Profiles

Ilya’s triumph: Liberty Kid

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

(Canscene) –  For me, few films have been genuine experiences that have washed away the environment in which I’ve viewed them  and brought me into  another time, another milieu.

Now comes Ilya Chaiken’s Liberty Kid, newly available on DVD after a laborious but triumphant journey since its completion. Turned down by Sundance and Toronto festivals, Liberty Kid, through the persistence of its makers led by Ilya Chaiken whose first film in 2002 didn’t cause a great stir but whose Liberty Kid has had a tremendous impact on those who’ve seen it has placed Chaiken among the front rank of contemporary auteurs.

Childhood friends Derrick (Al Thompson) and Tico (Kareem Savinon) operate a concession stand at the foot of the Statue Liberty. Theirs is a relationship that sees much bickering and scheming, but at its base is rock solid. More »

Susanne Pacher, peripatetic multiculturalist

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

(Canscene) — If there’s one thing Susanne Pacher loves to do as much as travel it’s to come back to her adopted country of 20 years. She enjoys the opportunities her proprietorship of the travel website Travel and Transitions give her to see other places and other people, but cherishes life in multicultural Canada where “I have the world right here in Toronto.” (see blogroll this page).

And to show another facet of her superblog Travel and Transitions, Susanne is inviting you to an introduction to her series on Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods, March 7 (see below).

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Susanne on Havana’s Malecon
Twenty years ago, the prospect of life in a small Austrian mountain town had become unattractive to the young Susanne who was studying English and Spanish translation and interpretation studies at the University of Graz. Her idea was to aim for a job at the United Nations as an interpreter so she decided to go to an English-speaking country to gain some practical work experience.

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Susanne with Monserrat Spain’s Jagged Mountains in the background

Not unnaturally, she chose Canada to which many years earlier a man from her hometown had gone to work and had become a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist; his name was Frank Stronach. Obtaining a one-year work permit Susanne started with Magna International as a technical translator. What she hadn’t bargained for was the ethnic diversity that she encountered in the workplace.

Multicultural Canada: a revelation

“All of a sudden this young small-town girl was exposed to a microcosm of the world. I was simply astounded to be working with people from Russia, Jamaica. Cambodia, India and more,” Susanne says.

“I took to life in Canada very quickly. The only thing I missed was the mountains, but I found later that I could have these too, in a country rich in geography.”

Susanne worked part-time at furthering her education. What followed were a diploma in Human Resources Management from Sheridan College, a B.A. in Economics & Labour Management Relations from the University of Toronto followed by her M.B.A from the Rotman Centre of Management at U of T.

The next step was Textronics Enterprises, a multilingual translation agency with herself initially working in Spanish, German and English while she brought on board freelancers for other languages. “Today,” Susanne says, “I have three full-time and several part-time employees and a huge network of specialized translators all across the world. Our staff and interns include people from such diverse places as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Ethiopia and Jamaica. We often have pot luck lunches during which we sample one another’s cuisines. This is a global learning experience, right here in my own office. Most of my employees and interns come from Skills for Change, a highly regarded Toronto immigrant settlement agency.”

Inside Susanne: a closet idealist

“What made me start Travel and Transitions? I realized that I’d become a small business proprietor who was pretty much tied down to her desk the whole day. But inside me was an adventurer, an explorer, a hobby photographer, an armchair philosopher and a closet idealist.”

“So less than two and a half years ago, I started Travel and Transitions as a web site, often working late into the night. Adventures chronicling my travels and practical advice provide for unconventional travel ideas; dozens of interviews with interesting individuals highlight travel industry experts, volunteers, philanthropists, artists, multiculturalism experts, hospitality business owners and enlightened entrepreneurs. There are now more than 600 pages of diverse content available at www.travelandtransitions.com” (see blogroll link to this page)

“As to my travel preferences” she responds to my question, “I have always had a love for Mediterranean countries, but then again, I’m just as thrilled to discover Canadian locations — and there are hundreds of fascinating places here. Canada is a wonderful travel destination.”

“We recently completed our first International Story Contest and received fascinating entries from all over the world. Many of the stories had a philanthropic angle to them. Just a few months ago I kicked off the “Celebrate Toronto” project, a multi-year endeavour that will celebrate my chosen home town. A series of photo exhibitions, multi-media presentations and article compilations will provide comprehensive neighbourhood portraits of our city, starting with the Beach, and then moving on to other neighbourhoods such as Chinatown-Kensington, Little Italy, Little India and others more. Each neighbourhood portrait will become a fundraiser for local non-profit organizations, benefiting our city.”

Please find enclosed information about the inaugural “Celebrate Toronto” event and come out and celebrate Toronto’s Beach Neighbourhood, a fun event that will even include a free gelato and panini tasting:

Event information:
Event: Photo Exhibition & Fundraiser
“Celebrate Toronto: The Beach – My Second Home”
Exhibition dates: March 7 to 31, 2007
Gallery opening & story-telling event: March 7, 2007, 7:00 pm (Includes a free gelato and panini tasting)
Second story-telling event: March 14, 2007, 7:00 pm (Includes a free gelato and panini tasting)
Additional story-telling events may be slotted in based on demand
Location: Gelato Milano, 2156 Queen Street East (between Glen Manor Avenue & Maclean Avenue)
Due to space restrictions please register your attendance at textron3@bellnet.ca.