On Running Away (and following your ~*dreeeams*~)

here’s the truth about packing your bags, saying goodbye, and moving across the country.

I can’t really remember a time when I liked my hometown.

I spent most of my teenage years whining to anyone who would listen about how much I loathed being trapped somewhere with no bars (not that it would even have mattered since I was 14), no concert venues, no cozy cafes, and no new people.  From the time that I was eight years old I knew almost my whole graduating class!  No wonder I could never get a boyfriend; everyone I knew was there to bear witness to every awkward phase I ever went through (ie, trying to have sidebangs, not plucking my eyebrows, sending awkward facebook messages to boys I liked, wearing checkered tights under jean shorts…… you get the picture).  I couldn’t wait to get out and get on with my life.  So when I got my acceptance letter from UBC in Vancouver I was over the moon!


And then… I didn’t go.


There were a lot of reasons that I chose to go to the University of Victoria (an hour’s drive from my little hometown) — my family was on the island, I already knew my way around Victoria, Vancouver was too expensive, a lot of my friends would be at UVic…. but the real reason, the thing I couldn’t say out loud, was that I was…. scared.

So when September rolled around I packed my things and moved into a tiny apartment in Victoria and got ready to start the rest of my life

Being from a town of about 8,000 people, I was pretty sure I was moving to a bustling metropolis.  I was so excited to meet all these new people, to explore new places, to blossom into the big city babe I was certain I was meant to be.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Victoria only barely qualifies as a city.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and magical and there are record stores and vintage boutiques and cafes galore… but the streets still roll up at 8pm, I still felt out of place, and there were still no concerts.  I didn’t know what to do.

Truth be told, I got pretty depressed.  I spent a lot of time sleeping, texting my ex, eating takeout, and watching Gilmore Girls instead of going to lectures.  I didn’t want to see any of my friends from high school — this was supposed to be a fresh start! — but I didn’t have a whole lot of new friends, so I spent a lot of time by myself. 

I had some good times, too; I discovered sociology on a fluke, and it became my major; I got a job at a restaurant downtown and got to flirt with cute bartenders every day; I took a philosophy class with a professor who is still my favourite years later; and I spent a lot of nights drinking and dancing and hugging my friends and eating pizza.  All the usual university things, really.  But at the end of the day, I felt… unfulfilled.

I was in the car with my mom one day, trying to convey my unhappiness without seeming like a mess.  “Have you thought about… changing schools?  You always wanted to live in Toronto… why don’t you go?”

She was right — ever since I was a kid, Toronto was kind of my dream city.  I’d been before, though I had no recollection of the city; all I knew was that it was the biggest one we had here in Canada.  As I got older, though, it seemed farther and farther away; it wasn’t a real option.  It was a pipe dream.  At least until my mom suggested I look into it again; suddenly it seemed real.

At first I was angry at myself.  Why on earth had I not applied to schools in Toronto in the first place?  Why had I moved to Victoria?  Why had I wasted my money, and my time, on something I knew wasn’t going to make me happy?  Looking back it seemed so obvious… but the truth is, my time in Victoria was exactly what I needed.  And then, after I had done my time there, what I needed was… to leave.

It was a bit of a process, but long story short, I applied to transfer to Ryerson, and I made arrangements to stay with my uncle for a few months while I looked for a place.  He got me a job, some of the most magical and inspirational people I’ve ever met took me under their wing, and I started taking the subway downtown as often as humanly possible.  I found new neighbourhoods to explore, I bought cool, city girl clothes, and I went to as many concerts as I could possibly manage.  When September rolled around I found a room in a house full of students downtown, and I got back to studying my favourite thing in this world; People.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; I can’t tell you how many times I thought this was a mistake… I’m not cut out for this.  It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and there are struggles that you aren’t expecting to encounter.  Everything in the city is more expensive, and people expect more here — which is tough, because at some point during my UVic experience I morphed into a chronic underachiever.  When I first started school and I knew nobody and I had no money and I didn’t know my way around I came real close to falling back into my old habits (sleeping through all my classes/eating microwave meals 2x a day/staying up all night crying over Gilmore Girls).  In fact for a while, maybe I did a little bit start doing those things.  But I reminded myself that this was the dream, and I kicked my ass into gear.  The truth is I wouldn’t change it for the world; I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.  I knew I would be.  And when I start to think that this was a mistake, that I’ve made a mess of things, that I can’t do this?  I think about the feeling of opening that acceptance letter (I started crying in Tim Hortons), or the day I bought my plane ticket, or the day I realized it was all real and happening and I literally just started jumping up and down in the shower.  That feeling was pure magic, and it’s crazy to think how excited I was about something that is just my life now.

Things don’t have to happen immediately after you decide you want them; sometimes it takes time.  Sometimes it takes more than one try.  And sometimes it might not look exactly like you pictured!  But at the end of the day if you want it bad enough then you deserve to have it.

People will caution you that running away doesn’t make your problems disappear, and they’re right!  But if you need a new set of problems, then buy yourself that plane ticket — once you do, there’s no going back.

By Leah Howitt, on January 3rd, 2018, under Travel // No Comments


Annie E Clark Talks ‘End Rape On Campus’ and What You Can Do To Help

**trigger warning: this post deals with sexual assault and violence

Annie E Clark is the co-founder of End Rape on Campus, an organization which fights against sexual assault on college and university campuses across the US.  She is also a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, author/editor of the book We Believe You, and a lead complainant in the Title IX complaints against University of North Carolina — a journey which was prominently featured in the award winning documentary The Hunting Ground.  This summer she took time out of her busy schedule to answer my fumbling interview questions and tell us more about how End Rape on Campus came to be, the best things you can offer a survivor of sexual assault, and the process of getting a book published.

End Rape on Campus began as a volunteer organization when Annie, along with Andrea Pino, noticed gaps in the services available to students.  After surviving sexual violence, both women expected the support of their school and both were met with intense resistance; as they continued to speak out they found more and more survivors who had had the same experience.  Annie and Andrea worked tirelessly from their bedrooms, skyping and calling everyone they could contact to extend support and express sympathy.  Finally in 2013 Annie was among five other individuals who filed a Title IX complaint against her school, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The process is documented in the film The Hunting Ground; Annie and Andrea built a network of activists and allies that spanned the entire country, and fuelled a movement towards honesty and respect.  And while the legal and political aspects may seem complicated and overwhelming, there is a personal element to the issue that is often overlooked.  Annie told me that a very valuable service provided by End Rape on Campus is simply listening to and trusting survivors.  “When people are validated and believed and feel like they have a safe space they want to talk.”

Today Annie’s work with End Rape On Campus continues, with a slightly bigger team, a real office (an improvement over the apartment floor they started out on), and an ever-growing network of support.  The organization offers different services depending on what is asked of them.  Annie explained that some people will come in knowing exactly what they want or need (like pro bono legal help), while others simply want to know what their options and rights are.  Annie stressed the importance of always allowing clients to choose the best options for themselves.  The group also travels to schools, both university and high school level, offering consent education and making people aware of their rights.  Finally she and her team look at legislation and advocate policy change.

As if they weren’t busy enough, Annie and Andrea are also the editors of the book We Believe You, a compilation of stories by sexual assault survivors that goes beyond the typical narrative.  While the media likes to portray survivors as all the same people, We Believe You refused to ignore things like race, class, gender, and immigration status.  Annie pointed out that, for example, trans women of colour are more much more likely to be assaulted, and yet they rarely get to share their stories.  Referring to other mainstream portrayals of survivors she said “what made the survivors real humans was being ignored”.  With this book they sought to allow people to share their own stories in their own words.  She said there was “a huge learning curve” involved in the process of having the book published, but ultimately the opportunity to allow people to share their own stories in their own words was worth it.

So how can we help?  The world is a big scary place, and often the amount of tragedy in it seems daunting, but as Annie said, “there are many ways to be an activist”.  Not everyone can dedicate their lives to a cause, but there is everyday activism that you can practice, like calling out problematic behaviour and attempting to educate yourself.  “Things like that are the things that change culture,”.  Annie pointed out that not everyone needs to make a career of activism; she suggests looking at your own path, and considering how you can use that to contribute something positive.  And ladies, looking at the amazing community of young women here at Girls Help Girls, I am so, so confident that you can all contribute wonderful things.

 

If you or anyone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help — there are people who will listen and trust you.  If you want to learn more about Annie and End Rape on Campus, check out their website here. 

By Leah Howitt, on November 5th, 2017, under Activism // No Comments


How to Build a Film Festival Submission Strategy

I completed my first short film, Smile, Baby in the middle of 2015 and spent the next year and a half submitting it to every film festival that caught my eye. By the beginning of 2017, the film had played in four festivals and been rejected from 15 to 20 others. I submitted to so many that I lost track. I was burned out from submitting and getting rejected, and I had also lost track of how much money I had spent on festival submissions.

Don’t get me wrong: I was and am incredibly proud of my film and the fact that it played in four different festivals. That’s more play than a lot of short films get. But looking back on the experience—and looking forward to my current and future film projects—I realized that having a festival strategy can be incredibly useful.

I had heard of festival strategies before—I’m not trying to take credit for the idea—but only for feature films when the filmmakers were trying to get distribution and taking into account things like premiere status were much more important. However, my experience submitting my own short film to festivals made me realize that, no matter the scope of your project, one should always have a festival strategy.

The strategy that I came up with is to submit to at least one festival in each of the following four categories.

1. Niche
Niche festivals can be either filmmaker or subject matter based, or genre based. Examples of filmmaker/subject based niche festivals are: women’s festivals, LGBT fests, black, Asian, or Jewish festivals. Genre festivals, of course, only focus on one genre, like horror or comedy. And then, there are festivals that only play short films or documentaries.

From a filmmaker’s perspective, submitting to niche festivals increases your chances of getting
accepted while also ensuring that your film will play to an audience that is really excited to see that kind of film. It’s natural to want your film to be able to play at any festival, but there’s nothing wrong with knowing who your main audience will be and catering to said audience.

2. Local
I categorize local as any festival within the state where I live (which, as of now, is Wisconsin).
Some might categorize this as the city where they live. Either way, local festivals are a great place to showcase your film.

These days, there are film festivals everywhere. Wisconsin alone has at least 15 festivals that I can think of without looking anything up. I know there are more. You can definitely find festivals in your own state/province/territory/region.

A big plus to getting into a local festival is that your friends and family, along with your cast and crew, can attend the screening and share in your accomplishment with you! You can also meet
local filmmakers and grow your network.

3. National
The definition of national, just like local, can vary depending on where you are in the world and how you want to define it based on that. For me, it’s anything outside of my own state.

This is where you can and should start to go a little bigger in terms of the festivals that you’re researching. But it helps to be conservative, too. Submit to big festivals around your country, but also look at smaller festivals in other states.

4. International
The definition for this category is clear: any festival that is outside of your country. Here, you can and should look at festivals of various sizes, just like with national and local fests.

For me, the draw with international festivals is the possibility for travel and the ability to say that my film played in another country.

After submitting to so many festivals with my first film, I decided not to submit to as many with my second film, which I completed earlier this year. So, I broke the submissions into these categories. So far, the film has been rejected from a few of these, but it got accepted into a local niche festival, and I had a really positive experience at the festival and got to share the experience with a cast member and some of my family. That’s a win in my book.

We all have big dreams for our films, but at the end of the day, getting into any film festival is
truly an accomplishment worth celebrating. It’s tempting to submit to the major festivals, and while you can and should absolutely do that (funds willing), if your goal is to get accepted, broaden your horizons and find festivals where you will find a good, appreciative audience and have a positive festival experience.

Obviously, the more festivals you submit to, the better the odds that your film will play in numerous festivals. If you have limited funds for festival submissions, though, stick with one of each of these categories to start. Good luck!

By Lauren Barker, on September 29th, 2017, under Arts, Resources // No Comments


Chatting with L2M: Advice, Coding, and Girl Power

L2M is a girl group signed to Warner Brothers Records who love to sing and dance. They currently star in the YouTube Red series, “Hyperlinked”, which is based on a true story about a group of five girls who created a website by girls for girls, in an effort to give advice on everyday tween issues involving friends, school, and relationships.

What is something every girl should know?
Jenna: To always be themselves and be confident in who they are!! 
McKenzie: Every girl should know that they are beautiful just the way they are and to be confident in themselves!! You can be whoever you want to be no matter what anyone else thinks!
Mariangeli: All girls should know that there’s no point in worrying about the little things. Everyone has their insecurities, but the people who truly care about them will have no problem looking past them, or most of the time not even notice. So instead of trying to fix the little things, focus on trying to make what you’re proud of shine through.
Tati: It’s so important to always be yourself and love yourself… there’s going to be a lot of ugly people in the world. People that you are going to get a lot of hate from and who are going to try to stop you from doing what you love, but you have to prove them wrong, kill them with kindness & keep your head up high!

What have you learned since being cast in “Hyperlinked”? Did it raise an interest in coding, creating, or computer sciences?
Jenna: It definitely raised an interest in coding. I think it would be fun to learn someday. I think creating apps or games would be fun!
McKenzie: Since being cast in “Hyperlinked” I definitely have learned that being prepared is a key to life. I had a lot of lines to learn and I just grew as an actress and learned so many things from our amazing directors!! Being on “Hyperlinked” definitely raised my interest in coding and technology because I learned how cool and interesting it actually is! Plus my character Justine was the coder of the group. 
Mariangeli: It definitely increased my interest in creating. I got to make a ton of smoothies and juices on the show, and it was super fun! And although my character didn’t take too much part in the coding part of the story, I would love to learn more about computer science!
Tati: I’ve actually become a lot more interested in making videos like the ones we do in the show (the tutorials, challenges, etc.)

Did you do any research before filming started?
Jenna: It all seemed to happen pretty quickly, so I didn’t research coding itself, but I did look into the “Miss O and Friends” website. I also looked up Juliette (the founder of “Miss O and Friends”) of course. 🙂
McKenzie: Yes, I did some research on coding and STEM. I also looked into programs that were dedicated to coding for girls!  
Mariangeli: I didn’t have to do too much research since I already knew about the Miss O and Friends site, and because the storyline of our show, “Hyperlinked”, was extremely relatable and similar to our everyday lives.
Tati: I did research on “Miss O And Friends” to know exactly what the site was all about and what our characters were going to be like. 

What are your favorite subjects in school, and do you have any tips for someone who may be struggling in said subject?
Jenna: Math!!! If you are struggling in any subject I would suggest getting a teacher or tutor to help you. There are always good people willing to help!
McKenzie: My favorite subjects in school are history, math, and art!! For anyone struggling in these subjects, remember to work hard, always study and highlighting important information really helps. Also, never be afraid to ask for help! 
Mariangeli: My favorite subjects are probably math, science, and anything performing arts related. Sometimes it can be hard to stay focused during class and doing homework, but finding ways to make it fun and exciting for yourself always help me out!
Tati: My favorite subject in school is Math. Don’t give up, it takes a lot of practice and memorizing but once you understand what you’re learning, it becomes a lot more fun!

Do you have any advice for girls who have been told they can’t do something because it’s a “boy’s job” or is “not ladylike”?
Jenna: Well, you can’t let that get to you. You kind of have to have a thick skin and be true to yourself. When I went to public school, I played softball, and all of the boys thought… “she can’t be good…she’s a girl.” BUT my team was actually one of the best in my state!! So never listen to what the haters have to say because haters gonna hate! 
McKenzie: I definitely have heard “that’s for boys” or “you can’t do that because it’s not girly” but you can do anything you put your mind to!! Boys say things like this because they know that girls are their biggest competition.
Mariangeli: Well, first of all, don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do something. Anyone can achieve anything they set their minds to, and should never let the opinions of others slow their roll. Now when it comes to things that are known to be “only for boys”, girls should never be afraid to break that stereotype. In fact, they should be extremely proud to be doing the things that they’re fond of and most likely amazing at! Same goes for boys who struggle in participating in “girly” activities.
Tati: Always stick up for yourself and every other girl. Girls can do anything and everything guys can do (I even say that they can do it better but shhh let’s not tell the guys that one haha).

Who are some super smart girls that you look up to?
Jenna: I would love to spend an actual full day with Juliette Brindak Blake!! I would love to learn everything she has to do to run the website (“Miss O and Friends”) and would love to help her! I think that would be really fun and cool!!!
McKenzie: I definitely look up to Michelle Obama and Yara Shahidi! I would want to spend my day with Yara though because she’s a teenager just like me and we’re both in the entertainment industry! Since she’s such a successful actress I would ask her if she has any tips or advice about acting. She’s also an activist and a leader, so I would ask her about that as well! I could definitely go on and on with questions to ask her, but those are two questions I would definitely ask!
Mariangeli: I would love to learn a few things from Katherine G Johnson. I learned about her from the movie “Hidden Figures” and the contributions that she made for NASA and to the study of mathematics in general is truly astonishing. Being a fan of mathematics and problem solving myself, it would be an honor to spend some time with her! Apart from her, I’ve also had the honor of meeting and working with other amazing women like Juliette Brindak, the creator of Miss O, and the directors of our series, Amelia Frenchable, and Kimmy Gatewood.
Tati: I really look up to super smart girls like Zendaya, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez but I would definitely pick Madison Beer as someone I would spend my day with. I’ve been following Madison and her music for quite a while now and I truly think she’s one of the smartest, most talented, most humble & most loving girls out there. I’ve followed her journey and what she’s been through and she’s shown how strong she is. I would love to just go out for lunch and spend a girl day with her, maybe a spa day. I would ask her for advice on being in the entertainment world as well as keeping good friendships and good bonds with people and how tough it can be because I’ve already experienced most of it and would like to hear more from someone like her. 

How would you define “intelligence”?
Jenna: We are all smart in different ways. I think you have to figure out what you are good at, develop your gifts, and then try to be the best you can be with the gifts you are given.  
McKenzie: Intelligence is being able to take the knowledge that you learn and apply it to your life! 
Mariangeli: Intelligence is believing in yourself and what you’re capable of. Being sure of yourself whether it’s in school, or just everyday problem-solving. Intelligence is taking the mistakes you’ve made in life and using them to become the best possible version of yourself you can be. 
Tati: Making the right decisions (both in your words & actions). Sticking up for what you believe in and knowing the difference between wrong & right, as well as knowing your facts & opinions.

Why do you think that some people believe boys are smarter than girls?
Jenna: I really don’t know why! They mature wayyyyy later than girls so it doesn’t make sense to me.
McKenzie: I think a lot of people think boys are smarter than girls because boys are given better opportunities and they play the more “dominant” role in our society these days. 
Mariangeli: I believe that because men have been seen as “alphas” or all around “harder workers” people have already developed a biased opinion that boys are simply better than girls in certain situations. However, at the end of the day, it’s always exciting to hear about the accomplishments girls make throughout their lives.
Tati: I honestly don’t really know why people say that. Boys & girls are developed the exact same way, of course, everyone is going to be different in their own way but I don’t think comparing a whole gender to another on abilities or smarts really makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

By Emily Koopman, on September 25th, 2017, under Education, Gender, Pop Culture, STEM // No Comments


6 Girls Who Love Disney Just as Much as You

Fellow Disney fans, meet your new best friends! I’ve scoured the internet for some of the most fun, interesting, and passionate girls who are just as dedicated to the Mouse as you.

BREE KISH

Bree Kish is an Orange County-based model who has been featured in Seventeen Magazine, Forever21+, the front page of E.L.F Cosmetics, Modcloth, and walked in New York Fashion Week. Modeling accomplishments aside, Bree is massive Disney fan and spends a good amount of her time off exploring the Disneyland Resort. “I was born and raised in Southern California, so all of my earliest memories take place at Disneyland,” she says. Her favourite rides include The Haunted Mansion, the Indiana Jones Adventure, and Pirates of the Caribbean. From her (adorable!) tailor–made Dapper Day outfits to incredible Disney hauls on YouTube, this lovely lady is bound to lift your spirits. “I love Disney because it allows you to escape the moment,” she explains. “It brings happiness to so many people!”

Follow Bree Online
Instagram | YouTube | Twitter
 

 

 

BRIANA PATTERSON

Briana is 28-years-old and though she was born and raised in Kentucky, she has called San Francisco home for 10 years.

“I struggle with chronic depression, anxiety, and PTSD from my childhood. For me, Disney is a therapy,” she shares. “Going to Disneyland was something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was around 4-years-old. My family never had enough money to go, and we never went on trips as a family due to all the turmoil we had under our roof.” Briana made her first visit to Disneyland in 2014, which was yet another dark time for her as she was stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship, similar to the one she had with her father growing up. “Disneyland was okay, but it didn’t have the magic I thought it would have.” When that relationship ended, she met the love of her life and visited Disneyland for the second time; this time with her boyfriend and his parents. “My life changed. [Disneyland] was a different place, and I became inspired by everything Disney.” Her boyfriend’s parents have been going to Disneyland for over 40 years and she says that “they passed the magic they experienced to him, and now he has passed it on to me.”

As a result, Briana says she could go on and on about her love for Disney. “The first time I saw World of Color, I cried because it was so beautiful,” she says, looking back on her favourite memory. When she’s at the park her must-dos are Indiana Jones, It’s a Small World, the Storybookland Canal Boats, and taking a stroll through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. When she needs a break, you’ll find her chatting with Princess Tiana, Princess Aurora, or Cinderella.

“Depression and anxiety are so terrible. Every day is a struggle for me.” Unfortunately, like a lot of people, she has experienced panic/anxiety attacks, dealt with self-harm, suicide attempts, been bedridden, and unemployed all due to her mental health. “Having my love for Disney and experiencing magic first hand… and sharing it with people who feel it too is an incredible feeling. It gives me hope and faith to see magic in my everyday life. Those 4-5 days at a time I spend at Disneyland is enough to make me feel like a whole new person. I leave my depression in San Francisco when I go to Anaheim.”

Her advice to fellow Disney fans? “You have to read Kingdom Keepers! It’s the best book series for any Disney lover!”

Follow Briana Online
Instagram

 
 
EMMA-GRAYCE TINKER-FLECK

“Disney is something that is so, so amazing to me,” says Emma, whose favourite Disneyland ride is Pirates of the Caribbean. When she’s not munching on beignets (her favourite park snack!), Emma is hard at work on products for her Etsy shop, Wanderers Trading Post. She makes adorable Mouse Ears, perfect for a trip to one of the theme parks. The idea stemmed from the notion of helping unlock magic memories with people across the nation, as Disney did for her. She even had the pleasure of meeting with a Disney Parks casting director who helped her figure out how she could further immerse herself in the magic. “Becoming a Face Character is my dream,” she says.

Follow Emma Online
Instagram | Facebook | Etsy Shop
 
 

 

EVE TAYLOR

Eve Taylor may as well be an honorary Disneyland resident. Recently, she was featured on Disney Style’s Instagram page, showcasing some absolutely adorable DisneyBounds. “I love Disney simply because it is a place where no matter how many times I visit the theme park, there is always a guaranteed new experience.” For example, her favourite memory is when her boyfriend surprised her during Christmas time [at Disneyland] after coming home from training for the army, creating an incredibly special event. “Something I wish more people would realize is that Disney, whether it be going to a theme park or watching one of their movies, is a great way to temporarily escape from reality.”

It’s not surprising that Eve’s favourite character is Rapunzel, as the two of them have a lot in common: both are bright-eyed beauties with hearts of gold and teeming with passion. When asked about her favourite rides at the park, she says that it’s a toss-up between Indiana Jones and Star Tours. “I grew up being obsessed with those movies.”

Eve’s aesthetically pleasing Instagram account showcases her bang-up photography skills and tons of adorable pics in Disney inspired outfits. She too has a YouTube channel which features fun Disney DIYs, stories, and more.

Follow Eve Online
Instagram | YouTube | Twitter

 

 

JAZLYN CAING

“My favourite is Daisy Duck. Very classic and super sassy!” Jazlyn says, though she admits her favourite character changes frequently. Some people, Jazlyn included, are lucky enough to grow up going to a Disney theme park. For her, it’s Walt Disney World in Florida. “One of my most memorable times at Disney World was meeting Peter Pan,” she explains. “I remember wearing a Disney button that said, “I’m celebrating: graduation!” Through my high school experience, felt that it was “looked down” upon that fact that I loved Disney and was an annual pass holder. I would always rather be at the parks with close friends than at a party with random people. When I met Peter Pan we took a Polaroid photo and he signed it “Never Grow up” which meant a lot me as I explained a little bit about myself. And he gave me the best advice, “Always believe that you can be true to yourself and remember to NEVER grow up.” Made me cry, so magical!” When she’s at the park, her favourite ride can be found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “[It’s] super new and exciting. It feels like a breath of fresh air. I love the feeling you get when you forget that you’re on a ride and feel like you’re really there. It’s something that’s a “must see” and can’t pass up!” The ride is brand new, having opened in May of 2017.

As an avid park goer, Jazlyn has some solid advice for anyone who plans on visiting Disney World: “If I were you, I’d be sure to watch the new outstanding fireworks show at Magic Kingdom called Happily Ever After. It’s my favorite part of the day! I think it shows everything that Disney has to offer. It represents the hard times building up to the brightest times endings that shows you that anything is possible when you believe. There’s always a happy ending, “Reach out and find your happily ever after!”

Follow Jazlyn Online
Instagram

 

 

JAZTINE DESIREE

“My favorite Disney memory has to be back in 2008 when I went for Disney Grad Nite.” She explains that she got to see her home park (Disneyland) in a whole different light while she made memories with all the people she grew up with. “It’s a time and a place that will forever be a memory but something that I hold close to my heart because of how things have changed since then.”

Jaztine is the owner and designer of a small shop called Makings of a Dreamer on Etsy, which specializes in wire Mouse Ears and Disney inspired patches and pins. She’s also great at making her own cosplay; a while back, she created an incredibly realistic Vanellope costume. When asked if she has a favourite character Jaztine admits, “I absolutely love Vanellope, Rapunzel, and Moana. It is so hard to choose!” That being said, she has no trouble telling me that her most-visited ride is none other than the emblematic Pirates of the Caribbean.

Follow Jaztine Online
Instagram | Facebook | Etsy Shop

By Emily Koopman, on September 18th, 2017, under Disney, Pop Culture, Travel // No Comments


Science Knows No Gender

Nikita Hari is a scientist by profession & social tech entrepreneur by passion. Currently, she is a doctoral scholar pursuing research in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Also the Co-Founder of two social tech start-ups ‘Wudi’ & ‘Favalley’, her vision is to empower society through education and technology. She is listed in the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35’ in 2017 by WES & Telegraph, is a QE Prize for Engineering Ambassador & Hult-prize finalist who is a scientist, social entrepreneur, science communicator, and consultant. She also works as the advisor for Next Tech Lab, India & as consulting head for ‘Care to Teach’ initiative for Syrian Refugee Kids. She served as the Secretary of IEEE-Cambridge, CamAwise Steering Committee and as Beyond Profit Cambridge Conference Director for past three years and was the first Chairperson of the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics Post-Graduate Forum (2015).

Science knows no gender; engineering and entrepreneurship know no gender. But there exists an unconscious and conscious bias to women in these fields. Never get intimidated if you are the only girl in your engineering class, the only woman on the start-up board and so on – be the change. Just do the best you can by believing in yourself, work towards being the best version of you and never allow anyone to tell you that you’re incapable of something because of your gender.

Engineering to me is about creatively solving world’s problems through collaboration, empathy, and innovation. My aspiration & vision is to create a platform for youngsters to be positive change makers for society thorough my initiatives thereby helping engineer a better and brighter world. As for me, any engineer looking forward to solving problems in the world –big or small, has the potential to be a positive change maker for the world.

If you are a tech organization, you can associate with ‘social tech initiatives’ to help with tech support/mentorship.

If you are a professional, you can remotely contribute to ‘social start-ups’ by helping them better their product. This will also be an opportunity for contributors with the same vision to collaborate and create an invincible system.

If you are an individual, you can help spread the mission of any social start-ups you believe in by formally associating with them.

I’m incredibly happy and honoured to be the first Indian to have made it into The Telegraph’s prestigious list of 50 Women in Engineering. I’m also very proud and humbled to the first student from the University of Cambridge to make the list. Coming from a conventional background, I’m very happy to be a global role model for young girls across the world, which I understand is a great responsibility as well. Hailing from Indian middle class, breaking stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings to engineer my destiny to a global stage I think will inspire many, many young girls to take up this exciting field.

The intrigue, fascination, and excitement to fathom the unexplained ‘electric shock’ I received as a kid motivated me to take up electrical engineering as my specialization; starting off with an undergraduate degree, then moving on to do a Masters and now pursuing a Ph.D. in the same area. I’m excited about my work as it has the potential to influence the world and our way of life, as electric power is ubiquitous. Through my work I want to tell the world that ‘electric power knows no gender… science knows no gender!’

My advice to the young girls: ‘Your destiny is your decision!’ Do not allow the societal stereotypes to stop you from pursuing your passion. Let nothing stop you from doing what you love most. Let your wings of dreams fly high… always believe in your dreams… believe in your heart & believe in your story.

By Guest, on September 16th, 2017, under Gender, STEM // No Comments


Let’s Talk Start-Ups

Nikita Hari is a scientist by profession & social tech entrepreneur by passion. Currently, she is a doctoral scholar pursuing research in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Also the Co-Founder of two social tech start-ups ‘Wudi’ & ‘Favalley’, her vision is to empower society through education and technology. She is listed in the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35’ in 2017 by WES & Telegraph, is a QE Prize for Engineering Ambassador & Hult-prize finalist who is a scientist, social entrepreneur, science communicator, and consultant. She also works as the advisor for Next Tech Lab, India & as consulting head for ‘Care to Teach’ initiative for Syrian Refugee Kids. She served as the Secretary of IEEE-Cambridge, CamAwise Steering Committee and as Beyond Profit Cambridge Conference Director for past three years and was the first Chairperson of the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics Post-Graduate Forum (2015).

Over the years, I have realized that our passion is worthwhile only if we can use it to help others, be part of a bigger mission to change the world for the better. In the age of racism, fascism, sexism, and terrorism devouring humanity, the world needs us youngsters to act – we need to pledge to have a compassionate heart that seeks and strives to make a positive impact in this world for a safer and sustainable tomorrow! With this aspiration and vision, I have co-founded two social tech start-ups: Wudi and Favalley.

Wudi Datatech Pvt Ltd is an exciting and unique initiative I co-founded with my brother Arjun Hari, who holds a management degree from IIM Kozhikode and Engineering degree from NIT Calicut. He is the brainchild and CEO of the firm based in Kozhikode, Kerala. Our vision is to transform education through Artificial Intelligence. Also, we aim to make AI products accessible and affordable to small and medium enterprises across the globe. Our main flagship product is Edu-Wudi – an AI educational software for institutions, aimed to transform the educational space by helping students identify their real talents and thus encouraging students and parents to think outside the obvious careers of engineering, medicine, and management! Our system will also ensure that all stakeholders in the system (i.e., student, teachers, parents, management) are aware of each student’s capability so that he/she is always measured with the right scale. An aspiring poet should be judged for his literary skills rather than his skills in geometry.

With the power of AI, deep learning, and machine learning techniques, Wudi has developed one of its kind products for smarter business management. Biz-Wudi, Edu-Wudi, and Smart-Wudi are few of our products in this domain. Check our website to learn more about WUDI.

Favalley was founded with three incredible Ph.D. students from Cambridge -Paulo, Stefano, and Martin. It was started with the mission to convert slums into the next silicon valleys by engaging, training and matching marginalized youth in slums to coding jobs. For easing the practicalities of piloting & implementation, we are teaming with Wudi to better explore the learning dynamics and attitude of the youth in rural areas and slums to coding. And after that it will be implemented in rural schools & vocational colleges in Chennai to make the best and employable coding learning accessible to the bottom of the pyramid & also empowering them by connecting them to ‘Digital India’. (www.favalley.in)

Start-ups are a very thrilling, exciting, challenging and demanding space with huge potential to contribute to the world. Cambridge offers its students a wonderful platform to engage with like-minded entrepreneurs, offer business courses, free workshops, and training to develop and practice business skills. This has helped me in discovering my hidden aptitude in this area to live the start-up dream!

The nomination and invitation to attend the Forbes summit was another inspiring and motivating period of my life, wherein I found that I perfectly fit in with the amazing young change makers from across the globe. It was a beautiful blend of ‘exploration, inspiration, innovation and motivation’ in the company of 600+ young change makers from across the world. We gathered in the tech start-up city of Israel and historic land of Jerusalem to engage and educate, celebrate and create a lifetime of memories, partnerships, and friendships!

Each and every face had a unique story of ‘passion and purpose’, of ‘struggle and success’, of ‘dedication and determination’ to make a positive change in this world – as entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, venture capitalists, scientists, writers, actors, singers, diplomats, models, designers, athletes, vloggers, journalists, and a mix of many roles- unstoppable these people are ! This reinforced my abilities & aspirations for wanting to be more than a positive change maker – to create more changemakers by building a right platform!

To start a new venture, you should have passion, a great team with complementary skill sets, a good idea, a great vision and plan of what to achieve and how to do it for a start. You will generally have to pivot many times before you finalize on an actual workable business plan and model. Also most importantly, start-ups have to have a momentum and you have to be able to tap into the market without losing this pace and this will need insane working hours alongside your passion, dedication, and determination to make it work. Don’t fall into the start-up space trap just because it’s the new trend – not everyone is cut out for this.

By Guest, on September 16th, 2017, under Business // No Comments


How to Survive Uni 101

Greetings my dear friendsicles! My name is Ann Makosinski, I’m 19 years old and live in Vancouver, British Columbia. I live in Victoria most of the time, but I go to UBC in Vancouver during the school year to study English Literature. This is my first ever time writing for a blog, so it’s quite EXCITING!!!

Anyways, before I get started on the real juice y’all came for (how to survive uni 101), I’ll give you a little background about myself. My first toy was a box of transistors, and from there I started participating at my local science fair in grade six. When I was 15 years old, my friend in the Philippines (I’m half Filipino and half Polish) told me that she had failed her grade in school because she couldn’t afford electricity and had no light to study with at night. I decided to base my science fair project around this and make the Hollow Flashlight, a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand.

Another invention I created a couple years after was the eDrink, which is a coffee mug that harvests the excess heat of your hot drink and converts it into electricity, so you can eventually give your iPhone or iPod a small boost of energy. Since then my inventions and story took off, and I give talks and appearances all around the world. AKA, I miss a LOT of school, but somehow still pass my courses… Now I may not hold the secret to perfect grades at university, but I’ve had a couple years of experience, and I thought I’d give you guys some tips 🙂 (this can apply for middle/high school too!!)

UNI(corn) TIPS:

1. BE SOCIAL. MAKE FRIENDS. Everyone (especially in classes) doesn’t really know each other, and the person beside you is probably just as scared as you are to talk to you. Turn your head towards them (yes I know, very tedious, I promise it won’t be painful) and say HI. What’s your name? It takes a lot of courage sometimes (especially for me, as I’m not an outgoing person usually), but it can create amazing friendships, that you’ll never know could have existed until you tried.

2. Do not eat ramen noodles or spaghetti every single night for dinner. Turns out, it’s not good for you… After eating spaghetti and perogies every single night for dinner during the month of January, I caught a brain virus. Ok, you probably won’t get a brain virus if you eat them, but your immune system will be significantly lowered without the proper nutrients. It’s actually so refreshing to eat basic fruits and veggies (never EVER thought I’d say that!), and eating healthy can be a lot easier than you ever imagined once you get started.

3. Every night before you go to bed, make a list of everything you want/need to do tomorrow. I find for myself that I prefer that to making the list morning of, because when you wake up you can hop straight into the grind of things. I receive a strange satisfaction from crossing things off a list that I’ve completed.

4. Procrastination is a deadly disease that afflicts many of us innocent students. Beware of it, fight it off with a bat and a sprig of rosemary.

5. Don’t let school become your life. Think about what you want to achieve and do other than getting good grades. What do you want to do or get in life? Take initiative and start doing working on whatever goals you have. Being a “university student” doesn’t define you, you can be a student and be an inventor, a CEO, an actress, an artist, a social activist, ANYTHING. BE YOU!

Well, that’s all for now, if you have any requests on future topics of articles let me know. I’ll be doing some blogs on my travels and running my business, patents, etc.. Buh-bye!

Andini xx.

By Andini Makosinski, on September 6th, 2017, under Education // No Comments


Go Ahead, Be A Teacher (Please)!

You’re a smart girl. I am, too. I was one of those kiddos that strove for all A+’s, all advanced classes. “You’re a smart girl,” we all hear. “Any plans for the future?”

Of course, sometimes it’s less of a question and more of a precedent for suggestion. When I mentioned being a nurse, one might smile and reply, “You’re such a smart girl. You could be a doctor. Or at least a nurse practitioner.” When I wanted to be a therapist, here came an alternate suggestion, “How about a neuroscientist? Psychiatry pays better than psychology.”

I grew up thinking that psychology was a major for people who wanted to mess around in college. That social sciences weren’t scientific in the slightest. That teachers were people who studied something impractical in university and needed a practical fallback career.

Even when I played Teacher as a child at home, I didn’t dream of being a teacher. Even when my third grade teacher saw my passion and let me write a quiz. Even when I found a passion for politics and realized that education is an effective grassroots solution to almost every societal infirmity and ailment. Even when my favorite teacher looked me in the eyes and said, “Gracie, the best way to multiply your efforts is to inspire others.” Even then.

Even when my heart told me loud and clear: I want you to teach.

I refused to disappoint everyone who believed in me. All the people who told me they believed I’d do something great. I’d get my doctorate. I’d go into STEM.

I did well in my scientific studies and yet my heart wasn’t in it. My heart was in people. People, people, people. Okay, I resigned. I’ll deign unto the social sciences. But I’ll still get my PhD. I’ll study education at Harvard. I’ll start a school, go into politics. Okay, I thought. I’ll still be great.

Well.

I recently spent a few days shadowing about a dozen teachers in their middle school classrooms. I took about forty pages of notes. I returned home exhausted. I came back impassioned. I basked in the possibilities. The enormous challenge. The infinite variability. And so much possibility for change.

You can be creative here, I was told. You can do so much in this field. Leave it to a teacher to inspire me. I was told, “Every field” -every- field, “has a place for a brilliant mind. Has a need for a brilliant mind.”

And so. I will make my point. You might guess I didn’t write this article about me, really.

It’s about you, smart girls. You, brilliant minds. We live in a Renaissance for Womanhood. We are told we can be anything a man can be. A leader. A doctor. A professor. An engineer.

And you can be. Be a leader. Please, I beg of you, boot out the President of the United States. Be a doctor. Be the one doctor that  believes women when they say their abdominal pain is more than “a period.” Be a professor. WOMEN PROFESSORS ARE AMAZING. Be an engineer. Build a better world, my friend.

But whoever you are, my friend, a brilliant, vibrant young mind- please remember this. Traditionally feminine careers Are. Not. Of. Lesser. Value.

I repeat. Be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, anything!!! Kick butt!! You can be anything!!!

You. Can. Be. Anything.

But if your dream is to be a mother, or an artist, or a nurse, or a librarian- my friend: be PROUD of your vocation. Yes- historically, women have held these jobs. Historically, it takes a Tough Mother to be a woman.

You. Can. Be. Anything.

So go ahead, be a teacher. Casually hold up society like we women always do. Above all, do what makes you happy, and choose a life you’re passionate about. The world may not thank you, but you might thank yourself.

By Grace Ferber, on September 4th, 2017, under Education // No Comments


Beauty on Social Media

Mackenzie Brown is a 24-year-old makeup artist and retired Disney princess living in Seattle, Washington. She shares her love of makeup and Disney on her popular YouTube channel, with tutorials, stories, and tips.

I was in a creative rut. I had originally created my Instagram account as a platform to showcase my work as an aspiring makeup artist. That was three years ago. Three years ago I was using crazy colors and I didn’t care if they worked together or not. Three years ago I was still taking pictures with my bathroom lighting on either my phone or my point and shoot camera. Now it’s standard to have a nice SLR camera with a $1,500 lens, a whole lighting setup, and high-tech photo editing software. What happened in just three years?

Social media used to make sense. It was a way to connect with your friends outside of school and share memories. Looking back at my oldest Facebook pictures I can see unedited, candid photos of me and my friends, and there were tons of them! You wanted to only add people as “friends” if you knew them, and you would still see everyone’s posts on your timeline.

I now spend hours scrolling through Instagram, looking at all these gorgeous women, I don’t know, with flawless bodies and perfect lives. They’re traveling around the world, have the most amazing friends, and look stunning all the time. I quickly see how many “likes” they have and become sad that my “like” ratio doesn’t even hold a candle to theirs. A space where you could connect with other artists, and support each other, quickly became a competitive ground for popularity and self-worth.

The worst part about it is, Instagram’s new algorithm now picks what you should see. So if you happened to look at a few photos of flawless women on your discover page, now all you’ll see is gorgeous, photo-shopped women all the time. It knows your weakness and exploits it.

So I found myself in a rut. I used to love posting photos because I loved the work I created. It was a way for me to express myself, and I loved seeing other people’s work because it challenged me to try new things. But instead of being challenged, I found myself feeling downhearted. What used to drive me to be my best now had me seeing only my worst features. My nose has a slight bump from when I broke it, I’m missing eyelashes due to an OCD disorder I can’t control, my hair is a mess.

Then I did the opposite of what I wanted to do. I posted a picture of myself on Instagram, unedited, without makeup on, just me. In doing that, I realized I wasn’t alone. That other women were out there, just like me. Feeling drained and low in their own self-worth after having images of “beauty” shoved in their face day after day. That helped me realize what true beauty is.

Beauty isn’t defined by the edited, false images that you see scrolling through different social media platforms. It’s found in the courage one must take when they realize there’s a problem they must stand to fight. It’s in the love you have for your friends and family, or the way you empathize with someone who is hurting. Beauty is found in those wrinkles on your face, the ones that were created from too much laughter over the years that you so desperately wish you could now hide. Beauty isn’t slaving away editing a photo to perfection on your phone while ignoring the friends you’re supposed to be spending time with.

I love the small bump in my nose. It was created when my uncle was trying to tickle me and his forehead accidentally smashed into my nose and broke it. He’s no longer alive, and now it’s a happy reminder of all the beautiful memories I have of him.

I am proud of the fact that I struggle with trichotillomania, an OCD disorder where you compulsively pull out your hair. I was so afraid of people knowing about it when I was younger, but now that I’ve opened up about it on social media I’ve been able to connect with people I never thought I could. My struggles have given me the opportunity to help others realize their beauty isn’t defined by the hair on their face.

Speaking of hair, my hair might not always be perfect, but whose is? My messy hair days shouldn’t prevent me from posting pictures of great memories with friends.

I hope that you realize what truly makes you beautiful, and are never afraid to hide it! Your freckles, your scars, your laugh-lines some people call wrinkles. They’re all a part of who you are, and they’re just a reflection of the beautiful person living on the inside. Materialistic, outward beauty will fade, but your inner beauty is what defines you.

By Guest, on August 20th, 2017, under Beauty, Guest Post // No Comments