What’s the real value of my degree?

Why do people go to university? Is it to pay atrociously high tuition fees? Is it to spend hours at a time, furiously typing trying to reach the minimum word count on their essays?

Nope. It’s because we all live under this notion that a degree=jobs.

I’m not saying to not go to university. But I always tend to wonder just how much my degree is worth.

Now, apparently it’s worth $35,000 plus travel and textbook  expenses. But that’s what I pay to get it. Most people tend to think worth equates to the type of job I’ll be getting afterwards.

For engineers, doctors and lawyers, their degree is worth a lot. Much so because not only do they spend double what I’m going to  pay in four years, but because society deems them necessary for the functioning of our society.

But a journalist, fashion designer or anyone else whose career doesn’t fall under math, science or medicine, good luck. You probably are paying more for your education than what it’s worth.

And that’s the huge problem with our schooling system. We pay x amount of dollars in hopes that our degree will magically grant us a job that will allow us to repay said debt. We think that a piece of paper that says “hey I spent four years in fashion school” is an accurate judge of our worth in the workplace.

It is an unfortunate consequence of our society. We live in a society who  is peculiar about what kinds of people we should value based on that paper. Doctors can save our physical being so all the power to them but journalists can only write. They don’t realize that without journalists, the very government that controls their healthcare could very well take citizen’s money and use it for themselves.

So, stop thinking about the “value” of your degree and start playing the game of jobs. Your piece of paper only matters in theory not reality. The reality is this; do what you want with your career because even if you were a nuclear physicist with seven PhDs there would still be workplaces who rejected you.

Network, live and fight for what you believe in. Because you only live once and your degree shouldn’t be the determiner of your life.



Why I only do candid photos of people

Candid photos. The only  thing that can simultaneously cause so much problems yet at the same time be worth the trouble of getting them.

As a child, I hated it when my family used to pull a camera out of nowhere and snap a few photos without me knowing. It was scary knowing that someone was photographing me doing mundane things like running or staring. It captured a side of me that I didn’t want other family members or even sometimes the media seeing.

Now I’m the media and see things quite differently.

Candid photos are real photos in my mind. They represent people in their purest form; socializing with other people, expressing emotions or just doing the most mundane of things without being aware of a camera.

Tell someone that you’re taking a picture of them and they change. They become more concerned with the way they act in front of camera even if only notable in the slightest of differences.

Make a person aware of a camera and suddenly they put up a mask. Their movements are selected rather than natural. They paint a careful image that may or may not be their true image.

That’s why I can’t stand doing portraits or family photos. It’s all carefully manicured to appear as if one thing is  happening when in reality it isn’t.

Beauty can be found in the candid just as much as it can be found in the selective.

Of course, it makes me a poor photographer to not want to pursue portraits. But as an artist, it shows very clear artistic vision.


Why you should care about how much you tip

Some people don’t have any rules when it comes to tipping. They tip a random amount or don’t even bother altogether.

Not me. Oh no tipping is very important to me.

Service matters to me just as much as the food I eat. So does time and the salary of the person serving me.

Depending on what your profession is, tipping can make or break your paycheck. Waiters and waitresses know this best but there are some other professions like barbers and concierges who deserve tips as well.

Plus let’s be kind here and  recognize that people do deserve to be rewarded for their good service. Even if you were born into the cusp of privilege it is not without those people serving you that you  are there in the first place.

It’s a fine art that our present society seems slightly misinformed about. Then again, in other countries outside of Canada and the USA, tipping just doesn’t happen.

My rule of thumb: consider time, service and start at 10 per cent.

10 per cent or less is for poor service. That means the person serving you was either rude or the service took far too long to be accomplished.

15-20 per cent is the standard range from average service at 15 per cent to stellar at 20 per cent.

Average service is easy to define. Your server was pleasant and the food came in time that prep time should allow. No big mistakes were made and the server attended to you within reasonable time.

Stellar service is all the  characteristics of average service but faster and more welcoming. You can tell when you see it.

One final thing: the quality of your food is not the fault of the server! 

Your server gives you the food. He/she doesn’t prepare it. If the food is bad, complain to  person in charge about it. By no means should you not tip your server!

Go out and make someone’s life better by tipping if they’re a particularly good server. I guarantee you it will come back to you!

Transit laws exist for a reason!

Don’t you just love it when you’re trying to exit a tram and suddenly a driver narrowly avoids hitting you?

That’s a popular sight in the city of Toronto, where some of our drivers like to ignore the law because they’re such in a hurry.

In Toronto, our tram system is known by the more literal term “streetcar.” They’ve recently  been upgraded for better customer use  but it still doesn’t change the fact that drivers are still running people over.

I’d say roughly more than 60 per cent of our streetcar stops don’t require pedestrians to  cross the road to board. For the rest of the stops, drivers by law need to abide by a law, which states that drivers must stop at least 2 metres away from a streetcar when its doors are open. This is to stop  them from hitting passengers exiting the streetcar.

But of course, there’s always those people who would rather gamble with people’s lives than miss their Starbucks.

The fine for breaking this law is not cheap. Fines start at $110 with drivers obtaining 3 demerit points upon getting caught. Repeated infractions result in heftier fines and more consequences.

The fact still remains however that people get away with this all the time. The TTC (our transit system here) announced that they are considering installing cameras on streetcars to catch offenders who disobey the law.

Thank goodness. Perhaps finally, we can leave a streetcar without getting ran over by a driver who thinks his meeting is more important than the lives of other people.

Save the Yazidis

Sometimes people ask me: ‘Why do the Muslims hate the Yazidis so much?’ I answer ‘because the Yazidi don’t hate.”

The following is an article I wrote for my journalism class on Nov 21st. It has been posted here for your viewing pleasure. If you wish to use any information or quotes from my article please contact me. 

National Council of Jewish Women of Canada (NCJWC) with Project Abraham held an information night on Nov. 21 called “Save the Yazidis” to raise awareness of the genocide against the Yazidi people at the NCJWC Council Centre in North York.

Geoffrey Clarfield, executive director of Mozuud Freedom Foundation and Mirza Ismail, founder and chair of the Yazidi Human Rights Organization International spoke about the genocide and how Canadians could act to help the Yazidi people.

“Behind the CNN reports, behind the Fox News reports there’s a very well-articulated, calmly expressed ideology of the religious leaders of Iraq that the Yazidi at best are good for conquest and slavery and at worse you have the right to wipe them out,” said Clarfield.

The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish religious community primarily found in Iraq, near Mosul but also have smaller communities in Syria, Georgia and Armenia. They practice a religion called “Yazidism,” a monotheistic religion that believes that God is the creator of the world, and that he has placed the world under the care of seven holy beings, the chief of whom is named Melek Taus or the “Peacock Angel”.

According to a June 15, 2016 UN Human Rights Council report, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant or ISIL viewed the religion as “pagan”. This view led to an incident in August 2014, where 300 Yazidi families were threatened and forced to convert to Sunni Islam or die.

On October 2014, the United Nations confirmed that 5,000 men were executed and 7,000 women are being kept as sexual slaves in makeshift detention centres in ISIL territory.

The same UN Human Rights Council report said that numerous atrocities were committed against the Yazidi people including forced conversion, mass execution, sexual slavery of women and forced conversion of children into child soldiers.   This report, which focuses on violations occurring in Syria, is based on 45 interviews with survivors, religious leaders, smugglers, activists, lawyers, medical personnel, and journalists. The day after releasing the report, the United Nations declared the event a genocide.

The audience was silent as Ismail painted a vivid picture of the persecution of the Yazidi people. He spoke of forced conversions, female sexual slavery and the creation of child soldiers while a slideshow displayed pictures of women, children and men in relief camps or in cities in Iraq. One of the images showed  Yazidi children and women who held a single sign that said “I want to go home.”

“Sometimes people ask me: ‘Why do the Muslims hate the Yazidis so much?’” He said. “I answer ‘because the Yazidi don’t hate.’”

Ismail, a Yazidi himself described the ethnic group as a “peaceful community that lived alongside the Jewish people for thousands of years.” He called on the Jewish community to help his people, explaining that their own history of persecution in the Middle East made them empathetic to the genocide in Iraq and Syria.

He also criticized world leaders, calling them “mute, deaf and blind” to the suffering of his people.

“They don’t want to see what’s happening,” he said, “because once they see, they become a part of the crime because they don’t do anything.”

The audience listened attentively as Clarfield said that this was not the first time the Yazidi people were persecuted, citing the rule of Sadam Hussein, under which the Yazidi people were cut off from their homeland following a campaign in Iraq against the Kurdish people.

A question and answer period followed the speakers. Hands shot up into the air at every opportunity as the audience asked about the genocide and what they could do to help this minority.

“It’s important that people know what’s going on in the Middle East,” said Zuhut Avahim, who attended the event, “especially with minorities being killed and slaughtered every day. The media should focus on that.”

A representative for local Liberal MP Michael Levitt was present at the event. He confirmed that the Canadian government sent an envoy to northern Iraq regarding the issue, but could not comment on the specific actions of the government presently.

Debbie Rose, the coordinator for Project Abraham, said there are many things that Canadians could do to help these people like joining Project Abraham, spreading the word through their social networks, talking to their MPs or donating towards the cause.

Project Abraham is based out of the Mozuud Freedom Foundation, a human rights organization which according to their website, aims to speak out about “important issues, whether they are local, regional, national or international.” According to Rose, Project Abraham is a campaign that aims to help the Yazidi people, specifically through family reunification as refugees in Canada.

“These people are facing genocide and they don’t have anyone in the world to help them,” she said, “if we don’t step up they are going to be massacred into extinction.”

White Supremacy in Canada?

I thought Canadians didn’t do this.

I thought Canadians didn’t do this. But then again, I’m not surprised. It serves as a prime example of how the Trump presidency is impacting people even in Canada.

Over the last week in the news, there has been a rise in anti diversity posters. They highlight the apparent (emphasis on apparent) “anti-white posters” that are being displayed across the city of Toronto.

First of all, I’ve never seen an “anti-white” poster. I’ve lived in Toronto for 18 years and not once have I seen that sort of poster in Toronto.

So that begs the question: why were these posters made?

Presently, we don’t have an “anti-white” culture in Canada. Our culture is too diverse. Plus, I’ve never seen someone privately (or even outright) say racist things against a  white person.

Which leads my conclusion that the Trump presidency is seriously affecting us right next door.

The day after the American election, I admit that I did a little bit of drinking. But I didn’t expect protests or widespread outrage to take Canada by storm.

I mean he’s not our president-elect. Canadians didn’t vote for him so we should all just calm down and look to our own head of state.

Yes he marginalized people. Yes he said some racist, misogynistic and cruel things. I don’t deny that for a second. As a matter of fact, I condone him for throwing aside all minorities in order to gain the support of traditional Americans.

But that doesn’t mean we should start imitating his mannerisms or protesting on the streets. 

To all the protesters: there’s not much you can do at this point. Talk to your American neighbours and reassure them in this time of trouble. Hell if you want, help them arrange  their flight out of America if they really want to leave. But please don’t waste energy and time fighting  a battle that isn’t yours to begin with.

As for those people putting up the posters like the one above: stop. As a white Canadian, I condone your actions. We need diversity, not segregation and finger-pointing.



Journalists aren’t as bad as you make us out to be

Come on guys, I’m just trying to tell the truth here…

If you’ve reached this part of my blog and immediately feel the need to call bull on my title, hear me out. I may have a bias but I’m not a very good liar.

Following the lovely presidential election, journalists all across America were criticized left, right and centre. Biased reporting led to people  being told that Clinton would win , but then being surprised when Trump won. This, combined with the new president elect’s negative outlook towards  journalists has led to a phenomena I like to call mistrust.

People don’t like journalists. They think we’re sneaky people who would willingly oppose any morality for a lead. They assume we go out with only our own self (or our publisher’s) interests in mind. Most of all, they think  we shouldn’t be trusted.

Guys come on. We all don’t work for tabloids. There are some of us who care about the world we live in. Some of us work  hard to uncover the truth because we actually care about who sees it.

And don’t  give me some crap about all of us being sneaky and untrustworthy. That’s stereotyping and a clear case of double standards. So its okay for us to be criticized when we make a mistake and stereotype but when people rope all journalists as untrustworthy and bad people that’s completely fine.


one journalist ≠ the entire media 

That means if there’s one or two bad apples, all of us shouldn’t have to suffer. I get that the media has not  been the most reliable but don’t rope all of us in the same boat.