’s a big priority for us to get back. Which, I feel is very exciting. And it makes me want to be on campus even more. But, knowing we’ll get there is what’s keeping me motivated.
Bruce Gillespie 22:30
Yeah, for sure. And I love this idea that even though there are very, very few of us on campus these days, the campus itself has not been frozen in time since March. That when we go back, there will be all these great new spaces for students to use. And again, I think that just adds extra impetus and excitement to do our part, to stay safe until we all get vaccinations and get back there and actually, you know, enjoy these spaces with with other people again.
Adam Lawrence 22:53
I totally agree, and Bruce, I just wanted to share a quick story I I was lucky enough to be invited to an event last night, a Relay for Life event. And I think what sometimes people forget is that, you know, when people aren’t on campus, you know, we don’t we get don’t get to see a lot of the student experience. And Bruce I was called into the closing ceremonies, a Relay for Life with quite a few students and, you know, lots of excitement, lots of talking about how a great the weekend event was. And Bruce, it reminded me not only how incredible our students are, like they are remarkable. But, the resiliency and really that sense of belonging and that sense of community that is really driven by students. And you know, Meg Jacqueline from Athletics, of course, helps support this group. But, it was these incredible individuals, incredible students that really worked tirelessly to put this together for their peers.
And I think that’s something that COVID hasn’t taken away. And that really, you know, when we have that community, when we’re able to foster that empowerment of students to really, you know, go forward, create events, bring together your peers and your community. That’s always been there, Bruce, which I think is great. And what we’re trying to do is, let’s bring people back. Let’s create that strong online community if that’s what people want to connect with, but how else are we creating that strong in person, and building off of what we’ve always done? And a lot of that is space, a lot of that is just natural. You know, Bruce, our faculty, you and your classes, building that sense of community, you know, all of our of our Student Affairs staff and our other staff on campus, it’s there, and it’s what we’re, I’m waiting for us to continue to build on that even as we get into the summer and the fall.
Bruce Gillespie 24:42
I think we’ll really appreciate those moments, and the ability to actually be together on campus and do things in a way that maybe we took for granted in the past that we will probably never take for granted again.
Adam Lawrence 24:52
I agree. I very much agree.
Bruce Gillespie 24:55
So, what’s the past year been like for you? You are someone who, in normal times, you’re all over the place. You’re always in meetings, you’re always at events, you’re always out and doing things with people. Whereas, for the past year, you’ve not only been doing your job as Dean of Students, but you’ve been wearing some additional hats and you’ve been working from home. So, what’s that change been like?
Adam Lawrence 25:12
Yeah, well, it’s been good. So, yes, I feel that I’m social. So, I go for coffee a few times a day, you know, pre-pandemic, and now I visit my coffee maker a lot when I’m here. Yeah, so during, you know, for the past, it ended in December, but for the previous 20 months, I was supporting Antonio Araujo as the acting AVP Campus Operations and Risk Management, while also in the role of Dean of Students on the Branford campus. You know, Bruce, I have an incredible team in the Dean of Students Office and the whole group were able to support me in the transition. But, it did really open my eyes a little more multicampus. And, of course, at the hard work that Tony does when it comes to campus operations and our risk management group. Like, Bruce, one that was also a big part of my life, I finished my doctorate from Western. My educational doctorate from Western in August, which was very rewarding, also very stressful over the course of the summer.
Bruce Gillespie 26:18
Adam Lawrence 26:19
You know, over the course of the summer, you know, presenting to your peers, presenting to faculty that are then going to evaluate you, it was all a little stressful. Now, all that being said, my dissertation really, or my final project really focused on non-clinical mental health supports for post-secondary students. And I’ve been very lucky at Laurier to be immersed in our student Wellness Center and our Wellness Education Department. And it really did focus on that wellness education lens. You know, how do we empower peer to peer engagement with students? What does physical wellness and wellness around spirituality, what does that look like? How are we engaging faculty in discussions of wellness? So, that has somewhat led to what we’re doing now. So, we’re doing a student wellness review on both the Brantford and Waterloo campus. So, Bruce, it’s been, you know, the days are long. But, it’s also been very rewarding. I will say this, and I it might not be popular opinion, I actually really liked, maybe not loved all the time, liked, when my two children were home. I maybe didn’t express that all the time. But, that time with them having lunch together, you know, at the end of the day, being out on the outdoor rink.
Bruce Gillespie 27:46
Doing your homework together.
Adam Lawrence 27:48
Well, I will say this, I have a wonderful partner, Lindsey. I am not good at French, we found out. So, my daughter who’s in French immersion, yes, we needed to really work together on French and English homework. But yes, it was, it was pretty good, Bruce. Looking, like hindsight’s 2020, it was quite wonderful to have them home. And then, just the support, I felt very supported working from home. Albeit, I don’t know when the day starts or ends sometimes. But, you know, listening to these podcasts, having peers drop off coffee at my house, you know, going for walks. You know, outside of lockdown, you know, going for walks with colleagues, you know, it has all been, I think there’s been an opportunity to engage with people in different ways. And some of those ways I felt have been a very rewarding. Now, there’s no question, I would love to be in a meeting room with people talking. But, without having that opportunity. I think it’s been, I feel it’s been very rewarding in many ways.
Bruce Gillespie 28:57
Well, that’s a good way to look at it, right? I mean, I think at this point, we have to, I think it makes sense to be, sort of, positive and try to take what we can from an otherwise pretty terrible experience. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? And I think you’re right, I think in terms of the resiliency we’ve seen from students, and staff, and faculty and the new things that will welcome all of us when we return to campus, those have been worth waiting for. And I think we’ll be really excited to see them in person and have those coffee meetings again.
Adam Lawrence 29:24
Now, I also, Kris Gearhart and I also, we taught a couple sections of a class, and then I’m teaching a class this year. And we do always similarly, we always talk about in our conversation, you know, how are we staying safe? You know, how we’re, you know, wearing a mask, you know, vaccinating. How do we continue to have these discussions? And when I meet with students in office hours, you know, to hear from them around, you know, the importance of health and safety and, you know, some of the challenges that students and their families are going through. You know, these are things that I think are going to filter into when students come back, you know, the trauma, the financial wellness, you know, the mental health of our students and staff as we come back. These are things that we need to, kind of, keep in the back of our minds also, while also trying to learn from this past year and really acknowledge those positives, as well as the challenges.
Bruce Gillespie 30:18
I think that is good advice. Adam, thank you so much for joining us today.
Adam Lawrence 30:22
Yeah, Bruce, thank you so much. And Bruce, I really wanted to thank you and Tarah for making us feel so connected. And I think I said this to Bruce at the beginning. You know, Stuart McLean is one of my favorite people to listen to, or read about. And, you know, Bruce, this really does, this reminds me of a great interviewer and a great storyteller in a time when we we needed to feel connected. So, I appreciate all the time that you both have put into this.
Bruce Gillespie 30:49
Well, thank you. We’ve we’ve had a good time doing it.
Adam Lawrence 30:52
Bruce Gillespie 30:54
Our final guest is Charity Hill, who completed her BA in Youth and Children’s Studies last year. I started by asking her what it was like to finish school remotely and not have a proper convocation ceremony right away.
Charity Hill 31:07
It was sad because that was something that I had really looked forward to was having that graduation ceremony and celebrating with my family and friends after such a long journey through my undergrad. But, it’s also given me the opportunity to be creative, because this year, my family and I have decided that we’re going to just kind of have our own convocation. So, instead of celebrating it with my fellow classmates, which would have been amazing, I get to celebrate it and make it unique with my family.
Bruce Gillespie 31:52
I love that. What a great idea.
Charity Hill 31:54
Yeah, so what we’re planning is we’re all, I’m ordering everyone a cap and gown with their sash. I’ll make up little diplomas for everybody. And we’re going to kind of have a lawnmower trailer parade.
Bruce Gillespie 32:17
That’s amazing. What a great idea. I mean, and you’re right. I mean, you know, official convocation will return at some point. But, until then, this is a great way to mark the occasion and sort of do it in, like you said, in a really unique kind of way.
Charity Hill 32:28
Yeah, so we’re gonna, I’m planning it. So, I’m making it so it’s kind of like a parade. I want each of us to borrow someone’s riding lawnmower and decorate it so that we are representing the school we’re graduating from. I have a son and his girlfriend who graduated high school. My other son is just going to be graduating Fanshawe College with honours. So, super proud. And myself graduating with my undergrad. So, there’s four of us right now, with the possibility of more if people continue to graduate this year.
Bruce Gillespie 33:09
That’s great. I mean, the pictures and video of that lawnmower parade would be so much.
Charity Hill 33:15
Yes, I’m excited. I have visions, and everyone’s laughing at me because I’m like, “My float is going to be great.”
Bruce Gillespie 33:24
I’m thinking, like purple and gold lawnmower.
Charity Hill 33:27
Oh yeah, it’s gonna be balloons and I’m thinking of even having it so that I can shoot confetti at the end of it.
Bruce Gillespie 33:33
I love this. I think it should be your next career, maybe planning these events. It sounds like you’ve got it all figured out.
Charity Hill 33:43
I know I’m saving some stuff for my family as a surprise because as I’m driving down our laneway it’s gonna be, like music and it’s gonna be crazy, and they’re not gonna expect it.
Bruce Gillespie 33:55
I guess not. I think this will be, like the next TikTok meme. Everyone will want to do this.
Charity Hill 33:59
Yeah, definitely I should make sure I videotape it. My nieces are big on TikTok, so I’ll get them to put something together.
Bruce Gillespie 34:10
There you go. I think that sounds ideal. I think we’re all gonna want to see this video at the end of the day. So, you graduated from Youth and Children’s Studies last year and you went directly into your master’s degree. So, tell us a little bit about how that’s going.
Charity Hill 34:23
So, it’s definitely a new adventure. I am at Yorkville University, in the Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychotherapy, or in Psychology. It’s a 28 month program, so it’s in trimesters, not semesters. So, I am going to be in school all year round for the next, like year and a half. I’m just now finishing my second trimester. So, it is a different learning curve. When you go from being in front of having the support of your professor and fellow classmates, to now sitting in front of a screen, and emailing someone in hopes that they will answer. So, like, because I don’t have that direct classmate that I usually have to say, “Hey, what are you doing? And how do you understand this?” I have to email someone in hopes that in that chat forum they will answer me, or that they have the same question and we can have a conversation. So, it’s new, and at first it was really lonely, because I’m all by myself, or at least that’s how I felt. Until I got to make some of those connections, and using the technology that we have at our fingertips today has really brought, it’s a very steep learning curve on how to incorporate all this stuff into your life so that you have those supports available.
Bruce Gillespie 35:56
I think you’re right. And I think so many of us have seen or had some version of this experience for the past year with with remote learning is that, you know, all those, sort of, natural kind of ways we’re used to meeting people, making connections with people tend to happen in person. So, we’ve really had to figure out how to do those kinds of things on an online only, remote kind of environment. And you’re right, it’s possible, but it does seem to take more, sort of, work and, sort of, forethought, than just, sort of, sitting next to somebody in a classroom and bumping into them at the coffee shop or something.
Charity Hill 36:25
Definitely. When I first did it, it was, kind of, like, almost like, just like a post, you know, like, “Hi, I’m Charity, this is who I am. And I’m hoping that someone, anyone is interested in, kind of, creating a little chat about our course.” Um, and I got like one or two students. And at first I thought that was a failure. But, then I’m like, “No, that’s really all I needed.” I just needed one or two other perspectives so that we’re able to, kind of, bounce ideas. And even just reassure one another that yes, you’re on the right train of thought. Because I know for myself, sometimes I can go off on a tangent. And I can start at, you know, talking about a cute little puppy and it ends up turning into an elephant.
Bruce Gillespie 37:17
I think it’s difficult too that at the start of a new program, right? You’re still, sort of, finding your feet and figuring out what’s going on. So, I think you’re right, it’s nice to have people around to say, “Yes, I think we’re on the same page.” Or, “No, I heard something different. So, let’s figure out what it’s actually supposed to be.”
Charity Hill 37:35
Yeah, so I’m excited. I definitely had the thought of quitting because it was difficult. But, really looking, like, basically just asking myself what it is that I want, and how much I’m willing to work to get there. And having this online course, because of the way that it’s designed, I have the opportunity to work full time. And especially in a pandemic, when my kids were at home full time doing school it gave me the opportunity to be here and to support them as well.
Bruce Gillespie 38:13
That’s really great. And I think it’s a good point, because I think lots of folks are finding that the ability to actually do some or all of your work online is actually beneficial in a lot of ways that I think maybe a year ago, we would not have suspected. But, you’re right being able to do that from home without having to travel someplace actually makes work and family life a lot easier, in some ways.
Charity Hill 38:33
It does. Again, it was something that we all had to adjust to, to figure out how to work the system, how to really learn what we needed individually to learn. Because I have six boys. So, like I said, their ages are from 27 down to my twins are turning 10 this year. And so, my three little ones that are in grade school still, they all have completely different learning styles. And one is a very independent learner. So, he can just, you give him something and he just goes with it. It’s very, things come easy to him. And then, I have my twins where one is a very audio visual learner. So, he needs that face to face, answer-question contact. And then, my other son, he wants that hands on. So, he found it very, very difficult to do online learning in the beginning because he’s like, “How is this tangible?” Like, I can’t touch it. I can’t feel it. I can’t smell it. But, teaching him how to bring out his own strengths. And the fact that he can create those things for himself has been huge even for my own learning. We have, now we have, kind of like, our own blackboard, whiteboards hanging up and we we keep notes and we do little thing so that, as much as school is at home, that we can still have fun while we’re learning,
Bruce Gillespie 40:07
And I love that you’re all learning together and, sort of, learning from each other, sort of, different strategies and ways of thinking about things. Because again, this remote learning is new to everybody. So, I think that’s great that you can all do this together, although you probably get sick of school if you’re all doing it all the time.
Charity Hill 40:23
Yes, and that’s where definitely having that format, where it’s almost like a bell is ringing at three o’clock, so school’s out, okay, put your school stuff away. We kind of have to do like, even just that imaginary turn around where we are, even if we just go outside and come back in to say, “Okay, it’s home time, let’s play.” That was a huge thing. Because people can just let school or learning take over their life just like you can let work or fun sometimes.
Bruce Gillespie 40:58
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Now, speaking of work, you recently did start a new job. Can you tell us about that?
Charity Hill 41:05
Yes, I recently started, I’m a family service worker at Ogwadeni:deo. It’s the Native child welfare system here on Six Nations. And I’m brand new. This is, it’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Because I am still a full time student. I wasn’t sure how I could be a full time, go back to work full time as well. And again, it’s so much learning, but I have, I’m really enjoying it. And I’m excited. I’m really excited.
Bruce Gillespie 41:45
That’s great, and it sounds like one of those roles where you can really make a concrete difference in your community, which must be great to see.
Charity Hill 41:52
Yes, I am definitely going to be a, well I’ve always been an individual. So, I’ve always been someone who, without trying to in a sense, I just stand on my own two feet, and I am just who I am. So, even going back to Wilfrid Laurier, I was a mature student, and a lot of people, again, going into a classroom surrounded by, with younger students, I stand out because I’m older. But, it’s almost like all of that experience, and the way that I’ve done my schooling and education has led me to where I am today. And it just continues to, I just allow new opportunities to come in. And I’m excited to be able to work with my community, and to kind of bring my own personality into it. So, for example, meeting my first client, I was like, “Hey, do you want a coffee? Let’s have a coffee. Let’s just sit down and have a chit chat.” Instead of it being like, kind of like that checklist, let’s get through this checklist. So, building relationships is really important to me.
Bruce Gillespie 43:05
It sounds like a great fit for you. Charity, thank you so much for telling us about this. You’re up to so many great things. It’s been great to catch up with you and have a chat. Thank you for making time for us today.
Charity Hill 43:15
Oh yes, for sure. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
Bruce Gillespie 43:20
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community. If you like what you heard, tell your friends and colleagues. You can subscribe on Apple, Google, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. Worried about missing an episode? Sign up for our newsletter. You can find the link on Twitter and Facebook @onemarketlb. One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield. Music by Scott Holmes, graphics by Melissa Weaver. Our research assistant and intern is Serena Austin. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai