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On the road again – Third time’s the charm


As you can see in the last couple of posts, I ended up leaving my African internship earlier than planned – it just wasn’t the right experience or place for me.

So I’m heading out again, for the third time in two years. My great escape to London in the summer of 2009 was a great failure, as was my exciting African experience of summer 2010. Based on her previous experience, my friend Cecil believes that the best time to start a new adventure is in the winter. So this is me hoping that my newest exciting project will be the right one!

Two weeks from now, I’m leaving home again for my Katimavik Project Leader training. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks explaining to everyone what Katimavik is, and I’m becoming a pro at answering this question. I usually read people and figure out where to begin, but since I’m a series of black and white words right now and you are an anoymous set of eyeballs, here the bare bones basics:

  • Katimavik is Canada’s leading youth volunteer service program for Canadians aged 17-21
  • Youth spend three months in two different Canadian communities–usually smaller, more connected communities where they can make a bigger impact
  • Youth live and travel with 10 other young people from all across Canada (plus one project leader – me!)
  • In each community, they are assigned a work placement.
  • They must learn to live in and run a house together, and plan trips and other activities while keeping in line with one of the five learning programs: Leadership, Official Languages, The Environment, Cultural Discovery and Healthy Lifestyle.
Lucky me, that I get to be there to help them along the way! I leave for Bromont, Qc in two weeks to start training, and after a short break for Christmas I’ll be heading to Moncton, Saguenay or Matane to (eagerly) await my first set of volunteers!

8 thoughts on “On the road again – Third time’s the charm

  1. yaaay! nice choice alex! 🙂 i hear its one of the hardest jobs out there (given its 24/7!), but without doubt one of the most rewarding. im still in touch with old PLs of mine (i did katimavik in 06-07), let me know if you have questions, i can definitley put you in touch! what community have you been placed with?!

    • Liz! How strange it is, the way our paths keep crossing! I’m still waiting for confirmation on my placement, I can’t wait to find out! (and I’m also using it as an excuse to put off packing…)

      Where did you go with Katimavik? I’ll let you know along the way if I need info from other PLs, and the same goes for you in Bamako – I can put you in touch with some great people!

      • great! yeah id definitely like to get in touch with more folks in bamako! i wont get there till february, but will shoot you an email then 🙂

  2. Ah! Another thing — just popped into my head now.

    Langauge barriers.

    If you (and the anglophones in the group) don’t speak French, make a big effort to do it anyways. While it has done wonders for their English (they’re all pretty much bilingual now), it’s not fair for the Francophones to always have to talk in their second langauge, and I’ve heard it’s pretty draining. In Montreal the effort from us English kids was weak at best, but now that we’re in Yellowknife there is basically zero attempt at using French, and it has definitely been a cause of friction at times.

  3. Hey there!

    That’s awesome that you’re training to become a PL! I’m a volunteer in Yellowknife nearing the end second rotation, and it’s been really interesting to see the difference between our two project leaders and the affect it has on the group dynamic. It will definitely be an intense (and BUSY) six months, but so worth it. Good luck in your training and I hope you get some awesome groups! =]

    – jessie donaldson.

    • Hey Jessie!

      What a great surprise to get a message from you! How did you enjoy your time with Katimavik? Feel like giving me a quick rundown of what you think are the most important qualities in a PL?

      Thanks for your encouragement, and good luck with the rest of your rotation and everything you do after!


      • It’s been great overall, I joined hoping to gain more confidence and kind of figure out what direction I want to take my life and so far it’s helped me with both! We only have a month left and I think I’m glad that it’s only a 6 month program — I’m pretty ready to get rolling with the next phase of life!

        As for being a PL (I have to warn you I think it can get to be a thankless job at times), it will really depend on your group and what type of relationship you want to have with them. I can’t speak for all of them, but I’d say our group preferred the “close but with a distance” kind of PL. If you are super chatty/always around/more like a friend that a leader, it can lead to difficulties in situations when you have to put your foot down. Also, there will most likely be things that really irk you (peoples personal habits, house managering styles, etc) but you gotta make sure you let some of that stuff slide — everyone is making different sacrifices so just beware of that!


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