Sokalski’s souvenirs

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/05/2020 (927 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In 25 years at École secondaire Kelvin High School, French immersion history teacher Raymond Sokalski has not once had to move his classroom.

And being a bit of a pack rat, that means he’s had 25 years to tuck mementos of travelling with his students to far-flung places like Japan, France, Italy and Korea away on the shelves, walls and closet in that classroom.

With his retirement approaching at the end of June, Sokalski started packing up his classroom, and quickly realized he couldn’t take it all home. That’s when he decided to sort the souvenirs into 20 piles, and set up a raffle for charity.

Sou'wester One of the prize packages set up by Kelvin teacher Raymond Sokalski, drawn from 25 years of travel and teaching history.

“I chose charities that I and my students have worked with over the years,” Sokalski said, adding this includes Winnipeg Harvest, the North End Women’s Centre and the Green Action Centre of Winnipeg.

Tickets are being sold for $5 each, giving each purchaser five chances, with the draw taking place on May 31. So far, most of the purchases have been made by students and their parents, Sokalski added.

The items have been sorted into gift baskets, including ones with souvenirs from China, Sri Lanka, other Asian countries, Canada, and right here in Manitoba. Other baskets have themes around First Peoples, arts and sounds, warrior women, parliamentary privilege, Kelvin Clippers, trivia, guardians of Gaia, human rights and the whimsically-named “Capi-Commie Cornucopia”.

“That one is my favourite. For years, we used to go on a trip to Washington, D.C., to look at their human rights museum, a trip that was sponsored by the Asper Foundation,” he said. “I picked up all sorts of trinkets about American elections over the years, including a ‘Mitt happens’ button and a finger puppet of Barack Obama.”

Many of the souvenirs came from students, and were gifted to their teacher. “Take the hats, for example. The students might see the three hats I’d purchased and put on a shelf. Sooner or later, a student who’d gone to Greece would bring me one,” he said. “Same for the kimonos. A student of mine spent a year in Japan, and brought me back a kimono. I also have dresses from Vietnam and Korea.”

He has so much stuff in his classroom, that he jokes the Winnipeg School Division fire inspector sees it as a firetrap. “I’ve begged the Kelvin custodians to leave my classroom to the end of this year’s clean-out, so I can keep sorting,” he said, a smile in his voice.

While working from home, he’s still taking time to sort out his classroom, water the plants and prepare class materials for students who don’t have access to technology or the internet.

For more information, Sokalski can be reached at rsokalski@wsd1.org

To watch the video, see  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXeTBPV9oTE

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