Katimavik: the program that changed my life. Sounds like a cliché, I know; perhaps more accurately, it was the catalyst that transformed me from a teen living at home to an independent contributor to various Canadian communities. Nine months of living, working and playing across the country with 17-21 year old aspiring young adults will do that to you. After applying online, some paperwork, and a medical exam, I left my friends and a loving partner to begin an unforgettable adventure.
I would have never known my country as I do now, as a Katimavik alumnus. The first three months was spent in Bas-Caraquet, a French-speaking, one-road village of 1700 people with a breath-taking beach. I worked in the Parish Archives, digitizing their hand written system of tracking their ancestors and lost loved ones. I spent Christmas there with my group. The next three months we were in Estevan, Saskatchewan where I served as a Teacher’s Aide at an elementary school. My final three months was in St. Catharines, Ontario where I assisted and interacted with young teen mothers and persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
Though I only visited three small towns, I also spent a week in Regina, and a few days in Toronto. I snowboarded with grade 7’s near Brandon, Manitoba. I made a toast to good health and ate chicken strips on St. Patrick’s Day in Winnipeg. I gazed upon the silhouette of PEI from across the Baie de Chaleur, and I escaped for a weekend in Montreal.
Katimavik was not easy. I organized, cooked, cleaned and ran a group household every few weeks. I deeply missed my friends and loved ones back home. Still, I wouldn’t appreciate them as much, nor value my relationships and my beautiful home city of Vancouver, if Katimavik did not happen. If you are ready to travel, learn a second language, and make a difference in communities across Canada, go to http://www.katimavik.org. The experience looks good on a resume, but the friends and memories may be treasured forever.
This article was submitted by career development practitioner Andrew Lim. It was originally written for the BC Workinfonet Youth Site and is reposted here with permission.