Written by Michael Yang UBC Teacher Candidate placed at Byrne Creek for a 3 week Community Field Experience. What does community look like in a school? In my enriching and all-too short 3 weeks at Byrne Creek, I stepped into something that I am still trying to make sense of. I was able to witness
In a world where it seems no-one agrees on anything, a world where politics divides, religion divides, and race and even cultural borders seem to divide, dignity is something that everyone can agree on.” Global Dignity Co-Founders
“Global Dignity is the brainchild of three friends, concerned global citizens who met as Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum: HRH Crown Prince Haakon (Norway), Professor Pekka Himanen (Finland) and founder of Operation HOPE, John Hope Bryant (United States).
The three friends realized that the one thing that everyone in the world could agree on, irrespective of their differences is: We all want our Dignity to be recognized. Dignity is the very foundation of our humanity. Dignity is universal. Dignity is also the source of human rights.
The co-founders created Global Dignity in 2006. Since then they have worked with many Young Global Leaders and other partners in over 40 countries, hosting what are known as Dignity Days. This involves visiting local schools and communities around the world and teaching a “course in dignity” to youth.” (This passage was found here on the Global Dignity home page).
This is the second year that Canada has participated in Global Dignity Day and Byrne Creek Secondary was privileged to be invited to participate this year. With students from more than 60 different countries, diversity is the norm and the school is always seeking ways to connect and unite people that come from a variety of different backgrounds.
The school hosted workshops the day before October 16, 2012 and the day of Global Dignity Day October 17, 2012 with keynote speakers and a teleconference with 12 sites in Canada and one site in Taiwan.
Keynotes for the interactive workshop were Christopher Logan and Orville Lee. Christopher Logan is a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, who was named as the city chair of Global Dignity, Hong Kong. He gave us the context of how Global Dignity Day started. We were very lucky to have him at Byrne Creek!
Orville Lee, former CFL player and SFU Alumni, was convincing as he described how he gained confidence and ultimately dignity as he grew up. He engaged our students with the story of coming to Canada from Jamaican as a young boy and emphasized how ‘Your dignity is your destiny. “ He encouraged everyone to reach out and ask those around you for guidance, and stressed that when people see you working so hard to be a better person and achieve, they will work with you towards success so you don’t have to do this alone. Orville Lee explained how he found his individual dignity and respect through sport. He had a very successful football career and when he retired, he and his wife Ruth Lee started the Pathfinder Youth Society to help vulnerable youth transition.
Students and staff were very excited to have the opportunity to hear the keynotes stories! The message from both was powerful: each of us, in the everyday actions/choices that we make, help shape our world. Living with dignity and promoting a world filled with dignity depends on the simple fact that we all make choices each day that shape our world. The little things that we do, the everyday actions that all people are capable of, influence the world that we live in.
Students worked on their own stories of dignity, sharing them within this school community of peers and then wrote their stories and set a goal to commit to an action that promotes dignity in their world.
We learned that the conversation about what dignity means to each person can vary, but that finding that one exact definition is not the point. It is about creating the space and time to have these important conversations and work together to create a world filled global citizens that understand the importance and rights for all to live with dignity.
Thank you to all of our Byrne Creek partners, teachers and students for making this a successful event. Thank you so very much to our speakers for becoming an important part of Byrne Creek’s story. And a special thank you to Senator Yonah Martin for inviting us to participate and for being such a fantastic role model for living one’s life with Dignity.
Byrne Creek is a school that leads with HEART (Honestly, Empathy, Acheivement, Respect and Teamwork). Last year the school received the ASCD’s Vision in Action: Whole Child Award recognizing the staff’s unique work remaining adaptive and flexible in educational programming initiatives that support the whole child’s development (academic and social emotional). Byrne Creek is look forward to Global Dignity Day next year! We have a Centre for Dialogue videoconference facility and are hoping to find a “Buddy” school to share in our discussion. If you are interested please let us know!
David Starr, principal of Edmonds Community School in Burnaby (one of Byrne Creek Secondary School’s feeder Elementary Schools) wrote a book, released a few weeks ago, called From Bombs to Books. Starr’s love of his school community is evident as he shares the difficult journeys of so many of our communities Refugee families. It is a very powerful book about courage, survival and belonging. And it is well worth a read!!!
I am humbled by the resilience and sheer tenacity of so many of our families’ arrival stories into Canada! Our students and community is so fortunate to be able to have access to this sort of strength, wisdom and experience. And I have been thinking a lot lately about how we might connect with this gift that is often hidden in plain sight.
Over the past few months Byrne Creek Secondary and the Canucks Family Education Centre have hosted workshops at Byrne Creek for parents and youth to help families better transition into Canadian culture.
This past week we held a workshop World Café titled “The Community and You.” The questions served up to parents and youth during this session were: What are your likes, passions, interests, and skills? And what would you like to share with the community?
The youth engagement and suggestions were phenomenal! Their ideas were very impressive. They offered the likes of holding FaceBook training for parents and mentorship/leadership workshops with younger children.
Parents were also very generous with their offerings. Out of this session we have the beginnings of the following:
A very experienced pediatrician from Afghanistan will be holding workshops for parents on family health, a university professor of English from Russia will be holding TOFEL preparation training sessions for parents, and English (and perhaps Russian) conversation classes for youth and a university Economics Professor from Malaysia has offered to lead financial planning workshops for parents and youth in our community.
This is some of the wealth that we are hoping to connect with more and more as Byrne Creek transitions into a Community School. We will be holding more such workshops, and we are beginning to look for funding to maintain such initiatives (for example, if materials are required).
Welcome to the Community Room! My name is Iha Farquhar and I am Byrne Creek Secondary’s Community School Coordinator. I will be the lead writer for this Blog. Although from time to time, guest bloggers will join me. If you are interested in guest blogging please let me know.
I’ll start my first Blog with a super speedy introduction to me.
My passion is positive community building! I believe that there is no work more important than creating healthy, abundant communities where each child has the opportunity to grow up safe, loved, and well educated.
I am an experienced teacher and educational consultant with over thirteen years experience working with diverse community partners in developing and implementing school curriculum and community programs in BC, Quebec and Bermuda. I am also a Masters of Arts in Leadership graduate.
So…that’s the professional me. There is also the person-me. I volunteer for a few things: I’m a board member for a non-profit called ArtQuake and I am a program coordinator for Girl Trip, a Stratosphere and Passion Foundation initiative.
I enjoy everything to do with the water: swimming, sailing, kayaking. And…I grew up on a farm with a big family in Langley, BC. I love learning new things. Right now, I am learning the guitar, I just registered in a Curling league and I am learning to cook healthy gluten free foods. So, that is me in a nutshell.
My intention in creating this Blog is to provide a glimpse into what is happening on our journey towards full Community School status here at Byrne Creek and…to gather as much wisdom from you the readers, as I can. I may Blog about challenges, lessons learned, ideas that I would like feedback on, to celebrate, or to share information.
The Byrne Creek community and I are at the start of a very exciting ten months of connecting, experimenting, reflecting and learning. I invite you to join us and join in…along the way.