Page 1

Issue #12

Artwork by Sarah Thomson (Grade 12)

Japan A – Pages 2 & 3

Japan B – Pages 4 & 5

China – Pages 6 & 7

Morocco – Pages 10 & 11

Peru – Pages 12 & 13

Imagine going on a twelve-hour flight with all of your friends – and maybe some unfamiliar faces – and landing in a country with a completely different culture, language, and appearance. Not only was Japan extremely different from Canada, from the food (anyone hungry for some shabu-shabu?) to the language, and the customs. The best part of the trip was experiencing this new culture with my friends. Because of this, Japan was one of the most fun and memorable experiences that I have partaken in at WIC so far. My favourite part of the trip was our day spent in Hakone. We started off the day by going up a gondola cable car, which showcased the gorgeous, postcard worthy, views of Mount Fuji. After the gondola, we bussed down the winding snowy roads which offered more stunning views, and headed to the Yunessien Hot Spring Pools. These hot spring pools were one of the craziest places I've ever been swimming – from the outdoor water slides, to the soaking pools (infused with green tea, red wine, syrup, and coffee), to the pool where we sat and had our feet nibbled by fish. Seeing the reactions on peoples' faces in the fish pool was absolutely priceless! After the hot springs, we went to the most creative museum I have ever been to called the Hakone Open Air Museum. This museum has underground tunnels, a stone maze, and even a geometric climbing structure! After dinner, the day concluded in the hotel arcade, where we all went bowling. I don't think I've ever slept as well as I did that night in Hakone. Going on this International Studies trip was so much fun and created so many unforgettable memories – from the whole group singing “Hooked on a Feeling” and the Moana soundtrack on the bus, to karaoke in Tokyo, to late night McDonald's runs after dinner. This trip has allowed me to meet new people and to make new friends, but also to grow closer to my old friends. Because of Japan, I'm so excited for next year's International Studies trips!


Canada's hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation is occurring in 2017 and will formally be celebrated in July. However, since the twelfth century, prior to 1868, Japan was a unique, isolated collection of islands, ruled by feudal shoguns. During this time, a distinct Japanese culture developed and flourished. Canadians, especially those of us further west, have not been around this area for any time over two hundred years; we do not have the privilege of driving past a temple that may be over one thousand years old nearly every day, like the Japanese. This long history and richness of culture are where my eagerness and anticipation to travel to Japan initially began. When we first stepped off the airplane and waited to go through customs, I marveled at the fact that most of the Narita Airport signage was in Japanese characters (completely illegible to me) and there were conversations in numerous foreign languages. I had attended all of WIC’s Japanese language lessons before the trip, but that was not enough to prepare me for the fast speed and nonsensical dictation of the Japanese language! On route to our first Tokyo hotel, another thing that I noticed was the abundance of corner stores; on every block, there is a 7-11 or a Family Mart! Our tour guide, affectionately referred to as “Danny Boy�, informed us that the Japanese liked to buy treats and other foods from these stores frequently. Our first day consisted of going to a temple and an ancient Meiji shrine, as well as navigating the clean, wide, and abundant urban Japanese streets. As we drove in our tour bus, we saw Shinto temples that have been around for over one thousand years! Being exposed to the immaculate and detailed temples made me wonder how they were built in such magnitude so long ago. A lot of the culture of Japan has stayed very much the same for over six hundred years which gives it an introverted, tranquil feel, as for most of their history they were ruled by those who isolated them from the outside world. This gives it a very unique feel, compared to any other place in the world. Overall, I believe that our Japan trip was a huge success and it was a privilege to be able to attend. Heritage Park in Calgary has shown us how lives were lived one hundred years ago; these temples showed us the architecture, religion, and practices of those who lived during the Edo Period and periods hundreds of years before that! I would like to thank those who made this trip possible. To be flown across the world to immerse oneself in a completely different culture for ten days was such a privilege and a fantastic learning opportunity. This once in a lifetime experience with West Island College International Studies gave me knowledge and memories that I will not be quick to forget.


I love the fact that my school has the ability to provide the option to its students to travel internationally. When I was in fourth grade, my sister came home from her grade nine year at WIC and told me about the meeting they had as grade nines at lunch hour. She told me that she had the opportunity to go to Europe! Every year since then, my sister has gone on every single International Studies adventure provided to her. Hearing her stories and seeing pictures made me determined to go on the school trips when I was old enough. My first International Studies trip over this Spring Break, I had the opportunity to accompany Ms. McKay, Ms. MacArthur, and Mr. Goodwin to Japan on my first ever WIC International Studies trip! We all had a blast learning more about Japanese culture. My experience in Japan was incredible. From the beautiful shrines to the gorgeous views, I loved meeting new people and trying new things. I now really understand the meaning of learning without limits! When we first arrived in Tokyo, it blew my mind how many people there were at the Narita airport. I can remember being pressed up against strangers waiting in a customs line, and found it completely strange how the locals didn’t seem to mind. I was surprised at the airport, but nothing compared to when we stepped outside the building. It felt like being in downtown Calgary times twenty! The office buildings were enormous and everything was so tightly pressed together, which made it feel even bigger. However exhausted and jetlagged we were, no one could bear to sleep on the bus on our way to the hotel; there was too much to take in! We even passed Disneyland Tokyo and the ferris wheel was lit up like a Christmas tree!


For the next three days, we stayed in Tokyo and toured around with our guide, Matt. He showed us the Canadian embassy and its beautiful gardens, gallery, and library with all the Canadian books, both French and English. We also went to visit the Tokyo Sky Tree, a beautiful, giant tower with fantastic views and an elevator that reaches speeds up to 600 miles per hour! We learned how to make sushi; went on a river cruise; and even sung some karaoke while we ate! Then, we visited the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the markets surrounding it; we also visited the famous Shibuya intersection in Japan where hundreds of people cross daily. We even learned to play traditional Japanese drums called Taiko drums, which have been around for over 1,400 years! A highlight, and my favorite part of the trip, was definitely the day we spent touring around Hakone. I loved the tranquility of the Tourist Centre at Mount Fuji. We took a relaxing boat tour through Lake Ashi in a real pirate ship! It was gorgeous in the Japanese mountain range, very different to the Rockies we have at home, and definitely somewhere I would go to again. After our boat ride, we had the opportunity to ride up Owakudani Mountain in a cable car. Because I am a skier, it was very strange to see a mountain with no snow on it until the very top. Despite the beautiful views, the mountain had outputs of sulfur gas all over it, so after some quick pictures, we held our noses. We were happy to be out of the cold wind as we rode back down the mountain in our heated, air-conditioned, bus. After freezing our tails off on top of the mountain, we went for a dip in the natural hot spring pools, which included pools filled with coffee, syrup, and even red wine! Our day in Hakone ended at a beautiful hotel and another swim in the glamourous hotel pool. This year’s Grade Nine International Studies Japan trips were the first not to go to European countries. I think that these trips allowed the Grade Nine students to grasp a unique and rich culture that is very different to our own. Personally, I learned to appreciate what I have at home, and never take it for granted. Through travel, I have been able to broaden my horizons and to realize that there is so much more out there, in the real world, and that calling Calgary a “big city” is in no way accurate, especially next to many other parts of the world. I will take away from this trip amazing memories, beautiful pictures, and a remarkable experience, just like I dreamed of doing all those years ago. I am certain that every single person on the trip took away great memories and will all reflect on them throughout our lives.


This year’s International Studies trip to China was one of the most eye-opening travel experiences I have ever had. Besides being a ton of fun, this trip has greatly expanded my worldview and has given me insight regarding China and travelling, in general. I could name a highlight from every day during the trip, however the three parts of the trip that stood out to me the most were as follows: the service project, seeing the Terracotta Warriors, and of course, climbing the Great Wall of China. Although we were only in the village of Baibi for four days, it felt much longer, as we fully immersed ourselves in the cultural experience. I remember, when we first took the bus up to the village, being in awe of the view of the terraced rice fields and gardens. It was a beautiful sight and incomparable to any picture I had previously seen of the Chinese countryside. I felt extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to work in this environment alongside the locals. It was eyeopening to be immersed in another culture, language, and way of life; it was amazing to see that, despite the language barriers and obviously different lifestyles, how similar we all are, as people. From exchanging wordless gestures in the street to playing with the kids at the school, it was the small interactions with these locals that really impacted me the most. Prior to the trip, I had never had the experience of being forced to communicate with someone who I could not understand and who could not understand me at all, making communication an important aspect of the trip I can never forget. The work itself was very labour intensive, and required teamwork and cooperation of everyone in our group. We were tasked with building an irrigation ditch that was around 300 metres long, involving jobs such as carrying sandbags, digging trenches, mixing concrete, and carrying that concrete up the hills to line the trenches.


During this service project, I developed closer friendships with many people on the trip, as well as learned the power of working hard, as a team, when everyone pitches in. In the end, it was very rewarding to see what we had accomplished, and it is really great knowing that all our work is helping to make a huge impact in the villagers’ lives. The Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an were mainly impactful because of the rich and fascinating history behind them. Built by hand around 200 BCE, it is remarkable that they could be excavated and restored, for audiences in 2017. The history of these warriors dates all the way back to Qin dynasty, modeled after China’s first emperor’s army and built to protect him in the afterlife. What is most incredible is how many there are and how intricate each of them is. No two faces are alike. Although this part of the trip stood out to me specifically, there were many other historic and cultural places that were equally fascinating such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Yu Garden, and Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai. It is hard to believe that some of the places we visited existed over thousands of years ago! The Chinese history and culture, being so different from ours, was so interesting to learn about and witness firsthand. As for the Great Wall, I have heard about it my whole life, and it still feels surreal that I was just there standing on top of it. Being one of the wonders of the world, going to the Great Wall of China has always been on my bucket list. Although it was a more challenging climb than I expected, it was definitely worth it, and the view was breathtaking. We only explored a very small section of it, but the wall measures approximately 21,000 kilometres long in its totality. Similar to how I felt while we visited the Terracotta Warriors, I thought it was incredible how I stepped on something that was built centuries ago! After our 2017 China trip, I have definitely returned to Calgary with a new worldview and a greater appreciation for different cultures. Traveling to a country where you can neither read nor speak the language alongside a group of peers you spend every day with for two weeks was very eye opening and helped me to learn more about others and myself. From trying different foods, to exploring new places, this trip helped me step out of my comfort zone and I now I have a desire to travel the world like never before. I do not know if I will ever get the chance to return to China, but I do know that I will always cherish the memories and insights gained on this past trip.




Going to Morocco was a culture shock unlike any other I have experienced. One of the biggest differences between Canada and Morocco was the religious aspect. In Morocco, Islam is the most commonly practiced religion, and it was visible in everyday life. For example, the call to prayer could easily be heard coming from every mosque five times a day. I found this very interesting because here, if a prayer for one specific religion could be heard over a large area, Canadians would most likely have an issue with this infringing on religious liberties. However, in Morocco, no one thinks twice about the fact that everyone, including people who are not Muslim, have to hear the call to prayer too. Due to the more religious and conservative customs of Morocco, as a female, I also had to change how I dress, which was an adjustment. Surely, having to wear pants instead of shorts was not an unsurmountable challenge, but it was something small to think about every day when making sure my shoulders and knees were covered. Being able to wear (within reason) whatever I want is something I definitely take for granted and barely thought about until this trip. I have gone on other international trips before, but I can confidently say that visiting Morocco was a big eye opener for me. Being exposed to an Islamic and far less Western society is an experience that has made me a more aware individual. The culture shock was worth the appreciation I now feel for Canada!


I had had so much fun in Morocco and really enjoyed all the people, culture and food that the trip had to offer. I thought that this trip was a great bonding experience and had a very diverse culture, which was good because it allowed the people on the trip to get out of their comfort zones a bit, and create some incredible memories. My favourite part of the trip was when we visited the sand dunes. It was so amazing to be able to walk on the dunes and feel the sand between my toes. I also really loved the AMAL Women’s Centre. The Centre really spoke to me because what they do there is inspiring. The Centre was created to help women who are in poverty and who suffer from a language barrier. The lady in charge was telling me that all the women in the Centre are working to learn new languages and, once they have learned one, they move onto the next so they can better educate themselves. They have realized how important education is and they are willing to put in all the effort that is necessary. I love how women power through it all and they are also very ecologically friendly. They grow all their own herbs and vegetables and they give cooking lessons and language lessons. The organization is non-profit. Overall Morocco was a transformative International Studies trip and really changed the way I see our western culture.

Over Spring Break this year, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Morocco with the school. Throughout the year, we attended meetings to learn more about Morocco beforehand. In these meetings, we created and saw presentations about the food, festivals, art and culture of Morocco. However, what was the most memorable part of the trip was, inevitably, not something we were presented before going there; the people. Throughout the course of the trip, we had the chance to meet so many people! Whether it was during the work project in Marrakech or our various cultural visits, each person had something different to share. For example, we met a young woman while we were at a cooking class at a women’s cooperative who had dedicated her life to educating herself and the women in her community in the hopes of allowing them to pursue better futures. One of the things that she was very passionate about, and that she said helped her with her work, was the mastering of many languages. She knew seven languages, including sign language, and told us that she thought learning more than one language was key to being an active member in our world. She said something along the lines of, “being able to communicate with others is key to understanding one another, and only by understanding our fellows may we begin to work together.�. Further, the first step for the women who join her at the education centre is to learn either English or French. Such, the emphasis is put on bilingualism. Being someone who had has the good fortune of being able to learn in two different languages and who had sometimes questioned the worth of the hours spent learning grammar and practicing writing, this message made me realise my luck. This realisation was amplified while we were at the work project. At the work project, we were able to meet lots of people; including some kids who were students at the school and some workmen who were helping us. Most of them spoke Arabic at home, but also spoke French. This meant that my friends from the immersion program and I were some of the few who could adeptly communicate with them. Through this communication, we were able to have real conversations with the men and laugh with some of the kids watching us work. I was able to sit and talk to a girl my age as she told me about how grateful she was for us having come to help her school. My trip was greatly improved by having the luck of being put in the immersion program when I was young. Being able to bypass the language barrier between my fellow students and the people we met meant that I was able to form very special memories and relationships. In conclusion, I suppose my message is that for all students wondering at the worth of the hours spent writing those French dissertations (as opposed to studying for Math), know that when the time comes that you want to travel, whether it be with your school or not, that your experience in those countries can only be enhanced by your bilingualism or multilingualism!


An international destination on everyone's bucket list? Machu Picchu! Situated high up above the Urubamba River Valley amongst the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu will fascinate you with its mystical panoramic views and enchanting history. Our group was fortunate enough to hike up the mountain and into the Sun Gate where we were able to see Machu Picchu ruins in all its glory. The hike itself was grueling as the path was mostly made up of stairs and the altitude made it difficult to take a full breath. However, the pain and difficulty of the hike seemed to disappear as our group rounded the corner, at the Sun Gate, and got to experience Machu Picchu for the first time. We all sat on the ancient stones of the Sun Gate and stared in awe at the spectacular ruins. The group was completely entranced by the ancient archaeological site. If you ever get the chance and have the ability to hike up to Machu Picchu, do it! Take it all in. On the other hand, don't neglect the other incredible aspects of Peru such as the relaxed culture, peaceful scenery, and charming people. Take time to visit the tiny towns nestled deep in the valleys of the lush green mountains. Get to know the Peruvian people and appreciate their kindness and wisdom. Step outside of your comfort zone and appreciate Peru not just for the mountains but for everything else it has to offer. When I signed up to go to Peru, I assumed that Machu Picchu would be the highlight of the trip. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely fantastic but experiencing all aspects of Peru that get overshadowed by the famous site were surprisingly just as beautiful as the archaeological ruins themselves. Experiencing Peru with my classmates was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. From climbing Machu Picchu to throwing coins in a metal frog’s mouth, I will cherish the memories we created for the rest of my life.


This year, one of the senior International Studies trips was to Peru. Once we arrived in Lima, we had a quick turn around and took a plane to Cusco the next morning. Upon our arrival, we had the chance to visit the church of Santo Domingo and Coricancha where we explored some of the original rooms that were built by the members of the Incan Empire – the largest empire in pre-Columbian America – that had its administrative centre in Cusco. Next, we visited the Sacsayhuaman ruins that led to a breathtaking view of Cusco. The next day, we toured the archaeological site of Pisac, learning more about the types of temples and battles as well as taking a lot of photos. We then made our way to our first market adventure, in which we had the chance to practice our bartering skills and pick up some amazing souvenirs like sweaters made of alpaca wool. The next few days were spent working at a school outside of Urubamba. At the school, we divided up in to three groups, my group, who sanded the school walls and painted a mural, a group that sanded the playground and painted it, and the last group that did garden work. During our three days at the school, we were able to interact with many young students as well as our tour guide, Miguel, who everyone became friends with. He gave the hardest workers on site Peruvian names, mine being Maria del Carmen, the name I adopted for the rest of his time with us. During our time at the school, we were also able to experience authentic Peruvian cuisine from their chefs, one of the most popular dishes being the avocado salad. After our last day at work, we were making our way back to hotel on the bus when we noticed a big gathering to our left. We decided to stop the bus and take a look outside. As we approached the crowd, we realized they were watching a bull fight. Suddenly, we all realized the need for us to do the wave while Peruvians wondered why we were making random signals. Sometimes, unplanned moments like these ones became the best parts of the trip because we were able to witness in raw Peruvian culture. After making it back to the hotel, we departed for Aguas Calientes, now also known as the famous town of “Machu Picchu” the following day. After taking a train to Chachbamba, located 104 kilometres from Machu Picchu, we departed on the three-hour hike. The hike was definitely a mental and physical struggle, but the accomplishment of finally seeing the unforgettable Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, was beyond fulfilling. After taking a lot of photos at the site, we made our way down to the town of Aguas Calientes, where we spent the night. The next morning, we went up to Machu Picchu again and learned about the history of the principle temples in the city. We also had the chance to experience Peruvian rain, when we had free time to explore. After we made our way back to the town, we had the chance to explore the tourist area, making our way through markets and trying some divine desserts like a passion fruit cheesecake! Over the next few days, we went to Puno where we explored Lake Titicaca and had the chance to visit families that lived on floating islands. I was mesmerized by their simple lifestyles. The boat tour around the lake was also serene with blue skies and calm winds throughout the day. During our visit to the Uros and Taquile Island, we made an unplanned stop at a school where we played exciting games of volleyball and soccer with the kids. The next day, we took a flight back to Lima. When we arrived, we explored the upscale area of Miraflores and had some time to eat and shop at the local shopping centre. At night, we also made our way close to the beach, admiring the calmness of the water and the city in general. The next morning, we explored the city some more and visited the main cathedral of the city. That night, we had our farewell dinner at an amazing restaurant. When we were exploring the amazing halls of the restaurant, we discovered a dance party happening. After we finished eating, we insisted on joining the party, trying to awkwardly find our rhythm to the music, while sharing a lot of laughs. It became another unplanned event that was one of the highlights of trip! Our 2017 trip taught me that Peruvian culture is filled with hard working and joyful people. The trip was filled with so many amazing experiences that allowed me to take a step back and enjoy the moments because they were so stunning and peaceful. Peru is filled with natural and cultural beauty, a country that epitomizes the definition of hard work and celebration.


Congratulations to the following Grade 12

2017 Certificate of International Studies Recipients ñ Katie Doherty ñ Claire Edwards ñ Nicole Larsen ñ Mila MacCuish ñ Caleb Morin ñ Kendall Pearce ñ Lauren Pearce ñ Sabrina Sandhu ñ Lindsay Stariha ñ Paige Sutton ñ Ross Valentine ñ Breanne Valk ñ Aleem Virji ñ Emma Waller


Special thanks go to each of our Trip Leaders and Supervisors, for accompanying our students abroad this year! Faculty and Staff, your time, kindness, care, energy, and generosity of spirit have been genuinely appreciated! Japan A Mr. Smith Ms. Armitage Mr. Fredrickson

Japan B Mr. Goodwin Ms. MacArthur Ms. McKay

China Ms. Irvine Ms. Huhn Mr. Salmon

Morocco Mr. Goulet Ms. Evans Mr. Poitras Ms. Wright

Peru Mr. Davidson Ms. Ginzberg Ms. McIvor

œ Ms. Carol Grant Watt – For being our On-Call Administrator in Canada again this year. Thank you, Ms. Grant-Watt for sacrificing your Spring Break and sleep for our safety and everyone’s peace of mind! œ Ms. Leeanne Toovey – For being an amazing executive assistant and logistical organizer! Thank you, Ms. Toovey, for your attention to detail. œ WIC’s Board of Directors – For researching and approving the trips. Without you, our program would not be as successful and long-lasting as it has been. œ Mr. Reid Morrison of Incredible Journeys – For liaising and planning five excellent itineraries and responding to our requests and needs. Thank you, Mr. Morrison! œ Mr. Nick Moskaluk of The Ball is Round – For, again, sending us around the world with soccer balls to donate. You really do make social change through sport! œ Mr. Fensom’s Business 10 Team (George Heathcott, Sami Op, Lennox Powell, Sean Sutton) – For organizing the International Studies-branded sunglasses that travellers took with them and donated around the world. œ Ladies of the 2017 Review Team (Christine, Katherine, Krista, Amelia, Kate, Emma, Alix, Mila, and Jashan) – For going above and beyond, to create a beautiful time capsule that you can refer back to in years to come!


Extend your humanitarian reach. Be part of a truly unique global classroom experience. WIC’s foundational International Studies program is designed to give hands on learning experiences around the world which foster mutual respect and understanding for different cultures.

Certificate of International Studies This distinguished certificate of completion was created to honour the intellectual, emotional and physical engagement of our students in international service learning, and is given each year to our qualified graduates. Participation in a minimum of two international service learning experiences, completion of related course work, and study of a second language at the formally recognized 30 level during your time at WIC will make you eligible for the Certificate of International Studies.

As part of an International Studies service learning experience, students can be part of one-of-a-kind humanitarian projects that will make a lasting difference in those communities for years to come.

7410 Blackfoot Tr SE Calgary AB T2H 1M5 403-255-5300


Director of International Studies Ms. Tara Law taralaw@mywic.ca

Profile for West Island College

WIC International Studies Review 2017  

WIC International Studies Review 2017