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It is so weird to already be writing about the closing to this experience. This is the last night at Miss Teen Canada and I am currently sitting in the dark in my hotel room working on some last-minute social media tasks. In spite of the late hour and stressful day that approaches, I am saddened by the concept that this will be one of the last tasks that I complete for Miss Teen Canada.
Our last few days as delegates were mainly spent in rehearsals for all of the routines that we will be performing tomorrow night at the final ceremony. This experience of hours in rehearsal brought delegates closer together and tested our ability to cooperate and have patience with each other. For the most part, I think we all passed that test with flying colors. What a great group of girls.
Just this night, we had the talent gala and I was blown away by each of the other girls’ talents. It’s crazy how you can get to know people so well and never find out such a talent that they have that makes them even more amazing than you had even known. This just demonstrates how – as humans, friends and family – we overlook the amazing things in each other constantly.
So many of the delegates’ friends, for example, might never have imagined that the delegate would be in such a huge competition as Miss Teen Canada. It’s as if we take the people that we know dearly for granted. We objectify those who we see as amazing, and the moment that we view someone as a person it becomes harder to recognize their capability. Truthfully, being a person is all that it takes to be in a competition like this. Being human is all that anyone needs. Recognizing one’s importance is the most important thing a person will ever do. I think that, if anything, that is what this experience has taught me the most.
Some say that it’s degrading to be put in a competition where you get judged on swimsuit, talent or evening gown. However, when we look a the full picture, we see an opposing story. This is a competition that combines all aspects of a young girls life – her fashion, her interests, her goals and beliefs – and encourages her to improve her life on each of these levels. It’s only through having a reason to do this that one will realize they can.
We absolutely can raise thousands of dollars for a cause. We absolutely can advocate our own beliefs. We can create social media websites and promote them. We can raise sponsorship all on our own.
Well it’s time for bed, and I have no idea what the final ceremony tomorrow night will bring. After all of this work, it’s finally time to see where we all place! It is insane to me, and many other delegates, that only one of us can win. Everyone is so beautiful in so many levels of their identity that it is impossible for us to determine a winner. Even more, it’s impossible to imagine that most of us will never see each other again. This week, all delegates had an opportunity to make friends from all over Canada with amazing women that we probably would never have met otherwise. There has been so much love and support throughout these girls this week that we could never have survived without.
So thank you to all of the pageant organizers and staff for all that they do for the youth of Canada. Undoubtedly, they ameliorate the future of every delegate that ever crosses their path, as well as of Canada as a whole. If the youth is the future, then Miss Teen Canada makes that future bright when they bring such a beautiful experience to girls like myself.
Day three of Miss Teen Canada was certainly a long one, beginning at 5am in the morning when we all needed to be ready and outside of our hotel doors. All were boarded on the bus by 5:30 and we were off and on our way to Breakfast Television! Many were very excited to be on the show, as it’s not every day that most people get to be on T.V! A few girls got a great chance to introduce themselves and talk about something interesting that has influenced them or their life.
After Breakfast Television, we were bussed off to a very cute and quiet café for breakfast. Quickly following this was a visit to the CNTower where we saw both a great view from the top and a great crowed of people who were interested in us and our crowns. Many of us had fun letting children try our crowns on and take pictures in them! So cute. Maybe one of them will be Miss Teen Canada one day! Well, after countless pictures, it was time for the scavenger hunt. This hunt took place in the Distillery District. Having never personally visited this district before, I was very pleased to have the chance to explore it. A group of friends and I discovered some great shops for gelato, soaps and clothing. Needless to say I will definitely be going back in the near future.
Next, we enjoyed a great lunch at Café Uno before moving along to the mall! Having been each given a $50 gift card by Costa Blanca, girls were in a frenzy to find some great clothes… which is NOT a hard feat in that store! Many actually bought new outfits for our visit to Much Music right then and there. The staff at Costa Blanca was amazing… they were absolutely beyond patient and collected in spite of having 65 crowned girls shopping in their store at once. All of us Miss Teen Canada delegates are so thankful for their generosity.
And now for that last big event of the day! We made it to Much Music and had a great time watching a rap battle, followed by a beat-box battle and finally a b-boy vs. b-gal battle. It was great to get to watch all of this happen up close and cheer on the competitors. A lot of us delegates are a regular audience to Much Music as well and were thrilled to get the chance to be behind the scenes.
All in all, it was a great day (no matter how busy). Of course it’s impossible to go through such a long day without getting some sore feet and muscles and feeling pretty tired. It is un-doubtable, however, that all of this was worth it in exchange for the Miss Teen Canada experience. No other seems to pack so many great opportunities into a day.
Day two at Miss Teen Canada – World 2013 was definitely a crucial and nerve-racking one. It consisted of several challenges that all delegates were marked on. These were an interview with the judges, a video shoot and a photo shoot. All girls were to wear casual clothing and have their other necessary outfits with them outside of their door at about 8am. From there on, everyone was escorted to breakfast and then upstairs to the top floor where all of the pageant activity inside of the hotel is held.
A bit of a wait was necessary for all girls before getting to their challenges, as EVERYONE needed hair and makeup done first. What a few other delegates and I found, however, is that this wait could be put to very good use. We went over questions that we would be asked in our video interview and practiced answering ridiculous questions to prepare ourselves for the interview with the judges. This preparation was definitely a confidence booster that I think contributed to the great outcome of these activities for me!
While these activities started to come to a close, training began for proper pageant walks. Simple choreography was given (by the remarkable man, James, who walks fabulously in heels), and we were taught simple moves such as half-turns. James went through everything thoroughly with us, answered all questions and left us with pointers to think about. He was kind but made sure to stress the importance of listening and obedience. I truly enjoyed his class and am sure that many other girls look forward to seeing him again, as I do.
When walking class finished, delegates were brought to the lunch room to pick up a late dinner and then head upstairs to bed. Time to prepare for yet another big day! What awaits us? Breakfast Television, Much Music, a scavenger hunt in the Distillery District and shopping at Costa Blanca. How generous of Costa Blanca to give EACH of us 65 delegates a $50 gift card! Amazing.
Alright, so it’s bed time after day 1 of Miss Teen Canada! Already, this whole experience is going by SO fast. I can definitely say that I’m thrilled to be here after all of the hard work that I’ve done in anticipation. I feel that this work is already paying off, as I’m able to enjoy this amazing opportunity without a single regret. I feel that I have worked to earn being here.
So, what has this “amazing opportunity” consisted of so far? On day one, yesterday, all of us delegates got a chance to meet each other. Beautiful, accomplished young ladies met up from all over Canada. It was a little hectic for the organizers, having to collect us all from trains, planes and cars and bring us to the hotel and our rooms. Upon arriving to my own room, I was lucky enough to meet a girl name Natasha. She’s a kind, funny, awesome roommate… She’s also prooobably a little tidier than myself (sorry Natasha)! Upon being put in our rooms, us delegates all had time to socialize and connect with our roommates, as we were not allowed to leave until being escorted to an event. Delegates are not given room keys as a safety and organizational measure. This way, after bringing us to our rooms, chaperones always know that we are there and safe. These are busy days after all! I’m not sure anyone would argue about being sent to bed. 🙂
Events on the first night consisted of registration and a welcome party. At registration, we basically handed in proof of our hard work. This included a USB holding pictures of us in sash and crown, a list of our fundraising events, a list of our media appearance and interviews, our donation to Free the Children and an optional essay to demonstrate our academic strength. I was quite excited to hand in a $3500 cheque for Free the Children as a result of my perseverance AND the support I’ve received from my community!
The welcome party, which came right after, was where we met with many of the pageant’s sponsors. These included Hi-Tec footwear, That’s so Sun makeup, Me to We style, PS by Pretty Sweet and Schwarzkopf Professional. These sponsors offered us free samples of their products. In fact, Hi-Tec footwear even gave us each a new pair of shoes!
When the night was done, we were brought back to our rooms where we prepared for the busy morning awaiting us. Knowing that the following day would hold an interview with the judges, a video shoot and a photo shoot was definitely a nerve-racking and exciting concept!
For over 35 years S-Trip! has been a leader in student travel providing life-changing trips to over 40,000 students annually in over 40 destinations around the world. S-Trip! travelers are encouraged to become global citizens; opening their eyes to new cultures, languages, and experiences. Recently named Profit Magazine’s 25th fastest growing company in Canada, and recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies by Deloitte and CIBC, S-Trip! is a leader in student travel in North America. Find out more at www.s-trip.com
My own dream vacation with S-Trip would undoubtedly be one taking place in Mexico. I was so thrilled when I found that it was one of this company’s available destinations! I actually have already had the pleasure of visiting Mexico, about two years ago. The country quickly stole my heart and affections FOOD. I could not possibly get enough of the hot sun, vibrant culture and bustling streets filled with joyous people. Given the chance, I would love to return to this unique location and fulfil a few of the tentative plans that I had to forfeit during my former, time-limited visit.
Picture from InspiringTravellers.com
Although many tend to focus on the troubled and dangerous aspects of the country, it’s important to see that every culture has a multifaceted identity. Sure, Mexico has a high crime rate and it’s important to pack your street smarts when headed there. In taking caution, however, one is privileged to experience the more endearing qualities of this nation. Mingling in vibrant street markets, soaking up the sun, listening to cultural music and swimming in the ocean water are just a few of the perks that make this time so worth it.
Picture from BlogSpot.com
Most of my interest in visiting Mexico actually comes from a desire to help the country economically in the future. I am genuinely troubled by the presence of sweat-shops that riddle this society. I find that many first-world nations (including Canada), take advantage of countries with lower economies by establishing their low-paying factories in them and recruiting impoverished workers. It seems that our societies thrive off of the benefits that we reap from this process. Many individuals who take part in it are both naive and submissive to the effects of this trade. I would love to raise awareness in Canada and the U.S.A about the reality of mass production in these factories. By publicizing it from a closer point of view, maybe I can bring the issue to a more personal level for those back home. I hope that I can shed some light on the incomprehensibly long work hours without a break, the use of children as workers and the harsh punishments distributed to employees for small mistakes. To get a better feel of how to start this project, I would actually love to tour around some of the more impoverished parts of Mexico. I would love to have an opportunity to interview a handful of sweat-shop employees. Some locations that peak my personal interest include Chiapas and New Mexico where I know that much off this production is common.
Picture from Utne.com
On a more positive note, I am thankful to be able to help this country just by being a tourist there. By providing highly active buyers to their many markets and industries, tourism is one of the most direct ways that our country benefits less fortunate ones. Also, in supporting a country this way, one can have the opportunity to enjoy the cultural attractions. In Mexico, these include zip-lining, surfing, shopping in local markets and visiting some divine sights such as the ancient Mayan ruins. I strongly support and appreciate what S-trip does by promoting tourism, especially in youth, to countries such as Mexico. As a travel counsellor in Wawa Ontario, I am highly aware of tourism and its benefits to my own community. Now, why should grad students consider booking a trip with this company?
Beyond helping with another country’s economy, S-Trip! takes student travellers on unforgettable adventures around the world. One can celebrate the exciting conclusion of high school in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica or Bahamas with all their friends on Grad Trip. Spend a weekend skiing or snowboarding at one of Canada’s premier mountain resorts on Ski Trip. Experience culture, sightseeing and events in Montreal or Quebec City on Busaway. Make a difference in an underdeveloped country on an impactful student Volunteer Trip. Explore the culture and history of Europe on Euro Adventure. For more information visit www.s-trip.com.
Picture from S-trip.com
An Eco-Friendly building is defined as an enclosed construction or edifice that is not harmful to the environment. Many of these exist all around the world, including one in Singapore which is sponsored by the National University. This building is actually constructed of “photovoltaic panel”, which works to convert solar energy into electrical power. Using the solar-energy that is infinitely and naturally available is a very strategic way to generate electricity. We never have to worry about running out of it, as we do fossil fuels, because about 89 PW (petawatts) of it strikes the earth’s surface every day. That is thousands of times more energy than humans consume daily on average. This leads many people to predict a solar-energy-revolution that will substantially help eliminate pollution and impede global warming. Although solar power is currently about five times more expensive than “dirtier” energy such as coal and nuclear sources, this difference begins to recede as the latter resources run out and increase in price. The future of solar energy looks promising.
Another example of a prestigious piece of Eco-friendly architecture is “100 Park Avenue”, in New York. This building is silver certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental) for its Eco-friendly characteristics. These include its green, water-recycling roofs which have been created by a company called “Xero Flor”. The American firm works to provide a water-recycling system that’s efficient, low maintenance and lightweight. Although the system is based off of a European design, the company has done a great job of adapting it to their own approach. Pre-vegetated mats are used to absorb any precipitation that collects on the roof. As plants grow atop the building, they help to insulate it internally (reducing need for electric insulation), filter the air around (eliminating some pollutants from the atmosphere), and create agricultural space as efficient use of available rain water. The list of further environmental benefits is both long, and diverse. This New York building in specific is also characterized by its abundance of windows, which means that less electricity is needed to light its offices during daylight hours.
Many other popular features are available for Eco-friendly construction; some of which are more Eco-friendly roofs. For example, it’s not uncommon to see a flat, rubber or white roof. Some people don’t notice upon observing them, however, that they’re designed to benefit the environment. Flat roofs are low maintenance, which means that a little material goes a long way through time, instead of being wasted. Rubber roofs are usually made of recycled tires and white roofs work to regulate a building’s temperature and eliminate the need for electrical heating and conditioning. Some may even install a solar panel in their roof to convert solar energy to electricity; again through the photovoltaic approach. I’m proud to say that the United Church in my own town (where I was baptized as a child), actually had solar panels installed in its roof earlier this year. It is great to see such a local enthusiasm for a healthy environment. Not once over my last few visits did anybody have to reach for a light switch!
One more common course of action for Eco-enthusiasts is to seek out Eco-friendly materials when building. This helps eliminate the green house gasses caused by substances such as dry-wall (the third leading producer of these fumes). Many replace the use of dry wall with something called EcoRock. This is a similar product that can be used the same way. The only difference is that EcoRock is created through a series of natural chemical reactions. This eliminates the many stages of environment-harmful production that are necessary in creating drywall.
As John F. Kennedy once said, “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet”. It seems that this truth becomes more and more difficult for people to ignore over time. Since Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on the use of renewable resources and economic awareness in 1910, we’ve watched as society becomes more and more conservative in their actions regarding the planet. I’m proud to see the development of companies that supply world-healthy building materials; amongst them TioCoat, Xero Flor, EcoWay Ltd. and Eco Building Resource.Ltd. I hope that these companies continue to grow in abundance and that our society proceeds in its forward motion towards a healthier relationship with the environment.