This year I feel so grateful to get the opportunity to join Canada World Youth–Menpora youth exchange. I’ve been waiting to join this program since 2012, but I got the chance to follow the selection process in May 2014. I knew about Canada World Youth from my friend who happened to be a committee member for Youth Exchange Ambassador in my province in South Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Indonesia. They thought I would be interested in joining—it would be helpful for an Indonesian youth like me to know more about other cultures and values, especially from the western world, and to meet people internationally.
Canada World Youth is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing dynamic youth with an opportunity to learn about other communities, cultures, and people while developing leadership and communications skills. Applying in Indonesia is different from the way Canadian youth join the program. I have to go through a provincial selection process with the Indonesian ministry of youth (Menpora), and then take 10 days of pre-departure training before the program.
During the pre-departure training week, I learned a lot of things about Canada, such as culture dynamics, values, ethics, manners, and whatnot. I knew that everything was going to be different in Canada compared to Indonesia, so I made sure I was prepared for changes in many aspects like lifestyle and habits. Living in a different, new country wasn’t easy. There were many challenges, such as the weather (much colder than my home), food, transportation, and living with a host family. Over time I feel like I am adapting better to it.
Through this program I am expecting to gain more experience living in a western country, creating networks, thinking in a different perspective, as well as engaging with the community. I learned so much through volunteering in work placements such as VIU’s Students’ Union and Radio Malaspina Society. I learned how volunteering benefits the community and makes a big impact to society. With VIU’s Students’ Union I learned a lot about how student activism can make an impact to improve students’ prosperity through campaigns, events, and petition signing. My work place counterpart, Donovan, and I have been involved in so many Students’ Union events in the past two months. Since I am a university student back in my hometown Gorontalo, it has been an amazing experience to learn how students’ organizations in Canada work.
Participating in Canada World Youth also helps to develop teamwork and leadership skills—this is a main objective of the program. And so far I can see an improvement after going through so many activities that require me to be able to lead, organize, and take initiative. So far in this program, we have done many activities that introduce Indonesian culture to the community in Nanaimo, like being a guest on Shaw TV, doing an interview with CHLY Radio, and visiting several schools and churches to do community activities. There were also mid-term projects to evaluate our improvement during the program, educational activities once a week, and volunteering at the Farmship Growers Co-op.