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graceturner

Thought of the Day

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

I have surrendered my travel rags in for the comforting sun of Georgia skies. I sit comfortably drinking my Starbucks coffee and listening to my online music playlist. These are the things my companions and I dreamed of while traveling. Instead of trudging through the buses interior to make a cup of tea, I patiently walk into my kitchen, boil some water and plop a peppermint teabag in. [Relaxation].

While sleeping on Europe’s earthy soil I experienced the gravitating pull of lost stories; stories hidden under the rubble of our ancestors. Mothers, fathers, daughters and lovers through their inspiration I have found myself connecting with this land in unspeakable ways. Standing on the shoreline of the Northern Sea, walking in tunnels built for Canadian soldiers before they plummeted Vimy Ridge, wandering through the labryinth of streets in Venice. Each country, each city, every street tells a different story. I have glimpsed the love and hatred that plagues Europe, both past and present.

No longer do these stories live in textbooks. These characters are real, Sophie Scholl, Jan Palach, Martin Luther, Donatello, and Van Gogh are all people who lived and breathed in the same places where I stood. Europe is a tangible place, it is the place of my ancestors and it holds an important piece of my history. No matter where I go these places have inspired me to crave excellence. The world is a place where one can constantly feel that they are swimming upstream, but one thought, one inspired word can create a ripple in the stream of society. If I have learned anything on this trip it is that humanity is sacred and we must live and fight for it with each breath.

Grace

Art Matters

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

In my travels thus far most art, or art that was considered great, was created by the white European male. I know this is not a new observation but its implications still apply. Where are the voices of the female population, the Black artist, the Asian sculptor; and so on. I enjoy the direction art is going… ‘liberating itself from the chains of white mediocracy’. Contemporary art is almost the exact opposite of our historical conception of art. Contemporary art disregards all rules.

My quarrels with contemporary art is the very thing that defines it. If there are no rules — can anything be art? Should anything be art? It’s difficult to rectify the two art histories. Without our past heritage of male dominated art; would we have the same art that now litters the walls of modern museums? These are just the thoughts of a tired traveler who seeks to find truth in art, no matter its history art a hundred years ago as well as today has the ability to change and move you.

Grace

Contained on Walls

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

All the best artists in the world traveled to Europe. They traveled by boat, horse and car. During the Renaissance such artists as Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci called Italy their artistic home. A week ago I sat by the river in the South of France. I saw the landscape of people walking their dogs, people sprawled out on blankets. Up until this moment art was an idea, something contained on walls and canvas. The real beauty of Western Europe is found on long bus rides and hot hot days traveling the urban and rural sprawl of Spain and France.

For me these past few weeks have been an actualization of inspiration. I now understand the desire to express the beauty of this land. The passion behind their art whether it was politics, religion, or human beauty makes my experience of their art more savory.

The beginning of this trip has been a realization of abstract ideas. While traveling to France I have stood where thousands of protestants hid during their prosecution. I have stood on the outskirts of the Coliseum, where martyrs of my faith stood and triumphantly died for their beliefs. I have been able to taste the fresh French croissant, smell the handmade Italian leather bags, and see the marble beauty of the David statue. These concepts have shed their fictional facade and have become real life experiences. These experiences have become a part of my history. My journeys are now intertwined with those historical figures from my history textbook.

The writer craves experiences, similarly the artists craves new landscapes. Understanding the vast geographical beauty of Western Europe has made my experience of art, architecture and food a daily exercise of thought and reflection.  I can not wait to experience all that Europe has to offer.

Grace

back to hobbit holes

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

Leaving home to attend to a traveler’s dream is one thing

but returning home is a different thing altogether.

You dream about hot showers, grilled cheese and texting. But the thing is, the moment you land on Ontario soil you begin to miss Pad Tai, 3$ massages, and the hot hot sun. The saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ rings true in my ears. I can’t say that culture shock is the right word for what I have gone through in the past week or so. Considering everyone is buzzed on Starbucks coffee and Ho Ho Ho The Holidays I find myself disgrunteled and feeling slightly superior to others. I feel as though many people will never experience the things I have nor will they understand them. I look in the mirror, ‘Is my face turning green?’ Have I really become that much of a North American Grinch?

I find the cool Canadian breeze as it airs out some of my memories of the trip. I am brought back to the moment I caught Joaquin looking through my suitcase, as I walked into the room, I asked him, ‘Joaquin, what are you doing?’ he replied, ‘Snooping’, as he continued to look through my makeup bag. I almost laugh out loud at the memories I built with 4 complete strangers in a completely foreign country. It is amazing the bond you can create with someone through a shared experience a shared culture. People took us into their homes and made us a part of their family. It is something I treasure, something that will remind me of my stay in Asia. Through this experience I have had to create a family on the road, whether it be through the travelers who sweat, bled and laughed alongside me or whether it was a stranger who eventually became a friend. It seems strange that we have all reached our little destinations, our little hobbit holes that we call home, the place we dreamt about while sitting in buses on planes or driving about Chiang Mai. It is these moments that led up to us being reunited with our families that makes leaving Asia that much more bitter sweet. But hey, someone’s gotta leave the cookies out for Santa…

Grace

the conclusion to a journey’s beginning

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

the conclusion to a journey’s beginning

when the journey leads you to gold statues

and robes of orange

strewn across bodies

of unknown men,

your feet stand but

your mind falls.

a woman can be seen sewing under

the canopy of a Thai tree.

Feverishly the tourist captures

what he may never understand.

The ways of the Buddha

are encapsuled in rooms

full of people,

full

of people, awaiting their Nirvana

their peace.

for me, this moment is where I find peace.

As I look to the blossoming tree:

colours of green, violet, and skin

remind me that there is always time for beauty.

(poem I wrote while sitting at a Buddhist temple)

This trip as it nears its conclusion has been a mixture of discovery, awe, confusion, and love. I feel that Buddhism is the religion in which I have had the chance to discover and question. Spending three weeks in Thailand I have already learned a lot about their faith. No longer is Buddhism this far East philosophy. I have witnessed through discussion and observation that Buddhism plays a major role in individual Thai life and society. As my homestay mother PiAnny (Aunt Anny) drives us the thirty minute drive from Chiang Mai University to her home in Sang Sai I see this Buddhism face to face.

As we drive out of CMU we pass a circular shrine, where a professor kneels and meditates. Driving further we  pass a grocery store, outside of it a spirit house sits. As we reach our home but before we enter we take our shoes off, as Ariel and I travel up the wooden stairs, to the left of our room, a shrine with pictures of famous monks, stares at us. Incence, candles and matches sit on the small table in front of it. For me these little reminders of Buddhism’s role in Thailand has been refreshing, I find that these physical reminders of their faith help to make it more tangible, more memerable. In Canada, as a Christian, these reminders seem to be hidden, sometime in my future I may be running to the grocery store and think ‘hey, I really wish I could just sit and pray for a bit.’ Although I believe God can meet us anywhere and everywhere it is cool to see these little reminders that Buddhists have created for themselves.

Grace

One Malaysia

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

Incense.

percussion of Indian drums.

and the not so melodic chants from market vendors

fills the foreground of my mind.

We have arrived in Bricksfield KL, Malaysia. Bricksfield has just been labelled “Little India” and we have arrived just in time for its grand opening. I note the mixture of Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Black and White citizens, as people run across streets on their way to their destinations. A woman stands outside an Indian restaurant advertising their food. I note that this place seems to be the metropolis of Little India, the patio is full of men drinking the local beer Jaz and smoking cloves and cigarettes. As I smile at the woman, she ushers me to a table inside. I ask her if there are any vegetarian choices, she smiles and directs me to the back of the menu where a plethora of vegetarian dishes are listed. I am slightly amused, as my stay in the Philippines wholly rested on my ability to eat meat breakfast, lunch and dinner. As I browse the menu I order a milk tea. My eyes begin to wander and I recognize the role religion plays in Malaysian culture.  Malaysia is not only a country diverse in race, but also in religion. Most restaurants have the option of pork free meals, for Muslims, and beef free dishes for Hindus. As I have learned throughout my stay here in Malaysia, the concept of ONE MALAYSIA is a statement integrating into society. The Malaysian government has established housing for all Malaysians, where there is no distinguishing between rich owners and poor ones, Indian owners or Christian owners. I do not know if the government has succeed in creating ONE MALAYSIA, but they are on the right path. Although Malaysia is an Islamic country, they do allow for religious freedom.

As I walk the streets of Malaysia I see women in hijab’s, men in Armani suits, children in uniforms, and others with the bindi on their foreheads. Today I see ONE MALAYSIA.

Personal Epiphany

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

As the sun sets in the West it rises in the East. It is a new day, and as my feet touch new earth, earth filled with centuries of history, my mind flutters with excitement. As our Northwestern bus takes us to the National Museum of Art I look out of my window and see echoes of a lost cry. I see a young boy sift through bags of garbage looking for plastic bottles. Children litter the streets of the Philippines and I am not fully able to understand their thoughts until today.

As I walked into the grandiose yellow building (not park hall 😉 I was feeling the weight of my shoes and the thump thump thump in my head. To say the least I was a bit exhausted. We began the tour talking with one another, and I felt the day would never end. As we entered room upon room of various artistry, I began to quiet the aches and focus my energy on the art staring back at me. Art ranging from landscapes to contemporary and then to sculptures and chinaware. These pieces were all interwoven throughout the art gallery. As I concentrated on the art that filled the walls, the history of the Philippines became real to me. Several paintings depicted Filipino natural beauty, the importance of the Roman Catholic Church, and foremost, the actuality of war. One painting in particular pulled me out of my slumber. The painting depicted a family during WWII. On the right side of the painting a mother lay topless, bleeding from her head. The middle depicted a father hanging upside down– mangled in a series of ropes. Lastly, positioned to the far left, a little girl sat with knees tucked in, sitting in silence. The eyes-the fear-the turmoil-her eyes. Her eyes held all the emotion I needed to understand the realities of WWII in the Philippines. This experience served as a turning point in my trip in SEA. Learning about the injustices that existed and still exist today demonstrated the struggles and victories of past and contemporary Philippines.

Grace