Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~Dr. Seuss
I know, I know. When I last mentioned Katimavik, I promised that I would blog about my experience before the end of June. In my defence, a nasty flu has kept me away from my to-do list for several days. On Canada Day, as I lay in my bed sweating and agonizing, I really did want to write. It would have been the perfect day to explain how Katimavik taught me to love Canada…and so so many other things.
The thing is, I now realize the enormity of the task! How can I explain the single most life-changing experience that I had in my teen years? How do I summarize the grandest adventure of my young life? I guess, like I once told my katima-sisters Maggie and Lisa, I have to break anything serious down into little steps.
I’m only going to do one step today (hey, I still have the flu, it’s just not kicking my ass anymore) but it’s a short, sweet introduction. I hope that someone considering Katimavik stumbles upon this and finds something…familiar, perhaps encouraging, in my words.
1) First things first, What is Katimavik?
You’d think I’d be a pro at answering this question given the fact that I’ve promoted Katimavik countless times as an alumna. 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
- You choose a nine month program (“the classic” and the one I did) or the new theme-based 6-month programs (which I won’t write of because I don’t know much about them)
- You spend three months in three different Canadian communities–usually smaller, more connected communities where you can make a bigger impact
- You live and travel with 10 other young people from all across Canada (plus one project leader)
- In each community you are assigned a work placement—you’re not guaranteed your first choice but you can veto a truly unwanted choice. I worked at a city hall, an organic farm and at a highschool, but the rest of my group worked in a variety of other places (we’ll get to that!)
- You get a group budget with which to plan trips and other activities which fit within one of the five learning programs: Leadership, Official Languages, The Environment, Cultural Discovery and Healthy Lifestyle
- Did I mention that all of this is completely paid for by the Canadian government? Plane tickets, rent, food, day-to-day needs, $20 pocket change per week and a $1000 bursary at the end? It’s accessible for young Canadians of any income bracket!
The thing is, even though it’s a total gift, it’s not about the money. I don’t want to encourage you to apply for Katimavik if you just want a free ride. The point is to push yourself in every way imaginable…and come out a better person for it. Your peers, community, country, and planet benefit too–and that feels amazing. Each group’s experience is much too transformative and nuanced to be captured in point form. In the following sections I will attempt to illustrate, through my own experience, how weird and wonderful a Katimavik adventure can be at the ground level.
In my next post, I’ll take you inside the brain of a heartbroken 18-year-old (that would be a past version of me) and explain how I made the big choice to leave university for a year and go chase some dreams on the other side of the country.
2) My Reasons for Choosing Katimavik. Click Here
3) Oh the places I would go: My three communities and beyond. Click Here
4) My Katimavik Group: randomly selected brothers and sisters. Click Here
5) But what did we do all day? My three wonderful work placements Click Here