Maia’s Reflection on the Queen Alexandra Reading Week Project

Passion (Project) meets community needs

As the semester is coming to a close it is nice to look back at events that we have been involved with, to realize that the whole year hasn’t been just been about courses and workloads.

One of my most memorable experiences was during Reading week with The Passion Project and 30 volunteers at a local elementary school. The students from UBC were all there to be an extra pair of hands during a special project week at the school. All the grades had changed their usual schedule with Math and English to Mini-Olympics or story telling. I was lucky to have the part of overseeing the volunteers from The Passion Project together with PP-exec Chelsey. They took on the role as teachers for grade 6 and 7 and taught them about various creative topics such as finding music in found instruments, drama, song and spoken word.

All the kids were engaged to use their whole creative specter and create their own unique piece to show the rest of the class at the end of the week. Some of the other PP-volunteers helped the second grade with their preparation for a pirate musical. All the participants struggled a bit in the beginning with teaching and keeping control of a class, but the appreciation from the students was loud and clear as they got to know the volunteers. Also the extra work was worth it after seeing the amazing performances the students had created. At the end of the three-days we all agreed that the time had passed just too fast!

Maia was one of the two Coordinators, along with Chelsey, for The Passion Project’s Reading Week collaboration with Queen Alexandra Elementary School.

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.

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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=)))))