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Archive for the ‘Personal Stuff’ Category

Malawi: Day Two

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

20120422-DSC_3323Our first full day in Malawi began with the English service at St. James CCAP at 8am. (The Chichewa service is at 6am!) The Malawian culture, we discovered, is EXTREMELY welcoming of visitors – to the point that it makes most westerners uncomfortable. Imagine if every Sunday all visitors were called up to the front of the church an expected to introduce themselves to the congregation! There was, of course, lots of singing… four different choirs sang a few pieces each! Our co-leader (and my good friend) Rev. Ted Creen (shown above) had the honour of preaching the sermon.

In the afternoon, we went for a hike on Mt. Michiru on the outskirts of Blantyre. It was a good way to shake off the stiffness of two days of air travel. The scenery was beautiful, of course, but we noted that it was also quite similar to Canada. Many of the photos could have easily been taken at home. It was a strange realization.

20120422-DSC_3425Also in this set are the first of many “through the window” shots where I have tried to capture the diversity of Malawian life as we drove around Blantyre. Most of this day’s shots are “semi-urban” around the outskirts of Blantyre… in following days, you’ll see more of urban Blantyre followed by rural southern Malawi.
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Malawi: Day One

Friday, May 11th, 2012

20120421-DSC_2986Around noon on a Saturday, we finally landed at Chileka International Airport where we were met by Rev. Mike and Debbie Burns. Mike and Debbie are Canadians appointed jointly by the PCC and the Blantyre Synod to serve as part of our long-standing partnership. Mike is associate minister at St. James CCAP in Blantyre while Debbie serves as Technical Assistant at the Blantyre Synod Health & Development Commission. Mike and Debbie would be our hosts, interpreters, tour guides and friends for the next two weeks.

After quickly dropping our bags at Annie’s Lodge, the hotel we would call home for the next five nights, it was off to our first official event – a meeting with the General Secretary of the Blantyre Synod, Rev. Alex Maulana. Following the meeting, we were taken on a tour of the historic Blantyre Mission by Rev. Chitsulo, a former General Secretary. We were shown the Blantyre Synod offices, St. Michael and All Angels church, and the primary and secondary schools that are located on the Mission.
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Malawi: Getting there

Friday, May 11th, 2012

I’ve just uploaded another set of photos from our trip to Malawi. I realize that these are out of order, but my priorities here are not necessarily chronological. The voyage to Malawi is a long one – we left Toronto on a Thursday evening and arrived in Blantyre at noon on Saturday. The trip included two overnight flights and an 11-hour layover at Heathrow in London. Luckily, the trip itself was uneventful in all the best ways and a rather enjoyable experience for the group as we got to know each other.

20120419-DSC_2777Our group of eleven Presbyterians included four from Winnipeg, two from St. Catharines, three from the Georgian Bay area of Ontario and the two of us from Cambridge. Only a few of us had met before this trip so the journey itself was a good opportunity for the group to bond a little before we were immersed in the culture shock of Malawian society.

These photos are probably more interesting to those who were with us than those who weren’t, but I share them here regardless. (more…)

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Malawi: Blantyre Secondary School

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

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One of the highlights of my trip to Malawi, besides all the official stuff we did, was the opportunity to visit the school where my grandfather, Robert Dale, taught biology from 1965-67. He was sent to Blantyre Secondary School (BSS) as part of an aid program funded by the Canadian government through the External Affairs department. The rest of the family, including my mother at 13 years old, went with him and they all lived on the BSS compound.

As I arrived in Malawi, I wasn’t sure I would get to see the school at all. We had a very full itinerary and the school was just far enough away from where we were staying that squeezing in a visit would be difficult. Even if we got to the gate, I never expected to be allowed inside.

As it happened, the Monday after we arrived was a holiday due to the state funeral being held for the late President Bingu wa Mathurika. This unexpected holiday broke open just enough of a hole in our schedule for me, my wife and our new friend Conrad (from the group) to walk the 1.5 kilometres to BSS.
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To the ROM!

Monday, March 19th, 2012

A family trip to the Royal Ontario Museum has become a March Break tradition for us – and I’m really proud to say that we’re now members of the ROM. It feels great to support history and culture!

Here’s a set of photos from the day:

Or view directly on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carmichaels/sets/72157629597472139/show/

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Solo Photowalking

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. It’s just a thing I don’t do. However, I do want to do a few things differently in 2012 than I did in 2011. One of those things is NOT sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day (in addition to the 3 hours a day I sit in my car). My bum has had enough.

I decided to go for a fifteen minute walk every day at lunch time. Problem is that I find walks boring. I find myself just trying to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible – staring at my Blackberry to pass the time while trying not to bump into anything. I could tell that this daily walk thing would go nowhere quickly.

Enter my rekindled interest in photography – thanks to access to a proper camera. I realized that if I took my camera with me, I could keep the boredom at bay while honing my skills. Basically, I’d be going on a photowalk by myself. Neato.

In order to keep myself from just filling SD cards everyday (and doing nothing with the photos)  and to ensure I was actually practicing and not just “spraying and praying” I came up with a few rules:

  • No more than five exposures per walk
  • Manual exposure and manual focus only
  • No photo review on the walk
  • Post at least one photo per week

Because my shooting rules are so strict, I’ve allowed myself free-reign in post-processing. This way I get to practice my Photoshop skillz as well. :)

So, without further ado, here are today’s images:

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Malawi Trip Update

Friday, January 6th, 2012

A quick update about our upcoming trip to Malawi:

  • I’m now officially a “co-leader” of the study tour – which means that the dozen or so people we are taking will be my responsibility should anything go awry while we are travelling. All of the pre-arrangements are thankfully someone else’s responsibility! The coolest thing about this is that the other “co-leader” is my very good friend (and mentor of sorts) Rev. Ted Creen, recently retired from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Owen Sound.  I’ve known Ted for nearly thirty years and I am so excited to be sharing this experience with him.
  • As I mentioned in the last blog post, the purpose of the trip is learning. This is not a mission trip in the traditional sense. Malawi may be a little short on fuel these days, but they’re hardly short of available labour. Flying halfway around the world to erect a building that could instead be built by Malawians (thus providing income) doesn’t make much sense.  Instead, the purpose of the trip is learn – in an intensive way – about the work that the PCC does in Malawi. We will be hosted by our mission staff there and will visit the many projects that Canadian Presbyterians support directly including orphanages, shelters, etc. The trip will also include a weekend “home visit” with a Malawian family.
  • There are three Canadian Presbyterian families currently serving in Malawi. You can learn more about them and their work (and about life in Malawi) on their blogs:

Stay tuned for more updates leading up to the trip.

 

 

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The Warm Heart of Africa

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The relatively tiny country of Malawi – often called “The Warm Heart of Africa” – has always been a part of my family’s story.

In 1965, just a year after Malawi gained its independence from Great Britain, my grandfather accepted a  school administration position at Blantyre Secondary School in Malawi’s largest city. His appointment was part of a program of Canada’s Department of External Affairs – the first such program to assist the fledgling country.   At the same time, my grandmother accepted a teaching position at St. Andrew’s Secondary School – now known as St. Andrew’s International High School.

So, at thirteen years old, my mother and her younger sister and brother found themselves in the heart of the dark continent.

The stories have been told many times over the years – with sometimes varying details: the time an elephant snacked on the thatch roof, the time a gecko fell in the pudding, the time my aunt – peering through her camera’s viewfinder – shouted “just another second!” as a disgruntled rhino charged their Land Rover. Thankfully, the driver ignored her. [these are my memories of these stories – I make no claims of accuracy]

In exactly six months, my wife Arminta and I will set off on our own Malawian adventure!

The Presbyterian Church in Canada (where I happen to work) does a considerable amount of work in Malawi. In addition to funding several projects through PWS&D, we have anywhere from five to ten staff in the country working with our partner, the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP).

We will be travelling with several other Presbyterians from across Canada on a two-week “study tour” of Malawi in and around Blantyre.

We are beyond excited about this trip. While both of have traveled overseas before, neither of us have been to Africa – and we haven’t really traveled at all since our honeymoon a decade ago – and that was just to Maine, so it doesn’t really count.

I’ll likely blog more about this as the time gets nearer, but now that it is all confirmed, I wanted to make the “official” announcement.

I posted an update here: http://colincarmichael.ca/malawi-trip-update/

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Introducing Subscribe: Facebook changes the game again…

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

It’s a big week for Facebook. With their annual developer conference coming up, they’ve rolled out a few new features including “Smart Friend Lists” which I hadn’t even had a chance to write about here before today’s HUGE news: you can now subscribe to a personal profile’s public updates without having to friend them.

Here’s how it works. As you browse around the site, you’ll notice that some users have a button at the top of their profile that says ‘Subscribe’. Click it, and you’ll start seeing that user’s status updates in your News Feed, just as if you were their Facebook friend. But there’s a big difference: unlike normal Facebook friends, the people you subscribe to don’t have to approve your subscription request, and there’s no limit on how many people can subscribe to any given user.

Of course, Facebook has offered a similar feature called Pages for years now, which was meant for nearly the same thing (you’ll find that many journalists and politicians have already created Facebook Pages… because that’s what Facebook told them to do). The difference here, Facebook says, is that users no longer have to maintain two separate entities; they can just use the site’s sharing settings to decide which content they want to share very broadly, and what will only be shared with friends.

via Facebook Launches Twitter-Like ‘Subscriptions’, Lets You Share With Unlimited Users | TechCrunch.

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Easy as Riding a Bike? Yeah, right…

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I tried twice this summer to teach my almost 6-year-old to ride her new bike without training wheels. Both outings were epic failures leaving both of tired and frustrated.

Imagine my envy when I came across this little story from one my favourite parenting bloggers…

..at the tender age of three years and 10 months, he just learned how to ride his bike without training wheels.

I’m super proud of him, but actually, I can’t really take any credit for teaching him.

The only person who taught Nico is Nico. Seriously. Other than that last twenty minutes or so this morning, when my oldest son Marco and I repeatedly yelled, “Pedal!!!” and “Keep moving!!!”, no one taught Nico any bike riding skills.

via How I Didn’t Teach My Three-Year-Old Son to Ride His Bike Without Training Wheels | Playborhood.

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