Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The Books! The FAQs

Books…ever wondered what it takes to get a book from your hands into the hands of child in Ethiopia?  I’ve been communicating with Jane Kurtz recently about transporting Mark Zelinski’s photography books,  and she’s written a blogpost about the process in general…it’s fascinating…have a look.



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Hi Everyone,

I would like to introduce you to two wonderful gentlemen who, each in their own way, have helped Ethiopia Reads today.

First, there is my friend and colleague Dave Robinson.  I met Dave years ago when I first came to Niagara College. Dave has been the brains, the imagination and the heart in the New Media Web Design program at Niagara since…forever, and he has only just retired this past year.

You see, I have this hair-brained  brilliant idea to create some amazing jewelry that I saw online and use it for fundraising.  So, I do some research, find out how to make it and realize that I need to learn photoshop!!  Of course, I don’t know the first thing about it.  So, I contact Dave….next thing I know, we’re having a 5 hour coffee and I am on my way to being, in Dave’s words,  “A Photoshop Goddess,” despite my cranky computer!

Dave is seriously one of the nicest people I have ever met, and he  has amazing skills and creativity, so if you’re interested, he’ll be coming out of retirement to teach some night classes at the college next fall!  So, stay tuned for that… and for my new line of jewelry!

Second, I would like to introduce you to the beautiful photographs and the big heart of Mark Zelinski. Mark is an amazing photographer from Hamilton who, in a very wonderful way, has woven global social responsibility into his professional career. Mark has spent the last 35 years traveling and photographing the most amazing people and places on our planet, and now he is giving back.  This is what he is doing with one of his books called “Untitled”:

Diverse, intimate cultural portraits comprise a global family album. The portraits for “Untitled” were taken in 70 countries over a 35-year period. The book is not for sale. It contains no words, and has been created exclusively as a gift to children and illiterate adults in deprived areas of the world with little or no access to books or internet. Many charities are distributing the book internationally.

So, Mark has generously offered to help our fundraiser, and I will be going to meet him on Sunday. He will be donating beautiful picture books of world photography to several Ethiopian children’s libraries as well as providing  me with several books to use in fundraising. I will also arrange for him to come and speak at Niagara College…probably next Fall.  I think the students will love him!

For more information about Mark and to have a look at his photography, here is the link to his website.


So, to Dave and Mark!

THANK YOU and welcome to the Ethiopia Reads fundraising family!


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Hi Everyone,

Last Friday night, I went to a Niagara College student event called “Culture Shock” – A White and Black Affair.  This event was organized by a few very dedicated students who wanted to do something for Black History month. It didn’t quite get off the ground in the month of March, but they were committed to do it in April.  As I have come to appreciate, organizing this kind of event, or any kind of event for that matter, is not easy, so it must be especially difficult when you are a young, full-time student.

But,  it was wonderful!  There must have been around 60 people in attendance, and the students did a great job.  One young woman did a “spoken word” performance entitled “Love Everyone”, which really touched my heart.  I am hoping to post a copy of her poem plus a few event photos here on my blog at some point. There was also an informational chat about Rastafari culture, cross cultural music videos,  very entertaining dance performances, a piano number, and even a little singing.   There was also great Caribbean, Latin and Japanese food and lots of fun door prizes!

The students chose to donate a portion of the ticket price to two charities:  The Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Relief and our Ethiopia Reads Library.  I was honoured.  I set up my bookmarks and chocolates and made $25.  One young woman put one dark chocolate flower and one white chocolate flower in her hair…great advertising!  I also went up on stage to give a brief powerpoint presentation about my Rotary experience in Ethiopia and Uganda  and how I came to start the fundraiser.  I was a little nervous, and the cute video of the kids with the donkey-mobile didn’t work…but, oh well!  (Thanks to Carolyn, Betty Ann and Rick for the moral support!!)

Anyway, it was a small event and they couldn’t have made much money, so as I was leaving, the student organizer said to me “Next year will be better”.  And, I’m sure it will, but you know that doesn’t really matter.  The people who came out had a great time, and I was genuinely moved by the nature of the event itself!  A small group of young people genuinely wanting to share and celebrate their cultures, have a fun time together and just do something good.  To my way of thinking, this event was  a HUGE SUCCESS…on OH SO MANY LEVELS!

With young global citizens like these, I must say the future looks very, very bright! Thank you to Kenny, Shane and all of the organizers, SAC, NC International Club, Niagara International Dept., especially Laura and Nattalie, and to all of the students and staff who came out to this great event!

Shari     xoxo

p.s.  Here’s a video to inspire you the way those students inspired me.

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Many thanks to Chapters and to everyone who attended our International Story Time.  Chapters is donating 10% of your purchases which is $178.  We also raised money recently with chocolate and bookmark sales, so the thermometer is rising…have look! We have reached almost 25% of the goal!  THANK YOU!

I hope you enjoy this video about the Indigo  Love of Reading Fund.

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Some kids at the Singapore American School created a Youtube project on literacy awareness in 2007.

They say what I want to say… (just click…watch on youtube)

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Hello Everyone,

Today is March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, and without a second thought I dug out the only green sweater that I have in the closet. I have some Irish roots on my mother’s side of the family, and it has always been a holiday that we have enjoyed.  Although I strongly identify as a Canadian, like many, I have a need to connect with my cultural heritage and roots. I love the Irish proverbs and quotations, and this little photo represents the romantic notions that I have of Ireland, a place I’ve never seen…the green, the land, the fairies, the lullabies, the songs, the poetry, the hope, the hardship, the temperament…

And then I googled Irish Immigration... as you know,  Irish life was not all “beer and roses”. Have a quick look at this little summary of Irish immigration  (very short / very readable).  As I was reading, it occurred to me that you could take the world IRISH and substitute it with the nationality of ANY immigrant or refugee. All have experienced some form of hardship in their homeland, prompting even more hardship as they attempt to create a life for their families in a new country.  It seems that history just repeats itself, but we just seem to have a very short memory. In fact, we are all immigrants of some kind, of one generation or another. How is it that we can feel nostalgic and compassionate for the hardships of the Irish immigrants of long ago…but not for those on our doorstep today?





Are they really so different?

It is said,” We are all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”…well, to my way of thinking, that is very, very true!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,  Shari

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My Multi-talented Mom!

Hi Everyone,

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my Mom (and my sister!) was the magic behind those lovely little cupcakes and other wonderful baked goods in our Valentine’s Day Sale.   What you might not know is what she’s been up to behind the scenes and what is coming up.  Although very much a part of the “sandwich generation”…caught somewhere between  my 7 year old nephew and my two Grammas…my Mom has also been helping me every step of the way, putting her creativity and organizational skills to the dozens of tasks of this fundraiser.  Here’s is a glimpse of just a couple of the things she has been up to lately:

1. She’s been collecting books and other items for a Summer Garage Sale. If you have any books or other things you want to donate, I’m keeping a blue rubbermaid container in my car for delivery to her.

2. She’s organizing a “Scentsy” Party (wickless candles and warmers) with her friends and colleagues from Burlington.  It looks like a great little product, so let me know if you want to attend the party or order one.  I can bring in a catalogue , and 20% of the purchase will go toward our library. There are so many great styles; although, I’m partial to the travel tin and the little toy lamb, myself.

Here’s the link to the Scentsy Canada website.


3. She’s beading.  Our next new craft is BEADED BOOKMARKS . I have made some paper ones to hand out with information, but it was my room-mate Lynn who came up with the idea of beaded bookmarks.  I’ve been  consulting with my friend Julianne, who makes beautiful beaded rings, my sister, who has done beading in the past, and my Mom, who has a friend that makes beaded bookmarks.  At first, I will make 25 and my Mom will make 25.  We will see how it goes; how much it costs to produce, how much time it takes etc. etc.  We will try to sell them at some of the events coming up.  I had a look at some examples online and there are so many lovely variations.  If you have any suggestions about styles that you like, or what the price should be, we’re looking for advice here.

Of course, we’re all getting excited, not only about our library fundraisers, but about the adoption of my little girl!  We are all hoping it will happen this year and thinking and planning ahead to those happy times too!


Love, Shari


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