Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jerome Morgan and T.O. 2 Rio

My name is Jerome Morgan and I am a fourth year psychology student. Over the summer I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a four-week experiential learning project. This project was called “T.O. 2 RIO” and was also an initiative I developed for the Faculty of Arts Experiential Learning Grant. I have always wanted to connect social justice work in the community to academic learning. The Faculty of Arts Grant gave me that opportunity to get support for something I was passionate about.

When I was in Brazil I was able to learn and grow with the community through participation in community festivals, initiatives and volunteering in youth programs. I was given the opportunity to build stronger bonds with my host family, learn more about the social environment of the low income and racialized communities of Rio de Janeiro. I also shared who I was as a university student, Canadian and eldest of 6 children, with Jamaican/African ancestry with the community. The overall experience challenged me in a way to live my life today, better than yesterday. I also recognized that this initiative opened up a huge window of knowledge and awareness around my future goals.

I am currently working with Dr. Wade Pickren, (a cultural psychologist) on a cross-cultural research practicum project and I will be earning a credit at the end of the semester. This research project looks at Liberation psychology in Brazil and other countries in South America. When completed I will be transcribing it into Brazilian Portuguese and sending back copies to community members. I will also be using this research practicum in my graduate school application, in my goal to study cultural anthropology.

I hope this initiative inspires the Ryerson community to think outside of the box of how learning can be transformed in and out of the classroom.

To learn more about the Faculty of Arts' Student Experiential Learning Project Grants and how you could be a recipient of up to $1500 visit the Faculty of Arts Involvement Fair on September 30th from 10:30am-2pm on the upper floor of the Hub Cafeteria.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ACSer Ali begins her adventures in PEI

Fellow Artsies:

So I'm an East Coaster now! I know what most of you are thinking...“Wow, Ali just can't make up her mind about what she wants to do / where she wants to go.” Now while this is partially true, (indecision is one of my famous traits), I would also like to point out that an exchange was always part of my university game plan, even when I was going to school in B.C. to begin with.

(The Confederation Bridge stretches from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. It's about 13 kms long and cost over a $1 billion dollars! You don't have to pay to get to PEI, but you have to pay $42.50 to leave it.)

Now, the Arts & Contemporary studies program is a little unconventional. While they do have exchange agreements in place, the relative age of the faculty itself means the pre-arranged exchange choices are somewhat limited. I didn’t have time to go and research a variety of schools and do all of that paperwork last year, so basically it was Prince Edward Island or Australia. Now, most people would jump on the latter, because of its warm weather, surfing, good looking people and all of that jazz that you see in the movies. But! The East Coast is definitely not without it's merit (of course it has merit, there would have to be some reason why I chose it)! The people are friendly, attractive and they definitely know how to make some delicious mussels! The province itself is gorgeous...there are tons of rolling hills, oceanside cliffs and an insane amount of red sand.

(Green Gables. You could tour the inside too, which was neat)

Andddddd they love Anne of Green Gables. Lucy Maud Montgomery has her own museum and everything, and it’s all part of the Prince Edward Island National Park. Apparently tons of Japanese tourists fly to Green Gables to get married (for an exorbitant amount of money) before flying home and having a traditional wedding. Craziness! Anne even has her own potato chips and soda pop, and her books are piled high in every Wal-mart and grocery store around!

(This is Blanchard Hall. I live in the third floor to the right of that entranceway. )
I live in Blanchard Hall, which is a residence that is designated for upper-year, mature and transfer students. I really lucked out and got placed with an extremely sweet girl named Samantha. We are pretty much the same person (except she is way quieter!), because this is her first time at UPEI and her third post-secondary institution. Plus she’s in the Nutrition program, so she can cook me really yummy meals! =) My only problem is that my room is too big! I’m so used to living in my shoebox in Toronto, so I don’t have enough stuff to even put in here.
(This is the Main Building (pretty east name to remember huh?) where 3 out of my 4 classes are.)
The campus is beautiful (and so small)! There are only about 3,500 students, so it is a huge change from Ryerson...but definitely a welcome one. There is definitely a very good community feel here, just like in the ACS program...the administration very frequently address people by name and greet them when they pay their tuition. Every professor also recognizes their previous students. You really get the feeling that these professors invest a lot of time and effort into building a relationship with these students. And it definitely shows. All of my professors are wonderful and you can tell that they are extremely knowledgeable about their area. I know that I am up for a challenging semester, but I am definitely excited to start learning again. I’m taking Children’s Literature, 18th Century Literature, Social Psychology and Collective Behaviour & Social Movements.

The courses here are markedly different in structure than at Ryerson. Two of my three classes don’t have finals, and none of them have mid-terms. Which is good...until you realize that you have about 30 writing assignments to due in a little over three months! One of my courses actually has 40% designated to participation. This means they expect a lot (ie. journal responses, attendance, online discussions and in-class discussions), but I feel like perhaps I learn more efficiently that way. This forces me to stay on top of my reading all semester, not just at the beginning!

I am also embarking on a little experiment...working while at school. I’ve never done this before, but as part of the EDGE exchange program, the EDGE co-ordinator (Dr. Bill Whelan) sets you up with a paid work opportunity, either on campus or as a research assistant. This could prove extremely valuable to me down the road, so of course I had to take the opportunity.

(Cavendish Beach. You can see the cliffs in the distance with all of their red sand. When my mom left after visiting for two days, the inside of the van was caked with red dirt! When it rains, the puddles are also red, which is a super cool sight to see.)

I’ll have to keep you guys posted on what happens with that, along with any other exciting developments here on the island. I’ve never visited the Maritimes before, so this is a whole new adventure for me!


(This is a pottery place in North Rustico. I took a picture of it because it has cedar shingles on the side of the house, which almost EVERY house here has. Sometimes they're painted and sometimes they're not, but many are extremely weathered from the Martime climate. Brick is extremely rare to find, especially an entire building made out of it.)

(Lobster traps. These people take their seafood very seriously.)

(This is a clock in the middle of the campus quad.)

(Room 314B!)

(All of the books written on Anne of Green Gables or Lucy Maud Montgomery at the Lucy Maud Museum.)

(So much marketing!)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Where did the summer go?

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who came out on September 1st to take part in the 2009 Faculty of Arts Orientation, Charting Your Course. The event was a big success and we hope you all had as much fun as we did. A special thank you to our upper year Arts students who volunteered to be Orientation Leaders; without you none of it would have been possible.

Next, the moment you've all been waiting for: it's time to announce the winning cheer. The polls are closed, the votes are in and in a landslide result: we've got your winner. Congratulations to the winning group! So without further ado, here's the Faculty of Arts ULTIMATE Cheer (learn it, live it, love it!):

Leader: Arts…Arts…We’re all about the smarts
Everyone: Arts…Arts…We’re all about the smarts

Leader: We’re really really witty (pause) –sharp like darts
Everyone: We’re really really witty (pause) – sharp like darts

Everyone: Arts…Arts…We’re all about the smarts X2

Leader: Sooo many books we carry them in carts Everyone: Sooo many books we carry them in carts

Everyone: Arts…Arts…We’re all about the smarts X3

I hope some of you were able to make it out on Wednesday for Ryerson's Annual Guinness World Record Attempt, where nearly 800 Ryerson students banded together in an effort to beat the record for largest air guitar session. We all got a sweet pair of complimentary sunglasses courtesy of the O-Team to wear while rocking out with our air guitars. If you missed it, check out this segment from Global TV, featuring my Student Life Team co-worker and our fellow Faculty of Arts student, Andrew Bisnauth: (who also appears on this awesome sign, shown on the left...Faculty of Arts students are so cool!)

I can't believe O-Week is already drawing to a close. As I type this the O-Team, Ryerson Orientation Crew and our first year students are having fun in the sun at Beach Day to conclude the 2009 Orientation with a bang. We've still got the long weekend ahead of us before it's back to the lecture halls and endless piles of readings, so grab some friends and make the most of this warm weather.

I'll be returning as your friendly Faculty of Arts student life blogger for the 2009-2010 school year, so as always if you'd like to contribute to the blog or think there's something I should be covering leave a comment or send an e-mail to

See you when classes start!

- Sarah