Maya’s Story: Crayons for Kids

My name is Maya Graves-Bacchus and I am a third year English major. This summer, I worked as hostess at a large scale restaurant and was struck by the amount of waste that was produced. As I mournfully scraped leftover dessert into the trash can, I was surprised to look down and see, amongst remnants of cheesecake, a handful of crayons in red, yellow and blue.

We had been giving each child a packet of crayons with their kids menu, and even if they had not been opened they were tossed away.  However, the sorry image of crayons covered in whipped cream stayed with me and I wondered if they could be salvaged.

Together with the other employees, I put each crayon aside. I didn’t have a place to send them to, but I was sure that somebody would be very glad of them. By the end of the summer I had hundreds and hundreds of crayons, and a huge bag of art supplies given to me by a fellow server.

A few weeks later I was able to send crayons to the Philippines and Rwanda. The lady who took the supplies at Embrace Rwanda said that the children who received them were delighted – they had never seen crayons before. It is alarming to think about how wasteful our society has become and how much is taken for granted. However, I am confident that if we pay attention to what we throw away, much waste can be cut down, or at the very least, we can turn our trash into treasure.

image001 image005-2

I am continuing to collect unwanted crayons from restaurants and donate them to those who will make good use of them. If any UBC students have basements harbouring dusty felt tip pens and other art materials, I am happy to pass them on to a good cause and I can be reached at

I have also been fortunate to encounter the art of Alana Hansen, a UBC student who loves to capture all elements of her life and experiences by doodling. She has created a doodle based on my “Kids for Crayons” project:

Alana's Doodle

“People provide me with inspiration, and in turn I “doodle” that inspiration. Art is powerful, meaningful and it matters. I want people to influence my art, while also hoping to have an impact on the people around me. Doodling gives me the ability to put feelings, impacts, issues and inspiration into art… things that I simply cannot put into words. It is my outlet.” – Alana on “Ideas into Doodles”


Check out more of Alana’s art at !


Let us know what you think about Maya’s project! Additionally, we are looking for more blog submissions about the great student-led initiatives happening at UBC and beyond. Contact us at

Traveling, Rest, Passions.

Hullo there!

It’s been a while since my last post for a multitude of reasons. As Vita mentioned, sometimes it’s really is so easy to get caught up in Life and doing and forget to just “be”. Food for thought.

So what have I been up to since November?!

Passion Project
The Passion Project had our first event for the school year- “Inspire.” We collaborated with the Blank Vinyl Project (BVP) and UBC Slam for a wonderful night illustrating to everyone present what Passion looked like when experienced in-person. It was a wonderful experience that I was lucky enough to witness.


Slam poet performing that night!

We also have the QA Reading Week project that I’m super excited for- Maia and Chelsey, our Reading Week Project Coordinators are taking the lead on that and hearing them plan for it gives me tingles!

Model United Nations (MUN)
MUN is essentially a simulation of the real-life United Nations which sees delegates represent a country’s foreign policy stance on various issues. It involves public speaking, debating, team work and a whole spiel of other politicking! November saw me participate in Northwest MUN (NWMUN) in Seattle where I was part of the team representing UBC! It was lots of fun- it was the second and last time I would be participating in NWMUN so it was bittersweet. Public speaking and racing towards the creation and passing of a resolution in a simulation of the real UN is eggciting for some reason=D

This January in the first weekend of school, I took part in UBCMUN representing Sweden! Again, it was a blast and despite being quite sick given my holiday adventures (up next), I met a lot of new people, learned tons about world issues and the practicality of resolutions and diplomacy. I also came away with two awards, Outstanding Position Paper and Outstanding Delegate, in my committee which was unexpected but very nice=)

This February, I’m also participating in National Model United Nations-Northwest (NMUN-NW) in Portland which is sort of a combination of the Seattle conference and the NY conference (below) and that will be the start to my Reading Break!

Lastly, come March, I will be leading the UBC External MUN (XMUN) team to New York for a prestigious MUN conference with schools coming from around the world and over 2,000 delegates. Tons of preparation to do but exciting times indeed!

Over the Winter Break, I was fortunate enough to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico with some lovely friends of mine. It was refreshing to see the bright sun and feel its warm rays on my back. And I got a tan! Of all things! In the middle of Winter=D Going to the beach and swimming in the ocean for the first time in around 10 years was a very freeing experience. Taking the time to just breathe and recollect my senses after the hectic first term can only really be explained this way: It was a break I needed to have without realizing what I was missing. Time to myself and time to just be.

Lounging on the beach at Isla Verde in Puerto Rico!

Lounging on the beach at Isla Verde in Puerto Rico!

And during the rest of my Reading Break in February that’s coming up, I’ll be headed to London, UK to spend some time with a dear friend of mine, Dani, who is on exchange there=) If I’m lucky, I’ll get to catch a West End musical or even take a trip to the surrounding EU countries!

And that’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to folks! Till next time=)))))


Passion and Privilege

Joy, Vita and Louise participate in Impact Lab, a professional development conference hosted by the Simon K.Y. Lee Global Lounge

Joy, Vita and Louise participate in Impact Lab, a professional development conference hosted by the Simon K.Y. Lee Global Lounge


So, it is so easy to get caught up in life as a student; in academics and your social and working life. Sometimes I forget about life outside the UBC bubble. Don’t you? With The Passion Project too. We held campus-centred events, like an Open-Mic Night with Blank Vinyl Project and UBC Slam, focusing mainly on UBC outreach last semester.

This semester, it is time for a new perspective; one that is focused on giving back to a community off-campus in the beautiful city we live in.

Last week The Passion Project team began bringing plans into action for our upcoming Reading Week Project at Queen Alexandra Elementary, a fine arts based school in Vancouver, and a quick bus ride on the 99 b-line. It was there, in a small library, filled with colourful books and little-people chairs that I had the privilege of speaking with a few passionate educators. A meet and greet of sorts.

In an old brick building, in a community that faces its own challenges, Queen Alexandra is a safe haven and a welcoming place of learning. Educators plan classroom activities around music, drama, movement, visual art, social studies, science, math and social responsibility, to name a few. The grade 6/7 teacher hopes that students can use these creative outlets to address a problems they observe in their everyday lives in their communities and around the world. She wants her students to feel empowered and know that they have the skills to make a difference.

These teachers inspire me.

They are teachers because they love what they do, and they find their work meaningful. Can I be cheesy here and point out the perfect word for this: PASSION.

From February 18 – 20, during Reading Week 2014, The Passion Project is privileged to be working with UBC Trek and sending volunteers to Queen Alexandra to lead workshops in music, poetry and art. It will be an empowering experience for student volunteers and QA students alike. I am so excited to watch some magic unfold, and be able to report back to you with some inspiring stories.

We will (of course) be updating you via blog posts.

Remember your passions and your privilege, and let them carry you into new opportunities this year!