by Nancy Halverson, Feature Writer
Itís been a busy summer.
If you have kids, you know that summer doesnít actually start until theyíre out of school. Here, of course, thatís not until the third week of July, but that doesnít mean we waited until then to start our summer vacation.
France for the weekend
We left on a Friday, in mid-July, to drive to France—just for the weekend. We had to drive through most of England down to Doveróit took just over four hours. I took that portion of the drive. Luck was with us, as it was a lovely clear and warm day. Time and weather were both important factors—we had a seven hour drive ahead of us in France.
Ryan got to do the driving in France—I wasnít comfortable driving on the ‘normal’ side of the road in a car driven from the right-hand side. There are too many crossed synapses for me to handle. We had to drive to meet our daughterís exchange family in a suburb of Nantes.
Bilingual by March
Maddie, my 10 year-old, is going to live with this other family from October to March, and then we host the francophone girl from the French family. Yes, itís a long French exchange, but itís the quickest way to get her bilingual. Plus, itís a great chance to get friends in Franceóalways an advantage! We really enjoyed our weekend in Nantesósunny and very hot, with fantastic food and great company. Of course, there was a bit of a language barrier—it wasnít as difficult as youíd think, dragging out our French and making ourselves understood. Luckily, our exchange family doesnít speak much English, so Maddie is going to get a real immersion.
Special exchange program
This isnít the normal sort of exchange for people in England eitheróit was arranged by a group of families who decided it was a good way to teach children second languages. Since children acquire languages easily, weíre hopeful that weíll get both our girls through these fantastic experiences with a real understanding of French language and culture. Since we canít get them a bilingual education in Canada, this is our best option.
Summer vacation: a week in Italy
After the kids were finished school for the year, we finally got our chance for some real summer. Naturally, we needed to go out of England to find it. We went to Italy for a visit with a fellow-Canadian and his Italian partner. It was hot and sunny and wonderful. Throw in some great food and a bit of historical touring, not to mention a chance to ride bikes around the monuments of Rome. Too bad it was only a week! (Both my kids want to go back to spend a year in Italy learning Italian nowÖ theyíve caught the bug I think—so have we!!)
Summer vacation: two weeks in Spain
After Italy, we went to Spainóthe Costa Blanca, which is near Valencia. Itís a part of Spain thatís got lots of tourism, but as usual, we had another agenda. We have friends who live there, so it was another opportunity to visit friends and get some sun. Itís scenery presented red dry dirt, scrubby bushes on minor mountains, and tons of blue sky and azure seas. It was heaven to the rain-soaked people of the British Isles. It was such a great feeling to arrive in our villa and know that we had two weeks to live there and experience sun, sand, water, and (again) wonderful food. Nice.
Reality, and the STC
Okay, so now Iím back in the land of the working. Work, deadlines, school starting again for the kids, and STC. I spent this weekend at a hotel in the middle of highway service centre (yes, itís true!) planning our STC activities for the coming year. Itís a little bit more planning than we usually do to tell you the truth, and it was a difficult exercise to get through all of our tasks in the allotted time (we had to put aside many discussions to another forum), but we came away with definite goals and strategies. Weíre hoping to put more events together for our members, and increase the depth of our management team. Ambitious, insane, and just a little bit possible—if everyone makes the effort that theyíve committed to this weekend.
Because we canít get together very often, our executive council needed a central venue that we could all reach within a few hours—we also needed a concentrated period of time so that we could get through a backlog of issues that had simply not been addressed in any of the previous councils. It was a time of growing up for our chapter in many ways. The STC UK has bumped and bumbled along for a few years now, getting people out to a few events each year. Well, now itís getting a bit serious.
Plans, budget, succession, leadership, re-designed website and newsletter, and many more opportunities to meet with our members are all areas that need to be addressed. Itís going to be a very interesting year of course, and I may be a bit busy to write much, but Iíll continue to write a few words each month.
Iíve actually got another trip in the works—weíre flying back to Canada to attend my motherís wedding. Iím really happy to be making the trip, even though weíll have to take the kids out of school for a week. Weíre also going to spend a few days in Waterloo, visiting old friends.
Unfortunately I wonít be there for a chapter meeting, but Iíll think of you as I walk by the university. Youíve got to admit that youíve got an easy STC lifeóa predictable venue, lots of members within an easy drive, a chance to meet in person more than a few times a year. I know envy isnít pretty, but youíve got to appreciate the compliment that Iím trying to pay—youíve got a well run group there, with lots of participation and a great deal of experience. Donít let yourselves get complacent, but make sure that you take full advantage of all your local chapter opportunities.
Oh, and if youíre interested, gas prices are now breaking the pound per litre mark here—North America is by no means the only place suffering from the effects of higher gas prices resulting from the wide-spread damaged caused by the current hurricane season. Letís see, that works out to roughly $2.20 Canadian per litre. I hope youíre not quite there yet, since Iíll be driving between Toronto, Peterborough county, and Waterloo again in a few weeks time.
Thanks for reading, and congratulations to the newsletter team on their win. Well done.
About Nancy Halverson
Nancy grew up in Toronto, but has lived in Ottawa, Melbourne, Waterloo, and now Sheffield.†She has travelled through the South Pacific,†Australia†and Indonesia, which is where she met her husband, Ryan Wilson (another Canadian), along the way.
A career switch introduced her to the STC in 1997. Her writing experience has included several contract positions and a position at Inscriber for several years. She has two daughters and has been living in England for over two years.
In this issue:
Contents | President's Message | General Meeting Announcements | Council Meeting Minutes | Evolution of an Editor: From Quill to Quarry to Qantas | Director Sponsor's Message: The Seasons and the STC are a Changin' | Freelance 101: Chronicles for the Self-Employed | Council Spotlight: Student Awards & Volunteer Coordinator | Membership Update | Information Architecture and Content Management | View from the Other Side: What I Did on My Summer Holidays... | Launch of the STC Training Program