Posted by: Silver | March 13, 2011

Prince George

As serendipity would have it, my host in Prince George turned out to have pretty much exactly the same job at the University of Northern British Columbia as I used to have back in Cambridge, right down to ordering from the same suppliers! She even confessed to a propensity for baking cakes and taking them into the office: it was truly quite spooky! The morning after my arrival, we went up to the university and, almost as soon as we arrived (around 8am), we bumped into an academic colleague of hers. When she explained who I was and what I was doing, he immediately asked if I’d like to come and speak to his class. “Of course,” I said, always eager for any opportunity to spread the word about SOS Children’s Villages, “when is your class?”. “8.30,” he replied, “and it’s an environmental engineering class so they’d be most interested to hear about anything the charity does that’s related to water and sanitation.”

It’s a good job I enjoy a challenge.

Thanks to the internet and my contact at the SOS Children’s Villages office in Ottawa (helpfully three hours ahead!), I had, within 20 minutes, managed to put together a wealth of inspiring material about an innovative waste water recycling solution in the Nairobi village, the designation of Mombasa as a ‘green village’ and some eco-friendly water purification and sanitation facilities that SOS helped to provide after the Haiti earthquake. Unfortunately, however, I think 8.30 was a little early in the day for the students to be inspired by very much at all, and the only feedback I felt I got from their glazed expressions was that they had figured out I wasn’t there to offer them a free coffee… But nevertheless, I remain hopeful that a seed may have been planted in one or two minds, and, at some point when they’re actually awake, they might check out the website and finally be as inspired as I am by all the work that the charity does.

The presentation I gave to the local Lions Club was fortunately a lot more interactive, with many insightful questions asked, and many people commented that they’d seen the article about my journey in the Prince George Citizen, so hopefully there are at least a few more people in the area now who know about SOS Children’s Villages and the work they do 🙂

My host's job may have been similar to mine, but not everything at UNBC was quite the same as it was in Cambridge...

UNBC has strong First Nations connections: this transformation mask was just one of many native art works on display

The university buildings are designed so that, once you're inside, you can get everywhere without having to go outside again: they plan for the snow here...

... which is just as well, because they do get quite a lot of it. This was the street on which my host lives

The university sits on top of a hill, and everyone kept telling me how beautiful the view is on a sunny day; I thought it looked quite nice anyway (if you didn't look in the direction of the pulp mills...)



  1. I hope you are enjoying PG…This is where I did my BSc degree and then worked for 2 years before coming to the UK! UNBC was a great university and I loved going there. I suspect there are still some people who taught/work there now that were at UNBC when I studied/worked there.

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