Leader-what?

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t – Bill Nye 

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What does it mean to be a leader? My job this summer is to take this question, sift through my own experiences and try to teach 15 year old kids what it means. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. A leader believes in their own abilities
  2. A leader know their weaknesses and works towards improvement
  3. A leader knows when to step back, watch and listen
  4. A leader knows how to gain respect without having to raise their voice
  5. A leader can come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and personality types.
  6. A leader is respectful, responsible, inclusive, caring and honest
  7. A leader overcomes challenges
  8. A leader doesn’t just show the way, they go the way and lead by example
  9. A leader has a sense of humor and is able to laugh at themselves
  10. A leader is only as good as their attitude and commitment to their team

It’s pretty late at night and I’m just pondering the things I’ve learned this summer so far. I think I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve taught. Thanks, chillens.

Leadership is a funny thing. It is often made to look effortless by the people who do it well. And yet, it’s freaking hard guys. It’s hard to have that much responsibility, whether you are leading a song at campfire or leading a canoe trip. Anytime you are in charge, there is pressure there.

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I guess I’m just impressed. I’m impressed by my kids, both last month and this one. I’m proud of last months kids; of how much they learned, of how they came together as a team and of how they grew as individuals. Even more so, I’m impressed by the August kids. They have only been here for 5 days and I can already see them thriving. They take initiative to help clean the dining hall. They encourage each other to try new things. They smile a lot. They have positive attitudes (even if they roll their eyes at my uncoolness). They help younger campers and volunteer to sing at campfire and set high goals to push themselves to be better.

lshipWho am I to teach them?

I’ve gone through this program. I’ve had leadership roles, I’ve been a “leader” many times. Yet, I’m still always winging it. I’m still learning everyday through trial and error. I guess that would be:

11. A leader never stops learning. They never stop setting goals for themselves and aiming to be better people.

12. A leader inspires others to want to be better too. That’s what my kids have done. 

They’ve made me want to be a better leader.  I still have a long way to go.

Until then, I guess I just keep doing my best and learning from everyone I can. From my co’s who amaze me everyday by being the incredible people they are, from the kids who have left me and changed my life, from the kids who are here now and keeping me on my toes day by day, surprising me with their maturity and insight. I can’t imagine a more rewarding job. Thank you leadership…I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.  Please, teach me everything you can in these next few weeks. I always grow the most on Kitchi sands.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m teaching them something too.

Until next time,

-Sam

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Let’s Talk about LOVE

We have corrupted love.

Previously a weightless ray of sun,

we have tied it to an anchor

and drowned it in the sea.

We have taken a word as strong as iron,

heated it with the fire of our indifference

and twisted it until it broke

into pieces

not useable for much.

 

We love Starbucks

and our hipster clothes.

We love driving fast in cars.

When did love start applying to

momentary satisfaction?

And why do we have such a shocked reaction

when God says love

is forever?

 

See we in our simplicity have taken

four Greek words and translated them as one.

But God had a single intention

when He sent his son

to earth.

 

Agape

No, it’s not a new flavour of smoothie

This

is a little foreign.

A little out of place on my lips

and a little startling

to the ears.

This is the love that we have lost

in the shadows of a world that is drowning itself

because it won’t let go of an

artificial emotion.

 

This love

comes with no terms and conditions

because we all know

nobody reads them.

Our father

already skimmed

and found the loophole.

 

Our father

can’t be discontinued because

eternity will always be in style.

 

Our father

doesn’t watch us be carried away downstream

and throw a paddle.

He jumps in

and pulls us out because

he’s not afraid of ruining his hair.

 

Our father

doesn’t cheer us on from the sidelines.

He will run every uphill mile

and piggyback you when you twist your ankle

or get a cramp

in your motivation.

 

Because He is Agape

 

And Agape is not a love that is stagnant

It doesn’t have an ending

Agape is a love

in the business of sending

us out

to find more people to Agape.

 

Agape asks for nothing in return.

Agape will give you it’s jacket in the rain.

Agape and love are not the same thing.

 

But we don’t use the word Agape.

Someone was too tired

and accidently spelt it

L-O-V-E

when transcribing.

 

But we are children

learning by example.

 

I will start liking Starbucks

but loving people.

I will stop expecting an “I love you too”

I will reclaim the word “love”

 

Because language is defined by the people who use it

 

I like to get my meaning across,

use precise diction.

So I will use action

to remove ambiguity from my words.

I will make

love mean Agape.

 

And you.

I will pull you out from the depths

and into the sunlight

because

God

loves

you.

And I want to be the dictionary

He gives you to define it.

Late Night Thoughts and Thanks

One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip
One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip

To the teenage boy I saw full out singing along to the radio on the highway today, who smiled and waved and kept singing when he caught me staring, thank you. You made my day a little bit brighter. I think we all might be happier if we were that carefree. And you made me think of this video

Thanks to Amen for making me smile by trying to plan a surprise party that fell apart at the last minute. I know you felt terrible because you wanted my last free day to be great. It was anyway. You’re absolutely the sweetest and I can’t believe we have to say good-bye soon. You’ve made my exchange absolutely incredible.

Thanks to my host dad for saving the day and taking us for one last road trip and picnic today. You are always doing things for other people.

Thanks to my host mom for making packing just a little bit easier and not making me do it all alone. You’ve made me feel so at home these last few months

Best host family ever!
Best host family ever!

To my Marmee, thanks for getting my room ready for me to come home and just for being great, you’re the best. I can’t wait to hug you when I get home.

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To my Daddy, I couldn’t find any recent pictures of us but I wanted to thank you for giving me diverse interests and adventures growing up. Because of you I enjoyed museums and train rides here more than the average kid haha. Oh and thanks for holding shopping bags for us girls 🙂

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Mallory, my little sister, expect a running tackle hug when I get home. I’ve missed you more than anyone

My non-twin twin <3
My non-twin twin ❤

To my amazing friends who have keep me in touch with life back home and made sure I knew how much I was missed, seeing you all is one of the only things making leaving Switzerland less sad. To the other exchange students, it was amazing to always have someone to talk to who understood what I was experiencing. It was so much fun laughing and bonding over all our #exchangestudentproblems. And to the friends I’ve made here, you will never be forgotten. Thanks for not laughing at me when I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and making me feel welcome.

 

Thanks to the ladies in city centre giving out “free hugs”. You made a lot of people laugh and smile

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And to God for making such an incredible, diverse world and letting me experience it. I handed this whole experience over to You back in August trusting that You would work it out and You did. Thank you for your faithfulness. Because of You I never felt lonely.

He is an amazing artist
He is an amazing artist

So many people in my life that I’m so grateful for, I’m lucky to be so blessed. Tonight I finished packing to go home and I was really sad but I decided to look at the good rather than the bad. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to write and this is what I ended up with.

 

 

 

Where’s The Pause Button??

Zermatt 191 Do you ever just wish you had a remote that you could use to fast forward or rewind or pause time? That’s what I’ve been feeling lately. Somehow, I feel like the last ten weeks have absolutely flown by and I can hardly believe that I only have…hang on I’ll check…5 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes left until I will be at the airport and heading back to Canada, back to my own bed, and my puppies and my family and my friends and everything I’ve missed. As excited as I am to see everyone, on the other hand I am kind of tempted to hide out in the mountains so I don’t have to leave (I’m channelling Elsa, I won’t goooo, I won’t goooo hehehe) tumblr_inline_mz93wv1FgP1qz65iu As my exchange is starting to come to an end, it’s becoming very bittersweet. I’ve come to love this country and the language and my host family and I am going to miss it soooo much! Yet I also feel like I’m ready to go home. If I was here for longer I’m sure I would love it and be fine but I’m so excited to get back to life, especially because I have so much to look forward to in the next little while! Overflow is a week and a half after I get home, I’m stoked to see my friends in FAME at the end of the month, I’ll have tons of homework to catch up on and then I’m be spending my first summer as staff at one of my favourite places on earth, Kitchi! Which, I made sure to rock my Kitchi sweater in the mountains! So even though one adventure is coming to a close I have lots to still look forward to!

Just call me Heidi #booknerd
Just call me Heidi #booknerd

Buttttt it isn’t over just yet and I plan on enjoying every last second! And I had a wonderful week last week so I’ll fill you in on that! So last week was a week of vacation for Easter and on Monday we went to Zurmatt for a day/night which was totally awesome. We drove to the foot of the mountain and then took a train up to the village because cars are forbidden there which was kind of cool. We stayed in a really cute little hotel with a view of the mountains and went hiking and ate fondue and it was kind of my one little trip of super stereotypical Swizerland.

Eating fondue for the first time in the mountains
Eating fondue for the first time in the mountains

The Tuesday we took another train up to the very top of the mountain and then hiked most of the way down. Amen and I had a lot of fun taking pictures, rolling down the hill and trying to push each other in the snow! It was really surreal though. Like I was just wandering through the Swiss Alps on a Tuesday afternoon and on one side I could see the Matterhorn (AKA the Toblerone mountain) and the mountains on the other side were Italy. LIke how is this my life?? Honestly though, this trip has made me realize how badly I want to travel. Not just week long trips where you stay in a hotel and go on excursions with 100 other tourists. I want to take a backpack and go explore and speak to people in their native languages even if I look like a fool and get lost in cities I don’t know and make new friends and see the real world. I don’t know. Just a thought I remember having when we were hiking. It was sort of, “Wow, I need to see more of what this earth has to offer. This HAS to be just the beginning”

Wednesday we were back in Geneva and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day! We ended up at this massive park with walking trails with a bunch of friends and crashing the picnic of some more friends and playing volleyball and cards all afternoon which was lovely. The only semi bad part about the day was that I almost got into trouble with the Transport police but used my Canadian charm and my bad French accent to talk my way out of it 😉 #crisisaverted

The park empty at the end of the day
The park empty at the end of the day

Thursday and Friday were pretty low-key and kind of rainy so we just hung around and didn’t do much. And then on Saturday I went out with my friend Grace, another Canadian exchange student and we just walked around and chatted, went on a terrifying carnival ride and basically caught up. It’s cool having other people like Grace and my friend Emma whom I’ve mentioned before who are going through the same exchange experience and can relate and understand all the weird ins and outs and ups and downs! Speaking of other exchange students, tomorrow, Thursday, Amen and I are going to be meeting up with two other pairs of exchange students tomorrow for two different events. Although I was back to school this week, tomorrow is a Swiss holiday (not exactly sure for what to be honest) and school is closed. In the morning Amen and I are planning on making fudge, in the afternoon meeting up with Sarah and Oriane  and in the evening with Olivia and Louisa to see a Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye spoken word poetry show. Which is not as lame as it sounds, I promise and I am super excited! If you’ve never heard of them, you should check out this video.

So, that’s about it. I also visited the Transport musuem in Luzern and had had to start saying goodbye to people here which sucks! Overall, I had a great vacation and am trying to make the most of my last Suisse week! Here are a few photos to leave you off with from my walk to today as I’ve started saying goodbye to my favourite places as well.

That’s all folks! Thanks again for checking out my blog. Also, pretty much totally unrelated, I’ve started thinking about some ideas for what to write about after my trip is all over and done because I’m really liking blogging and I think I’ve got some ideas so stay tuned 🙂

I’m Not Dead And Neither Is Jesus

I’m back! Hellllo everyone! It’s been a while, I know and I’m sorry. I’ve been a horrible blogger lately and an even worse journal keeper…opps. I know that I’m hurting myself more than anyone else since I really want to remember as much of this trip as possible but it’s difficult between school, weekend adventures and all kinds of other fun stuff. Also, I just wanted to mention, Happy Easter! As you can see from the title, not only am I back, today so is Jesus! His return is  a billion times more amazing than mine and today I am grateful to have a Saviour who loves me as much as Jesus does. Hope you all had a great day with your families and whether you are religious or not, are grateful for the things you’ve been blessed with.

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 “For you have been my hope O Lord, my confidence since my youth” – Psalm 71:5

That all being said, here’s what I’ve been up to! If this is random, choppy or weird I apologize. It’s late, I’m tired and trying to recall these things from a while back!

Two weekends ago I went to a chocolate festival on the Saturday and on the Sunday I visited a  town called Interlaken and took a train ride through the mountains! Also, I am obsessed with The Voice France and if Team Mika doesn’t win, I’m gonna be rattled. That is my every Saturday night. The train ride was seriously so cool and I got some of the best pictures this trip. Amen and I made an attempt at a vlog but it’s literally just me asking her “Et maintenent ou allons nous?” or “Ou sommes nous?” like 20 times, not interesting at all. So these photos will have to do! Overall, it was a fantastic day and I love mountains.

I’m going to tell you everything I do during the school because, to be honest, it’s really not all that interesting! I go to school, just like in Canada and in the afternoons, I work or play on the Internet or go for walks. One interesting thing though was that I went out for dinner this past week with my English class which was fun. I’ve got to say, they are probably the most interesting group of people I’ve met. Between 10 of us, I think there were 12 different languages that could be spoken by at least one person? And also just very nice, friendly, funny people so that was fun.

Last weekend I went to a party with Amen for one of her best friend’s birthday which was interesting to say the least…I think I’ll leave it at that. I also just hung out and read. I’ve finished the first Harry Potter and am well into the sixth….don’t ask why number six, I don’t know. Then on Sunday we went to a pretty little town in France and wandered around for a while. There was a castle and a beautiful lake so I loveeeed taking pictures there even though it was sort of cloudy and rainy. Here are a few (or as many as I can manage to whittle it down to hehe) of my favourites. The first few are actually from a walk I went on!

So that just about catches you up, I am now on vacation for a week for Easter which I am very excited about! Tomorrow we are going to Zermatt for one night which is like the most famous mountain in Switzerland which I’m excited about! We might go skiing or we might just explore, we’re going to play it by ear! Hopefully this super long post didn’t bore you. Oh and one more thing (plus a few more pictures) I went and got a closer look at the famous water jet so those are the pictures. On a bit of a side note, I’ve noticed my French is steadily improving which is awesommmme. It’s not as good as I wish it was but it’s coming more naturally now and I’m catching my own mistakes before other people correct me. I’m not sure if I can call myself fluent since my grammer is still terrible but I can communicate…it’s a work in progress. Au revoir for now!

I Found My New Favourite City

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Château Chillion

I think I’m jealous of my own life. Is that possible? I’m not sure exactly how to explain it but it’s like today was so wonderful that I’m jealous of my former self. I can’t go back and live today again so I’m jealous of myself today. I have no idea if that makes any sense at all but it’s not a bad feeling. You know you’re doing life the right way when you wish you could redo your day right? Looking through all these pictures makes me want to rewind!

So today I went with my host parents (Amen had to stay home and study again *sad face*) to a town called Montreux. which is on the edge of Lake Geneva and faces a group of mountains. It’s absolutely breathtaking. I’ve passed it on my way to other places at least 3 times now, to and from Berne, to and from Zurich, to and from Sion. And every single time I’ve had the same thought; I have to go there before I leave. Today was finally that day and it was even better than I imagined. It’s the first place that I’ve been able to see myself living so clearly. All day I was thinking “I want to live here one day. I can see myself living here.” That and “Holy cow I’m blessed. Is this real life?” Haha, it’s an adorable little town and I loved it. Apparently it has an amazing jazz fest in the fall too. It’s probably one of my favourite places I’ve visited right up there with Dublin and Old Quebec City. One day, even if I don’t get to live there, I want to visit again 🙂

There’s also a famous château called Chillon right on the water that I went and walked around in with Laye. It’s amazingly well preserved and you actually feel like you’re in past. The best was the incredible views of the lake and the mountains you got when you climbed to the top of the tower! We also had a picnic lunch by the lake and then drove to the next town over, Vevey which (fun fact) is where Charlie Chaplin died! I know, I should let other people tell me they’re fun. If you didn’t get that reference, we can’t be friends sorry. Just kidding! 😉

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Me and my good friend Charlie

 

In Vevey we walked along the water front some more, visited the Food Musuem (yes, that is actually a thing) and competed in the fork contest. There is a giant fork in the lake and you had to take a picture with it…here’s mine.

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So anyway, that was my lovely day. I hope you all a had a lovely day too. I took a lot of pictures but I’ve figured out this fancy new way to display my pictures in a pretty gallery so I hope you enjoy them! If you click through, you can see the captions I’ve set for some them. Montreux and Vevey were both incredibly picturesque and worthy of having lots of pictures taken! There are also a few from yesterday when I went for a horseback ride at a farm and for a walk downtown to take typical touristy pics with the famous Geneva fountain! That’s all for now, school tomorrow which I don’t  think is something to be jealous of! But hey, make the most of everyday right? 🙂

Just An After School Trip To Narnia

Okay so maybe it’s not exactlllly Narnia, but today after school I went and had a look around the neighbourhood…turns out there’s a forest and gorgeous river at the end of the road! It was absolutely beautiful and it did feel like you were in some kind of fairytale or fantasy world…like Narnia! I’m not the greatest photographer and back home it’s not something I even really do but here, everywhere I go is just so breathtaking that I feel compelled to try my best to capture it! Hopefully you can at least get a sense of how amazing Switzerland is! Anyway, this is one of my new favourite places in Geneva 🙂ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image ImageImageImage ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage ImageImage ImageImageImageImage

Sam In The City

So the plan was for today’s blog post to be about my first week of school butttt I went on an adventure today and I figured that was much more interesting anyway! School can wait…

I have to say that today has been one of my favourite days in Switzerland so far. The sun was shining, the sky was the perfect shade of blue and it was cool but not cold. So, after lunch my host parents Laye and Shif and I went to the Old City of Geneva and took a look around. Amen, unfortunately has a couple of tests tomorrow and had to say home and study 😦 We went to the Saint Pierre Cathedral and Laye and I climbed up…and up and up and up and up to the highest point in the city. You can walk all the way around and get a panoramic view of the city. It was magnificent! Seriously, so incredible. And like I said, it was a perfect day for it, nice and clear so we got a good view of the mountains, the famous water jet, Lac Leman, and all the pretty old buildings.

After the dizzying decent all the way back down the narrow spiral staircase, we kept walking through the old, narrow, cobblestoned streets. We stopped and had “marrons”, roasted chestnuts in a little paper bag and then we got to the Swiss Museum of History and Art. That’s right folks, I got to go to a museum! Most people probably think that’s super lame, but those of you who know me know that I loveeee museums. And it was super cool because it was free to the public, you just walked in and looked around as much or as little as you wanted. One wing was all cool historical artefacts, mostly from Geneva or at least Switzerland. Swords, armour, etc. One area was set up like a 1500th century “château” and I loved that!

The other wing was all Swiss/French artwork which was slightly less interesting for me but still very cool. Especially the stuff by Pablo Picasso because he was the only name I recognized! Not going to lie…his looked like they were drawn by a 4th grader. But you know what, I’m am not by any means an art critic and I still liked it!

So yeah, and then we walked back through the village to the car and drove home for a croissant and a cup of tea . A very lovely day by any standard. Now I’m just relaxing and writing and then tomorrow is back to school…maybe I’ll also write about school tomorrow. Who knows! Until then, enjoy these photos of my wonderful day! I hope everyone else’s Sunday was just as great 🙂 Blessed to be having this wonderful experience with such a great family in such a beautiful country and city!

Ps….only 3 more days of being 16 whoo!

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Bonjour tout le monde! So yesterday I finally arrived here in Geneva! Holy cow was it really just yesterday? It feels like a longer time ago. We left Toronto at around 6:45 and I smiled while Mom cried lol. :p I met some friends before we got on the plane and then met more when I sat down. Grace and Kate flew with me and it was simply perfect because Kate had had a similar situation as me and it was really comforting to know that I was not the only one whose exchange hadn’t gone perfectly. We were able to talk through our nerves about going to a family we hadn’t met…her situation was even more crazy because he only got her new partner last week AND it’s a guy! Anyway, the plane ride was good but I didn’t sleep at all because I couldn’t get comfortable. We each had our own tv screens where you could watch a movie or a tv show or the map of the trip or listen to music. It was so cool! The other girls laughed at me because I had never been on a plane like that. :p I watched Monster’s University, an episode of Modern Family and La Petite Sirène. (Happy Mallory?) I also stared out the window A LOT because for a long time there were no clouds and I could see the ocean. It was frozen but in some spots, there were hugggge cracks that spread out like trees roots and it looked beautiful. Also, I watched while we flew over the lights of Ireland and England which brought back good memories 🙂 We arrived in Paris just as the sun was rising, 7:30 local time which meant I was non-voluntarily pulling an all-nighter! I went through customs, got a stamp in my passport, bought a 5 euro bottle of water and boarded the flight to Geneva. I got a littttle bit of sleep on that one but woke up when the other students started ooo and ahhhing over the mountains we were passing! I got my luggage and then went to meet Amen and her parents, it was so cute they greeted me with a big bouquet of flowers and kisses on both cheeks! We went to their apartment which is beautifullll and I had a quick shower. Then we had lunch and Amen and I sat and chatted and she started teaching me to play piano. I’ve never realized just how terrible my French is until I got here because it’s driving me crazy not being able to say what I want to say as you all know I love to talk! I also feel bad because everyone has to repeat themselves over and over and over again! Ca la vie, I guess. Amen took me for a walk around the neighbourhood in the afternoon because I was falling asleep and showed me the school and the bus station and the everything else. Then we went out and had pizza for dinner and then FINALLY it was late enough that I could go to bed. I slept for 14 hours oh mon dior! As my new friend Diana said about  50 times today :p Okay this is getting really long and I want to go to beddd. So today Amen and I went out with her friends and went shopping and walked around and hung out. Her friends are really nice and funny and a bit weird but that’s okay because it reminded me of my friends haha! Sorry guys. 🙂 When they were all talking really fast I couldn’t understand a lot but I liked to just listen and they tried to explain thing slower for me sometimes. One of Amen’s friends, Yandira or just Ira has a birthday two days before mine so she said we should celebrate them together 🙂 Geneva is beautifullll like I can’t even explain. Literally every direction you look, you see mountains. And while there are some newer buildings there are also the older European style ones which is cool. We took a boat ride on Lac Léman and I could see the mountains well from there. It’s strange because there’s snow on the mountains but not on the ground. Also! I bought my first Starbucks here and guess how much? 6.70 CH, the equivalent of like $9 for a grande Chai latte! C’est tres fou! And We realized that Amen is reading “Le meilleur des mondes” for her french class, the french version of “A Brave New World” which I have to read for english. I guess there are some things you can’t avoid no matter what language you speak 😉 There’s probably a lot more I could write but I’m tired and my laptop is going to die so cho cho or au revoir for now!