Monday, October 14, 2013

Exploring Halifax

Above is a panography I completed of the facade of Saint Mary's Campus!

The past few weeks I have been alternating between living in the University library and archives, marathoning Netflix while sick, and exploring Halifax. It is quite an interesting time to be in Canada, with the seasons starting to change, as well as the United States government shutting down. This blog will cover a few of my exciting adventures over the past few weeks as well as a look at my experiences with the US Government shutdown from Canada. 

Geeks v Nerds

During my second week here in Halifax I ventured into town to observe something called Geeks versus Nerds, essentially a wacky comedy show when things from geek and nerd culture are pitted against each other in heated comedy debates. The October show included the match-ups of Sunday Scoobies vs Mystery Inc: Which gang more consistently saves the day, and Capt Jack Harkness vs Capt James T. Kirk: WHich captain goes to greater lengths to explore more territories? There were also two minute debates on Death vs. Taxes, Air guitar vs. Guitar hero, and Adam West vs. Christian Bale. I have to say that the show was absolutely awesome. It was hilarious, the people were passionate and dedicated, and it only cost $7. What is better than that? Each month they have different match-ups, so I will definitely be checking out future shows.

Explore Halifax

I am kind of in love with this city. I joke about it, but Halifax is pretty much a combination of San Francisco and Old Towne Orange. A few weekends ago I went to the Halifax Seaport Market which is a large farmers market in Halifax every weekend. However, the coolest thing about Halifax is the random events you can just stumble into. During that same trip to the Seaport Market I managed to just walk into Oktoberfest complete with keg bowling for charity, and the Alzheimer Duck Derby, where over 10,000 rubber ducks were raced in the Halifax harbor to benefit charity. All of the local restaurants here are fabulous. My most recent adventure was to "Your Father's Mustache" for Eggs Benedict. Excited for even more adventures in the city. 

Counseling JCP

Last weekend I camp counseled at Johnston Christian Park (JCP), a Disciples camp located in Digby, Nova Scotia. When I was a peace intern two summers ago I counseled there. Upon finding out I was now living in Nova Scotia, I was asked back to participate in the Fall Weekend.

My first task before I went was to find a sleeping bag, so off to Walmart I went. I bought the only sleeping bag I could find, which was for 40-60F because the weather report said it wouldn't be under 40F. That is a lie I can tell you, which I found out when the temperature was in the low 20s/high teens and I was sleeping in 3 jackets and shaking through the night. Why they sell sleeping bags that only go to 40F in Canada is beyond me. I made it through though! Last night I slept in my sleeping bag underneath the covers in my dorm room though. Adapting to fall...

Camp itself was amazing. The campers were great, and we focused on the idea of faith. I lead a session on Saturday afternoon during a canoe trip. Let me tell you, I cannot describe how badly I wanted to sing "Just Around the Riverbend" while paddling that canoe. I stifled it however, have no fear. Just for your entertainment here is the Disney version ( In addition to sessions on faith we also played Johnston Ball (photo below), cleaned the camp, had a square dance, and participated in a night game. Also, in a move of complete "southern californian-ness" the leaves were changing colors! Yay Fall!

Overall the experience was awesome, and I am incredibly glad I was able to participate in it this year. 

Wyndholme Christian Church

After counseling at JCP, I was asked if I would want to attend the Disciples church in Dartmouth on the next Sunday. Having worked for Disciples and traveled extensively through Disciples, I thought it would be interesting so I agreed. It was a small church, with around 20 members there and I was the only visitor. That being said though, I was full-heartedly welcomed. One of the things I love about Disciples churches is the idea of an open table. We have an open table for a reason, we do not pose limits to the table, everyone is invited and everyone is welcome.

I do have to say though. I walked into the church and immediately the pastor headed me off and introduced herself. The next question was "You were the Disciples Peace Intern Right?" Yes... "You do public speaking right?" Yes... "How would you like to preach on Peace Sunday?" I was in the church less than 5 minutes before they had asked me to preach on peace Sunday in Advent. While I was initially shocked, I will now be preaching on the second Sunday in Advent. Better start mentally preparing for that. Good thing I have a few peace sermons in the repertoire I can adjust according to the Lectionary.

The service though was great. I think the pastor is hilarious and awesome. It actually reminded me of what services are like at FCC Fullerton. I am sure I will be back there in the future. Especially now that I will be preaching there in 3 months...

Canada during the United States Government Shutdown

I have heard the stories and seen the personal testimonies of what is happening in the US. Many friends have posted on Facebook about how they were among the people who were deemed "non-essential" during the shutdown or were asked to work without pay. Even simple things like being unable to access government websites for research projects have been a constant source on my newsfeed. In fact, the Fulbright Program I am a part of updated that they would not be updating their facebook feed, but will be working to ensure the safety of all participants through the State Department and other agencies. While that concern was not high on my radar here in Canada, I am sure it was critical for those who are studying and working in more remote parts of the world. 

My perspective on the matter is fairly well known, as discussed on Facebook or through other social media outlets. One of my littles posted on my facebook about how it is good I was in Canada now that the government has shut down. My other little participated in a protest in Washington, DC the other day. I am constantly on news sites or CSPAN looking up new information, speeches, or testimony on the shutdown.

Despite my own personal opinions, during the shutdown in the US it has been interesting to see the Canadian response.

"The government is supposed to represent the people. I think that often when people get elected they forget that purpose. They strive for their own selfish ideals, for re-election and media bits, as opposed to serving the people they were elected to represent"

That was one reaction I heard from someone at Wyndholme, and I do have to say that is accurate. In the past few weeks, the United States government shutdown has become one of the most common conversations I have had when people find out I am American. Many Canadian news outlets immediately broke the story about the potential impact on the Canadian economy. In fact, when the shutdown first happened and I searched for news results, google only revealed Canadian news outlets since my current location is in Canada. While sometimes a teasing comment such as "At least we have a government right now," may happen, there has been a real amount of concern expressed by those I have conversed with. However, people have also expressed that what is happening in the US is not unique. Canada also has a large amount of partisanship, voting strongly on party lines, which can result in gridlock and other heated issues. The Nova Scotia election was last Tuesday, and the discussions I have had on politics have been passionate to say the least. As we enter the third week of the shutdown, it will be interesting to see how a resolution can be reached. 

In conclusion, that is blog #3, stay tuned for your next super exciting update from Nova Scotia Newbie!