The Breakout Project is coming to Kingston in May

Global Education --- Image by © Images.com/Corbis

1 Million Teachers is a compelling Project that I just had to help.
www.breakoutproject.com

A bit of history and context:
I read an article a few weeks ago in Kingston’s local newspaper, the Whig Standard.

I was immediately struck by the scope of both the breakout project and the 1 Million Teachers Project specifically.

Growing up poor, in a village called Havelock, population 1200, with a Father who couldn’t read or write, I was immediately drawn to Hakeem and his dream team’s project. I reached out to Hakeem and his team, Afreen and Rizma to offer whatever support I can, in whatever way I can.

As a result Innovate Kingston asked if they could interview me and answer the following questions:

I thought you might be interested in reading my answers.

Interview Questions:

  1. What most excites you about the 1 Million Teachers project?
  2. What made you interested in Education?
  3. From your experience in both Canada and Nigeria, what are some of the biggest differences, in terms of education and opportunities?
  4. Do you have a teacher that has helped shape your life? How did they do this? and Where would you be without that influence?
  5. How can your experience in Canada help you to give back to Nigeria and other countries?
  6. If you could give one piece of advice, or encouragement to teachers, what would it be?

My Answers:

  1. It would be very difficult for me to narrow my response down to one thing and one thing only that excites me about the 1 Million Teachers project because there are so many things that get my engines revved, about this project.
     
    For starters the goal is admirable and that got me right away when I read the article in the Whig Standard, meeting Hakeem and his team further inspired me and re awakened an intense emotional desire to do something to help, their compassion and authenticity to make a difference in the world further compelled me to offer my assistance. Education has always been key to me, I used to teach at St. Lawrence College and Queens University, new courses that I developed and was quite passionate about.
  2. My interest in education goes back to my childhood. My Father always said that we, as his children, were to “be seen and not heard”. Teaching is about being seen and heard!
     
    I had such admiration for my teachers and education growing up because I knew that is what would lift me up & out of living below the poverty line. Given my Father couldn’t read or write I saw the intrinsic value of education even though he didn’t want me to go to University and practically put his fist through our kitchen table when I said I was going to Queens University.
     
    This was one of the first times I ever stood up to my Father, it was that important to me.
     
    Don’t get me wrong, my Father was an amazing man who, even though he was pulled out of school in grade 3 to help on the farm when his older brothers went off to war. My Dad was a self taught; mason, plumber, welder and hoisting engineer AND the secretary of his local chapter of the Steel Workers Union (if we had more time I’d love to tell you more of that story and how he pulled that off without anyone knowing he was “illiterate”– he was full of surprises and certainly taught me through his behaviour and actions that you don’t need to let anything get in your way of your dreams and goals.
     
    That’s what stood out for me with Hakeem, he’s determined and has such excitement attached to this project it’s easy to join and be a part of it knowing that this dream will become a reality.
  3. I had many teachers who helped shape my life and some who couldn’t see beyond the working class kid whose academic scores weren’t the best because I was in survival mode a lot of the time in my younger life, working and going to school, cooking meals so my Mom could take care of another family of five kids, most of whom were younger than her own kids.
    There were teachers who could see beyond the “shack” house we lived in, the way I spoke, the food I ate. They were the ones who supported and encouraged me to go on and get a degree, they were the ones who told me repeatedly I could do it! Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, living my own dreams, running a successful business and finally learning how to ride a horse and, we now own two of them!
  4. My experience in Canada can help because I now have expertise and resources that I want to share with this project and, I have my own experience of how I lifted myself up, despite so many challenges and obstacles, to make a difference in my life and my hope is to make a difference in the world as well.
  5. One piece of advice to Teachers, oh boy, only one!
     
    Be compassionate which can say a lot as one piece of advice including; be kind, be aware that behind each child is a soul that really wants to make a difference in their own world for themselves first and foremost, for their families and then they can go on to make a difference in the world, just like the rest of us.
     
    Don’t underestimate the power of a determined child inspired by a dream! I was once one myself.

Penguins can Fly and Make Their Dreams a Reality

I had a lunch a couple weeks ago with my friend Anita Mercier. Just starting to work for the Kingston YMCA and already passionate about the services provided there, especially the Penguins (www.penguinscanfly.ca). This program assists kids with disabilities and their families, allowing them through sport to “explore their abilities and find within themselves the confidence to pursue their goals and the capacity to develop the skills that will help them see the many possibilities for their future.”

As a Kingstonian I am very aware of Vicki Keith whose swimming accomplishments are exemplary along with her drive to support the Penguins swim team. I remember years ago being personally inspired by Vicki’s story when she was a Key Note Speaker at a conference I attended, the topic of which now escapes me however the impression Vicki made on me has not. So, it only makes sense that following my conversation with Anita I wanted to do something special to raise money for the Penguins whose motto is “nothing is impossible.

When faced with a roadblock, or hurdle, they know how to overcome it. They learn to strive and set goals. They explore their own limits, push beyond past experiences and take on new challenges.”

Sounds like making dreams a reality, don’t you agree. This is why I am donating all the proceeds from the sale of my book Making Your Dreams a Reality: Taking the Mystery out of Financial Planning not the Magic on International Women’s Day - March 8th, please go to our home page for more details. We appreciate your support.