a single girl’s kitchen reno

So when I moved into my place about four years ago I LOVED my kitchen… and well as time has gone by, things have changed, as they do, to the point that  – I LOATHED my kitchen! All I could see were the wipe marks and scratches on in the dark wood, along with piles of dents and an abundance of ginger cat hair from Ted’s adventures to the top of by cupboards to keep an eye on everything.. None were desirable or attractive in any way, shape, or form.

The Before

Kitchen 0

Kitchen 1

So I decided that I would refinish my cupboards and have a fresh white country kitchen, which would go much better with the whole beachy white style I have in the rest of my place. This didn’t seem like a crazy thing to do… but slowly as I investigated things it became slightly daunting – mostly because when I told people I was going to do it by myself, I would find myself looking at someone who was looking at me as though I was insane! But I trudged on…

One of the other things I hated about my kitchen was the hardware – as you can see in the pictures above it was long and modern – totally not me! I found the most adorable new hardware on Esty – of which I could spend all my time and money on there’s SO much cute stuff!! I messaged the shop – Simple Finds Co – and was easily able to order the 28 knobs I needed from Texas! They came nice and quick and I found myself instantly more excited about the whole project – mostly as the knobs were so stinking adorable!

I then finally decided on the paint I was going to use – Chalk Paint – and tracked down a shop that carried it and I was on my way! The fantastic thing about this paint is that it requires NO – yes I will repeat that NO – prep work! You don’t have to sand off the old finish or make sure that everything is super clean – indeed pretty much the best thing to ever happen to me.

Now, almost immediately I had regrets in beginning this project – has anyone else ever removed a kitchen and two bathrooms worth of cupboards and drawers? Oh hell! What a job! But once I start something I finish it – so I was off and running… and my kitchen looked like this… Next on the list was filling the holes from the old hardware which took a while and then sanding off the excess filler – not too bad of a job.Kitchen 2

Once those two nasty jobs were done I had to get down to painting! It took a few coats but I could see the progress being made so it wasn’t so bad, though my back was not a fan of me! I could see things were coming together!

Kitchen 3

After all the painting and the couple coats of clear, I drilled (well I got my Dad to drill – the only help I had to enlist for this project) the new hardware holes and then hauled my cupboards back home to reassemble my kitchen! I couldn’t wait!

Kitchen 4

But has anyone put cupboards and drawers back together? NOT FUN! Nothing fits back together the way it should, but between a flurry of curse words and growls I managed to get it all together and honestly I couldn’t be happier – and a wee bit proud of myself for taking on and completing such a big project all my myself! Power to the single girls who make shit happen 🙂

The Final Product!

Kitchen 5

Kitchen 6

Kitchen 7

Salut and Ahoj Infographics!

What a fun way of looking at different parts of the world and the languages that are spoken – great way to get kids engaged with these visuals!

WordTraveler

I’m pretty sure I’m obsessed with infographics. I mean, what could be better than learning something in an easy-to-understand, visually-pleasing format? I’ve done a post with some before, which became quite popular. And now, I’ve found a site that has tons of them- http://visual.ly/.

Here’s a sample. How to say hi in 21 languages. Useful for all us travelers and all us language nerds!

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How many of these did you know? I knew 6. Do you have any really interesting infographics that you think I’d love? Please share the link in the comments section below.

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Moments.

It’s Saturday, and I don’t have anywhere that I need to be. I don’t have anything I need to do. I don’t have anything that I should be doing. I’ve already done a couple loads of laundry, and have put away the odds and sods around my place. I’m sitting here at eleven thirty in the morning on a Saturday, with my second cup of coffee wondering what to do. I’m not used to having free time, empty time – if you will. It’s an unusual feeling not having guilt about needing to do some work or homework. I usually have chapters among chapters of reading, along with papers and projects begging for my time, of which I procrastinate against with all my might. But today, I’m sitting here with a great array of things I could be doing swirling in my head, and not one ounce of motivation to do any of them. Instead, I’m enjoying my second cup of coffee in peace, with Ted curled at my side, as I sit in bed and type aimlessly away.

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I had a loss about three weeks ago that has reminded me to appreciate the moments because those moments are what you remember. Those moments are what you can hold onto forever. Just little laughs, or shared smiles. Those are the important things. We get so caught up in needing to have this or that to make ourselves look good. We spend such a grand amount of time dwelling on what others have that we want. We put so much value on the materialistic items in our lives – but why?

 

Has anyone looked at the world lately and seen how people in the developing world appear to be happier than us. Why is it that we are so unhappy? We have so much, yet we have so little. We are so obsessed with things. Things don’t make people happy – if they did we’d be jumping for joy right now. Instead we’re lonely, and unsatisfied. We need to value the people around us – our friends, family, coworkers, the lady at the checkout, the man who holds the door for us, and the stranger who smiles at us in the street.

 

We need to care about each other.

We need to listen to each other.

We need to help each other.

We need to forgive each other.

We need to smile with each other.

We need to laugh with each other.

 

It’s time we changed our focus to each other, instead of the piles of stuff we are filling our life with. That stuff isn’t helping anything – it’s just filling space that could be filled with guests enjoying time together instead – laughs, smiles, and memories.

 

I lost a twelve-year-old student. She suddenly left this world, much too soon, and grieving with my class of grade sixes and sevens has taught me more than any other experience I’ve gone through. Kids are resilient, but they need to feel safe and supported; they need understanding, listening ears, and to know we care. They need to know that the moments were important to us too. We need to appreciate each other and the time we have been granted. Leaving behind a car or brand new tv doesn’t mean nearly as much as an extensive movie of memories that can play on in those who you have loved forever.

 

Make sure you’re making every moment you have count – you never know when they will end…

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Where I’ve Been & Where I’m Headed…

I cannot imagine a more terrifying and exhilarating moment, than the one where I open my classroom door and invite in my very first class. The children filled with the anticipation of a new teacher – stomachs full of butterflies, the parents faces coated with excitement and worry for their children on this first day of school and I with a huge smile and a gut stirring together nervousness, fear, and my dream coming true. These parents are entrusting in me to teach, nurture, coach, discipline, excite, engage, and create a love of learning for these young ones, who are the most precious and important people in the world to them. When this moment comes, it will not be my first time teaching, or in a classroom, but it will be different from all my other experiences, and I want nothing more than to be in that moment – clammy hands, a sick stomach, and all. I believe I am on the path to being a great educator, who will continue to learn and expand my horizons along with my students each and everyday. While I have already had many different pedagogical experiences, which have given me a vast amount of knowledge, I still have many fears and much to learn about becoming a classroom teacher, but I know that I have multiple pedagogical strengths that will assist me in a successful journey to that first day in my classroom.

I am a strong believer that life experiences can make a person a better version of themselves. The more experiences one has endured, the broader one’s view, and in turn the more open to new ideas one is, which is of utmost importance for a teacher. Through my different pedagogical, and not directly pedagogical, experiences I have been in touch with a variety of countries, ethnicities, cultures, religions, socioeconomic statuses, models of schooling, subject areas, and extracurricular activities. I have also received education in a variety of ways, studying an array of subjects, at different levels, with different age majorities, in many different landscapes. I feel the opportunities that I have been granted and have taken advantage of, have allowed me to be more aware of the distinct differences that are present in education, especially in the multicultural mecca that is the lower mainland. Teachers need to take advantage of this mosaic environment. Every student is different, every instructor is different, every class is different, and every day is a new one. I have learned through my journey that an educator needs to be able to leave their baggage at the door; a good teacher can forgive, empathize, sympathize, and move forward with students – never holding onto a grudge, or preconceived impression. These differences are what make education such an amazing career field. Each day is different than the next – you never know where your day might lead you when children surround you.

Through my experience as an Educational Assistant I have gained a multitude of skills, one of the most important is listening, something I feel is often undervalued. As a teacher, it really is not about you; it is about the learner. Often students need someone to talk to, the circumstances are always different, but working in a school you become a trusted adult for a large amount of pupils. I have learned that I always need to have the time to listen to a student, no matter how insane my day might feel. While listening, I always make sure I try to make appropriate eye contact, nod, and allow my students the time they need to put their thoughts together. Depending on what the content they choose to share is, I aim to direct them to an appropriate person in the school whom has an expertise in the situation, that could be a counselor, childcare worker, or principal. I know from my experience as a student that when I have had teachers who I feel care about me as a person and as a student I have enjoyed education much more, and have been motivated to work harder. I feel those teachers were ‘good teachers’; they were student centred – always putting their students needs first. I want to take this way of thinking with me, through my teacher-education program and into my classroom. Students should always come first, that begins with simply listening to what they have to say.

I spent one year teaching KG-1 (pre-kindergarten) in the United Arab Emirates at an International School. I came back to Canada after that year abroad having learned more about educating and who I am, than I ever thought possible. I think the most important lesson I gained in that time overseas was the importance of a well thought out plan for each and every part of teaching. This includes, but is not limited to: curricula, units, lessons, breakdowns, assessments, evaluations, breaks, management, expectations, and recording. I was placed into a classroom of three year olds who had never been to school before, most of who spoke no English, and was expected to teach them. I was not given curricula or expectations of the educational outcomes, or resources to complete this unknown goal with. I struggled through, spending my nights creating resources from construction paper, computer printouts, markers, glue, and searching for activities and worksheets online. I talked to the other teachers, who were the best resource, and slowly pulled my classroom together. I was missing one vital piece of information though: at the end of the school year there would be a test (the same for all twelve KG-1 classes) to see how your students were performing. Coming from North America, and a limited amount of experience with this age group, I had no idea there would be a standard test for preschoolers! I had taught my students the sounds and the names of the alphabet, along with the numbers from one to ten and what they stood for, a variety of animals and the sounds they make, and my students learned through my speaking, so could speak some English! I thought I accomplished a fair bit. Did I teach about seeds growing? Did my students know all different types of vehicles? Simply, no, and their test results showed that. I learned that I always need a plan for all aspects of my classroom, gain all assessment policies up front, and a back up plan will never hurt.

I believe one of my biggest fears stems from my experience in the Far East; I do not want to be in such a situation again. I want to be prepared, know my curricula, know my units, know my lessons, know my assessments, and provide my students with the education they deserve. I never want students going into the next grade worried that they are not prepared somehow because of my lack of attention to the expectations for the grade. I want to be sure that all PLOs will be covered sufficiently. I feel anxious when I think about all of this since I know, having been in classrooms, it can be stressful trying to fit everything into the school year, especially while trying to create opportunities for exciting projects, and allowing time for special events and field trips. I do think this ‘behind the scenes’ part of teaching becomes easier with practice and familiarity of the curricula, which I will gain in time.

Another fear that I am confident will fade with experience is creating clear and concise rubrics for myself to be a fair and consistent marker for my learners. I feel with language arts specifically being so subjective, it can be hard to not pick on one issue that they student may have difficulty with and mark accordingly. I feel sitting with experienced teachers and drawing from them on the expectations they have for students, and how they translate that into a marking scheme will be an asset. The more time I spend engaging in marking writing assignments, the easier it will become. I feel this is the case for many of the other fears I have as well, but I am confident I will overcome them all in time – I just need to remember to allow myself the time to get in a rhythm, and not stress about it. I need to remind myself that it is normal and healthy to have fears about new endeavors.

I know that I have pedagogical strengths that will allow me to become a great teacher. I believe teaching is a combination of natural talent and putting science to work. I know that I have a natural presence with children, I am drawn to them and they respond to me – this comes to me naturally. My time emerged in different cultures has expanded my understanding of many different ‘normals’, which will no doubt be an asset in a multicultural classroom. This natural ability and exposure will assist me along the way. I do not doubt that I can put the science to work well, as long as I make sure I am continually organized and I allow time for myself to plan.

Along with connecting to students, I am skilled in being aware of multiple things going on around me; I can pick up on body language quite well. This will, most definitely, help me in the classroom, since teachers need to be extremely aware of all levels of socialization in their classrooms. I feel this being an ability that comes to me naturally, will make keeping aware of situations in my classroom easier since I will not need to think about it as much, and can focus on other teaching duties. This is not to say that I am overconfident; I know that I need to try with every aspect of managing a classroom, even if I feel something does come fairly easily to me.

I want to continue to learn and by being a teacher, I have the opportunity to learn from my students everyday. I want to share my passion for education and exploration with future generations. Children think in ways that adults are incapable of – their experiences are more limited so they can imagine, dream, and create in ways adults cannot. I want to be surrounded by that curiosity and excitement for life. I look forward to using the knowledge I have gained during my pedagogical experiences, facing and overcoming my fears, and allowing my strengths to grow in my journey as an educator. I want to be a teacher who inspires, and touches lives – if I can make a difference for one child, I will have succeeded, if I can make a difference for many, my dream will have come true.

Transitioning…

 

When a woman in her late twenties is described, it is most often a description of waiting for a ring, an engagement, a wedding and a marriage, or a pregnancy announcement, accompanied by all the excitement that goes along with that period of a woman’s life. I, a woman in her late twenties, am nowhere near where I am ‘supposed’ to be at this point in my life. I am an undergrad, and I could not be happier.

When I graduated high school, I went directly to college. I did what I was ‘supposed’ to do. I followed the linear developmental path that society expects, but did not know my direction; consequently, I decided that it was not where I belonged after one semester. I broke away from the linear developmental expectations of society. My parents were far from impressed. I was instructed to get a full time job if I would not be studying, and to their shock and dismay, I did. Within six months I had saved money and was headed overseas – there was no looking back. Instead of going through school in an expected linear journey, I realized my need to address my personal flourishing first, and embraced it. I came back with anticipation for the next trip.

On my next trip to Europe, I fell in love with an Australian. What followed during the next year was a long distance relationship, while working full time, and studying. I was in an Educational Assistant program, due to my parent’s insistence, and me feeling some monochronic societal pressures. One might think I would continue my submissive behaviour, and get a job after finishing, but following monochronic time, which Helman (2005) describes to be “something tangible, as well as linear,” (p. S54), is not I. Instead I saved and headed to Bangkok on a one-way ticket, with a year’s worth of travel insurance, alongside my two best friends. Allowing myself this freedom from the monochronic path I expected myself to be on, which is so frequently prescribed and followed, created an opportunity for me to flourish in finding myself, become stronger, and more clearly directed, all in my own developmental time.

After six weeks in Southeast Asia, a million laughs, a few cries, a stolen wallet, and a new appreciation for the people of this region, I headed to West Australia for a beach Christmas. A month later, I ventured over to the east coast to spend time with friends, and journeyed down to the land of Kiwis for a quick jaunt, before deciding I wanted to be able to make money while living this nomad, and non-monochronic lifestyle. I enrolled in a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in Prague and was headed back to Europe!

For one month I was part of an extreme factory model program. It ran like clockwork and if you could not keep up, you were out. It was the most intense educational experience I have encountered, with some of the most dedicated educators I have witnessed. This experience allowed me to reminisce on all the pressures students face when expected to perform. I feel this was important, and is important for educators to be brought back to that level periodically, so they can relate, and are more accessible to their learners. I left my new life long friends with some anticipation to put my lessons to work, and headed home to surprise my family. I was on the hunt for a teaching job overseas. Within a month I had an incredible job offer in Sharjah for the coming school year, and had two months to prepare for my imminent departure.

My year teaching in Sharjah changed my outlook on learning environments. I arrived with my background in special needs and English, but was faced with a structure that allowed no room for students who needed adaptations: a strict factory model. I completed the Cambridge International Teaching and Training Diploma, which forced me to reflect on my own classroom practices. These combined experiences allowed me to come to the realization that I truly love teaching. I came to this conclusion in my own polychronic time, which Helman (2005) describes to be “a ‘point’ at which relationships, social interactions or events converge,” (p. S55). I love being in the classroom, seeing sparks go off in children’s eyes when they finally grasp a concept, seeing their excitement and anticipation for knowledge, putting together new ideas and the anticipation of trial and error, and having the chance to be silly. I love the learning process.

I came home after my year overseas ready to settle down. I got a job as an Educational Assistant, and a skating instructor, and bought my own place. I was satisfied for a period, but continued to question whether I should go back to school. This internal itch I had was continually scratched by administrators, teachers I worked with, and by my mom, all who thought I should go back to school. So after working as an Educational Assistant for four years, I decided to take the chance and enrolled in university, but first I would go on one more adventure.

In the summer of 2012, I headed to India for two months to volunteer at two different projects, one in northern India and the other in the south, both teaching English. Between all the teaching, eating, shopping, and sightseeing I fell head over heels in love with this magnificent country. The children I was privileged enough to spend time with were so incredibly inspiring; their determination to learn this language that can allow them more opportunities was amazing. This experience caused me to arrive back in Canada for a new school year, at work and in university, more determined than ever to succeed.

So here I am, in my late twenties, single with a mortgage, a cat that I brought back from the Gulf, a full time job, a full time course load, and against all Western societal expectations – I am happy. It may not be my monochronic time, but it is indeed my polychronic, developmental time. I am living my good life. I am following my passion when it is right for me. I am allowing myself to flourish in my own time, my polychronic time.

Since returning to the world to of post-secondary education with an end goal, I have been an extremely determined student. I want to be here, and I want to absorb as much as I can. I want to be an active student. I feel that I have life experience that can bring something to my classes, and opinions with merit. I am intrinsically and extrinsically motivated; intrinsically, since I am interested in what I am learning and take great pride in knowing more about what I am doing, and extrinsically, since I want to be accepted into the Paraprofessional Linking Program at Simon Fraser University. I am getting a true education right now in university, as I am tying together my experiences in the workplace with the lessons I am being taught and the ideas I am being exposed to in the classroom at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I am driven, and motivated to be here, and look forward to a lifetime in the classroom – at the front of the room, or as a one of the pupils. I do not believe one should ever stop expanding their horizons. 

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Bibliography

Helman C. G. (2005). Cultural aspects of time and ageing. EMBO reports, 6(Suppl. 1), S54–S58. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400402

How to Create a Katie Kate Kay

  1. You need to start with your young women, slowly adding more and more of the pressure filled life onto her. While adding the pressure, add the university acceptance letters in quick succession.
  2. Your young woman will start to have a sleepless existence, full of indecisiveness. Throw on the urge to escape from it all and the passion will grow.
  3. By now you have a young woman who is itching to get out, when you fold in a trip to Greece – your creation will start to present itself before your eyes. She won’t want to go back.
  4. In quick succession, toss on 18 European nations in summer and a young Australian man to enjoy the journey with. She will fall in love and live in a lonely state once home.
  5. Once she’s back, stir in a year of college to become an educational assistant. She’ll love it, but she’ll start to itch to go again. The passion is now inside her, blossoming each day.
  6. Put her in a pub, with her two sister-like best friends. Pour the three litres of wine into them, allowing only 2 hours for this. Sprinkle the idea of travel together over them. The result will be: three one-way tickets to Bangkok and a year of travel insurance for each of them.
  7. Once she’s through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and New Zealand, and relaxing on an Australian beach with her Australian man, sift the idea of teaching overseas over her. The idea will grow and be researched – be sure to drop the TEFL Program in front of her. It will mix in nicely and a flight to Prague will be booked.
  8. Before you know it, it will be time for you sauté the job offer in the United Arab Emirates. She will glisten in anticipation.
  9. Toss her a class of twenty-two children – three and four year olds work best. Let her simmer for a year in the Arab heat, with short flavourcations to Singapore, Oman, Indonesia, and South Korea. She will begin to find herself and learn to enjoy time alone, just in time to return home and apply for jobs. Let three years pass in this job, adding pinches of passion for teaching every so often and a dash of heartbreak, by allowing the Australian man to go through the sieve. She will decide she wants to go back to school.
  10. Her passion for travel that has developed will steam out first with a summer in India backpacking and volunteering, before returning to let herself be educated again.
  11. This is your end result. Eight long years later, but well worth the wait. You’ve created a driven and compassionate older young woman excited about the life that lies ahead.

 

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Sweatshops for Better Lives

You have grown up doing menial work all your life. You never saw a way out. Digging through garbage and selling your body were what you went between to survive. You now have your own daughter; she will soon be the age you were when you started prostituting yourself. A clothing factory has just opened in the city. You’ve heard there are jobs for children. Maybe your daughter won’t have to demean herself the way you did if she can get a job with this multinational corporation sewing. The western world calls these factories “sweatshops”; in your eyes they are a chance at a life you and your daughter could be proud of. Canadian consumers should not boycott products that may have been produced under “sweatshop” conditions because taking that work away from those workers is taking away their chance at a better life. Sweatshops are not ideal; they do exploit, but they also create an alternative for people in poverty, and trying to raise the standards in sweatshops isn’t an easy fix.

You or I may have envisioned a sweatshop environment in our minds: a picture of desperation, filth, and hunger. This visualization is quite appropriate. Mayer, a professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago, states that “[t]he U.S. Department of Labor classifies a business as a sweatshop if it violates two or more labor laws governing wages and overtime, child labor, homework, occupational health and safety, and so forth” (616). While Calder, an assistant professor of philosophy at St. Mary’s University, explains that sweatshops “[…]are manufacturing centers where workers are forced to work excessively long hours in unsafe working conditions for very little pay[…] and arguably violate their workers basic human rights. Sweatshop workers often work ten- to sixteen-hour days with little opportunity for breaks[…]” (265). These two descriptions fit together. While there are sweatshops in North America, the majority of sweatshops are in developing countries; “[s]weatshops exist when there are some very poor people who cannot find a better way to sustain themselves and their family than by working at sweatshops[…]” (Calder 265). Sweatshops exist where people have such horrendous options in front of them that they choose to be exploited.

All sweatshops exploit and “[e]very exploitative relationship begins with an initial inequality that makes the taking advantage possible” (Mayer 610). Sweatshop workers are paid less than fair wages, work longer than reasonable hours, and are in unclean and unsafe workplaces, “[b]ut victims of exploitation [in sweatshops] never have less than before, and in fact they usually gain by being exploited” (Mayer 607). The exploitation that sweatshop workers take on is by choice, and is generally “[…]mutually advantageous[…] and not tainted by threats” (Mayer 608). The owners of multinational corporations that set up workplaces in developing countries have not created the troubling economic situations that the citizens are dealing with. They have not rid the countries of their labor laws or safety regulations. They certainly have not un-educated the population, but they did create a place for these people to work and earn a wage. Mayer explains that “[e]xploiters[…] are opportunists and they do take unfair advantage, but their exploitation is beneficent[…] More importantly, they do not create the disadvantages which they exploit” (608). They instead create an opportunity for these workers to have a better option; as “[w]ere it not for such jobs, these laborers might starve in the rural communities from which they were recruited, work as prostitutes, beg on the streets, or pick through garbage” (Rothstein 41). Multinational corporations grant better lives.

Now, “[…]though the sweatshop pay is unfair, the workers rationally consent to such unfairness without any coercion (direct or indirect) and are not made any worse off from being offered the job” (Meyers 621-622). The workers being given the opportunity to work in sweatshops around the world are grateful; those in poverty dream about their children being lucky enough to have employment in such a place. Rothstein, a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute at Columbia University, shares a story showing this exactly: “[…]Tratiwoon, a young Indonesian woman who, with her three-year-old son, earns a dollar a day by selling scrap scavenged from a garbage dump in Jakarta. When[…] asked[…] about the sweatshops that surround the dump, she ‘spoke dreamily about how much she would like her son to get a job in one when he is older.’ To people like Tratiwoon[…] ‘a sweatshop represents a leap in living standards’” (41). How can we claim these workers are victims with a life dream like that being the reality? You can’t according to Heintz, an assistant research professor at the Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, who claims, “[the] logic is straightforward: new manufacturing jobs offer a higher income for workers in developing countries than do alternative economic activities. Simply put, [it is] believe[d] the benefits of the job creation outweigh any problem of poverty wages” (223). Sweatshop employees are benefiting from their work. They are being granted a better life: a job that they can work at proudly. Yet for some reason we have activists running around trying to fix the sweatshop crisis?

Mayer shares that “[s]weatshop employees[…] earn more money in this job than in any of their alternatives or they would do something else. They gain and so do their employers; the transaction is mutually advantageous” (607). No one is forcing workers in developing countries, or in North America to work at sweatshops. No one is dragging them kicking and screaming into the workplaces. “A worker chooses a particular job because she prefers it to her next-best alternative. To us, a low-paying job in Honduras or in Los Angele’s garment district seems horrible, but for many adults and children, it’s the best choice they have. You don’t make someone better off by taking away the best of her bad options” (Snyder 390). Sweatshops are not the end of the road for most workers; many of the workers have other options, but they choose to work in sweatshops since they can make the most money. They could choose to work in “[…]subsistence agriculture or day labor or scavenging, but these options are worse than employment in a sweatshop. The alternatives may involve no exploitation by others, but the exploitative option is viewed as preferable because it pays better (albeit badly)” (Mayer 609). These workers are making the best choices for themselves, their families, and their children. They have the right to do so, just like anyone else.

While “[t]hird world workers want to toil in sweatshops, recognizing that it improves their prospects,” (Rothstein 41) we seem to think we should change the way things are done. We clearly have different standards of living in the Western world than any developing country. Rothstein feels that “[i]t is arrogant (or worse) for Westerners to try to prevent [workers in developing countries] from exercising their judgment about what is in their own best interests” (Rothstein 41). Who are we to decide for them where they will or will not work? Who are we to take away the best wage they have ever had?

Many in the West do not seem to realize what a huge opportunity sweatshops are for workers around the world. No, sweatshops are not ideal, but trying to improve the standards in them can create havoc for their workers. As Heintz points out “[o]ne effect of implementing better standards can be a loss of much-needed employment opportunities” (224). Activists fight for the rights of the workers in sweatshops and believe they are making a difference in the workers lives, but they may actually cause the workers their jobs. A case Cravey, an associate professor of geography at the University of North Carolina, explains that “[w]ith wider support, [the] workers [at the PVH factory in Guatemala] signed the first collective bargaining agreement in the maquila sector in Guatemala. Unfortunately however, PVH shifted production to nearby locations and closed the factory shortly afterward” (205). Activists don’t necessarily help the workers in the long run, as when a nation enforces “[…]minimum wages or working conditions, industry[…] move[s] to one where there [is] no enforcement. The result [is] destruction of hopes and dreams, indeed the lives, of workers in these plants” (Rothstein 41). Workers will be left in ruins with no jobs, and activists will go home to their comfortable Western lives, and continue on. Who is that really helping?

Sweatshops change lives. They better lives. Those lives are not ours in the West; they are the lives of workers in developing nations around the world. Consumers need to keep buying goods created in sweatshops so developing countries can continue to grow and develop, by keeping their citizens employed.

Works Cited

Calder, Todd. “Shared Responsibility, Global Structural Injustice, and Restitution.” Social Theory & Practice 36.2 (2010): 263-290. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

Cravey, Altha J. “Students and The Anti-Sweatshop Movement.” Antipode 36.2 (2004): 203-208. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

Heintz, James. “Beyond Sweatshops: Employment, Labor Market Security and Global Inequality.” Antipode 36.2 (2004): 222-226. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

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Canadians and Americans Abroad

A paper I wrote for my English class – American friends please don’t take offence, as I know you are well traveled! I thought it went well with the theme of my page – all be it a tad more formal than the rest of my writing.

“Welcome to Vancouver, Canada, ladies and gentlemen, it’s currently 2:55 Pacific time. The outside temperature is fifteen degrees Celsius and we have a slight drizzle. We hope you enjoy your stay in Vancouver, or enjoyed your time away.” Many of us Vancouverites have heard this announcement many times in our lives. At this point you stand up, grab all of your carry-on items, and wait in the jammed airplane aisle before walking off the plane, and taking a deep breath of our amazing, unmistakable Vancouver air. You’re home, and though you may have been traveling for two days by this point, had a crying baby driving you crazy on the plane, left a loved one in tears on the other side of the world or are just getting home after an amazing and life changing time away, you can’t help but smile at this point. We love to travel in Canada, we love to travel to the south, and we love to travel overseas. This is not the same as our North American counterparts, to the south. Canadians travel abroad more than Americans, are generally viewed in a better light, while also having more open minds in the new places they are visiting. We may live right next to each other, but we journey in very different ways.

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Do you remember your first trip outside of Canada? There’s a good chance it was across our only land border, to America. Canadians’ number one travel destination is the USA, while American’s number one pick is across their southern border to Mexico. A much larger percentage of Canadians have been across their southern border than Americans. Only twenty-nine percent of Americans have passports, according to the State Department Report put out in 2011. On the other hand, there are Canadians, of whom sixty-four percent have valid passports, according to Passport Canada’s 2010/2011 Report. Obviously, there are many more Americans than Canadians, so there’s still many more of them traveling, but percentagewise much more of our total population journeys out abroad. Canadians and Americans both travel most on home soil; road trips, camping, cottages and cabins are high on our lists of favourite choices. Both nations like to explore new places, but Canadians like to explore many more places than the Americans to our south. Why don’t Americans have the same desire to see the world as the Canucks to the North of them?

It might have a great deal to do with the fact that Canadians and Americans are viewed very differently by the world. While Americans might be seen as warmongers, Canadians are often thought to be peacekeepers. We live in our igloos and play lots of hockey. They rule the world and live in the ‘Land of the Free’. We proudly sew a maple leaf flag to our backpack before heading overseas, while many Americans don’t like to share that they are indeed American while away. While some of these might be stereotypes – they are the stereotypes that are believed by the world outside of North America. Clearly, Canada and America are admired and disliked for different things, but since America is constantly in the spotlight there are many more reasons for the world to criticize their ways. Would you want to cross the world, only to be looked down on? Americans do things, and the world takes notice, which may be why many Americans are quite happy just staying home, where they don’t have to explain or defend themselves. Canadians, on the other hand, are loved nearly everywhere they go in the world and want to see it all. We don’t stir the pot; some would offer up the idea that we don’t stand up for anything enough, but we Canadians are quite proud to be our neutral selves, and the world seems to appreciate it. To the world, Americans appear to be strong and powerful, while Canadians are viewed as quiet observers. Obviously, this is not the case where all Canadians, or all Americans are concerned, but it does seem to be the perspective from the outside.

North America is a multi-cultural haven. There are people from all parts of the world represented in both small and large ways. Canadians have always been open to having minorities represented – just look at Quebec. This piece of our history has created an open-minded nation. Canadians enjoy learning about different cultures, many of which are represented in Canada. We aren’t scared to do things in different ways when we venture away. Canadians are open to change and embrace differences. We want to learn and know about those who are or could be our neighbours. Americans like to do things their way, no matter where they are. They have had issues with many countries, throughout their history, who view the world different than them. This history is reflected when they travel; they enjoy the comforts of home, and have a harder time adapting. I’ll be honest; I, a Canadian, have had a hard time adapting while traveling – bed bugs in India, a hole in the ground for a toilet in Laos, and over fifty degree heat (while by Canadian standards dressed for fall) in the Emirates, but I jumped into life in those places, with both feet, and went with it. I got out of the bed bug infested house, carried tissues in my bag at all times, and sweat like a Canadian in the Middle East! Not all Canadians would have reacted the way I did, nor would all Americans have reacted differently, but when such a large percentage of your total population isn’t seeing anything different than their everyday, you’d have to guess it wouldn’t have been pretty! When really, all the differences are what make the world such an amazing place to explore!

We’re right next to each other, we have many things in common, think about many things in the same ways and have similar work and social lifestyles, yet when it comes to traveling abroad – it’s not parallel. A large percentage of Canadians venture overseas, while only a small percentage of Americans do the same. Canadians are appreciated overseas, and appreciate all overseas has to offer, while Americans have a harder time being admired in many places, and don’t adapt to new environments as easily as Canadians. Though we originally came from the same places to get to where we are, we don’t journey out in the same way anymore.