Monday, April 21, 2008

Trip to British Columbia, Canada (In Detail)


The city of Surrey is very close to the border--in fact, if you drive into Canada a little ways there should be big white letters that say "Welcome to Surrey." I believe that you have to take King George Hwy. to get into Surrey but I'm not sure. It might be just another name that got mixed in there.

Surrey's school district, the Surrey School District, organized the leadership conference...which brings me to my next topic--

leadership conference

The leadership conference was actually called Ideas 36, and lasted for two days. Schools from all around the Surrey School District sent their student leaders to attend the conference. Not all of the attendees were neccessarily student leaders, however--one boy I interviewed for a blog post said this: "I wasn't really expecting athletic director guided me here...said there would be free food." I am lured to a lot of events by free food, and I'm glad that it worked with that boy at least.

"Creating Leadership"

"Creating Leadership" was the name of the PowerPoint I showed at the Panorama Ridge Secondary School. I talked about different qualities of past and present leaders, asked kids about various different American and Canadian leaders, and then we did an interactive crative writing activity together about an ideal future leader. We ended up creating a tall, generous girl named Sarah who volunteered at the Food Bank and the Humane Society, had the tactical smarts of Napoleon, and inspired others.

"Technology and Leadership"

"Technology and Leadership" was the name of the second presentation I showed at the Bell Theater. It focused on the role of technology in enhancing leadership. During the presentation, I interviewed kids to get quotes for a blog post and rewrote Little Red Riding Hood to give Little Red Riding Hood 21st century technology. Here's my rewritten version of the story:

[Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Little Red Riding Hood who always wore a red cloak. One day, her mother asked her to bring a pot of Brussels sprout soup to her grandmother.
“Remember the Rule of the Woods,” her mother said, and didn’t say anything else. With that, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother was out the door to find some potatoes for dinner.
“I have no idea what this Rule of the Woods is,” Little Red Riding Hood said to herself. “And I’m not very good with directions either,” she grumbled. “Why didn’t Mom just take the Brussels sprout soup herself?”
After thirty minutes of sulking, Little Red Riding Hood picked herself up and went to her mother’s computer, which she conveniently knew how to use, and went onto the Internet to research her route.
“Oh! Hurray!” Little Red Riding Hood said. “There’s a SkyTrain station right there. I’ll just hop on there and get off somewhere later on the route.”
So that was exactly what Little Red Riding Hood did—but not before researching the “Rule of the Woods,” which was not to talk to wolves.
“That’s easy enough,” said Little Red Riding Hood. She had a picture of a wolf on her cell phone, so she knew how to identify them.
She walked to the nearest SkyTrain station, bought some tickets, and rode it almost all the way to Grandma’s house.
When Little Red Riding Hood got off, she could see a strange animal lying beside a tree. It wasn’t a “strange animal” for long, though—Little Red Riding Hood immediately saw that it was a wolf. She hid behind another tree and dialed her uncle’s cell phone number for help. Her uncle was a woodcutter and would probably know how to get rid of a wolf.
Little Red Riding Hood got impatient waiting for her uncle, so she snuck out in front of the wolf, hoping to walk all the way to Grandma’s.
“Rarrr!” the wolf said, leaping up. Thankfully, Little Red Riding Hood had watched some martial arts moves on YouTube, so she was able to knock the wolf out in a matter of seconds, flat. Her cell phone started beeping. Her uncle was calling her back to check if she was okay.
“Yo man, I’m doin’ fine!” Little Red Riding Hood said, trying to sound as tough as possible. Her uncle came striding up to where she was standing in front of the stunned wolf.
“Your cell phone has a GPS on it, right?” he asked her.
“Yep, man,” Little Red Riding Hood said, still trying to sound tough. Without any explanation, her uncle snipped at the wolf’s belly, took the cell phone from Little Red Riding Hood, and turned its volume full up. Then he tossed it right into the wolf’s stomach.
“We’ll be able to track the wolf with the cell phone’s GPS,” her uncle said, and sewed the wolf’s stomach back up.



There was an abundance of food on both days. On the first day, there were healthy cookies that were covered in seeds, watermelon, honeydew melons, mini-bagels with three different kinds of cream cheese (raspberry, banana, and normal) plus two different kinds of cheese (cheddar and swiss or maybe it was cheddar jack), bottled water...on the second day, there were boxes and boxes of pizza (veggie, cheese, and I think there was pepperoni as well, although I'm not sure), granola bars, juiceboxes, chilled water, and lots more that I didn't see with my own eyes. When we were at the Holiday Inn Express in Surrey, we had a complimentary breakfast (yum!) including my favorite, cereal. When we were at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Vancouver, we paid ten dollars for both my mom and I to have breakfast. They let you make your own waffles with pre-measured cups of batter, and they had a can full of whipped cream that I sprayed on indulgently with no self-restraint. They also had homemade strawberry jam (which was basically mashed up strawberries with liquid sugar--delicious!), so I put some jam on with my whipped cream and had one of the best Belgian waffles in my life. I also had muesli with yogurt, and lots and lots of fruit. The night before we had breakfast, we ate at the hotel restaurant as well, and I had a great vegetarian Mediterranean pizza, some of which we saved for later. At the restaurant, kids got both a free drink and ice cream, so I had a wonderful fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and some gigantic scoops of peppermint chocolate ice cream. At the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, I had a wonderful Eggs Benedict. Unfortunately, the eggs were pretty runny, so I got some bright yellow stains all over my good white pants.

Sheraton Guildford Hotel

We originally stayed at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel, but there was a lot of construction going on at the time we were staying there (and also some personal reasons I don't feel at liberty to disclose for the sake of the reputation of my grandparernts' nasal passages--anyway, no more on that), so we later switched to the Holiday Inn Express.

Holiday Inn Express

I really liked the Holiday Inn Express in Surrey for three reasons:


1) free internet

2) free local calls

3) complimentary continental breakfast


It was also a lot less noisy without construction and grandparents to worry about. A very nice hotel.

Holiday Inn Downtown

The Holiday Inn Downtown was where we stayed in Vancouver. After our good experience with the Holiday Inn in Surrey, I sort of wanted to go there again. We had a handy map with us, so we walked all the way from the SkyTrain station (which was a loooong way) and managed to find it. We felt pretty proud of ourselves for our triumph with the map. My mom admits herself that she doesn't have a very good sense of direction and I'm just a "pathetic little child," after all--shouldn't we feel proud of ourselves?

The first thing I noticed about the Holiday Inn Downtown, strangely enough, was that its logo was slightly more modernized than our first Holiday Inn; it was italicized and the background was a shiny green. I liked both logos. Once inside, we got another map--a fancy 3D pedestrians' map, that is--from the receptionist, and checked in. Our room was very nice, and (to my pleasure) we even had a balcony. At the Holiday Inn Downtown there was a restaurant called "Medley's Bistro." It was raining/hailing outside, so we decided to eat inside. A waiter there, Jason, was in very good spirits and made a lot of jokes. We couldn't tell whether he was joking or not when he said that he had a garden under a bridge near a daycare, but I searched online and I'm pretty sure it's true. For some reason I remember at dinner the boy sitting in front of us, when asked what he wanted to drink, shouted "Chocolate milk!" I just remember the particular way he said it.

Burnaby Village Museum

The Burnaby Village Museum was a village of small original or replica houses, shops, and other buildings (like an outhouse) modeled after life in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, it was closed until May 1st, but we managed to get in just to peer through the windows into the houses and go for a nice walk. We took some great pictures, too!

Vancouver Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery was not too far from our hotel at all, a short walk. Their feature exhibition on the first floor was "TruthBeauty," which centered on the influences of the Pictorialist movement and the Pictorialists themselves. We saw lots of photos, paintings, and even videos (for an exhibition on the third floor) in the Art Gallery.

Telus World of Science (or Science World)

After the Art Gallery, we walked to the SkyTrain station (which was a hassle, believe me! We turned around in a circle and had to ask for quite a few directions) to catch the SkyTrain to Science World. From the outside, Science World is a gigantic ball mounted on a normal, short building. From the inside (on Saturdays at least), Science World is a crowded inferno of the worst of rowdy young demon children banging, splashing, kicking, hitting--for the most part, doing anything but reading about--various hands-on exhibits. The unfortunate part about coming to Science World on a Saturday was that--long lines of children waiting to get a chance to play with even the most mundane of machines. Certainly there were some immensely fun things at Science World--a chair, attached to a pulley (or at least I think it was a pulley) that took on a fraction of your weight so that you could pull yourself up into the air without much trouble; an "aging" machine that took a picture of you, gave you wrinkles and changed your hairline to give you a picture of what you might look like at seventy years of age...but it was rather a mistake to come on Saturday. At least Science World was right across from the train station.

Simon Fraser University

We were able to go on a tour of the Simon Fraser University which was very interesting. The architecture of the main part of the building is designed to make the building look like the inside of a boat or ship from inside. Another interesting thing about the university was that there was a giant shopping mall downstairs. And yet another interesting thing--we know a Simon Frazer who told us about this university and told u that Simon Fraser was one of his ancestors.


The SkyTrain was a highly efficient system of public transportation that puts many other transportation systems to shame. It was very fast (probably because there isn't traffic to slow a SkyTrain down when it's much higher, or at certain points, lower, than the city streets) and very nice to ride on. I would recommend it highly.

Amtrak train

We took the Amtrak train back to Seattle. We had actually planned to leave on Friday, but it was our unlucky day--all of the tickets were sold out. I had really been looking forward to the train, while my grandparents wanted to get back, so they took the Greyhound bus to Seattle while we bought tickets for the next day's train. The next day when we arrived at the train station in Vancouver, we learned that there had been a power outage at the station since 2:30. That meant that the U.S. customs computers weren't working--which meant that they weren't sure about letting us go--which meant inching along in a long queue that barely went anywhere--which meant boredom. Finally, they had mercy on us and let us get on the train about an hour late, I would say. The train was very nice; there were quite a few seats that had no occupants--and it was a double-decker train, which was a first for me. The seats were upstairs. We stopped at various places; first at New Westminister, Canada to get some "neccessary paperwork," then in Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Everett, Edmonds, and finally Seattle. At all these stops my mother was worried that perhaps our suitcase (which carried both our professional camera and my laptop) would get taken by mistake, so, before she went to sleep, she would have me go down and make sure no one took it. No one did.

tuna fish sandwich

Does this truly need explanation? Well, I suppose there is a little bit more to the tuna fish sandwich. My dad came to pick us up in Seattle. On the train, my mom had called him to tell him that I was hungry (which I was) and asked him to make a tuna fish sandwich for me, which he did. He also got me some grapefruit juice. When one is hungry and thirsty, even tuna fish on stale bread with nothing else but canned grapefruit juice can taste very good. And it was actually a very good sandwich. We drove up to the house; I tapped on my sister's window. She was still reading, to my surprise, probably staying up all night waiting for us. Our journey was finished satisfactorily.



  1. Anonymous9:21 PM

    You are so lucky.Have a good time.

  2. Anonymous8:14 PM

    I just wanted to say that I saw you at the iDEAS 36 Conference in Surrey and I was one of the 2 returning members of the group. I must say that you are an amazing and inspirational girl. I am sure you get that a lot. I've learned through life that you have to be motivated to do the stuff you want to do and you absolutely motivated me to try a little harder at University than I have been. :) Thanks for presenting there and even though I didn't pick up a copy of your book that day, I wanted to and I plan on it. Thanks again, it was nice meeting you! Good luck!

  3. Your trip must have been really fun and exciting. The description of food given at the conferences makes my mouth water! I've never been on a SkyTrain train; that would be pretty cool, looking at it the way you describe it. Hope you enjoyed your trip to British Columbia!

  4. By the way, I loved the "Little Red Riding Hood" revisit. It was funny and interesting to read. I like the addition of certain technology elements (she had watched martial arts videos on YouTube :)!)
    Brilliant ideas from all the writers to put that together!

  5. Hi! I am a 8 year old writer. I write stories on the computer. I have already written a 20 page story. Looks like you-a 9 your old-is going to become a famous writer one day. :)

    Visit my blog!