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Author: Mishal Dar

On my way to Europe, I Noticed The Changing Face of Air Travel

GEM Creative Writing Intern, Mishal Dar, travelled to Europe this summer with her family. In this week’s blog she investigated first hand if the air travel industry is still stuck in stereotypical gender roles, or is it changing?

Summer travelling. That special vacation time when everything imaginable goes into the suitcase and anticipation of hotel room service and warm beach sand becomes unbearable. The destination is all well and good, but the airport in between caught my attention as well.

The last time I travelled on an airplane I noticed that there were far more female flight attendants than male. I’m pleased to report that this time around I not only noticed a more even split, but was able to chat with a female flight attendant to get a firsthand account of the situation.

Stella Vantendelo, a bubbly and sweet blonde, told me that she had always wanted to become a flight attendant because, as a child, she had admired the pretty uniforms. When asked whether she thought there were more female flight attendants than male she responded that her airline has made recent changes to encourage more gender equality, and that she has noticed an increase in male flight attendants since. Looking around, I could verify that statement as the cabin crew in my plane were an even split between female and male attendants.

GEM Creative Writing Intern Mishal Dar with flight attendant Stella Vantendelo. (photo: Mishal Dar)
GEM Creative Writing Intern Mishal Dar with flight attendant Stella Vantendelo. (photo: Mishal Dar)

It feels good knowing that certain airlines have finally awoken to the realization that they had been perpetuating the stereotype of being served by a woman. Opening up the job of flight attendant to males not only helps to eradicate this stereotype but it also creates gender equality in the workplace. With this promising discovery at the airport, I was able to start my vacation with a little hope for the future.

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.



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.

GEM Private Film Screening

Watermark screened at the TIFF theatre was a breathtaking documentary about the impact of water on our lives. GEMgirls had a very unique opportunity to attend a private screening and meet one of its co-directors, Jennifer Baichwal afterwards.

This documentary never told us what to think, where so many others do. Without a single mention of facts and figures, it presents situations with the intention of letting the audience decide for itself, ever so often guiding us with strong visual contrasts. The result was a stronger message about the way in which water shapes our lives.

The documentary presented the unique perspectives of locals. There was no obvious evidence of an interrogation, like in most documentaries; oftentimes the locals were filmed simply performing their everyday tasks, or having conversations. Sometimes the conversations had nothing to do with the water at all. We felt as if we were being shown a more honest representation of the situation. We, the audience, could make our own observations, and come to our own conclusions.

The movie left us feeling enlightened about global water issues and a keener self-awareness. We had been given the chance to observe the situation of water all around the world and we came away with a very strong conviction that something has to be done.

Me, My Selfie, & I

Snap, post, snap, post, snap, post… Sounds like a marching band to me. One fully equipped with cameras and lighting to capture that perfect shot. At a time when online friends number in the hundreds or even thousands and digital thumbs-up are a source of pride, a time when people feel compelled to chronicle every moment of their life and then share it with the world, it’s hard to keep track of what’s really important. According to research done by the Heriot Watt University in the UK, this selfie phenomenon may actually be detrimental to real life relationships.

The selfie epidemic struck right on the heels of the rise of social media websites and messenger apps, first infecting the young and then moving on to adults. I’ll admit, Professionals who believe that selfies are a creative outlet used by developing teens as a way of becoming comfortable in their own skin do have a point, but there can be negative consequences as well. While there is nothing wrong with being proud of your own body, or showing that you are happy with your life, when we begin to rely on the validation we get from social media, selfies become more problematic. An added concern with selfie culture may be whether the ever-younger participants in this practice actually realize what sorts of messages they are conveying to the world through their often suggestive poses.

Along with iPhones, iPods, and iPads we now have ‘selfies’ in a world where more and more focus seems to be placed on the cult of the self instead of on collective goals. We need to shift that focus back. More self-satisfaction may be gained from performing a single selfless act, than from all the likes you’ve ever gotten on a selfie! Let’s try to point the camera the other way for a change, and snap a picture where the main focus isn’t me, myself, and I.



(Photo credit: www.hellogiggles.com)