November 8, 2012

Canada World Youth and Guests Gather in Charlottetown to Explore the Impact of International Youth Volunteering

Montreal, November 8, 2012 – Three former Canada World Youth (CWY) program volunteers, host families and partners – all residents of Charlottetown – got together last night at the Confederation Centre to discuss, with potential recruits, how their CWY experience set the tone for the rest of their lives. They were joined by volunteers from Canada and Indonesia, currently based in Charlottetown, who are giving their time to various organizations all over the city, including Beach Grove Home, Habitat Restore, PEI People First, the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada and the Humane Society.

“This event is part of a series called CWY Talks which takes place in different cities across Canada as a way to promote the impact of international youth volunteering through the stories of Canadians who are part of CWY’s history”, explains CWY’s Alumni and Volunteer Coordinator Katrie Gagné.

Conor Leggott did his CWY program half-way through his university degree in order to take a break from academic life, recharge his batteries, and “get inspired”. The program took him to Whitehorse for three months and then to Ukraine for three months, which “opened my eyes to a whole new world. I discovered a passion for environmental issues, working with youth, and volunteering”, said Leggott, whohas since completed his studies and now makes volunteering a priority in his life. He has collaborated with various environmental groups, including PEI watershed groups and ECOPEI, as well as the Tatamagouche Centre’s Youth Social Justice Camp. Adds Leggott, “Since my CWY experience, I haven’t stopped volunteering!”

Mathieu Arsenault, a dynamic Charlottetown resident, claims that “CWY continues to be today one of the most important experiences of my life. It transformed me from being a little boy from PEI to what I feel is more of a citizen of the world.” CWY took him on his first visit abroad in 2001 – to Alberta and to Ukraine. This six-month volunteer experience taught him to “always go a layer deeper when trying to solve issues between people and within communities, and always believe that every problem has a solution, no matter how difficult it may seem.” The experience set the stage for his future career which took him to Russia, Central Asia and Tajikistan to work on international development projects, and, more recently, on Class Afloat, a tall-ship school which sails around the world with its students. Today, Arsenault lives and works in PEI where he dedicates himself to PEI’s economic, community and ecological development.

Betty-Jo McCarville, a multi-discipline artist and educator based in Charlottetown, also shared her thoughts about the value of youth volunteering and its long-term impacts. As part of her CWY program in 2001, she travelled to Russia and Nova Scotia and credits this experience for “the life-altering insights into non-traditional education, intercultural communication, tolerance, sustainable living, community organizing and much, much more.” Her enthusiasm and inspirational stories captivated the audience. Today as an educator, influenced by her past experiences, McCarville seeks to find innovative ways to connect the public with art through facilitating public events, school programs and free public creation opportunities.

Everyone enjoyed networking after these inspiring presentations, and several guests expressed interest in getting involved with CWY. The next CWY Talks will take place in Saskatoon in February 2012.

CWY Programs

CWY offers two-week to six-month international volunteer programs which encourage participants to develop leadership, communication and other life skills through active engagement within a host community. The programs, established in partnership with organizations in Canada and abroad, bring together youth from Canada and other countries to contribute to sustainable community development projects, to live together and to learn from each other.

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About Canada World Youth

Canada World Youth is dedicated to enriching the lives of youth aged up to 35 who want to become informed and active global citizens. CWY offers international transformative learning experiences focused on building knowledge, leadership and skills through participation in sustainable community-driven projects. For more than 40 years, 38,000 youth and 12,000 host families have participated in CWY programs, in Canada and abroad.

CWY is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable organization (#118973999RR0001).

Source : Mary McGee, Communications Officer, Canada World Youth, 514 931-3526 # 336,

Interviews and information (photos available):

Mary McGee
1 800 605-3526 #336
514 931-3526 # 336