It’s all about Perspective

What is behind the click of a camera? The rotation of a zoom lens? The application of this angle or that? These are the personal touches that go into the making of a photograph- in essence what transforms a picture from a plain image into an expression of yourself. Through Reading Week at Queen Alexandra, the Passion Project aimed to teach kids how to think about photography as a form of self expression. Over the span of the three days beautiful images and friendships were captured.

Passion Proj teammates T and Ritiks admiring photos

When you give kids a tool for creativity, whether it be music, poetry, or in our stream…photography, you unleash something beautiful. You can truly see how each person is blessed with their own unique perspective, and how as a result two people can never see the same thing the same way. I definitely saw this theory in action when we hung the final project’s up by the end of the week and saw that there was a dominant theme arising in the kids’ fondest memories at school- basketball. However, even though nearly 10 kids chose to photograph basketball, no two images looked anywhere near the same.

In life, like photography, no two people will look at a situation and take away the same thing from it. But it is precisely this diversity that makes life so rich, and interaction among people so vital to understanding the whole picture.

The Passion Project’s involvement with Queen Alexandra showed me the wonderful possibilities that stem from putting different people from all backgrounds and ages into one space. In the end, perspective is what makes us unique, but sharing it is what makes us whole.

– Yas


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A Night at the Oscars

Some would say this year’s showing at the Oscars was not all that impressive.  Others beg to disagree.  I can’t say I frequently tune into this annual celebration but once in a while, it does take my attention.  This year was one of those years.  And so, I sat alongside Papa Fernando and joined millions at the Oscars.

A few things:

  1. Can we just talk about how amazing Esperanza Spalding is? I know she wasn’t the MAIN attraction but dang, she just gets me every time.
  2. I clearly need to see the Artist.  They sure cleaned up well
  3. Christopher Plummer.  Now here’s a story.

It was not until a few days ago that 82 year old Plummer (whom we KNOW has skills) received the honour of an Oscar, despite having poured years of his life into his acting career.  Upon accepting his award, he turns to the 84-year-old Oscar statuette and claims: “You’re only two years older than me, darling.  Where have you been all my life?”

I definitely chuckled.  And then I thought to myself…wow, that really is some conviction, some passion, some drive.  You truly have to be doing what you love to consistently show up and give the world the best of who you are when you know very well that the accolades of ‘success’ may be well beyond your reach.  Now, quite frankly, I don’t know all that much about this man’s life except that he made an appearance in my childhood with the Sound of Music and then at sufficient intervals subsequently.  But his appearance at the Oscars compelled my reflection upon the importance of perseverance and the value of good motives.  What is it that drives us to do what we do? Is it the age old pursuit of fame and fortune?  Or is it the indomitable force of a personal conviction rooted in passion that you NEED to be doing what you do because the world needs YOU?

Ultimately, we are all called to wake up, dress up, and show up to whatever the day calls us to do.  In fact, we ought to be giving Oscar worthy performances every day of our lives.  And for this to happen, I’m convinced we need to be doing what we do for all the right reasons.  Let’s make sure we take command of the script and write it with integrity.

It’s show time ladies and gents.



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When Good People Come Together, Great Things Happen

Despite their initial shyness, they were infected by our enthusiasm pretty quickly. In turn, we became ever more excited and were soon in awe of the kids’ abilities and passion for learning.  They were ever ready to learn, to accept guidance, and to share their ideas.  In fact, we too learned from them.  I am sure that each and every one of us had unique experiences throughout the three days.

A quick re-cap in case you have not been with us over the past few days:  the Passion Project, in collaboration with the UBC Community Learning Initiative and UBC Slam, with the support of the Simon K. Y. Lee Global Lounge and Resource Centre, connected UBC students with students at Queen Alexandra (QA) in Grades 6 and 7 to promote literacy and expression through the arts.  We had 3 streams – music, slam poetry, and photography.  The best part of it all, UBC students were involved with the stream that they were passionate about.  I believe this was the driving force behind the amazing work of our team in collaboration with the students at QA.  In fact, it led to some AWESOME, spontaneous, jamming sessions that took place whenever an opportunity presented itself.  Imagine: violins, drums, slam poets, singers, beat boxers, guitars…and more.  All in one place, improvising and creating a shared experience.

The project was an inspiring and eye opening experience. I learned so much from the students I worked with – mainly about letting my passion set the path of my life. It doesn’t have to be right or perfect, as long as it enables me to be ME.  I fully believe the students we worked with will also succeed in pursuing their passion, given the proper guidance and enough support.  Despite whatever challenges they face (check out this article to learn more about the challenges facing inner city schools), they take every opportunity presented to them to be doing what they love.

A comment made by one of the staff serves as a testimony to this:

Many substitute teachers taught these kids, tried to discipline them but they never succeeded in putting a smile on their faces. But all of you did it in such a short time. It took me a couple of years to realize that I need to learn their ways to teach them effectively. But you focused on their desires and allowed them to take charge of their own learning.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said:

It is a fact often observed, that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion, who cannot write well under other circumstances.

Would you risk the reasons of the world to be doing what you have always wanted to do?

With love,


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It’s GO time!

We can’t believe it.  One sleep away and we’ll be into our long awaited, eagerly anticipated, passionately planned, Reading Week project at Queen Alexandra Elementary School.  Our team (I may be biased, but I’m convinced we’re one of a kind), decided to launch into what we KNOW will be 3 days of goodness with a team dinner.

Join in our conversation via twitter (@passionproj) and share our favourite moments with us by following #QAreadingweek.

Stay passionate!

Your crew (minus two sadly).  









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A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer


We’ve been invited! To what you ask? None other than the 2012 production of MMRP – A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer.

It is play that will dance with your perception of life and change the way you interact with the world within the first 10 minutes.  (They’ve promised us!)

It is also created by the Tony Award winning playwright, performer, and activist Eve Ensler. It is a groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights including Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Michael Cunningham, Dave Eggers, Edwidge Danticat, Carol Gilligan, Susan Miller, Jane Fonda and many many more. With topics ranging from the envy and desire to look like a magazine cover girl to crimes of war, MMRP is a heartfelt piece of theater that portraits our society from very distinct views and in various forms from slam poetry to upbeat dialogues.

Showtimes (with more information on Facebook):

Tuesday, February 14 @ 7pm
Thursday, February 16 @ 7pm
Saturday February 18 @ 2pm

To put it bluntly, I need a date.  I am NOT missing this one. So, get your tickets here.

I’ll meet you at the front door.



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Outweek 2012

It’s UBC Pride’s Outweek 2012!

Have you ever felt as though you do not belong to a group? Felt afraid to be yourself? Felt the need to be someone else in order to be accepted?  Have you ever found yourself in meaningful friendships or relationships while feeling you must not let others know?  Have you ever asked:

“Why can’t I be accepted for who I am?”

But take a moment and just think.  Have you ever made comments (intentionally or unintentionally) about people’s gender or sexual orientations, the ways their bodies are, their cultural and/or religious practices, or about their backgrounds such as ethnicity and nationality?

Being a part of Vancouver and UBC – places recognized as embracing diversity and multiculturalism – it is undoubtedly hard for us to admit that we all have certain stereotypes and prejudices attached to the back of our minds.

We can do something about this.  We can take the time to consider how our thoughts, our comments, and our actions impact the lives of those around us.

There are so many things in our lives that are going well that we often take for granted.  Consider yourself lucky if you are a student – at least you are getting education; if you are working – at least you have a job; you enjoy time with friends – at least you have them in your life.  Others can be struggling to live on a daily basis. And I am not even referring to poverty, homelessness or other dire issues that are realities across the globe.  I am referring to fellow students, friends or strangers who sit next to you in class, who walk around the campus struggling with what to do or how to deal with issues beyond assignment or midterms.

I’m talking about issues that we encounter HERE and label with: sissy, nuts, bitch, pussy, psycho, dope, gay, bimbo, burnt rice, bananas etc.

These terms may come easily out of our mouths.  Perhaps not so much if we have personally experienced the hurt of stereotypes and prejudices in a one way or another.  Regardless, we are all capable of hurtful words.  Sometimes, even when we think we are very cautious, we are unaware of the fact that certain things we say can be offensive in many ways to different people.

This is why I want to tell you about UBC Pride and Outweek 2012.  It’s an important reminder to embrace and support every individual marginalized by society for being gay, lesbian, queer, etc.

We can’t simply change the world by thinking about stereotypes and prejudices. However, there is the chance that we when we restrain ourselves from using certain labels, we may be giving people opportunities to come to terms with who they truly are; to be ALIVE by being who they are.

What we say matters.  It can open up or close off a world of possibilities for those around us.

It begins with you and me.

I am passionate about embracing individuals for who they are. How about you?


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What are your Reading Week Plans?

We want to know – does anyone read over reading week? We probably won’t be…

The Passion project team is super excited to be hosting our very first Reading Week Project where passion meets Queen Alexandra School.

For 3 days, we’re bringing passionate photographers, musicians, and slam poets to over fifty grade 6’s and 7’s. Who knows where this could lead?

I’m pumped for the conversations to be had, the moments where someone lights up because they have found something they love to do, and for people to grow in confidence in sharing their very selves through art.

Can you imagine the magic,


Some of the lovely ladies from the Passion team at our last event.



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