Many thanks to Rick Schwier who invited me to participate in the 7 things meme. It spurred me on to writing my first blog post of 2009. Below are the ’7 things you probably don’t know about me’.
- When I was seven our house burned to the ground and my family lost everything. We were squatting on Royal land at Mile 923.3 on the Alaska Highway where my father had built a home. The oil tank that heated our home caught fire 11 days after Christmas and slowly grew into a blaze that destroyed everything. None of my family was harmed and the Whitehorse community looked after us very well. I remember being happy that I did not have to go to school because I did not have uniform
- I learned about the power of community and belonging when I played the flute in my high school band. I was not very good but I practiced diligently and managed to become first flautist. We worshiped our band teacher and under his leadership solidified into a strong community that extended beyond the band room. I loved high school and it was primarily because of the community that he created.
- I started my teaching career in a ‘alternate’ school in Lethbridge where everyone was called by their first name. Even now, 30 years later, I feel uncomfortable when students call me Ms. DesRoches. Today in the more traditional school setting when I give students the option to call me Donna or Ms. DesRoches they prefer Ms. DesRoches.
- I learned the difference between charity and development when I spent eight months as a volunteer in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with street children. I learned that it is very hard even for a knowledgeable volunteer to put aside beliefs and passions and let the people tell you what they need and to simply carry it out. I brought my love of books with me and spent a great deal of money buying books for the children and the school that I worked in. I never once consulted with others about what the real needs might be. The children loved the books but I still wonder if the money could have been better used elsewhere.
- I am a strong supporter of Save the Children Canada. I began as a branch volunteer planning fund raising and awareness activities, was elected to the board, and eventually became Chair. During my time on the Board I visited our projects in India and Ethiopia. While in Ethiopia I opened a food relief outlet in the highland community of Ajbar. Even though I am no longer on the board or involved in branch activities Save the Children remains my charity of choice.
- I have met both Stephen Lewis and Romeo Dalliare. In my role as the Board Chair of Save the Children Canada I presented our annual award to Stephen Lewis and at the same gala sat at the head table with Romeo Dallaire who was the guest speaker. Wow! A night to remember!
- I collect dragons. Early in my career at NBCHS I acquired the nickname ‘dragon-lady’ and as a joke a co-worker presented me with a dragon that remains on my desk today. Since then I have acquired many dragons both European and Asian. I love the symbolism each represents – in the European dragon, the fears that we must slay before we can move forward and in the Asian dragon, wisdom, knowledge and immortality. My most recent dragon is a beautiful jade carving that my sister brought back from China.