SPRING IS HERE! Say buh-bye to the blahs of winter and get excited for more sunshine! Isn’t it great to see the days get longer?
March Break is over, and the time couldn’t have passed more quickly! For my second week of the break, I was at school volunteering at our March Break Camp. I had an absolute blast coordinating the drama program and I’m sad that after four years of volunteering, this was the final hurrah.
With the final term of the school year among us, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on where we’re at and where we are headed. Less than three months remain until graduation, and I feel excited and nostalgic at the same time. Though I’ve received my university acceptances, I am still not sure where I’ll be next year. But I am sure about this: if it feels right, then that’s it. Just like on Say Yes To The Dress, you’ll know it’s the one. Note to self: always trust your instincts.
With the months flying by, it’s also time to start thinking about summer! In addition to the national pageant for the title of Miss Teenage Canada 2015 taking place in August, I may be working at a new summer job! I should hear back soon, so fingers crossed that I get it!
Summer is by far my favourite season. Not because of the weather, or because there isn’t school, but because it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in new experiences, venture outside your comfort zone, and expand your worldview.
Last May, I received my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. To me, this achievement is more than prestige as it symbolizes my personal growth over the past three years. More specifically, in August of 2013, along with my peers, I canoed up the Missinaibi River to the Aboriginal community of Moose Factory, Ontario, which is located near James Bay. Our twelve-day journey was an eye-opening experience for me in many ways. As a novice canoeist, I had little technical skill to contribute to the more experienced group. Also, the opportunity to immerse myself in Aboriginal culture and experience life on a reserve posed a different kind of challenge.
I vividly recall a moment where I felt overwhelmed. “Why am I here? Why did I sign up for this? How am I going to make it through the remainder of the trip? I can barely even stern.” These were the thoughts that took over my mind. Soon after, however, I realized that this moment of weakness had been accompanied by a more meaningful moment of clarity. As cheesy as it may sound, one of my favourite motivational quotes by R.W. Emerson came to mind: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” These words resonated with me, serving as my moment of clarity. I had reminded myself then that this adventure was a personal feat; a chance to discover strength that, prior to this trip, I did not know I had.
Our five days in Moose Factory consisted of learning about Aboriginal culture from different members of the community. I will never forget how we were so easily welcomed. From helping out at the local daycare to beading jewellery with the Elders, everyone took time to share their story with us. We were even special guests on the local radio station! Our trip concluded with a feast hosted by the Elders in celebration of St. Clements’ partnership with the community, where we helped prepare several traditional dishes, like bannock. But what I enjoyed most was being able to connect with Aboriginal girls my age. Listening to their experiences reminded me that though we come from different backgrounds, we also share common goals. All in all, being in Moose Factory made me realize that there is so much to explore. Whether it’s travelling to new destinations, learning about a culture, or discovering something about yourself, it’s important to go on a personal escapade to push yourself to grow.
Last summer, I participated in the LEAD Global Summer Leadership Program at Western’s Ivey School of Business. We spent two weeks on the Western campus, and boy were we busy! Each day we would attend classes instructed by Ivey professors based on the case method of learning. We also participated in team building exercises and worked with our groups to develop our final project: a promotional video for Salthaven Wildlife & Education Centre that would highlight Salthaven’s mission, create value in the accomplishment of this mission, and compel others to take part in this initiative. The six of us, also known as the Super Mario Bros, reached out to our personal social networks to share our video amongst family and friends. The main objective of this assignment was to make our video go viral, and we did just that by creating a valuable awareness campaign for Salthaven. Our hard work paid off when our team won the video challenge! Not only was our video the most effective in conveying Salthaven’s message, but our presentation describing our approach and process communicated a strong sense of collaboration and a shared vision among team members. Check out my team’s video, #ForSalthaven, at the link below!
Leadership is an abstract term that has evolved over time and often has a different meaning to different people around the world. In the past, leadership was comprised of a lacking workplace culture where results were the only focus and systematic ways of thinking ensued. Today, however, twenty-first century leadership requires an individual to lead with a vision, be an excellent communicator, passionate team player, and an innovative thinker and problem-solver that is versatile, committed, embraces diversity, builds strong relationships, and demonstrates initiative.
Working with the Super Mario Bros and the rest of the LEAD gang challenged me to approach a situation from various perspectives. Being at Ivey last summer was a refreshing experience in which I not only formed new friendships, but also learned more about my personal strengths and who I am as a leader.
So, how are you going to challenge yourself this summer? I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me!
Until next time,