The International Program is an NYA program eligible to any alumni of the Canadian Program between the ages of 16 and 22. Emphasizing international citizenship, the International program revisits, reinforces and builds upon many of the facets and lessons of the Canadian program, continuing to promote education, personal growth, cultural awareness and career preparation. International Participants travel as a group to a foreign country to contribute to a local volunteer initiative, build career skills, increase independence, acquire new knowledge and experiences, and exchange culture with local indigenous populations. Cultural exchange and immersion in local life is an important component of the international program as it allows Participants to explore the similarities and differences between the people, cultures and circumstances of their home communities and those of their placement community.
Much like the Canadian Program, the International Program begins with months of preparation and assignments for Participants, as well as a week-long orientation camp that aims to equip Participants for their international experience. Orientation sessions focus primarily on cross-cultural communication, safety and the challenges of international work and travel. Similarly, after each international placement, Participants return to Ottawa for debriefing sessions before travelling back home to share their experiences with their communities, families, and friends. Completing the program earns Participants up to nine additional high-school credits and they return home with new specialized trade skills, an expanded world view, and in many cases a determination to do more than was previously thought possible.
The international travel placement has taken place in various communities throughout southern Africa in the countries of Swaziland and Botswana, and in more recent years in Guatemala. Under the care of NYA Group Leaders, Participants contribute to a volunteer building related project in their international host community. Volunteer initiatives have included the construction of playgrounds and community gardens, the renovation of an orphanage and a number of other projects that benefited the local communities and provided Participants with the opportunity to learn new skills and broaden their perspective.
The NYA International placement exposes Participants to a number of development-related issues and to help them learn about global citizenship. Exposing northern youth to these types of community driven projects encourages them to consider how non-governmental, grass-roots led development initiatives serve to protect community interests and promote the well-being of its members. NYA considers this to be an important lesson for our International Participants as they assume the many leadership opportunities that exist for them at the community, territorial, national and international levels.
The International Program focuses on:
- Global Citizenship
- Team Work
- Earning High School Credits
- Community Development
- Cross-Cultural Learning and Awareness
Participants in the International Program receive:
- Wilderness First-Aid Training
- Experience in Construction Trades
- Sessions on Post-Secondary Options
- 150 Hours of Volunteer Experience
- Presentation and Public Speaking Practice
- Experience Assisting Community Development Initiatives
- Cultural Awareness
- An Understanding of Global Citizenship
- 9 High School Credits