Tag Archives: photography

My Free The Children Adventure: Experiencing Community in the Maasai Mara

14 Sep

I first learned about KPMG’s relationship with Free The Children in November 2011 when I was conducting interview research for my current position of Senior Marketing Coordinator with KPMG in Saskatoon. I promised myself I would go on a Free The Children trip to Kenya if I was hired. I received an offer letter from KPMG in late December and 18 months later I found myself volunteering in the beautiful Maasai Mara with Free The Children and KPMG team members from across Canada.

My Kenyan volunteer adventure was truly an indescribable experience. I don’t believe people simply go on a Free The Children trip; they are called to join a Free The Children adventure and take part in something much bigger than themselves. In Kenya I experienced firsthand Free The Children’s mission in action. I saw young people achieving their full potential as agents of change. I met Kenya’s future leaders, community builders, politicians, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and famers.

Upon returning to Canada after my whirlwind adventure friends and family had a million questions: what did you do, who did you meet, where did you sleep, what did you eat, were there lots of mosquitoes, did you get sick, what animals did you see, did you cry? Every day Free The Children coordinated amazing experiences from dawn to dusk. With so many questions and so many incredible stories to share, where do I begin?

SalabwekKidsA dear friend asked me what my biggest take away was from my adventure. Without a doubt my most memorable and powerful experiences were spending time learning about community from the youth at Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School and Salabwek Primary School. The youth at both schools were so inspiring; they were so eloquent, confident, and community oriented. I’ve never been more impressed by a collective group of teenagers. At both schools youth performed traditional song and dance for our KPMG team. After the performances we spent time visiting with these young adults learning about their childhoods in Kenya and sharing what life is like in Canada. Luckily the children learn Swahili and English in school and we communicated effortlessly. These intimate conversations were so touching. It was so inspiring (and heartbreaking) to learn how hard the children work to attend school, achieve good grades, and build a better life for the future. I know at 13 years old I would not have been comfortable talking to a stranger from the other side of the world about my post secondary plans and what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Salabwek-DancingMore impressive than these youth’s confidence and determination to have a good education is their sense of community. Community is an essential part of life in the Maasai Mara. Kisaruni Secondary School describes community beautifully. Community is “a place where each individual experiences the family feel, is responsible to others and the environment, is heard, is appreciated, takes care of each other no matter what and where we are all peacemakers”.

KisaruniGirlsWhile visiting Kisaruni I sat down and had tea with two students, Naomi and Masi, who shared what life is like at their all girls’ boarding school. These young women explained how they set aside time each day to help their peers struggling with classes, take turns leading their student representative councils, and that no one is every left behind. If one person fails, everyone fails. These girls gave the impression that there is no competition at Kisaruni for valedictorian, most valuable player, or lead singer. Everyone is a leader and a member of the community who has something valuable to contribute. This sense of selflessness was so incredibly refreshing, especially in comparison to North America’s focus on competition and success.

My biggest learning from my Free The Children adventure is to value community, be more selfless, and take care of those around me. A valuable lesson learned from youth who are wise beyond their years.

*All the views expressed on my blog are my own*

Feeling the Turquoise Love

4 May

MissingOcean005It’s Saturday morning and I should be at zumba. I’m not because my zumba class is canceled, forever. This makes me sad but gives me the opportunity to work on my blog and listen to one of my all time favourite podcasts, The JV Club. Not as physically stimulating at zumba, but an equally productive way to spend a Saturday morning.

PuntaCanaKayaking IMG_4202In April I started (and completed) a painting of my brother and I kayaking on the Caribbean Sea. Inspired by my mom’s photo (above) I pulled out my paints and captured this moment of sibling love. This may be one of the best things I’ve created – I’m so happy with this painting!

Ocean bday card LRThis handmade card from my dear friend Deanne makes me equally happy. I may have mentioned, more than once, how much I loved my trip to the Dominican and how I loved my time by the ocean. I can only presume this sweet card was created after sharing my travels with Deanne . This is one of the prettiest handmade cards I have received (sorry mom). Such a nice surprise!

Ocean Love LRI am definitely feeling the love. And missing the ocean.

 

p.s. – Deanne, the timing of your card couldn’t have been better. Thanks so much friend.

Study of Ocean Hues

14 Apr

On a wall of my childhood bedroom is a framed description of the meaning and origin of my name. This description states, “a fondness for the ocean will emerge”. For this particular Brianna, this is an understatement. I love water, especially the warm, emerald waters of the Caribbean Sea. In high school I was a lifeguard. In a past life, I must have been a mermaid.

MissingOcean004This February my wonderful parents took my brother and I on a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. It was amazing, my favourite part was spending time near, in, or on the ocean. I’ve been missing sunshine and turquoise waves, constantly daydreaming about warm waters and warmer beaches.

My mom took some fantastic photos of my brother and I kayaking along the coast. These photos are the inspiration of an ocean hued painting I started working on last weekend.

MissingOcean002Inspired by my mom’s photos and Pantone’s 2010 Colour of the Year I decided to pull out my brushes and attempt to capture the waves of the Caribbean Sea on canvas.

MissingOcean001I’m not sure what the final product will look like – but I’m excited to turn idle daydreaming into something creative. I started out using an old credit card to spread paint around an old canvas (top images) and layered blues and greens on top of my original painting (bottom images). I’m not sure if I’ll try to replicate my mom’s photos or do something more abstract. Either way – it is nice to be painting again.

Family Photos with Elysse Ford

25 Nov

I love photos. The photos I have saved on my computer, printed in my albums, and displayed on my walls are so so precious to me.

I lived in Vancouver for seven years after high school and missed a lot of family milestones. For my mom’s fiftieth birthday this year I wanted to do something special for my family. I organize a photo shoot with my talented friend Elysse Ford to celebrate this momentous occasion. There is nothing more valuable than quality family photos (with a family I love very much).

My Dad and brother were a little grumbley about the photo shoot. I get it, in general guys don’t like to get dressed up and have their photo taken. After a couple of photos everyone relaxed and we had so much fun!  Admittedly, I have a pretty great (and photogenic!) family, but I don’t think anyone was expecting to have such a carefree and enjoyable afternoon. Elysse captured some great, candid moments.

We wandered around our family farm taking photos with our iconic red barn and various “junk piles”. The random collection of old vehicles, farm equipment, and buildings in our yard is pretty incredible – and makes for an impressive, Saskatchewan backdrop!

It was a really special day. The photos are such a treasurer. I’m so happy I could do this for my family.

Thank you Elysse for the beautiful photos, albums, cards and canvases! They are perfect.

Make sure to visit Elysse’s websiteblog, and facebook page.

XO

ps – Happy Belated Birthday Mom. You are looking pretty darn good for being 50! Love you!

Elysse Ford Photography

30 Aug

When I moved to Saskatoon in February Elysse, a friend from high school, made a solid effort to reconnect with me. I was very pleasantly surprised when she emailed me in January and suggested we meet up for drinks once I was settled in my new apartment. Elysse has been a great friend the past six months.

In addition to being a great friend Elysse is a wonderful photographer. One evening over drinks she mentioned that she would like to do a photo shoot with me. I was completely flattered and said yes. I was thrilled that Elysse wanted to spend an afternoon running around Saskatoon taking photos of me.

I asked Elysse what she enjoys most about photography. She said that she enjoys making people (women) feel beautiful. She enjoys capturing those special moments where people look and feel their best. Her favourite shoots are when her clients feel special and glamorous. She loves when she can bring in a stylist to do her clients hair and makeup. These small touches make a woman feel empowered, spoiled, unique, and maybe even beautiful. I think this is a great reason to be a photographer. Everyone wants to look good. Everyone wants to have nice photos of themselves.

After working with Elysse I realized that she does more than help her clients feel attractive. Before even seeing my photos I recognized that Elysse was able to create an intimate, trusting environment where her clients are able to realize how beautiful they already are.

How cute are these photos?!

Full disclosure: I am a low maintenance girl. Most workdays I am rushing out the door in wet hair, mascara and lip-gloss searching for my keys and blackberry. I don’t see myself as a particularly attractive girl. I don’t wake up thinking I look pretty. Right now I’m looking at these photos and thinking, “Wow… is this what I really look like?” (in a good way, of course).

Seeing these photos makes me feel very empowered. It is a special gift being able to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

Elysse, thank you for the lovely photos. I love them. These photos are so incredibly beautiful. You are a very talented photographer. I look forward to working with you again in the future.

So hard to pick a favourite, but this might be it! 

Make sure to visit Elysse’s website, blog, and facebook page.

More Osheaga Love!

18 Aug

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While I’m Away…

30 Jul

Well friends, I am taking a much needed vacation. I’m not entirely sure how relaxing my time away will be, but I know it will be completely fabulous. I’ll share more about my travels when I’m back.

While I’m away please enjoy these lovely Saskatchewan landscapes my mom took this summer at a family reunion! So peaceful and serene. Very unlike my upcoming urban vacation!

For those who follow me on twitter you may have noticed that I’m a little excited for Osheaga (3 days, 18hours, and 30 minutes to go!). Looking forward to seeing Dan Mangan, one of Canada’s favorite independent musicians, live Sunday afternoon.

When I’m back in Saskatchewan I will definitely be watching What Happens Next? The Dan Mangan Documentary on CBC August 25 (or on a later date via CBC Music). I also plan to see Dan perform at the Odeon in Saskatoon with the Rural Alberta Advantage on November 3, 2012. Who wants to join me?

Yup! I’m excited! Have a fabulous, summery August. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

BB