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An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)

September 1, 2017

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,147

ISSN 2369-6885

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Abstract

An interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. She discusses: geographic, cultural, and linguistic background, source of giftedness; early indications of general ability and motivation; support from Karen Wienberg; advice for gifted kids in pursuit of their dreams; recommendations on parenting; influence of an Anglophone home; support from the school for giftedness; executive function research and implications for school performance on average; community support for giftedness; the appeal of Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake; and emotional connections with the children.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Morgan Wienberg.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C.: Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*Images in Appendix I: Photographs.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your personal and familial background reside?[5]

Morgan Wienberg: I was born in Terrace, British Columbia. Since I was 9, I developed in Whitehorse, Yukon. My primary language Is English. During school for me, French is a second language. At home, I was speaking the English language. (Laughs) My family lineage is German. My grandparents are from Yugoslavia and Germany. They emigrated to Canada after the war and met in Vancouver.

2. Jacobsen: You were a gifted child and adolescent. Now, you are a gifted adult. Your accomplishments and personality show this, and I interviews, correspondence, and interaction here. For instances, the personal high independent moral standard of conduct and being valedictorian for high school. What seems like the source of this to you?

Wienberg: I was always very, very highly motivated, very ambitious, and a perfectionist. It was to an unhealthy point. I was hard on myself. I had the desire to surpass expectations. If there was something for me, then I wanted to do it. That came from me. There was not an outside pressure.

My mother and teachers wanted relaxation from me, to be a kid. In fifth grade, my mom put a timer on me. So, I could not do more than an hour of homework. It upset me. I was bothered by it. It was an inner desire to overachieve. I am an overachiever.

3. Jacobsen: Were there early indications of this general ability and motivation?

Wienberg: On an academic level, since primary school, I remember in 4th and 5th grade. If I was writing and did not like the look of the handwriting, I would rewrite it. In high school, it was extreme. I wanted to get 100%. Once, in biology, I earned more than 100% for doing bonus work. Also, I was particular about food. I was a purist.

As a child, which is bizarre, I was particular about consumption, the environment around me, and treatment of people. I wanted to be a perfect daughter from mom. In school, I wanted to be the model student. I was obedient. I had personal growth through work in Haiti. I have placed personal history in perspective. I am ambitious. However, I am healthier with the perfectionism.

I had a sensitivity to animals and the environment. In 4th grade, I formed a group with best friends. We were advocates for the environment. We advocated against pollution and for animal rights.  I was in 4th grade! (Laughs) I would write a logo at the top of each assignment. It was about being nice to animals.

I did a lot of volunteering in high school for the community. I was the youngest in multiple volunteering activities. I was a Board Member of the Anti-Poverty Coalition. I was a Board Member of the Human Society of Yukon. I was the youngest board member for each of them. There was a campaign to raise awareness about homelessness. Participants would spend one week homeless.

They were not allowed home for the week, or to have a backpack with them. It was in October. That is a dangerous time in the Yukon. (Laughs) I participated in it. I was sleeping on the street in Yukon. I was in 10th or 11th grade. I went to school. I attempted to find a place to sleep. I developed empathy for the homeless.

Same thing with the street kids in Haiti. I spent the night with them. At that point, I spent the time with the homeless in the Yukon and the street kids in Haiti. People in the Whitehorse community were candidates for local government positions. Age was never an obstacle for me. I had mature interests than individuals around the same age as me.

I thought about animals. I thought about the environment. I thought about people around me. I was extremely focused on academics.

4. Jacobsen: Your giftedness, focus on academics, and sensitivity and compassion for “beings” around you were nurtured by Karen Wienberg. Your mother nurtured these gifts and talents. Although, based on the story about the timer to reduce hours spent on homework, your mother might ‘nurture’ via disincentivizing extremes. We have narratives about gifted individuals going to extremes. For other examples, what support came from her?

Wienberg: Absolutely, she nurtured me. my mom is a very strong and independent woman. She is intelligent and hardworking. She is open-minded. She is a role model for me. Later, this arose in me. It helped me. I overcame obstacles starting in Haiti. She always believed in me. It was not about her. That was one of the biggest supports from her.

If I changed my mind, she would not be persistent on the first thing. She encouraged trying new things. Even with my younger brother, she wanted him to know about other religions. She wanted him to volunteer in different things. Whether volunteering or other things, she encouraged me. She joined the Humane Society of Yukon and involved with the volunteering, too.

I would cook food for the homeless shelter. I was excited. She said, “We need food in our house as well!” (Laughs)

(Laughs)

Take, for example, age 5 or 6, she asked about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would list a bunch of occupations. She would think, “Okay…” (Laughs) She supported any endeavor for me. She would back me up. That helped me. I didn’t see obstacles, at least easily. (Laughs)

5. Jacobsen: I want to parse two perspectives: gifted kid and parent. Any advice for gifted kids in pursuit of their dreams?

Wienberg: Do not allow other people’s perceptions to limit you. Do not allow your thoughts about what others think about you limit you. Age, gender, and happenstance of geography should not be a factor in personal success. I strongly believe this: mentality and ambition have the greatest influence on your ability to accomplish personal dreams.

However, if you question your ability to do it, or let outside influence the doubt of your ability, then that will be an obstacle for you.

6. Jacobsen: Any recommendations on parenting?

Wienberg: I am in a position of parenting. I work with many different types of parents. I am working with kids now. Some of them have developed without parental influence. I see their different development. I work with kids with irresponsible parents. They influence the children in a negative way. Things are taken for granted by me. These children lack proper parenting.

I see them develop in a different way with different support. It gives insight into my childhood and how my mother influenced me. When I say “mother,” I mean mother alone, single mother I never met my biological father in person. I have been in touch through e-mail. I knew about him. I never thought of being raised by a single mother because I never felt in need of anything. An independent woman raised me.

I never saw being an independent woman as any type of weakness. My mom was a strong role model for it. One important thing with parenting. You need to accept the mentality of supporting the child. You’re there for them, not you. You should want them to develop into an individual. You are there to offer guidance. However, the ambitions and the dreams of the child need to come from within the child.

You need to remove yourself. Whatever that child develops a liking to or an interest in, or sees as something to strive to achieve, your role is to support them in being a strong enough individual to have those dreams and attempt to approach them. Oftentimes, parents focus more on influencing their own aspirations for the child as opposed to building the child’s personal strengths. The child can take on their own ambition.

7. Jacobsen: You developed in a majority Anglophone home. How did this influence perspective? For those without the cultural heritage of Canadian provinces and territories, in Canada, we have the Anglophone and Francophone split.

Wienberg: Although, my family was Anglophone. My community was a heavy Francophone influence around me. Some friends were French speaking. I enjoyed learning French in school. I enjoyed using French on a personal level. I do not know if this affected me, at least not too much. In Haiti, it helped me, but I did not know Creole.

8. Jacobsen: Back to the main line of thought from the personal and parental perspective, what about the school for support?

Wienberg: I always felt the school was supportive. My teachers allowed me to advance as well. There could be an improvement with schools networking more. If students are gifted or ambitious, then they could make suggestions to connect those students with real-life situations, where the students could influence accomplishing something with the gifts as opposed to funneling things into academics.

9. Jacobsen: Tier 1 Canada Research Chair at The University of British Columbia Professor Adele Diamond researches executive function (EF). She finds the counter-intuitive educational focus is the correct thing. Her research shows the need to focus on things around education to improve educational performance and completion rates on average: play, dance, extra curricular, social life, and so on. EF is twice as predictive as IQ in educational outcomes based on the research.

Wienberg: When I was in school, I was less involved in extra curricular activities because I was pouring time into academics. Experiential knowledge helps a lot. Also, certain skills acquired through socialization and taking on responsibilities/positions like confidence, public speaking, networking, and so on. Those can allow for greater impact with the gifts that you have in life. It allows them to go further.

10. Jacobsen: What about the community?

Wienberg: I grew up in a unique community. It was a small town in Yukon. It is full of creative people. It was good for me. I had a lot of opportunities for involvement. There are many groups of people doing many things. The majority of people are open-minded.  I showed up at 16 or 17 to be on the Board of Directors for the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition

All of the older people in the group were excited about and supportive of it. I did not receive criticism. I was not told that I was too young, that it was silly, and so on. Everyone was excited about involvement from me. From the first job, it was the same thing. I was young. However, I was respected and encouraged. It was in this socially responsible bakery.

I was embraced as part of the family there. I worked there for 5 years. The same for the community. They supported me. Support from the community permitted the foundation of an organization. They knew me. They trusted me. I started the organization with tips from the community while working at the bakery.

11. Jacobsen: When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, you noted the prominence in the media of the event as a salient thing for you.[6] You said, “I wanted to help. I wanted to help in a bigger way than just sending money. I wanted to connect with the people.”[7] From 2010, after graduation from high school, you traveled to Haiti for a trip. You interned with Mission of Hope Haiti. What seemed like the appeal of Haiti at the time?

Wienberg: At the time of the earthquake in January of 2010, I was about to graduate from high school. I planned to attend university in the Fall. I had this freedom during the Summer to travel. I always wanted to travel to Africa and work with kids. When the earthquake hit, my attention turned to Haiti. It was closer. It seemed in desperate need at the time. The timing coincided with the freedom to travel.

12. Jacobsen: The children seemed like the core connection for you. What emotional connections came out of this first trip for you?

Wienberg: I always, always, always, loved children. Since I was 12 years old, I would babysit a lot. I always loved looking after animals or children. Actually, from grade 5, my name was “mom” because I loved being maternalistic and looking after other people, even as a child. When I went to Haiti the first time in 2010, I had three roles as an intern.

I was working with patients in a prosthetic lab. When they received new prosthetic legs, they would stay for about a week in the compound. I stayed there too. I would look after them. I made sure food and hygiene items were there. I helped them with practicing their walking. Also, I was involved in teaching an English class to a group of young adults in the community.

I did not speak Creole at the time. I used French to teach the class. I was afraid at the thought of teaching a class. I did not feel qualified to do it. I graduated from high school two weeks prior to the experience. I thought, “They do not know English. I have English to offer them. They are eager to learn from me.” It helped build the confidence in the beginning.

The third role was starting interacting with this Haitian-run orphanage. I found out about the orphanage through an organization. I worked with the organization. When I visited the orphanage for the first time during the first visit, it was the worst conditions for human beings. I had never seen anything like it. I’d visited ten villages. All inhabitants were amputees. I visited other orphanages, where things were horrific. It needed more sustainable support.

Candy and holding the kids are not enough. People would cry about the horrific conditions and then leave. They did not do anything about it. I could not observe the children’s livelihood and then leave them. This specific group of children living in the orphanage became the motivation to return to Haiti. They changed my whole life. The thought, I could not forget about them and continue with life without changing the situation for them.

That’s changed my future forever.

References

[David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

Broadley, L. (2014, August 1). Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/1482839/one-yukoners-work-reuniting-haitian-orphans-with-their-families/.

Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com.

Neel, T. (2013, May 16). Reaching the Hearts of Children in Need. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/reaching-the-hearts-of-children-in-need/#sthash.YCSvg1aM.oVLAQE3j.dpbs.

Peacock, A. (2016, February 27). Haiti has her heart. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/local_news/article_beb828d0-ddcf-11e5-851b-8b09487f61ce.html?mode=story.

(2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

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Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

Appendix I: Photographs

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Appendix II: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018, at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly; Finalist (2012), Edna Award, International Women’s Rights.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C. (2016) states:

Raised in Canada’s far northern city of Whitehorse, Yukon, throughout her youth, Morgan volunteered with non-profit organizations and developed an all-consuming interest in human rights. In 2010, six months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, this high school valedictorian traded her snow boots for sandals and set off for the devastated country. What was meant to be a short trip changed her life – and countless others – forever.

Morgan volunteered in an orphanage and found the conditions to be appalling. She witnessed children that were neglected, beaten, and starved. In some cases, children were used as slaves or sold, as if they were property. Although it was sorely needed, the children were denied medical attention. Morgan discovered that children had been sent to the orphanage by their parents in the mistaken belief that their children would be offered food, education, and loving care. Morgan began to work towards reuniting children with their families.

In 2011, Morgan co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS). Morgan continues to live in Haiti, leading the organization with integrity, creativity and perseverance. Forging partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits and with Haitian government; spearheading initiatives and piloting programs; hiring and guiding Haitian staff; managing the program administration; tirelessly pouring love and encouragement into all of the children and families that come her way.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C.. Retrieved from http://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com/about-us/meet-mogan/.

[6] CTVNews.ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

[7] Ibid.

Appendix III: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One) [Online].September 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, September 1). An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, September. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (September 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):September. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, September; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

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