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Month: June 2015

Aga Khan Museum – the Pretty White Treasure Box

Our GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern, Mishal Dar, visited the Aga Khan Museum last month. We asked her to write about her experience so we could share it with all of our GEM supporters, hoping to inspire others to visit. Her stunning experience is captured here.

Approaching the Aga Khan Museum at its main entrance is like walking up to a pretty white treasure box that you know holds many valuables inside. Once you have sufficiently recovered from seeing the beautiful gardens out front, the inside of the building will equally capture your attention as you walk by a lovely courtyard on your way to the exhibition rooms.

The moment you walk into the first room, you are transported into a realm of quite wonderment, where you can enjoy the beauty of each artifact in peace. The low lighting and crème coloured walls do much to create a calming atmosphere, making the stars of the show the artifacts.

From large brass candlesticks to vibrant cloth paintings to intricately illuminated Qur’ans, the artifacts are so varied that you will never be bored. Ceramic bowls boasting vivid shades of teal and azure sit next to beautiful wooden carvings, while in the center of the room sits a massive Persian carpet. My personal favourite is a delicate, pink scallop shell with tiny inscriptions carved into it. The collection leaves you breathless so that by the end of it you really do want to just sit in the courtyard and take a moment to absorb it all.

The Aga Khan Museum is a truly unique and inspiring experience for art lovers and history buffs alike. The diverse collection of artifacts, and even the building that they are housed in, won’t fail to capture your imagination and transport you into the ancient Middle East where Islamic artists work diligently at creating their master pieces.


It’s a wrap!

Although it was cloudy and raining heavily in the afternoon of June 5th, all GEMgirls were smiling brightly inside the Aga Khan Museum for GEM’s Wrap Up Party. Rain was not going to be the reason a fantastic picnic for mentees, mentors, GEM staff and supporters didn’t happen, and so it was moved inside. The tables were set with teal plastic plates, forks, napkins, and there were awesome centre pieces which included jars of jelly beans and candles. There were yummy sandwiches, vegetables as well as gourmet cupcakes and cookies.

As we waited for others to arrive, we sat and thought about, “My best memory of the GEM program is…” and wrote it down on small cards. Many of the girls also signed the 2014/2015 GEM yearbook. One GEMgirl mentioned how she was going to miss the tasty sandwiches that were provided at every workshop! Another GEMgirl mentioned how she’ll miss the informative coffee chats and spending time with the GEMgirls! My favourite part of the party was when we got to write anything we wanted to in a card that will be mailed to us next Spring. I wrote about some of my wishes that I hope to see come true within a year.

Before we said our farewells, we took a group photo inside one of the art rooms in the Aga Khan Museum. We also took small group photos using the Polaroid camera as we laughed and made silly faces. It was tough for all of us to say goodbye to eachother as the Wrap Up Party was ending. The GEM program has given each one of us an experience that we will remember for a lifetime. It is time for the next year’s group of GEMgirls to shine as brightly as we have throughout the program.

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.

Impact of GEM on my life

The Girls e-Mentorship program has had an incredible impact on my life. From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a writer but I did not understand how to get there or how successful I could be. The GEM program gave me the opportunity, not once but twice, to meet successful women who are writers. My first mentor was Amoryn Engel who is a writer for the National Post newspaper. She taught me that the best way to go forward in life is to ask questions to get what you want. My second mentor was Sharlyn Carrington who works in communications in the government. She was previously a writer for Ottawa magazine. Sharlyn helped me with my self-confidence as she inspired me to not be afraid to stand out. Both of my mentors helped me immensely in learning about what it takes to be a writer.

The best opportunity that I feel GEM has given me is the position of Creative Writing Intern for the GEM website. Through this position, I have improved my writing skills by learning how to ask great questions to interviewees. The GEM program has given me more than just great opportunities but also long-lasting relationships with my mentors, the organizers of the program, and my friends. Due to my experiences the program has offered me, I know I will be prepared to enter University of Windsor for their Digital Journalism program in September. The program has truly helped me grow into a beautiful and radiant GEM.

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.


I think back to October, and the beginning of this amazing ride, and I remember a different girl. That girl was unsure of herself and she had no idea what the future would hold. I still don’t know what the future holds but GEM has left an impact on my life like nothing else.

The GEM workshops were little nuggets of pure knowledge gold. From stress-relieving yoga positions to the ins and outs of business etiquette, GEM workshops have left me feeling more confident about my ability to handle what the future will throw at me.

My mentorship experience is one that I will never forget. I felt reassured and safe knowing that someone wise was there for me. My mentor listened to my problems, in a non-patronizing way, and helped me to get through them this year.

Through GEM I was introduced to a group of girls every bit as passionate as myself. Being able to learn and grow with them over this past year was an inspiring experience. The year has had its rough patches, but whether it was with the advice of my mentor or that of a fellow GEMgirl, I have emerged out the other end a more confident individual, ready to test my abilities at university.

Career Chat: Inside Finance

GEM girls visited a leading global investment office, Burgundy Asset Management, on Friday, May 1st, 2015. Burgundy Asset Management is located on the 45th floor of the Bay Wellington Tower. The GEMgirls were in awe as they looked out the tall, glass windows to see downtown from high above. Roz McLean, an Associate at Burgundy and recent graduate from the University of Western Ontario, gave an informative presentation about how she found her way from university student to financial services Associate at  Burgundy. She stressed that networking and gaining experience is very important during your time at university. One thing that stuck out to all of us was how   she emphasized that your friendships can help you more than distract you by enabling you to enhance communication and problem solving skills.

At the midway point of the presentation, the GEMgirls were asked to break into a groups of three to analyze a company like a real investment analyst. Each group was given a company: Apple, Nike, and Starbucks. We used the questions given to each group to determine if Apple is a company we would invest in and why. We answered questions like, “What is the cost to make their product?” and “What has the company done for the community?” This exercise gave us all insight into what makes a business profitable and popular.

At the end of the presentation, GEMgirls had a chance to ask a few questions.

Our major takeaways were:

  1. Make connections! – never underestimate the importance of networking and friendships. This is a great way to find opportunities.
  2. It’s YOU not the school! – GEMgirls wondered if employers were influenced to hire you based on the university you received your degree from. Roz answered, “No. You make the influence. What you bring to the table is all that matters.”
  3. Key factors for success – Roz said, “ask a lot of questions, set goals, and follow your own path”.
  4. Relevant experience matters – Some GEMgirls were surprised to know that you do not need a degree in business studies to work in the world of finance. Get relevant experience in the field, and a social sciences degree works just as well!

The GEM girls enjoyed the experience at Burgundy and were glad to get a peek at what the world of finance looks like!


Burgundy Coffee 2

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.