The Dream You Don’t Dream

The Samuel Bronfman building is the house of business studies at McGill University. Each year a batch of students begin their two years journey of dreaming and a batch leaves the building with the satisfaction of having achieved their dreams and the joy that the last two years bought to their lives. But there are some dreams that no one dreams and that dream that you don’t dream is reality that surpasses your expectations. Something that you never imagined or fleetingly hoped for but never expected.

In 2012, five students got together at the third floor of the Bronfman building and decided that they want to tackle the problem of world food scarcity. They did not know what they would achieve but they had the courage to take up this challenge while braving the rigors of an MBA course. The team saw a spectrum of ups and downs but one year later in September 2013, the same five students from McGill University won the Hult Prize with their unique solution of using insect-derived flour to win a bid to address food security, in the process winning USD $1Million as seed funding to further pursue their idea. It has been three years since they won and the Aspire Food Group is still going strong with their mission of providing a sustainable food source to millions of people around the world.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton with McGill’s 2013 winning team (from left to right): Jesse Pearlstein, Shobhita Soor, Zev Thompson, Gabriel Mott and Mohammed Ashour. / Photo: AP Images for the Hult Prize

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton with McGill’s 2013 winning team (from left to right): Jesse Pearlstein, Shobhita Soor, Zev Thompson, Gabriel Mott and Mohammed Ashour. Photo: AP Images for the Hult Prize

The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition for social entrepreneurship and this year’s challenge is centered on “the refugee opportunity”, specifically reawakening human potential, and build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022. Students have an opportunity once again to tackle an issue where social enterprises of any kind can help attain the target. The beauty of Hult Prize is that with such a broad topic, it allows students from all backgrounds to view the challenge with a different lens and uniquely use their skills in the quest to find solutions.

On Sunday, December 4th , McGill University is hosting Hult Prize @ McGill — the university-level competition for the prestigious Hult Prize. Winners from the university level event will go on to represent McGill at the regional competitions in March 2017. The winners of the regional event will then participate in a six-week long accelerator to refine their ideas before presenting at the finals at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in September 2017 and get a shot at securing USD $1Million as seed funding.

The Aspire group probably didn’t dream this before it happened, maybe you haven’t dreamed it as yet. But this is your opportunity to live the dream that you may have never dreamt and in the process impact the lives of billions of people.

Those interested in participating can find more information about the McGill competition and the Hult Prize. Follow Hult Prize on Facebook to get updates of events and workshops.


A year that’s new (2): Thoughts, Moments, Lessons, Hopes


Just like every year, when 2011 began, I had no idea what it had in store for me, and for all of us. I have to say that, this holiday season, I was quite excited to let 2011 slip on by and was ready to welcome 2012 with open arms. It wouldn’t be fair to say that it was a bad year (although I must admit, I have said it a few times already!) but it certainly was an eventful year — both in a truly positive and truly negative sense. I’ve had a couple of big, eventful years in my life so far, but 2011 was by far the most up and down year ever – with very high ups and very low downs.

The past twelve months have held the biggest challenges, scariest experiences and most-eye opening realizations ever. It was a year that shook me up intensely, probably just to see how well I could still stand, in the end. It pushed me in hard ways to change my perspective, and to somehow find a balance between changing and growing, yet staying fundamentally the same. It brought along the most amazing triumph I’ve accomplished in my academic life to date, and the sweetest experience of discovering how much joy a tiny baby can bring to our personal lives. It gave me awe-inspiring and absolutely memorable travel adventures that I would not have experienced if it weren’t for my academic career, and for that I am incredibly grateful. It forced me to find a balance between health, PhD work, family and my passions – writing and photography – and to discover, sometimes through intense hurt and disappointment, which people in my life are here to stay, and which relationships are simply not meant to be, for one reason or another, as much as you want them to be. It renewed my faith in second (and third, and fourth) chances, yet broke that faith as well. It brought many smiles and moments of pride and confidence, yet many tears and moments of sheer doubt and hopelessness. It also made me realize that this is probably just the beginning of such up-and-down years — we’re growing up, after all, and life is bound to get more and more complex, throwing fast-balls and curve-balls that we may never be ready for, but still have to catch somehow.


Without words

How could such a gloriously sunny day bring such terribly bad news? And why is it that it always takes such tragedies and painful occurrences for us to (finally) gain some perspective, a new take on what really matters in life?

Today, after an amazingly peaceful walk from the Old Port to the Atwater market, after a day of much-needed fresh air, sunshine, quiet and simplicity, I came home to a haunting phone call. I was first asked, “Did you hear what happened?” which immediately caused my heart to sink and my stomach to turn. “No,” I answered, fearfully, wincing already. I found out that a very close friend of my father’s — a friend dear to our whole family — had suddenly lost his son and his ex-wife last night, in a house fire, and only his youngest son was able to escape.  (more…)


No work
Finally…I have declared a retreat from all activities involving lab work, school work or any associated word relating to “work.” This is indeed a surprise coming from a workaholic like me (if I say so myself…)

The story behind
Winter semester 2010 was particularly a hard one. With writing my thesis, editing and re-editing with a pair of borrowed hawk’s eyes, TAing and working part-time at a CEGEP, I was on a roller coaster of stress and serious time management issues. Simultaneously, I was working on a PhD proposal for my application in Educational Studies (another story in itself).

This semester was worse. Maybe, mostly from recurring fatigues and stress from the previous semester and failure to take a well-deserved break. If it was up to my “Let’s go with the flow” persona, I’d definitely go on vacation with my friends or opt for a lost island with perfectly calm lagoons and refreshing coconut drinks or pinacolada.

However, my scholarship was over and I already had a job at a CEGEP (which I love and intended to keep since I was new), I decreed upon postponing the fun for a while. In addition of my job, I was also working on some publications and additional lab works.

Since the start of this week, I am officially in holiday mode. For one thing, I sleep till late – 10 am and sit on the deck to linger over some tea and muffins. My cat is nowadays my faithful companion (miraculously never leaving my side), since my partner is off to a conference in the States. Then, I catch up on some long awaited readings – books from Wiggs, Griffin, Sparks and Paolini or watch some movies. I prepare a light lunch – mostly tuna sandwiches and indulge upon comforting chocolate desserts. Then, it’s nap time with my faithful cat half-asleep, guarding the bedroom door.

Occasionally, I do think about some pre-reading for my PhD – but I manage to brush off this idea. There’s still gardening to enjoy and new recipes waiting to be discovered…

In a few weeks
When summer will be in full swing, I plan to visit Marine Land and Niagara Falls. I can hardly wait to board the “Maid of the Mist” and feel the rejuvenating powers of the Falls. I look forward to replenish my energy and face next semester with a smile.

Neerusha Gokool Baurhoo

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