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November 15, 2019

I have never been more proud to be Canadian! By: Emily Bancroft

Looking for an amazing, one week trip to the nation’s capital, to explore potential career options, try new things, with kids aged 14-17, from coast to coast to coast, for under $1000? Then Encounters with Canada, Canada’s largest youth forum, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is the place for you. I knew that once I heard about the program, from my high school in Delta, British Columbia, I had to apply! What better way to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people than with this program. As an aspiring journalist, looking to get a degree in communications, I chose the week of “Media and Communications”, to further my understanding of the field and learn if I am truly interested in pursuing this career. When I arrived at the Vancouver airport on Saturday morning, I was alone and nervous to start my week. In less than an hour of waiting to take off, I had made 15 new friends from my own province, who were equally excited to begin the adventure. By Sunday night, I had gotten around to knowing the name of a vast majority of the people here and learning more about the culture outside of the west coast. Growing up just outside of a big city like Vancouver, I am used to the hustle and bustle of downtown Ottawa. It was such a cool experience to be with kids who had never had the exposure of being in a city as fast-paced and exciting as this one. Each person that walks through the doors of the Historica Canada Centre has their own story to share, and by learning more about others, you begin to appreciate even more the beautiful country of Canada.

In addition to the wonderful people here at Encounters, we get the opportunity to participate in many cultural and theme-specific activities, meaning that the activities you do will correspond to the week you selected during the application. For my media and communications week, we were involved in many social games and activities. My personal highlights were attending a youth summit on violent extremism online, which took place at the Hilton in Gatineau, Québec, and creating a professional web video at the CBC radio headquarters in Montréal, Québec.

These 2 programs and workshops gave me the chance to challenge myself as an individual. While at the conference, I had the opportunity to discuss my opinions and ideas on how hate speech and negative comments influence our views on the world. Cyber bullying is a very relevant problem in this generation, and we are always looking for new ways to prevent it. At this summit, I was able to talk about how I think we should address such issues, with professionals who are looking for a teens perspective. At CBC radio, I opted to participate in an all-French workshop, because I am a French immersion bilingual student, and am always looking for new ways to practice my second language. This was very difficult for me, as my French is strong in a classroom, but not so much in a less formal and more conversational setting. Throughout the day, I became more comfortable with my own speech, and I picked up a thing or two, as most of my group was from Québec. These 2 activities were so amazing to be a part of, and I would have probably never had the option to do either had it not been for Encounters.

Now that my week is over and I am getting ready to head back out west, I leave Ottawa with nothing but positive memories, new friendships and the reassurance that journalism and communications is the thing for me. We live in the best country in the world, and I have never been more proud to be Canadian!