As my Canada World Youth (CWY) exchange in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec continues, the time left for my Canadian phase is quickly disappearing. Preparations have already begun for Bénin, and our volunteer projects are coming to an end.
Recently we hosted our educational activity day. Each counterpart team that is made up of one Canadian and one Béninois will host a full day that covers a specific theme and present information to the group while developing the topic. My team's focus was on the economy, and we specified our subject on food economy. The activity that launched our theme was based on product research at a local grocery store. We had the group take an hour to research products and find out more information on their origin, whether the store carried local products or products of Bénin, and note where the products were made or fabricated.
The results made for some interesting debate. There was not one product that was marked 'Made in Bénin' and we were hard-pressed to find local products, although some could be made locally, but were marked 'Made in Montréal.' We discussed the effects of food transportation and outlined its relation to the environment. The group talked about food security and the need for more locally grown and fabricated products both in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and across Canada.
The educational activity days are just one facet of our exchange, while we spend the majority of our time working on our volunteer project.
Since the beginning of August there have been two of us, one Canadian and one Béninois, working on our volunteer project known as "Coupez le Moteur" (Cut the Motor).
The objective of the program is to create a platform for an idle-free community. Through the development of educational programs that outline the effects of an idling car and its relation to greenhouse gas emissions, the program will reduce wasted idling hours while decreasing the environmental footprint of the municipality. Education is a key component, as there are many myths linked to idling, especially during the cold winter months in Québec.
Idling wastes money and fuel and contributes to climate change. If a vehicle is going to be parked for more than 60 seconds, the engine should be turned off as long as the driver is not in traffic. Even during the cold days of winter, a vehicle can be warmed up by driving rather than idling, and during the coldest of days, only two to three minutes of idling is necessary. The program will be implemented by autumn 2010 along with a new municipal bylaw and promotional campaign.
Remember that there are many youth opportunities available and we should encourage this involvement through the communication of these experiences.
Youth from around the Sunshine Coast should participate in programs such as CWY, Rotary International Youth Exchange and Katimavik - programs that develop an appreciation of culture, language, community development and volunteering, and essentially an understanding of differences. As a community, we can only grow together by supporting our youth through these experiential educative programs as we bring our understanding and knowledge directly back to the Sunshine Coast.
For more information on my exchange and CWY experience, you can follow me at nestman.ca.