Day 301 - Katrina

Day 301 - Katrina (1st person I approached)
October 28, 2014 - Katrina was sitting by herself on a bench in a local mall. She was looking at her phone, and I figured she was either waiting for someone, or passing time. I went over and sat down next to her, explained what I’m doing and asked if she would chat with me. She flashed me a lovely smile, and said yes, she’d chat. 


“I was born right here in Vancouver,” she said. Katrina has two younger brothers.

“They used to occasionally gang up on me. But I always won. I may have been the only girl, but having two brothers I knew how to stand up for myself,” she told me. 


Active in sports throughout school, Katrina competed in gymnastics at the national level.

“I danced for twelve years, did gymnastics and played basketball. In Grade five I was diagnosed with depression. It was something that I spoke about openly. My friends would ask what was wrong, because they knew me to be a happy and outgoing person. I sometimes became a crying mess, curled up in a corner. They didn’t know what depression was, and were too young to understand any stigma around the subject of depression. They were all supportive,” she said. Katrina was able to get help and work through the depression. 


Katrina applied for a program through school that involved travelling to Costa Rica.

“I was in Grade eight and we went to a Biological Reserve. They focussed on education about local flora and fauna and growing crops. They had devised a crop rotation system that integrated growing different crops in the same plot. The plants were supporting one another. It was an incredible opportunity to see how other people lived and worked. The locals had so little in the way of resources, and yet they eagerly invited us to lunch, which they prepared for us. There were thirty of us, and they fed us all. We took some supplies with us, including soccer balls and went to the beach and played ball with the local kids. Even if we didn’t speak the same language, a child would come and stand in front of you with a ball and smiling. You just knew they wanted to play. I was so aware, that here were people that had little compared to what we have (here in Vancouver), and yet they were extraordinarily happy. I’ve been wanting to go back there ever since,” she said. 


“I went to a mini high-school. It's like a regular public school, but with much more focus on community. There's a strong academic curriculum. Each student has a mentor for part of the year as well, to encourage and develop learning,” she said. 


“In Grade nine I suffered a bad sports injury. As an active person, not being able to exercise or play sports, I became depressed again. This time I was also diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder),” said Katrina. The depression was more difficult to work through, yet she remained open about it with her school friends.

“I’ve always been open about everything. I can’t keep things secret. I can keep things in confidence, that’s not a problem, but if something is happening for me, I’ve always been open about it,” she said. 


Grade ten saw Katrina going on another field trip with school.

"We went to Cuba to study the ‘political system’ there,” she said using air quotes.

“It was interesting because the way it's structured, they're working within communities. In an ideal representation at least. There would be a group of four or five neighbourhood families that get together and they elect one person to be the voice for that group. That person then goes to the next level of groups that meet, where someone's elected to then represent that group. It keeps going on, higher and higher. The idea is that everyone has a voice, and everyone's heard. It may not actually work that way, but they still meet and elect representatives. And again, we’re talking about people who have very little and willingly share what they do have, and are noticeably happy. It put things into perspective for me. We have so much in our lives, and yet those with so little are much happier, it seems,” she said. 


After graduating high-school, Katrina went to UBC (University of British Columbia).

“I was just taking a few classes. I couldn’t manage to go full-time. I was also working (retail) part-time as well. I took classes in linguistics, micro-economics and English. Over a three year period, I took five classes and dropped out of thirteen. After that, I knew school just wasn’t for me,” said Katrina. She took some time off and went traveling.

“I wanted to get away for a while. I had some friends in Australia, so I went there for four months and just played. It was a really good trip.”


An intern position that was supposed to be waiting for Katrina when she returned, didn’t work out.

“My basketball coach contacted me. She had a placement agency, and knew that because of my injuries, I was having a difficult time. My father is an accountant and I've always been interested in the business world. My coach was able to get me a job working in an administrative role for a mining company. There was so much to learn about. All the legal aspects, the geographical, planning, and permitting. It was fascinating. I wanted to know so much about it all. Through that job I decided I wanted to look at becoming an investment advisor,” she said. 


“I went back to school, BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology), and took accounting. It’s a two year program and I managed to go full-time for a lot of the course. I’m now in my third year and only have three more classes to complete. I just got a job working in a small accounting firm. It’s as a receptionist, but there’s not much reception work, so I’m doing some daily accounting work,” she said.    


Katrina got married in June of this year.

“My husband in a process engineer. We had been dating for almost exactly a year before getting engaged, and then we got married about nine months later. I had lived in the same house with my parents all those years. Getting married was me officially moving out of the house I grew up in,” she said. Katrina looked at the time on her phone and said she had best be going.

“I have an appointment with a specialist. I think that the issue I’m looking at stems back from that same sports injury that happened back in Grade nine. I was just sitting here waiting for my appointment.” #notastranger