Sunday, February 24, 2013

Taking Photos for Neat Magazine

Reading week is coming to an end but not before I was able to tackle a lot of homework and even take some photos of a deliciously sour drink for my group's magazine.

I absolutely love photography and I never leave the house without my camera. Three years ago I went to Futureshop to buy my second camera. The first one I'd bought had been on sale for $100 and it was horrible. No matter what I did with the settings, it just couldn't take a good picture.

That wasn't going to happen this time. I ended up paying close to $800 for my new camera, its case, and a spare memory card, and I've never regretted it.

As I continue learning in the Creative Communications program, I'm repeatedly asking myself "should I buy a new camera?" Should I take the plunge and buy myself an authentic DSLR and enter the world of serious photographers? I admit I envy some of my friends like Braiden Watling and Holly Beraro, two amazing people who are really talented when it comes to taking pictures.

I guess I'll have to continue thinking about whether or not I should invest in a new camera. Right now I'm still incredibly happy with my current one I bought three years ago. Clearly it can take a pretty picture based on the photo you see at the top, but could it have been prettier?

Before I finish this post I wanted to share a 'behind the scenes' photo from my little photo shoot the other day. Be sure to look forward to the release of Neat, a magazine about the good stuff. 

I hope everyone had a great Reading Week!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Review of "A Thousand Farewells" by Nahlah Ayed

This post is a review of the book A Thousand Farewells and is part of a school assignment.

Before I begin, I would like to thank my journalism teachers for incorporating A Thousand Farewells into the course. I can honestly say I never would have picked up this book had it not been a requirement for our class, and therefore would never have experienced the pleasure of reading it.

If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say it is fascinating. Full of information and stories of people from different parts of the world, there isn't a bit of information that is repeated in this book. There isn't enough room to do so.

What really works in this book are Nahlah Ayed's writing skills. After years of being a journalist and writing for various papers, Ayed has developed a writing style that is clear and intellectual. She is able to explain complex situations with just the right amount of background information, without confusing readers or boring them with a history lesson.

What doesn't work in the book is how sometimes Ayed would look back on previous experiences while describing a current experience. A few times throughout the book, Ayed would be in the middle of a story about protests or traveling while in a location, and would then explain to the readers her experience in a similar situation years ago in a different location. The change in location, time, and culture would often leave me confused as to what place she was currently in and I often found myself getting people mixed up because of this.

Although Ayed does a great job telling stories of growing up and traveling as a journalist, the book needed a small diagram of her family tree and a few pages of the book devoted to a map of the areas she reported in over the years. A timeline of her adventures would also have been nice to see. While the book was understandable without these additions, I believe a family tree, a few simple maps, and a timeline would have helped readers to understand her stories and her overall experience more. Visual aid can mean all the difference for some learners, and many of my classmates did have to look up maps in order to visualize the locations Ayed was talking about.

I think that journalists can learn a lot from this book, especially those reporting in foreign lands or countries that are at war. It is unlikely a journalist can learn how to deal with seeing guns and other weapons while reporting, but Ayed's stories can help prepare them for it and perhaps reassure them. This book also stresses the importance of respecting people and their culture and heritage, and also frequently mentions the benefits of knowing the language of the country. The book also informs journalists on how the media is regarded in some parts of the world.

There are few non-fiction books that I have read over the years, but one that sticks out in my mind is Waiting for the Macaws. It was a book I read for my Writing on the Environment class and has a few similarities to A Thousand Farewells. The author, Terry Glavin, uses a combination of research and personal experiences to tell stories about the decline of various species. Like Ayed, Glavin is passionate about the book's subject (the loss of diversity in the world), and has a clear and informative writing style that is educational, but not boring. This is no surprise to me since Glavin is also a Canadian journalist.

Overall A Thousand Farewells was an entertaining read that has greatly increased my knowledge on some of the conflicts in the middle east for the past 50 years. But while I enjoyed reading Ayed's stories of being a journalist and reporting in middle eastern countries, I now know that I do not want to be a foreign correspondent. Ever. I have never wanted to travel much (Walt Disney World is about as adventurous as I can get) and I don't believe I have the courage to travel to a foreign land and live in a dangerous area.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

My Amazing Experience at EXPLORE

Before being accepted into the Disney college program last week, I had been looking at all the other summer opportunities available to college and university students. One that frequently crossed my mind was the EXPLORE program. 

The French language EXPLORE program, a 5-week bursary program offered by The Council of Ministers of Education, allows students 16 years and older to travel to another part of Canada to learn or perfect either French or English. Often the students from Montreal travel to places like British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta to learn English, while the people who want to learn French travel to Montreal.

When I participated in the EXPLORE program last year, I decided to sign up to go to Toronto. I didn't know a lot of French, so I thought going to Toronto would be a fun and easy experience. Fun, yes. Easy, no.

After the orientation we weren't allowed to speak our first language, only our target language. Too bad I didn't know any French. For the first week I barely said a word. I guarded my French/English dictionary like it was my life-source, and found myself waving my arms and making motions whenever I spoke. 

Four weeks later and I was speaking French fluently. And the biggest surprise of all? I was loving it! Being surrounded by people speaking French, listening to French music, and watching French movies had really helped me to learn how to speak French and communicate with others.

I'd be signing up for the EXPLORE program again right now if I didn't already have plans in Walt Disney World this summer, but for those of you who don't have any commitments, I highly recommend visiting this website and applying for the EXPLORE bursary. The bursary covers room and board, full tuition (including textbooks), great social and cultural activities, and you can choose to pay to attend some fun weekend activities (see photos below).

While you have to buy your own flight to get to the city of your choice, you may get up to six credit hours when you return. I did and was able to finish my program at the University of Winnipeg early.

If you decide to apply for the program, you'll have a great time, see cool places, meet amazing people from other parts of Canada, and you'll learn how to speak French, which may come in handy for future jobs. 

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Monday, February 4, 2013

My Face-to-Face Disney Interview in Toronto

One week ago I was in Toronto for my face-to-face interview with Disney representatives. Today I would like to talk about what an amazing experience it was.

First, the flight to Toronto Sunday morning was perfect. I had a window seat, the flight only seemed like an hour rather than two, and the weather was beautiful. When I landed in Toronto there wasn't a flake of snow on the ground and the air was surprisingly mild.

I took the shuttle to the Delta Hotel downtown and checked in to a very nice room, and then I decided to roam the streets and look for a cool place to eat. I had an amazing vegan sandwich at a place who's name I can't remember, but I know it was on Younge street!

Unfortunately the butterflies in my stomach wouldn't let me sleep that night, and I woke up at 6am (5am in Winnipeg) the next morning to get ready for the interview. A small group of us going to the interviews that day had made plans to meet at Eggspectation at 7am and then walk to Ryerson University together.

The streets were now covered in snow and I was so thankful I had brought my boots with me on the plane. When I got to the restaurant I had an amazing smoothie while talking about Disney World with my fellow Disney-lovers. It was the perfect thing to do to settle my mind before the presentation and interviews.

We then arrived at the university together and joined the 50 or so others. We sat and watched the fun presentation Disney had created for us, answered Disney trivia questions for small prizes, and learned all about Disney's International College Program, a two-and-a-half month paid summer internship.

Then we were given a time to return to the room for our one-on-one interviews.

Since Ryerson University is connected to the Eaton Centre, I decided to go to the food court for lunch. My vegetable pad thai didn't taste as good as it normally does, but I suspect it was because of my nerves.

1:00 couldn't come fast enough and I found myself texting everyone I knew in order to keep myself from fretting about the interview. Then I learned that the interviews were behind schedule, and I became even more nervous.

But then eventually it was my turn and I was warmly welcomed into the classroom and asked to sit down. The first question: "Why do you want to work for Disney?"

I then thought to myself that if all the questions were going to be like this, then I had no reason to worry.

The interview lasted about 7 minutes and was more of a conversation than a question and answer period. We talked about our favourite rides at the parks, what I was studying in school, what I was most looking forward to if I was accepted. There were a few hypothetical scenario questions at the end that I feel I answered well, and then the next thing I knew I was shaking the man's hand and thanking him for his time .

For the next few days I tried to keep Disney out of my mind as I waited for the rest of the interview days in Toronto and Montreal to pass. Then before I knew it, I received an email congratulating me on getting a position at Walt Disney World!

Since I found out about the good news, I've already bought my tickets to Florida for a great price ($461 for round trip) and can't wait to start packing my bags. I want to thank everyone that supported and encouraged me throughout this whole process, with a special thanks to Melanie Lee Lockhart and Katie Hartle for your advice before the interview!

Back in December I talked about my phone interview. To read the post and learn some helpful tips on how to prepare yourself for a phone interview, click here
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