“Pandemic Tourism”: How Canada’s Tourism Industry Has Evolved to Survive COVID-19
“Pandemic Tourism” is a piece for Millennial Things Network co-authored with Neelia Fuad and Michael Shlega that examined how the tourism industry (particularly in Canada) has evolved to cope with, and possibly move on from the nightmare we call Covid-19.
For this piece, I explored where the tourism industry goes in a post-pandemic world, including new strategies that may evolve based on a country’s tourism industry pre-covid, as well as alternatives for those who won’t be ready to jump on a plane anytime soon.
In some ways, this piece was frustrating — with the amount of pandemic news constantly surrounding everything people do, it was frustrating having to write about it. It meant there was no escape from the constant barrage of covid updates. In other ways, it was reassuring to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and even though things might look a little bit different in that light, we’ll still get there.
10 Promising Bangladeshi Entrepreneurs – 2020 is the first piece I worked on as a contributing writer for Millenial Things Network.
This was different from other writing jobs as I was only responsible for two of the people on the list, and the interview had already been completed. My job was to take what the entrepreneurs had said and pull out the most important information in 200 words or less — a nightmare for those of those who often exceed our word limits by accident!
Martina’s story is one of a few I wrote on behalf of Langara’s alumni department as part of a project to highlight their notable alumni. The story follows Martina through her Langara days, and provides advice for students searching for their “a-ha moment”.
Martina graduated from Langara’s Marketing Management degree program in 2018, and went on to co-found an events company, Soju Events, as well as work as the marketing director in her family business, Smartbite Snacks.
Martina Ondrasekova is a 2018 graduate of Langara’s Marketing Management degree program. For Martina, her “a-ha moment” in life was enrolling in the Special Events and Planning course at Langara. Before that class, she wasn’t sure which direction her life was going. She credits the class for changing her life, showing her what she was truly passionate about while allowing her to explore content creation and social media management. “There was something about special events and planning marketing [that] just sounded very interesting to me,” says Martina. “It was probably the toughest class, in terms of school work, that I ever took at Langara, but it was so worth it and I enjoyed every single day of it.” Martina met one of her current business partners in that class, Bryn Tucker, and continues to be mentored by her former teacher.
For students searching for their “a-ha moment”, Martina has four simple words of advice – put yourself out there! This includes working to understand your passions in life. Martina struggled with this for years. “The earlier you start discovering or exploring your passions the better,” she says. She suggests volunteering, finding a mentor, mentoring someone else, or joining student clubs to expand your experience. During her time at Langara, Martina founded the Langara Digital Club because she couldn’t find a club that fit her own interests. “If your passionate about something — build an Instagram page around it! You never know what opportunity is hiding behind the corner… you don’t have to get a job, you can create a job yourself, for yourself,” says Martina.
During her time at Langara, Martina participated in projects such as Upintheair Theatre, Vancouver Fashion Week, and founded the Digital Club. “I was juggling all of these. But since they were things I was extremely passionate about, I know it sounds cliché, it didn’t feel like work at all,” says Martina. One of the most important things she learned to do while managing all of these projects, on top of her regular studies, was to ask for help. She had been hesitant because, to her, it seemed like a weakness. But after she started asking for help, she was pleasantly surprised by the response that she got and how others pitched in to help.
These days, Martina keeps busy with the company she started with two other Langara students, Bryn Tucker and John Apostolopoulos, called Soju Events. When Bryn first approached her with the idea, Martina had no idea what K-Pop was at the time and she wasn’t even big on clubbing. But the project sounded fun and interesting, and Martina loves pushing herself and her boundaries, so she hopped on board as co-founder and marketing manager. Three and a half years later, Martina and her partners have been able to transform Soju Events into one of the most popular K-Pop event organizers in the city, bringing in talent from Korea and promoting the local scene in Vancouver. Having started Soju Events, Martina has gone from someone who knew virtually nothing about K-Pop to the biggest fangirl out there.
In addition to her work with Soju Events, Martina is the marketing director for her family business, Smartbite Snacks. When Martina’s family emigrated from Europe to Vancouver ten years ago, they were surprised at the lack of good tasting healthy snacks. She credits the success of the company to the personal approach they take with their customer base. “When you actually create a community and care about your customers, they don’t stray away. They stay with you,” explains Martina.
Martina’s latest challenge was working as a contributing writer for the BC chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA). Martina says that the opportunity actually ties right back into Langara. One of her instructors, Stephanie Koonar, encouraged her to join the AMA in February of 2018. At an event hosted by the organization, she met another member who convinced her to join. Once she was a member, Martina began to look at ways she could give back to the organization. She found an opportunity to become a blog writer for them profiling Vancouver based entrepreneurs like herself. After a year and a half, she concluded her work at BCAMA to focus solely on Soju Events and Smartbite Snacks that keep on growing.
On the Rise is a story published in the 2019 issue of Pacific Rim Magazine, and was written during my time in the Langara Publishing Program. I was inspired to write this story after learning about the Vancouver Public Library’s rooftop gardens. As an environmentalist, I was curious if rooftop gardens, which can come with a hefty price tag, were worth it. I was prepared to write the story based on the research, as any writer should be, but I do have to admit that I went in thinking that the gardens were no more than a pretty accessory for pretty buildings.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The story explores the positive impact rooftop gardens can have on our agriculture, environment, and community.
This article wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my interview subjects, Carol Nelson and Vicki Wojcik, who graciously agreed to help me with this project without even knowing if it would make it to print.
Also a huge shout out to my editors, Marie Adamo and Kathleen Murdock, who helped get my ideas out to the world and rid the article of typos and grammatical errors.
In the print edition of the article, photographer Taylor Vander Baaren and designer/illustrator Rachel Jackson made my ideas come to life with their art, and I am forever grateful. Also a shout out to the Pacific Rim 2019 art department, who had the challenge of finding a thriving rooftop garden during the middle of winter, and found a way to make it work.