Laura Pattison returned to Queen Charlotte in December after an adventure in two new cultures-Chilliwack, BC and Uruguay.
Of Chilliwack she says, “It was interesting. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I would want to live there any longer.”
Of Uruguay she says, “It was amazing. It was such a different place, but the people were so warm and friendly they made you feel right at home. The pace of life was slower. I noticed that especially after spending time in Chilliwack. Maybe coming straight from here, it wouldn’t have seemed so noticeable.”
Ms Pattison left the islands last June for a six-month experience with Canada World Youth, a program sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency. Twenty young people, ten from Canada and ten from Uruguay, worked together on development projects in both countries. The objective of the program is to build awareness of global issues and bring together young people from Canada with those from a developing nation.
In Chilliwack, Ms Pattison worked four days a week with her partner Lorena, to help the Sto:lo first nation create a glossary of Sto:lo words for students of the language. One day a week the whole group worked together on community projects like the Chilliwack Bluegrass Festival and the Chilliwack Agricultural Festival.
In mid-September, the group traveled to a small village in Uruguay. “Lorena and I worked on a dairy farm which was also where our host family lived. We did farm labour work like milking, gathering cattle and calving. We did group projects there as well. We whitewashed the walls of a school and worked on an organic farm,” says Ms Pattison.
During this time, Uruguay was feeling the affects of the Argentine economic crisis. “Uruguay is small and depends on Argentina for markets. The main crisis in Uruguay happened while we were in Chilliwack. It was quite a shock for our partners because some prices had doubled. Staple food items had been controlled by the government, but luxury goods went up a lot. The Uruguayans got a loan immediately from the World Bank which prevented the crisis from getting as deep as the one in Argentina, but the downside is that the country is now in debt and will probably be there until the end of time,” says Ms Pattison.
Ms Pattison found the experience helped her find some direction for her own life. She is now considering studying anthropology because she found other cultures so interesting. She also plans to volunteer with Canada World Youth helping other youth prepare for their experience in the program.
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