Joan’s reflections on a summer of growth

August 25th, 2016

Joan awaits the beginning of a campus tour at Algonquin College as part of NYA’s Re-Orientation Camp activities. (Photo Credit: Thorsten Gohl)

Hello, my name is Joan Lafferty and I come from a community called Behchoko, Northwest territories. It is located near Yellowknife. I was placed in Kitchener, Ontario this summer and it was quite an exquisite and beautiful city to be in for 5 weeks. I learned a lot about the people there and the city itself. My work placement was called Queen Street Commons Café, located downtown. Commons Café is basically involved with the ‘Working Centre’ which is quite popular in Canada. Not only that, I learned how to make lattes and smoothies, but I also learned hospitality, to speak kindly and show love to people who came in the café regularly. In return, I have seen kindness shown throughout the community. Don’t get me wrong, It was a physical job for anybody to do, you’d have to be on your feet all the time but it was for a good cause. I also had the opportunity to work in the kitchen, which makes the food for the café and I have also worked in a second-hand store called the “Green Door” labelling prices and talking to people if they’ve had a bad day or not, which was really fun. There was always new volunteers everyday from Kitchener, either working on their hours or just volunteering to get to know the community better. Being involved around new people and meeting different people constantly everyday reminds me of how lucky I was as a person to be placed in Kitchener, especially to work in the working centre. I loved it, I made beautiful friendships with my co-workers that I shall never forget.

Although, despite my positive-ness, I had my days where I felt like giving up and going home due to homesickness and my struggles. But I’m proud to say that I am proud of myself and the other participants who stuck through this 5 week journey. I plan to come back to Kitchener one day and reunite with the friends I made.

Overall, besides talking about my work placement that I enjoyed, I have been to Toronto for a blue jays game with my host buddy, Jayme. I have been to Niagara falls with my host family and went on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ (my hair got soaked afterwards) and also to Wonderland in Toronto. My fear was heights because I am 5’2 but I’m proud to say I am not scared of heights anymore. Other than that, I have been camping every weekend with my host family at a trailer site and we’ve been to places near by such as Stratford which was really exciting for me (because Justin Bieber is from there).

By being a participant of northern youth abroad, I had the chance to build healthy relationships with people surrounding me and improve myself as a person. Through this, I felt happy and supported. I feel like if the youth in the North applied for this program and had the privilege to do something extaordinary like being a participant, it would set their goals in better order as it did for me. Every individual has goals and their own certain paths of life and it takes the right choices to get there. I feel like I have gone through changes in the past 7 weeks but I can’t put it through words so I apologize.

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