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A Transformative Moment In Sweden
By Diana Carr

When my son, Ryan, went to Sweden in 1998 as an exchange student for his senior year in high school, he fell in love with the country. So much so, that he moved back there a few months after returning home with the other AFS students.  He got permanent residence, then his citizenship, and now calls Sweden home sweet home.

I’ve gone there nine times, and I understand why my son wants to live there.  Old World charm, cobbled streets, thousand-year-old marvels of architecture, outdoor cafes where people linger for hours, and ancient traditions like lighting bonfires on May 1 to keep the witches away.

But as charming as all this is, I have always found the people to be distant and unfriendly. They seem to pull into themselves, not talking to anyone they don’t know or making eye contact with them, or lending a helping hand if need be. So I had gotten into my head, an image of a people who were even colder than their climate. But that all changed one day in October of 2010, when I went to visit my son and his new baby. Read more

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COMMENT (1) | enlightenment, tolerance
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Credit Card Angel
By Maggie Airncliffe

The city was sweltering under a heat wave that just wouldn’t let up. Before 10 a.m. on the fourth day, the temperature was already nudging 30C. The prospect of another blistering day on the inner city streets was making me cranky. All I wanted was a shady spot on my little balcony, a good book, and a bottomless jug of iced tea.

At the time, I was unofficial ‘street mom’ to a group of kids trying to survive on the margins. Somehow they had adopted me when, on a whim, I’d stopped to offer them a basket of peaches that I’d picked up at the farmer’s market down the block. The fruit disappeared in seconds, but the impression they made on me lingered. The next week, I’d baked up a double batch of cookies, and gone back. Within weeks, I was spending most of my free time with them.

They’d come to accept my presence, true, but gaining their confidence was another matter altogether. Read more

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COMMENTS (6) | children, inspiration, street kids, tolerance
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Inspired By A Life Of Travel
By Debbie McKeown

My passion for travel and outdoor adventure began at an early age. Growing up on my family’s farm in Ontario, Canada, I spent my days exploring the great outdoors and my evenings reading Nancy Drew mysteries and action books that featured lots of horses. Big adventures beckoned. I loved my surroundings but always felt a sense of restlessness and a desire to experience places and meet people beyond our small farming community.

Fast forward many years … with my husband Jack, I have currently visited 43 countries (and counting) and all of the continents. Each destination has left me with a lasting impression of the beauty of the world, whether it be through the landscapes, people or animals. As I consider my evolving travel portfolio, I realize that travel has really shaped who I am today. Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | inspiration, self growth, tolerance
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“Nice To Meet You. I’m Lesbian”
By Reilley Olexson - 16 Years Old

My favourite colour is red. It always has been. My hair has always been curly, and my eyes have always been hazel. I am not a science experiment, or some new invention. Don`t introduce me as if I am some new species you have discovered. To exploit one aspect of who I am to the magnitude of a flying pig, reduces every other ounce of my body. Do not refer to me as “the lesbian”. I would even rather to be referred to as “curly”. Read more

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COMMENTS (6) | empowerment, enlightenment, self realization, tolerance
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Through And Beyond AIDS
By Deirdre Rhodes (Patwant Kaur)

In 1997, my world radically shifted. One day while my partner Mike was at work, I was packing his ironed clothes back into his cupboard. From underneath this pile slipped a hotel bill. This was nothing strange as he had just returned from Swaziland, where he had played a gig. He was an engineer by day and a musician by night. On closer inspection of the bill, I saw that it was for two, not one, as it should have been. This was all starting to feel like an episode out of “Days of Our Lives.” It perturbed me, but I still thought there must be a logical explanation for this. For the whole day I sat with this information, mulling it over and over in my overactive mind. I said nothing.

The next morning, I asked him whether he had had an affair. I showed him the hotel bill. He had just opened his eyes and was steeped in sleep, a hard time to lie. He admitted that, yes, he had. I felt my heart shred, explode and crumble, my breath lost somewhere between the inhale and exhale, my thoughts blazing in a trillion manic directions. My illusion shattered. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | AIDS, relationships, self growth
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Standing In Line
By Liz Barney

Standing in line at the post office was not my plan for the afternoon, and so when I found myself still shifting from foot to foot after waiting 20 minutes, I grew restless. Looking around, it wasn’t difficult to see the same feelings mirrored on my line-companion’s faces; wrinkled brows, tapping feet, bulging eyes, and sweat-drenched brows all seemed to cry out together, “Can we just be done already?”

The line had been moving along at a slow, but steady pace that resembled the sludge of half-dried concrete crawling down the spout of the mixer, when suddenly it came to an abrupt halt. “Lo siento, no hablo Inglés,” the voice faltered, apologetically. I silently groaned inside, as I watched the short little man with weathered hands and thick black hair try to negotiate some form of meaning with the clerk.

“If you don’t speak English, move,” muttered an older man in front of me, and several people nodded or smiled with their eyes in agreement. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | enlightenment, tolerance
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