Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
The summer after I turned thirteen, my parents encouraged me to get a summer job. I had no idea how to get a job, so I wandered down to the local student summer employment office for some advice. During my meeting with the job counsellor, I was asked if I would be interested in working at the courthouse for a few days doing some landscaping. I was so excited. My first job! Of course I accepted, so she told me to report to the landscaping office at the courthouse the following morning. Being thirteen, I didn’t take any notes, so I completely forgot the name of the person I was supposed to meet at 8:00 AM. Oh well, I would figure it out.
I wasn’t much of a morning person at that time, but that morning I was up and ready to go. I was so proud to have a job and I looked forward to getting paid for my own work, not some errand I had done for someone I knew. I jumped on my bike and rode off to the courthouse in search of the mystery person I had already forgotten. Upon arriving at the back parking lot, I locked up my bike and headed into the first door I could find. After some wandering around some back hallways, someone in an office came out and asked me if I was Jason. “Nope, Nathan,” I replied. “I’m sure it is just a typo,” he mumbled as he ushered me into his office. “You’re smaller than I expected,” he chuckled. I didn’t laugh. Continue reading Helping
Image courtesy of Ben Grey
I grew up in a small town in Canada before moving to the ‘big city’ of Calgary when I was 14. One major difference I noticed right away was the disparity between the haves and have nots. Sure, there was rich and poor in the town I had grown up in, but I don’t remember seeing it displayed in such a noticeable way as I did in Calgary.
For the most part, my parents never made any remarks about a person’s wealth, but there was this one friend of my parents who had a lot of money and owned property in various places including a cabin in Montana. She drove a nice car, but nothing flashy. She didn’t act rich, but she certainly was. One day, she was over at our place and the topic of skiing came up. She mentioned that she had this place in Montana and that she was more than happy to have people stay there for free any time we wanted. It wasn’t one of those ‘I’ll make the offer so that I can show you how much money I have’ type of statements, it was a genuine ‘what’s mine is yours’ sort of thing. After she left, my parents remarked that it wasn’t good or bad to be rich, it is what you do with what you have that makes the difference.
Another story comes from an offbeat British fellow named Jamie McDonald who is currently running across Canada to raise money for various hospitals for sick children. He doesn’t have a support team or even a real plan other than to get across Canada before his visa runs out! He is a genuinely nice guy who would give someone the shirt off his back if need be. Don’t take my word for it, read his posts on Twitter and Facebook and you will see that he doesn’t have much, but he is giving all that he can to help others.
I am starting to realize how important it is that we share with others what we have in terms of our experience and expertise. Continue reading Sharing
Image courtesy of Tim Green
One of the tasks I was assigned while working for a shipping company in Lithuania was to read over and edit various documents that had been translated (I use that term loosely here) into English. While some of the documents had been done by a trained specialist and were quite good, there were others that were handed to me that were ‘translated’ by someone named Google. You can imagine the difficulties I faced trying to decipher what was trying to be communicated and I would often have to ask for the Lithuanian version as a comparison. Even though my Lithuanian was weak, I could often piece together what was written and then edit that into something that understandable in English.
I noticed something interesting after doing a few of these documents. While I wouldn’t say that I was make great strides in my acquisition of the Lithuanian language, I was able to piece together some common phrases that I could use in my everyday life. It was this process of deciphering and interpreting the language that I was able to make connections in the language for myself. It also helped me find places where I could help my students in their language learning process.
I came across an interesting journal article the other day on the role of the ‘giver’ in peer-editing. Continue reading Giving