A group of recent Selkirk College grads boarded planes in early-June to destinations across the planet as part of Global Affair Canada’s International Youth Internship Program.
Aimed at providing young Canadians with global perspective and making change in developing countries, five Selkirk College alumni from a variety of programs are spending six months in Rwanda, Jamaica, Kenya, Tanzania and Dominica. This year’s group of interns will spend six months involved in teaching music, delivering training on gender equality, creating online content, fostering entrepreneurship, developing marketing materials, providing career guidance and a long list of other tasks.
“This has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time,” says Cody Munn, a graduate of Selkirk College’s Contemporary Music & Technology Program. “What better way than to represent Selkirk College and have the chance to get all this training about cultural awareness… it helps to arm ourselves for the world.”
Munn’s internship is at the Ecole D’Arts et de Musique de Nyundo in Rwanda where he is teaching both music and English. Global Affairs Canada partners with a variety of post-secondary institutions across the country on the internship program. The objective is to support sustainable international development initiatives by Canadian professional associations, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and private companies.
Selkirk College helps facilitate eight of the internship placements in partnership with Alberta-based Bow Valley College and Cranbrook’s College of the Rockies. Access to the internships is open to all recent post-secondary graduates across Canada under the age of 30.
Before heading off to their internships, participants spent a week in Nelson preparing for their six months abroad. The group explored more about their ultimate destinations with a focus on understanding the cultures on a deeper level.
Peter McRory graduated from Selkirk College’s Digital Arts & New Media Program in 2017. He was working with a pair of Nelson-based companies when he found out about the international internship in Jamaica. McRory is working at the Women’s Resource Outreach Centre in Kingston as a communications and social media officer. Though he admitted to be both “excited and terrified” on the eve of departing for the Caribbean, the Nelson resident left with an open mind.
“Selkirk College has already helped me massively and now this will be a life-changing experience,” says the 27-year-old. “The opportunities it will provide me with will greatly outweigh anything that I am worried about.”
Having just turned 21, Josh Skinner is one of the youngest participants in the program and is working for Colleges & Institutes Canada at the Kenya Education for Employment Program as a business development officer based in Nairobi. The Castlegar resident left for East Africa less than two weeks after returning home from France where he spent the final year of his Business Administration Program studying in Paris.
“A year ago, I would have never expected that I would have been able to do so much in terms of international travel and education,” says Skinner. “Selkirk College has helped me accomplish this goal.”
Now involved in an exciting internship, Skinner is helping foster stronger relationships between post-secondary and the private sector in Kenya. Having just immersed himself in French culture, Skinner has a better understanding of how to approach the opportunity.
“Getting to explore other cultures and see the way people live in different parts of the world is amazing,” Skinner explains. “Living there, learning and working in a different country is so much different than visiting. You get to experience somewhat simple things like how people get to work, how they get their groceries… it gives you a better understanding. When you share experiences with people from a different culture, it’s mind blowing.”
Participants will return from their internships in December and gather to debrief about their experience.
Learn more about future opportunities with the International Youth Internship Program through Selkirk College at: selkirk.ca/international-youth-internship-program.