Editorial – Through the Flames

I’ve often said that one of the advantages of AU is that, as we’re dispersed, there’s no single event, like a school bombing or a rash of disease that will affect all of us. The flip side of that, however, is that whenever something major happens, especially in Canada, the odds are that it will affect at least some of your fellow students.

The fire in Fort McMurray is no different. AU estimates there are around 175 students who live (lived?) in Fort McMurray, and some 500 courses being taken by the people there. If you’re one of those from Fort McMurray and haven’t already seen the news, Athabasca University is taking steps to make things easier for you. Whether all you need is simply to rebook your exam or some extra time for your course, AU is waiving the fees normally required to do so, and if your course materials are part of what you lost, AU will replace them at no charge.

But if that’s not enough, they’re going one step further. If you’re from Fort McMurray, AU is offering a full refund on your course should you choose to withdraw from it until you get your feet back under you. As they say on the website, “we’ll be here when You’re ready to return.” As I write this, the fires are still going, with over 100,000 hectares now burnt, and the last reports were that stopping the fire is now almost entirely in the hands of the weather. If the fires have affected you, even if not directly, you can also get some support from AUSU’s Student Lifeline service. Check out the AUSU update column at the back of the magazine (or in the “news and events” section if you’re reading this on the website.) And no matter where you’re from, stay safe.

Now, to get your minds off of the fire, this week we bring you the second half of our feature interview with Dr. Angie Abdou. If you want to learn how to be a creative writer, Dr. Abdou tells you what you need to make a go of it. We also have a look behind the scenes at AU Press, with an interview with the Acting Director, Megan Hall. Find out just what’s involved in running the first Open University Press, where you can get everything they publish for free.

Then there’s the latest article by Barb Godin. When I first read it, I thought she was sending me a work of fiction. I’m sure she wishes it was, but sadly, the newspaper clipping she sent me later confirmed that it’s a true story, one that you’ll need to read to believe?and perhaps not even then.

And we can’t forget that this weekend is Mother’s Day! I was feeling quite proud that I remembered it this year, and have already picked up a gift. Then I read Barb Lehtiniemi’s article, “Mom’s Night” and knew I’d have to do better next year. But I know many Voice readers are also mom’s, and for you, we bring you Carla Knipe’s look at how a mom is more than just your kids or spouse, it’s how you evolve as well, how the lives of those closest to us change us. Then there’s our regular selection of reviews, advice, and entertainment, not to mention a look at some of the things you learn at AU that aren’t taught in any of the courses?even if you weren’t aware they were being taught. Enjoy the read!

P.S. If you didn’t already know, The Voice Magazine has a Facebook page and a twitter feed if You’re into that kind of thing!