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December 6, 2016

It takes a village…

This year I got to give back to my community in a unique way, as a Teacher-Monitor with "Encounters with Canada from October 9th - October 14th.

Encounters with Canada is our country's largest youth forum that provides 100+ students per week, aged 14 to 17 years with the opportunity to visit Ottawa to participate in themed weeks, to discover Canada, and to explore various career pathways.

On Sunday, October 9th, I skipped out on Thanksgiving turkey dinner and instead, packed up my suitcase for a week to stay at the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre to be a part of Encounters with Canada. I was going to be responsible for 18 students, going over our daily schedule, facilitating modules, supervising daily field trips, overseeing the dorms, and generally being a friend, mentor, and role model to participants.

I think I learned more from the participants than they did from me! These youth travelled from across the country to participate in the program, and were nominated by their school principals and teachers. The participants put on a talent show for everyone on our final night and impressed everyone with their singing and musical instrument playing abilities. I am sure they will be among some of our next Alanis Morissettes and Sarah McLachlans!

The highlight of the week for me was being able to proudly introduce participants to my home town and our nation's capital, Ottawa, as well as participating in a human chain to form the number "150" in a bird-eye's view picture to mark Canada's 150th anniversary, which also happens to coincide with Encounters with Canada's 35th year. Visiting the CBC Radio-Canada studios in Montreal and being a "newscaster" in a TV broadcast simulation was lots of fun and gave me an appreciation for how much work goes into developing our national newscasts.

I've lived the "EWC Experience" and I believe in everything this organization does. This year, I made my pledge for the Health Canada Helping Communities (HC)2 Campaign to Historica Canada (Historica Canada funds Encounters with Canada) because of the impact this organization is making in our community in shaping our country's next leaders. And that's no small feat! It takes a village!

- By: Karine Bollman, EWC Teacher-Monitor