The Salems (photo from his blog).
The blog of Adéye Salem, AKA No Greater Joy Mom, was one of the first blogs that I discovered, and then spent a few days reading ALL of the posts on the blog. She has a beautiful heart for the orphan. She and her husband have adopted six children with various special needs. Adéye has become a star in the online world of international adoption, and utilizes her fame to raise money for fantastic causes that assist orphans.
Her husband is Anthony Salem, AKA No Greater Joy Dad, and he eloquently shares wisdom for Christians and adopting parents at his blog.
I encourage you to spend some time learning from this amazing couple, and catching the fire for orphans that they share so well through the written word.
Children in a refugee camp in Rwanda.
Over the past year, one of the sayings that I kept hearing was that if you are really passionate about something, it should be visible in the way you spend your time and energy. I thought a lot about that, and as my passion is first: orphans and other vulnerable children, and second: struggling families and refugees, I decided to get more involved in those demographics.
I began looking into orphan ministries and organizations, and the aspect of international adoption. I found local organizations servicing refugees and struggling families and began to find ways to serve. I did a ton of research on these demographics in relation to my international development program.
I know that as one university student, I don’t have any answers, but I am building skills, with which I can listen and learn, and then hopefully, help these demographics in ways that they identify.
I will continue to share about my experiences in these fields as time moves on, so look for those posts in the future!
Enjoying music from home-made 'violins', Rwanda, 2007.
This is going to be a bit of an explanation of my education selection now and the choices I hope to make in the near future.
Currently I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Environmental Science majoring in International Development at the University of Waterloo. When I complete this degree, I would like to continue in school for a few years and complete a Masters of Library and Information Sciences as well as a Bachelor of Education.
International Development has had my attention since I discovered the degree in high school – for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in humanitarian aid. This past summer I was looking through some old school papers and discovered that in elementary school, I was already writing stories about living in Africa and trying to help orphans. It has been an ongoing focus in my life – children just capture my heart, and the lack of access to basic necessities that many children experience has impacted my strong sense of justice and equality, giving me a drive to create change for these children. After visiting Rwanda in 2007, this desire was only strengthened.
The program I am enrolled in has a dual focus – the human and environment sides of aid. It is giving me a broader understanding of the aid world, and also teaching me skills which I can use to assist people with in a more holistic manner. I have taken courses in accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, environmental science, the aid industry, urbanisation, planning, environmental assessments, and more. I have chosen to also complete a minor in Peace and Conflict studies, a Diploma of Environmental Assessment, a Language Certificate in French, and a Global Experience Certificate. These additions may change over the next year as I work to finish up the last few courses, but I hope that these supplementary studies will increase my marketability as a potential employee.
I am also currently working on a TESOL course outside of this university, to add to my usable skills for future placements in other countries.
I am interested in pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Sciences because, once again, it is something that I have dreamed of for a long time. In high school, I had the good fortune to be able to work in the local library as a page, and was able to experience many aspects of working at a library, and I loved it! This degree is also one that is a useful degree worldwide, as libraries exist everywhere.
Finally, the Bachelor of Education – a degree that I see as being immensely practical, as it will give me greater understanding of child development, and teach me methods of educating children at their level and to their style of learning. A teaching degree is also useful internationally, and can also be paired with the MLIS degree to ensure that children have access to books that will educate them, whether in a school or at a public library. I have worked with children since I entered the employed student sector, and enjoy it immensely.
So, now you know where I am hopefully heading in the near future!
A family skit prior to the addition of any brothers.
I thought that maybe I should start with a bit of my life and what has led me to pursue this career path.
My name is Katiana. I was born in Germany and my family and I lived there until I was four years old. We then moved to Ontario, and I continue to live in the small town I grew up in. I have three younger brothers who are 2, 4, and 6 years younger than me, a large and friendly blond dog, a persnickety tortoiseshell cat, and five goldfish that currently inhabit a rain barrel in our basement (until spring, when they get to go outside again!). My mother and father have worked in Christian ministry throughout my life - as bible school teachers, a pastoral couple at a small church, and now work in a larger church as Pastors of Adult Ministries.
Throughout my life, I have been a bookworm and very artistic. I completed my Royal Conservatory Grade 8 violin practical exams, as well as the Grade 2 theory exam. I also enjoyed the arts and languages programs at my high school, and took all the Visual Arts, Strings Orchestra, German, French, and Spanish courses that were offered. I was on the honour roll every year of middle school and high school.
I have worked as a babysitter, live-in nanny, library page, private computer tutor, Worship Administrative Assistant at my church, and am currently working as a lifeguard, swimming instructor, and in a supervisory role creating staff trainings at the local pool and as the Plan to Protect (abuse prevention program) assistant at my church.
My faith has always played a large role in my life. When I was sixteen, my mother and I went to Rwanda with a team from our church, to support a missionary couple in Rwanda, and spend three weeks doing humanitarian aid work. This changed my life. When I saw the people who lived in the slums and villages of Rwanda and Ethiopia, it made me want to do more to help them find a better future. When I returned, I organized and promoted an event in my community for a program called the JustUS Project, which works to provide support for people in third-world countries, using the Millennium Development Goals. My university program interests changed from arts and music to a focus on humanitarian aid. I investigated the programs in Ottawa and Guelph, but ultimately felt that the program at Waterloo held the most potential of giving me an adequate and applicable skill set for my future career.
However, before I went to university, I spent an extra part-time year at high school, and worked to save up some money. In the fall of 2009, I flew to Germany and began attending Bodenseehof, the bible school that my parents met and taught at, on the shores of Lake Constance. I spent six months there, learning a lot more about my faith, my own resilience and capabilities, and making friends that are closer to me, in some ways, than my own family. While at bible school, I had the opportunity to be a part of a band that performed at local churches and schools. I also assisted in leading day and overnight camps for children and youth at the bible school, at churches in Germany, and at other conference centers, some of which involved teaching English as a second language. At the end of the six months, I spent a month backpacking around Eastern and Central Europe with one of my friends. That was also an amazing and eye-opening experience, and I would love to go back to live and work in Romania, Bulgaria, or Greece with an NGO one day. Following that, I went to England to continue with my schooling by attending an affiliated bible school for the two-month spring term. I returned home in June of 2010.
I began attending the University of Waterloo in the fall of 2010, and am working to complete a Bachelor of International Development. I am currently in my third year, and hope to spend my fourth year on field placement in a country in Africa, ideally working primarily with orphans, but am also open to opportunities to work with refugees, in micro-finance, with struggling families... OK, I guess as long as it is development work focused on the people, I'm hooked!
Anyhow - that's a little bit more about me, so you know where I am coming from!
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.