Alison Fraser

photo of Alison FraserAlison sometimes wishes that there were a couple more hours in the day so that there would be more time to hang out with people, get homework done, and get a little sleep. But unfortunately there are still only 24 hours in a day and she tries to make the most of them. Alison is a 4th year International Studies major and is focusing on refugee issues and third world development. She grew up in the United States and Canada so if you ask her where she is from, it may take a couple minutes to get the whole story, but she will fill you in! Alison loves people, shopping, and putting things off until the last minute.  She is excited to blog about it all.

Recent Blog Entries

the first blog

Fri, 07 Aug 2009 16:38:42 GMT

the first blog

Ok so here we are - my first official TWU blog post, and I am trying to come up with something inspirational to say for it, but I'm not feeling overly inspired. It is 6 in the morning, I can't sleep, and I am still going over the past week in my head. The first week back at school after Christmas break is one of the strangest times at Trinity. It is like everyone is looking around at each other with bewildered looks on their faces, that say, "How did that Christmas vacation already happen, and why do I already feel like getting right back on that plane, to a place where homework was but a distant memory." Ok so maybe they don’t say things like “was but a distant memory” – but everyone is at least a little bit confused as to why we are already back here, trudging through the snow to classes. But then slowly as assignments pile up you don't have as much time to think about the fact that you would rather be at home, and you remember the reason why you don't mind so much calling this place home. But either way, here I am back at school, facing the fact that I am graduating in less then four months, and already feeling like I need to start doing all the things I love to do here at school, "one last time." I should really make a list of those things...

I feel that since it is my first time blogging, I must tell you about myself. If you ask me where I am from, the standard answer that I give is: "well how much time do you have?" I try to make it a joke every time, and I only get a few laughs. But the truth is, I grew up all over the place, and I still can't seem to stay still, and neither can my family. I have been packed around most of the Pacific Northwest, living in the most random places. Let's see... there was Moscow, Idaho. That was a real fun place to grow up. Lots of potatoes, and... lots of summers playing soccer. Then there was Portland. I remember a lot of field trips to the zoo and the science museums – oh and also, the floods and storms of 1996. Don't know why that is important, but I just remember it. Then there was Vancouver, Washington; nothing too exciting there. There were summers spent in southern California, and winters spent in Southern Ontario. Then there was the big move to Canada... when my Dad told us, I had no idea what it would be like to live there, and my primary concern was, would I be able to find any new friends? (My parents didn’t say yes or no… they probably weren’t sure if I would find friends either… haha…) Well I found a few, and after living in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and then Campbell River, I find myself calling Langley home. It is kind of like Campbell River… except for more strip malls. I remember my first week at Trinity, driving around with my newly found friend, Andrea, and I said to her "It's so cool to be living in a big city like Langley." Andrea, being from San Diego, laughed at me and tells that story to pretty much all our friends. I think I was just excited to be in a place that had stores that were open past five in the evening.

Well this blog is certainly getting out of hand. Not only am I rambling on to you about where I grew up, but I have said nothing inspirational or even that interesting. I'll save that for next time. So all in all, here I am, back at school. I have already written my first paper, led a three-hour night class (giving what I thought was a very interesting presentation on Christianity and US foreign policy - hopefully my prof. felt the same way...), and been away on a weekend retreat with a youth group I work with. It has been the first week of the many busy weeks to come, and I'm looking forward to it all.

talk to strangers

Fri, 07 Aug 2009 16:37:18 GMT

I love talking to strangers. There are a couple key strategies that I use. Now, I know that we were always told not to talk to strangers, but now that I have a year of karate under my belt (taking lessons only because my mother forced me during the grade 3), and because I’m taking a weight training course in my last semester at trinity (it is tough stuff that weight lifting), I feel almost completely confident in my ability to escape from any strange situations. Ok well here it is: You know when you are sitting on a bus and someone completely interesting sits down near you and you would just love to know who they are and why, for goodness sakes, are they wearing a hat with a feather stuck in it? Or you are on a train (as I am right now, as a matter of fact), and you are sitting next to someone with a really nice coat and an accent, and you wonder, is he the head of a multinational cooperation? Ok, I’m assuming my fellow VIA Rail Economy Class passenger is not the CEO of American Airlines or anything (I love how specific I got on that one, instead of just saying, “a company”), BUT he must have an interesting story or at LEAST know where to get good deals on men’s winter jackets. So anyways there are a couple key ways in which to communicate to these fascinating people.

One is easy: it’s the compliment the outfit approach. “Oh I ADORE those red shoes!” (this is tailored to older ladies, who are most often found wearing interesting red shoes). She will respond, letting you know of her recent find at Macy’s, and the conversation continues from there! So simply assess the outfit and make your comments accordingly. The key to this suggestion is to be honest! If you really don’t like the shoes, then perhaps don’t tell her you like them. You could say something else, like “what red shoes those are! Where did you get them?” This still communicates the message, but in a truthful way. This can work for both guys and girls! I have observed my little brother in conversation with strangers, and his usually revolve around discussing Star Wars –  or anything involving a trilogy of some kind or another (Lord of the Rings will also do). I don’t really know HOW his conversations start, but I would suffice to say that he probably asks them some question with no intention to talk to them and somehow they end up talking about Mordor or their excitement at the way that George Lucas worked with special effects in the latest film. Either way, find your in and… well you are in!

Second tip on meeting new people, is always being aware of who is around you. I would generally call this the “turn your iPod off and look around principle.” I won’t go into too much detail, but to say that there is a time and a place to be in your own world… but when you are forced to be around people, spend a LITTLE time in conversation and you will learn things you never thought to think about. It really does expand your point of view. For example, last night I was at Starbucks, and it was very packed. There were no tables available, and this older lady was standing with her tea, and her bags, waiting for a table to open up. I waved to her, and pointed to my extra chair, and she sat down, looking happy to be off her shoes (which were actually red, and really cute, but I didn’t get the chance to tell her). Instead of reading, we both ended up talking the entire time! She is a curator at a museum, and she just had returned from Egypt! She told me all about Cairo and Luxor, and all the adventures she went on. Then we turned to refugees, and I found out she has worked with them in Thailand and Guatemala! I had been to Guatemala recently, so we chatted about that. Now I have an invitation to a private viewing of a new drawings exhibit! I’m sure glad I didn’t have my iPod on that day.

Finally, I will end with a last piece of advice. Make sure that you don’t discount the interesting people you may come across. People who you first ignore (although I’m sure you are all nice people and would never ignore anyone), tend to be the most interesting ones of all. A doorman at my friends’ apartment does drug counseling work with youth in the mornings, works the afternoon shift in the afternoon, and goes to night class to work on his masters in counseling, and he is 57! One day I walked by someone with the same phone as me (a GREAT talking point!) and she was a 12 year old girl (sorry, ‘pre-teen’) in spandex, a hot pink top and a head band (we were at the mall, she was loving the 80s look) and she had so much information about Hannah Montana and High School Musical – both fascinating topics. One of my favorite memories was a bus ride I had to take in Guatemala one time, and it was cramped quarters. I was seated next to a older gentleman, who was not the smallest of men, but after an hour I learned more about Vietnam then I’d ever learned in my studies of the war there, and he had been a navy seal there! (he wasn’t lying either! He showed me this picture he carries around of him and his buddies on the special dive team he was on. AND it turned out that he was the man who was a caterer (he now owns a catering company) at an event that I had been to the year before in San Francisco! It is a small world after all.

Ok before I let you go, in case anyone is still reading. There is one thing going through your mind, and that is this: Alison, how do I know these people aren’t lying to me, or that they are crazy!? Well the answer is, I guess you will never know if they are or are not lying. But even if they are, it’s still fascinating isn’t it!? You can learn about people if they are lying or not. Step two: creepers. Hmm… you are going to have to use common sense on this one. But seriously, if we spend the rest of our lives making sure we stay away from anyone that looks remotely sketchy then it’s just NOT as exciting! People are people, and they are all made uniquely, and as I love about God - he knows them all individually! So if that is God’s heart, it can be ours too. Well I must go, the woman who is sitting next to me on the train just asked if I have a pen, and you KNOW that this is really going to go somewhere. Good technique lady! (PS: Don’t be psycho, sometimes people are just not waiting to tell you their life story, but most of the time – they would LOVE to.) They won’t be strangers for long.