The Moment Begins Now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Movement to Antigonish

The plane landed at Halifax International with a slight jolt, shuttering and cooling off after a long cross-Canada flight. When I found the shuttle, the driver could not believe I was an unemployed nurse, and began treating me like an extinct creature of long-ago. “You see that hospital over there?” he asked, pointing with the tip of his chin to a grey building off the highway, while still watching me suspiciously. “I could find you a career in two minutes there,” he proudly exclaimed, raising his eyebrows, as if surprised by his own boldness.

Career? *Gulp* "Actually, I've got a job... in Africa for awhile," I replied, getting slightly queezy from the thought of filling out another application form, as the van sput-sputtered it's way to Northern Newfoundland.

St. Francis Xavier lies in the small town of Antigonish (lazily prounced Annie-gonish by the locals). Two weeks ago, I had never heard of this place. For the next two weeks, this is home, a training-centre for two weeks for the 20 interns who will be branching off to our respective organizations (from Peru to the Caribbean, Ghana, Botswana, Ethiopia and Kenya) with various titles such as "Forestry Conservationist" and "Sustainable Development Coordinators."

Day 1 of training started with Natalie, the youth programmer, greeted us enthusiastically at 8:30am in a lavish hardwood floor room with a gaping window that spilled warm sun through it. “Out of nearly 400 applicants across Canada,” she said with her trademark hop and skip, “you are the twenty who made it. Congratulations!” For the next two weeks, we were given a crash course in International Development and Cross-Cultural Partnerships by loads of impressive facilitators and support staff at the COADY institute. From 8:30am until 5:00pm, we were students, filling our cups, so to speak, with what was to be our next half-year overseas.

I had no idea how much I missed student life, the classroom atmosphere and long classes, the discussions and debates, the rough mornings (there were a few) and late nights (ditto). This group of people was a mix of everything I wanted from a post-secondary experience. With a variety of backgrounds, life experiences and job descriptions from across all corners of this nation, we were like a current day "Heritage-Moment," a living testament to the multi-cultural mosaic that is Canada. Like a sponge, I soaked it all in, not wanting to spill a drop. Ironically enough, I was more engaged and enthused about these two weeks than most of my Nursing education, which neglected it's global education and placement opportunitites ("What do you mean I have to stay in Alberta for my final placement?").

20 interns went from strangers to an eclectic, supportive family in two weeks, and with barely enough time to learn “The Rankins” newest album , our time in Antigonish was over. As quickly as we were put together, we were pulled apart, heading to our respective locations. For Anthony, Abena and I, Kigali, Rwanda was the last stop on a 36 hour journey across the globe.

For me, I had been on the road since last September, never really settling in a place long enough to call it home, a drifter, in many ways. As we boarded the plane, I thought of it all in a linear sequence.

Jasper --> Edmonton --> Ponoka --> Tofino --> Antigonish --> RWANDA (full-stop). Having a place to call home for six months seemed a foreign concept (and actually, a little restricting), but welcoming, nonetheless. As I stepped onto the plane, I remembered the words from a toast at my going-away party, and was struck at their appropriateness.

"To the Next Step!"


  1. Haha, of course you're the only one with a beer in your hand.

    Word bro, word. -Rish

  2. Rwandaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    So excited for you, and I will be following your blog posts adamantly.

    Luck, Love and Laughter!