When my mom first told me about the Youth Exchange Trip program, I didn’t want to go. Turns out, it was the best thing I ever did. As we started meeting to plan activities for the Prince George and Oakville participants, I started to change my mind. Being able to brainstorm ideas was a great way to get involved and I enjoyed getting to know the other youth in the program.

As I boarded the plane for the Prince George leg of the trip, I was excited for this new experience, and the thought of getting to know my twin, Alex whom I would be paired up with in B.C. When we arrived, I felt nervous but I was curious to meet the other youth participants from Prince George. We all hit if off immediately, as if we had known each other for years. Although I didn’t get to meet my twin that first night, I met so many other amazing people.

As the days went on, we did team building, visited an ancient rainforest, prepared food at a local cultural drop-in centre and learned that Prince George was once a reserve. We even got to participate in a traditional Aboriginal through song and dance as we discovered more about history. When it was our turn to welcome the B.C. participants to Oakville, I got to see our community through their eyes as we travelled across southern Ontario and volunteered at local charities such as Kerr Street Mission.

Looking back, I never expected to make such impactful friendships. We had only been together two weeks, yet it felt much longer. And when the trip ended, no one was ready.

Being able to participate in this exchange changed me. It was an amazing learning experience and I realized how much of Canada there is to learn about. If I had the chance, I would do it again tomorrow.