Sechelt – After growing up on the Sunshine Coast, I attended the University of Ottawa for two years before taking the past year to develop my French while working in France and travelling around Europe.
Last autumn I applied through Canada World Youth (CWY) for their ‘Youth Leaders in Action’ exchange and was accepted for a Québec/Bénin team.
CWY has been developing international programs for youth ages 15 to 25 since 1971. Participants are involved in a six-month, two-phase program where the first phase occurs in Canada and the second phase in an exchange country. Each team of 20 volunteers are selected individually based on multiple demographic and socio-economic factors. The team is meant to represent a diverse group of youth, half from Canada and the other half from the exchange country.
CWY programs are based on a unique model that involves the two-part exchange, advocating an experiential-based learning environment while being paired with an exchange counterpart for the full duration of the experience. Youth develop through their involvement in grass-roots volunteer programs in host communities and work on group dynamics, leadership, and personal development. Each team has a focus while participating in their exchange and our team’s focus is the environment.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is a major partner with CWY and funds exchanges throughout the world.
My first exchange phase of three months takes place in Valleyfield, Québec and began on July 30. Located just 50 minutes from Montréal on the island of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield with the Saint Lawrence River to the south and Lac Saint-Louis to the north, Valleyfield has a population of around 40,000 people.
The second phase of the exchange will begin at the end of October in Allada, Bénin — a country situated on the West Coast of Africa and bordered by Nigeria, Niger, Togo, and Burkina Faso.
Bénin, commonly known as Dahomey before 1975, has a population of roughly nine million people and is about nine times smaller than B.C.
Through the partnership and generous support of the Rotary Clubs of Sechelt, Sunshine Coast, and Squamish, and the Lions Club of the Sunshine Coast, I will be able to participate in this upcoming experience.
Youth in our community need to take advantage of the numerous opportunities both within Canada and abroad while they have the time to participate and get involved. We must communicate these experiences in order to encourage more youth participation and to take advantage of the valuable education through different cultures and the world around us.
Communities on the Sunshine Coast, such as Sechelt and Powell River have hosted exchange teams in the past and this year Sechelt will host a new team.
For more information on my exchange and Canada World Youth experience you can follow me at www.nestman.ca.Read More!