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    Year in Review, 5 Moments of 2015

    Happy New Year

    Happy New Year and I hope you have all enjoy your New Year Eve festivities. As we are taking our first steps into the 2016, I wanted to post the first official blog post of the year and flex my blogging muscles. With a lot of projects lined up this year, both written and video, I first wanted to acknowledge and reflect on some of the most memorable moments. Particularly, I wanted to highlight the top 5 moments that have impacted my life the most, but with any list, there are going to be some notable absences. So in advance to I want to apologise for those that I have missed out.
    Notable Absentee: Filming at Couleur Cafe ’15 with Urban Kingdom
    Now without further ado (forgive the cliche) here are the top 5 in no particular order.

    1- Late Arrival

    As we say goodbye to 2015 and good morning to 2016, we had a late arrival to the party last week. On the morning of Boxing Day (or the 26th December as all non-British readers will know it ), our family welcomed a new addition to the clan. Kaelic Aaron Rafiou, came into the world on a mild December morning at a rather hefty four and a half kilos (I don’t know much about the average baby weight but that’s quite heavy apparently) but was given a clean bill of health nonetheless. Having slept all day, he woke up just as we arrived and was surprisingly quiet as he looked around at the crowds of people arguing over who would carry him next, and taking pictures as if he were a Kardashian/Jenner posing in front of the paparazzi.
    With Kaelic born the day at the time I was writing, he inevitable breaks into the top 5 moments of the year. I cannot wait to see you grow up and I will do my best to be the best role model I can be. I hope that by the time you are able to read this blog, I hope it would have grown and taken on the vision I have for it.
    Hopefully, on your first birthday we can celebrate it on a snow day, Decembers are not usually this warm I promise!
    Boxing Day baby Kaelic Aaron Rafiou making sense of the world he has joined

    2- Found My Shoes

    I am not usually one for New Year resolutions (much less keeping them) but I found that I had a lot of free time in 2014. Especially after graduation as I was searching for internships, work experience, and generally just finding something to keep me busy. At last year’s New Year’s Eve party, one of my oldest friends and extremely talented dancer Passi Folituu as well as his brothers, did a freestyle performance to commemorate the New Year. Inspired, I decided then and there that one of my resolutions would give dancing a go and see what if I still had it. Though it wouldn’t be until early October that I would find myself in a dance studio.
    Enter the Salford University Dance Society, more notoriously known as SUDS. Truly one of the best decisions of the year, possibly one of the best decisions made in my short adult life. Returning to the dance floor has given me a new lease of life, from giving me a place to release pent up frustrations to pushing my limits, physically and creatively. Last and certainly not least, let’s not forget the amazing people at SUDS with whom I have shared blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of laughs.
    I hope that 2016 continues along the lines of last term. With many dance shows and projects in works, you’ll be reading more on my progress, as well as special features from some of the SUDS dancers themselves.
    Unfortunately the video never made it to release, but it was a cool picture nonetheless

    3- Crossing Borders

    From Toronto to Brussels, Los Angeles to Dubai, I was very fortunate that 2015 presented with a several opportunities to travel the world and experience different cultures. With several places to chose from, the one which sticks out the most in my mind was Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
    This was my first time in Asia and it was truly a culture shock. I am not entirely sure what I expected when we touched down at Dubai International Airport, I had heard tales and stories about a city of gold, where police cars are a collection of Ferrari, Mercedes, Bugatti super cars and man-made island that is shaped like a palm tree, it all seemed a bit too far-fetched for me. Turns out Dubai is just that… and much, much more.
    When I look past all the glitz and glamour, I began to appreciate the culture that much more. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque was one of the highlights of the trip. Visiting it during time of worship, I witnessed the Muslim community gather and unite; man and woman, young and old, able and disabled, all together under a roof belonging to a structure of astonishing beauty. Hopefully, I am able to return to Middle East and other parts of Asia to see what else I have been missing out on.
    Sheikh Zayed Mosque on a Spring evening, Abu Dhabi, UAE

    4- Discovering The North

    And so I am back at university, little (if any) fanfare from family and friends the second time round. No going party, packing only beginning the day before departure, making my own way on the Megabus. I had this preconceived idea that the life of an Masters student was all work, a classroom of business minds with all their careers set, no time to mingle with others, you get in and get out. How right would I be? Turns out I’d be horribly wrong.

    Manchester, to me anyway, is pretty underrated (especially the rain, gosh it rain). Only been there for 3 months yet I’m already considering extending my stay past my degree. From my first appearance on national radio to my first night out in town, Salford/Manchester has been the perfect mix of work and leisure. With one the UK’s biggest media hub stationed next door to my campus, I have also had plenty of opportunities to mingle within the walls of the BBC, from a Mozilla Festival collaboration to workshops. So for helping me develop professional, and also being part of the reason that I started up this blog in the first place, My transition into life in Salford/Manchester earns a spot in my top moments of the year.

    Also… I’ve finally learned to pronounce Salford properly. Pretty sure that is worth a mention.

    Evacuation! Having to stand outside after a fire scare in MediaCityUK, Salford, UK

    5- United We Stand

    I want to keep this section fairly short and sweet, as I feel the picture says more than enough. Last summer, the family was reunited for the first time in more than a decade. It was beautiful to see everyone exchanging stories and laughing, from surprising an unsuspecting uncle with a surprise birthday party to zip-lining in the woods, these are experiences that I will keep till the end of my days. Through all the difficulties and adversity we have faced, we have always come back stronger. This spot is for the members that I have met for the first time and those I have known all my life, it was a truly memorable experience touring across Canada and USA meeting you all, catching up on lost years, enjoying the present, and looking forward to the future. I sincerely hope that it’s not another decade or so before we are all in the same building again.
    I love you all!
    Together in pray before digging into dinner. Ottawa, Canada
    These were my top five moments of 2015, I hope that you all enjoy following my journey in 2016. Especially hope that you also enjoy the stories of the amazing contributors that will feature in The Artistic Collaborative throughout this breakthrough year. Feel free to subscribe, share, and comment or get a hold of me on social media.

    I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to hear from you soon. Join the collaboration.


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