Grade 10 student Alexander F. travelled to Ottawa over March Break for the Forum for Young Canadians, read about his experience:
From the moment I arrived in Ottawa it was a very exciting time. I had the good fortune to be in Ottawa during a week when an election was called and I had the opportunity to learn all about its process first hand. I was able to participate in simulations and panel presentations. I participated in a simulated election, parliament, and debates while learning how to influence public policy. The Forum for Young Canadians is non-partisan, so that means that no matter your political leanings, you get to hear from all the major political parties in Canada.
In addition, I learned how difficult it is to make laws and how difficult it is to have your opinion align with those of others in order to get a law written in so that all those involved are satisfied. This process taught me how to get my opinion heard during a voting simulation by debating issues that were important in a mock government. I was elected Prime Minister of my group and I presented the group’s issues on immigration to the forum. I delivered the speech in English and in French to the best of my ability. For my efforts in speaking French, I received the Second Language Award! The whole experience was amazing!
I visited the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library, and the public viewing area in Parliament.
I was able to meet and have dinner with the Welland riding Member of Parliament, Malcolm Allen, on Parliament Hill. Also present at the dinner were other MPs, Senators, and VIPs from across Canada. We heard speeches from MPs and Ministers about their stories.
I wanted to participate in the Forum for Young Canadians because I am very interested in law and politics and the forum gave me the opportunity to learn more about these topics.
I found the experience to be very enjoyable and informative and it helped me to make the decision to pursue a career in law.
On March 10th seven Ridley students accompanied by Mr. Nickerson departed on a 10 day journey to southern Spain to see and experience the distinctive cultural character of this ancient country. Here are some highlights from their time in Spain:
Our first trip after landing in Mandrid was a journey through the Castilla-La Mancha province featuring vineyards, groves of olive trees and windmill-crested hilltops that brought to mind the wanderings of Don Quixote in the early 17th century. We stopped at a 15th century vento, or medieval fortified hostel that housed travelers such as Cervantes as he made his way from the south of Spain to Madrid. After stretching our legs, we loaded up and made our way further south through the mountains to the province of Andalucia. The rows of olive trees grew larger and stretched to the horizon, and the windmills on hilltops transform from ancient relics into enormous, sleek power generators. By the early afternoon we reached Cordoba.
The bridge that took us across a swollen river to the renowned Mesquita was built by the Romans who founded the city in 152 BCE. The Mesquita (mosque) was built by the Muslims who invaded the south of Spain and established Cordoba as the capital of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century CE. What makes this structure fascinating is the fact that the Christians arrived in the 15th century and did not destroy the mosque, but added a beautiful 16th century gothic-inspired cathedral to the middle of the enormous mosque interior. After a couple of hours spend wandering about the Mesquita and the surrounding market, we departed for Seville.
Seville, like most cities in Spain, has an old city that was once entirely surrounded with fortified walls, and our hotel was located near the ring road that runs outside the city walls. Also founded by the Romans, Seville was once the key city for trade with the American colonies in the 15th century. The old town centre features a beautiful alcazar built in the Moorish style and a gothic cathedral. We spent a rainy afternoon touring these sites, the town bull ring and wandering through the narrow streets of what was once the old Jewish centre, then we departed for the coast.
After a noisy night, we headed out for a day trip to Morocco via the Straight of Gibraltar. The ferry took us to the Spanish town of Cueta, then we crossed the border into the real Africa where cows and goats wandered the streets and average income dropped to developing world levels. Our destination was Tetouan, a hillside town that featured an old, crowded market where you could buy clothes, freshly plucked chickens and lime for painting your house. The first stop was a carpet emporium filled with traditional Moroccan and Bedouin floor coverings, then we had a traditional Moroccan meal in a restaurant brimming with clashing patterns. The final stop was a herbalist lecture/sales pitch for everything from acne cream to ginseng roots. The noise, smells and distinctive feel of the Moroccan market made a strong impression on many of the travelers who remarked that this excursion into Africa was the highlight of the trip!
The best school trip I have ever been on! No doubt about it, NAIMUN 48 was a fun filled 4-day weekend. Many students think model UN is just debating in a classroom, however, they are wrong. Our trip went beyond the classroom, as we learned about global issues and heard different opinions from students around the world. Mr. Beatty was our keen leader – showing us the ropes as we learned networking, debating and even travelling skills.
From the day we arrived at the Washington Hilton near DuPont Circle, it was obvious that this event was not small. With over 3000 students spread amongst the hotel, it was overwhelming, however as we met more students like us, the whole venue became more exciting.
During opening ceremonies, we sat amongst students from all walks of life, some of whom had been attending NAIMUN for years. There was 16 of us sitting together in the wave of delegates, it was daunting to think of what was to come; yet we all were still driven by the force of excitement.
During committee, all of Ridley’s delegates displayed their debating talents through prepared, thorough and thought provoking speeches. As Syria representatives, Ridley had a wide variety of topics to take on, including the very interesting, Middle East.
On the second day, we visited Capital Hill, where we sat in on a live American debate, and even saw the White House. And of course no White House sighting would be complete without seeing the king of the house, Obama’s dog, Bo!
On the third day, we had the pleasure of sitting amongst a fellow Canadian, Mark Kielburger, who was the keynote speaker for NAIMUN 48. His inspiring speech to change the world by taking action, not only provoked delegates to take a stand in committee, but also encouraged some to look into missionary trips.
On the last day, after the closing ceremonies of what turned out to be a successful model UN, the Ridley group decided to do some shopping in Georgetown and visit Georgetown University. Over 5 hours in the city, and the boys had enough of shopping, while the girls had only been in 3 stores. As for Mr. Beatty, you can never have enough dress shirts with high popped collars!
All in all, the trip was educational, exciting, relaxing, but most importantly, eye opening. It showed us that as young people we too could change the world by discussing potential issues and how we can solve them. And we even managed to get in our own national adventure in along the way. It was a great experience and will not be the last time that Ridley takes Washington by storm!
I was talking with Father Jason earlier, and he told me, quoting a scripture, that “there are two things in life. There are the things that we enjoy with all of our hearts, and the things we enjoy for a little while, but then move on.” As a group of 21 Ridley Students and chaperones travelled to Jamaica on behalf of Missionaries of the Poor, this quote held true. We left for Jamaica at 3:30 in the morning on Thursday February 17th to help out children at a local orphanage. We arrived in a gated monastery where we were staying with monks, or “brothers”. None of us really had any idea of what to expect, but from the moment we drove into the orphanage, everything became real. Walking into a dim-lit, gymnasium sized room, there are cribs lined up all along the room with aisles to walk down. We were given 5 minutes to take it all in before we started to diaper, change and feed the children.
You could hear about these kids and you might see a couple of pictures, but nothing will do them justice until you see it for yourself. They have been abandoned by parents who either don’t care, or can’t afford to take care of them. All of them have either mental or physical disabilities. It’s impossible to describe in writing the feeling that you get when you see the children for the first time. I stopped at one particular crib that read Cavena. She might have been around 9 or 10 years old, but had the body of a toddler. Her thighs were smaller than my wrists. She suffers from cerebral palsy. Cavena will never be able to walk, or talk. She could only move her eyes to look up at me as I gently stroked her arm. The only thing she had to do to make me fall in love was smile, and that’s what she did.
This was the turning point of our trip. All of us started to realize that this is their reality. This is how some children have to live, and most of them won’t live long. They have absolutely nothing, yet they are so happy just to feel human contact.
The night before we left, Dr. Cowherd, one of our chaperones, asked us a question. He asked who was really served–even though we diapered, clothed, and fed all of them—we were the ones who received the service on this trip. The children may never remember us, but they will be with us forever.
As told by Jillian Robinson ’11 from Canada
Last March my sister Britteny went to the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston Jamaica with her school. At the time I really didn’t know very much about the organization, but after listening to what my sister had to say, I knew instantly that spending time at the missionary was something I really wanted to do. After sharing my sister’s experiences with Father Jason and together learning more about the organization, it wasn’t long before he expressed interest in taking Ridley College to Jamaica. The Missionaries of the Poor (M.O.P.) is an international monastic order of Brothers dedicated to “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross” to serve the poorest of the poor. The order was started in 1981 by Father Richard Ho Lung and has now grown to over 500 brothers around the world. Father Jason worked his magic and I contacted Brother Rameil at the Missionary. We started with fundraisers and successfully raised $7000. Our next step was to encourage students to sign up for the trip, which again was very successful. Father Jason spent much of his time making travel arrangements and talking to students and their families, for this we are all truly thankful.
Bethlehem Home was the first orphanage we visited. The children who reside here were either abandoned in the hospital or in some instances left on the Brothers doorstep. At the orientation we were told that the majority of the children were confined to cribs and were disabled but I really didn’t appreciate what that meant until I saw it for myself. Of the 62 children in Bethlehem, only 6 can walk, the other children spend the majority of their day in a crib. Many of the children are also blind, and most are so crippled that it is very difficult to clothe and bathe them. Feeding the children is also a challenge; it is difficult for them to open their mouths; they cannot sit up; their chewing reflexes are under developed making it difficult for the children to swallow. It is overwhelming to witness the work the Brothers do. They love and care for the children unconditionally and pray for them throughout the day. Through their love and prayer there is so much life in this home and for that the children are truly blessed.
The second orphanage we visited was the Beatitudes Home, a home for young boys who although are very challenged, are not confined to a crib. The journey to Mount Tabor was magnificent. We past many small neighbourhoods, markets, street vendors, grocery stores, gas stations, goats, chickens, stray dogs and lots of people.
The view at the top of Mount Tabor was breathtaking. The land and the original building, which is used for retreats, was donated by a wealthy local. Three other facilities have been added over the years. The church and Beatitudes Home was built by a group of people from Atlanta Georgia, and the brothers built the farm. Approximately 40 young boys live at the orphanage. Some have minimal disabilities while others are more severe. This home was very different from Bethlehem. It felt strange when they came to the gate to greet you. While we were there we spent time with the children and after they were fed we walked up to mountain to visit the farm. We saw 200 rabbits, 3 dairy cows, tons of pigs and chickens, goats and sheep. It was so much fun, I didn’t want to leave.
On Sunday morning we went back to Bethlehem and helped get some of the children dressed for church. Regardless of your denomination, going to church in Jamaica is an experience, one that you will never forget. I am so glad that our Ridley family was able to participate in such an event. After mass it was time to say our goodbyes, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I think I speak for all 21 of us, when I say that our Jamaican friends truly touched our hearts. We created a special relationship with the children. They may not be able to see or understand one word that you said, but they knew you were there. They felt your touch and heard your voice. You could just tell they were happy and content. I will always cherish my time with them and I will be back soon.
As told by Victoria Purcell ’11
For more information about Missionaries of the Poor visit: