Testimonials

Nancy Clement

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Indonesia – Ontario

I can honestly say that my experience as a Canada World Youth volunteer in ’86-’87, on the Indonesia-Ontario program, shaped my future education and career paths and gave me a much broader and deeper perspective on global issues. If I were to pick one year of my life that was the most valuable and most life-changing, it would definitely be that year. My degree choices at university, B.A. in International Development Studies, Cultural Anthropology and a Bachelors of Education, were inspired by my experience with CWY and my Canadian work placement. My volunteer work placement during the program included assisting students with intellectual and behavioral challenges and inspiring me to become a teacher and led to my founding of the Full Circle Co-operative School in Charlottetown, PEI. My present work with the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada involves many of the skills that I began honing during my year with CWY including: inter-cultural communication; presentation skills; language-learning (French); teaching; event organisation and many other inter-personal skills.

Each fall, our workplace welcomes a pair of CWY participants and provides them with an opportunity to experience working with a Canadian organization, one with which they can begin to develop many skills including cultural competency through settlement and integration programs. I have enjoyed being a workplace supervisor for the past 6 years. Our staff and newcomer clients benefit from the enthusiasm and fresh perspective that the youth bring many of us have kept in touch with the participants after the program and anxiously await the next email sharing stories from their adventures!

I would encourage any young person interested in learning more about different cultures to consider Canada World Youth. It could be the best decision of your life and could contribute to your capacity to be an ally to newly immigrated Canadians.

Nancy Clement currently works with the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEI ANC). The mandate of PEI ANC is to provide short-term settlement services, and long-term inclusion and community integration programs for new immigrants in the province of Prince Edward Island. The Association speaks publicly on immigrant issues and advocates on behalf of newcomers. It works with PEI residents to seize the opportunities to learn and exchange with a growing diversity of PEI residents, including many immigrant youth. Nancy Clement shares her CWY experience as a youth volunteer, and now as a Work Project Supervisor for the Charlottetown, PEI – Cikandang, Indonesia program.


Rita Wakelin

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Honduras and Ontario

Do you want to live the Canada World Youth experience? In this program you will be challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally. While you are volunteering and studying throughout the program, you will also encounter many opportunities for personal growth and development. You will be pushing your limits, breaking down barriers, and stepping far outside of your comfort zone. This program forces you to take charge, take on leadership roles and take responsibility for your actions. This will not always be easy. You will experience culture shock, isolation, frustration and sometimes even fear. But you will have 17 other volunteers and 2 supervisors to support you, just as you will support them. You will learn together, grow together and, in counterpart pairs, live together in a host family and host community.

During this time you will study language, global development, sustainability and will be taught to think critically. You will analyze different cultures while discovering more about your own, breaking stereotypes and recognizing similarities between your countries. You will learn how to motivate yourself and others, explore, self-educate and take on personal projects. You will gain knowledge from your failures and take pride in your successes.

With your group, you will realize how to truly love and respect others and how to love and respect yourself. In this process, you will develop some of the strongest relationships of your lifetime.

If you have ever wanted to be a leader before but never had the courage to step up, this is your opportunity! After this program, you will have a different mindset and you will be changed. It will be one of the greatest experiences of your life, but it will also be the beginning of a beautiful journey and, like this program, the experience will be completely unique to you.

So, are you up for the challenge?”


Winnie Lam

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Kenya and Winnipeg

My name is Winnie Lam and I am from Toronto, Canada. As a participant of Canada World

Youth, Youth Leaders in Action program 2012-2013, Winnipeg, Canada to Kimende, Kenya, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of months living and working in small town called Kimende in the central part of Kenya. I enrolled in the volunteer program because I believe that if you have the desire and the opportunity to help others you need to do so. In Kambaa, another small Kenyan village, I worked at a private hospital where other volunteers and I assisted with nurses, administrators, landscapers, and even hospital kitchen staff with their work.

My favourite part of the job was to weigh Kenyan babies and to assist Nurse Winnie with immunization shots. Each day of work, I felt like I accomplished something, even though it sometimes seemed minimal what I could give, but it was a great deal to my work placement staff. Nurse Winnie would always say to me “God bless you” or “Bless your soul”. I’m not a religious person, but Nurse Winnie’s endearing comments always made me feel grateful for the work I have achieved here in Kenya.

I am privileged to be part of this amazing team filled with wonderful Kenyans and friendly Canadians who I call family now. It will be a sad day when the Canadians depart Kenya for home but I will always remember what David Kuria, Director of KENVO, said to us “…the program doesn’t end March 1st, it begins.” His positive words really inspired me to bring forth the hard work the team and I achieved for the past six months in Winnipeg and Kimende back to my community in Toronto, Canada. To all our friends, family, and sponsors, I hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. It has been an amazing six months and this is a small reflection of our team’s hard work within the Winnipeg and Kimende communities. Thank you. Merci, and Asante sana!”


Lori Pittauttuq Tagoona

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Ukraine and British Columbia

I am an Inuk from the Kivalliq region, living in Rankin Inlet. I was the only Aboriginal person in my exchange group, which was both shocking and terrifying for me because it was the first time I would spend extended time without other Inuit. After living and studying in Ottawa and learning more about colonization, I had become very ethnocentric and uncomfortable with the southern Canadian culture. However, my CWY exchange taught me that people are people no matter where you come from, and I was very wrong about what I thought of southerners. I met a lot of amazing people during my program.

With health as the dominant theme, I volunteered as a kindergarten classroom assistant in the Ukraine, worked for the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley and assisted as a youth counsellor in the Children Who Witness Abuse program in British Columbia. My counterpart, Olga Kyts, and I were very close. She is outgoing, fun, caring, passionate, hardworking and we kept each other in check and on track. She taught me so much about her family and traditions. I picked plums in her farm, ate her mother’s amazing cooking, visited her sister in Rivne city and even attended her cousin’s wedding.

There is a saying that advises looking at things through the eyes of a mouse and a buffalo—to see what is immediately in front of you, but also step back and view the situation from a larger scale. I find it is easier for me to step back and evaluate myself and my actions now that I have participated in CWY’s Youth Leaders in Action program.”


Kelsey Hamil

Alumnus, Global Learner Intern, India

Many of the moments and the opportunities I have encountered during my Global Learner Internship have been working with Seva Mandir, one of the Global Learner partner organizations in India. Recently, I helped to organized the first public outreach event put on by Seva Mandir. This event was a celebration for the ‘Joy of Giving’ week in India where the entire country is asked to give in any way possible. The office employees were, at first, skeptical about hosting the event in the mall and were not sure of the projected results. After a week of planning we were able to host a booth at the mall, which generated a lots of attention and, as a result, donations to the Children of Udaipur campaign. We made large trees on which we posted leaf shaped messages written by the citizens of Udaipur to be shown to rural school children who are supported by this campaign. The event was a great success and, as a result, has now opened the door for many more similar public engagement and fundraising events.

I would like to share a small story of something I experienced one day during my work in the community, something that made me feel at home and that I will always remember. Before leaving my community work placement, after conducting a focus discussion with a group of women, I wanted to be sure to say a proper goodbye to everyone. During the study it is very difficult to interact with the women as I do not speak their language nor do they speak mine. On this day, I tried to say goodbye respectfully by saying “Namaste”. One of the young women spoke so sweetly to me and responded “Namaste Didi.” Didi, in Hindi, means older sister, which normally I would have thought was silly, but this term is used in a very respectful way. This moment in my experience now represent the image I have of my relationship with that village community, one of great respect. I hope to maintain a wonderful relationship with the women in this village, as well as build the same kind of respectful relationships in all the others that I visit.”


Marg Toronchuk

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Indonesia and Nova Scotia

My CWY Program involved agriculture and community development volunteer work in Nova Scotia and Sulawesi. I grew up in a Ukrainian-Canadian family on a farm in Vegreville, Alberta—a town with a population of 6,000 and only one Asian family. It was a major step to travel to Eastern Canada and an even bigger leap to explore Indonesia. Many of us were away from home for the first time—learning to live and work in harmony—and in Sulawesi we had our first experience of Muslim culture. In our host community of Baranti, many of the older Indonesians assumed we were Dutch, and had no idea where Canada was. We often found ourselves explaining what it means to be Canadian.

In May of 2011, I headed back to Baranti during a trip to Indonesia for a CWY reunion. We drove from Makassar to Tana Toraja, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stopping briefly along the way in Baranti to take some photos and to see what had changed. While chatting with a young mother and her teenage friend, we were surrounded by children, neighbours and a government official. But the most memorable moment was still to come, when the head of the village said he remembered our group. I was in disbelief until he described a member of our CWY team. He then pointed out the neighbouring gravel road—called Jalan Canada in our honour—and memories of working on its construction came flooding back. I was totally overwhelmed, and so happy to have made the long journey from Canada.

To live with people who had so few material goods but such a rich lifestyle and community really left an impact on me. In many ways the CWY Program has provided me with the inspiration to become the global citizen I am today. I feel comfortable living and travelling in other countries, and will continue to search for real cultural experiences far beyond the parameters of the typical tourist.

Marg currently administers programs with the Centre for Intercultural Communication at the University of British Columbia and teaches Intercultural Communication to Asian students.”


David Harris Zemans

Alumnus, Youth Leaders in Action program, Bolivia and Nova Scotia

In Canada, I volunteered on a farm in rural Nova Scotia. In Bolivia, I planted potatoes in the Andes Mountains at about 12,000 feet. Both were tremendous experiences that radically changed my perspective and understanding of Canada and the world generally.

I grew up in Toronto, so moving to rural Nova Scotia and to a town with a population of less than 1,000 people was a huge change and challenge. I was prepared for the massive cultural differences between Canada and Bolivia, but I was not nearly as prepared for the equally large differences in Canada. I quickly realized what a vast and interesting country Canada is. I loved my Nova Scotia experience so much that I went back to Dalhousie Law School, where I spent three years in Halifax. It is there that I met my wife, another reason I am very grateful to CWY.

I was very close with my counterpart and host family in Nova Scotia. Coincidentally, their son was in my law school class several years later. It is a small world.

The exchange I did in 1985 with CWY was an eye-opening experience, and was the catalyst for me to pursue an international career. It has given me a global perspective, and a much greater appreciation for Canada. I really struggled with taking a year off between high school and university but, looking back, I know it was the best thing I could have ever done. I am still very grateful 26 years later.

David is cited as being one of the world’s leading Private Equity Lawyers in IFLR’s Expert Guide, and one of Asia’s leading business lawyers in Project Finance.”

Cet article est également disponible en FR.