Taavi Wickman graduated from L.V. Rogers Secondary school last June and will be en route to the Yukon this fall and then to Indonesia with Canada World Youth in the new year.
Rather than have a gap year or go to university, the 18-year-old decided to apply as a volunteer for the Canada World Youth in a health and environment program, which he heard about through friends in June.
He leaves for Whitehorse in October for three months where he will stay until January 3. Then he departs for Indonesia staying on the island of Pulau Pramuka until the end of March 2015.
“I’m looking forward to the culture shock that would be quite immediate,” he said. Once he arrives in Whitehorse, he will be assigned a counterpart from Indonesia. They will stay with the same host family and go through the program training and education together. He said the program is intended to foster intercitizenship and helps to immerse both people into each others culture.
“It will also help to learn each others languages, as it could be very hard to learn, especially English,” said Wickman. He will learn to speak Indonesian, the native language spoken by 23 million people and 140 million people as a second language, and his Indonesian counterpart will learn English.
Once he has settled into his host family, Wickman will begin volunteer work for approximately 21-28 hours per week. While in Canada, volunteers are placed with local organizations that provide a service to the community. In the overseas phase, youth often volunteer to directly support a local development project run by CWY’s partner organization, which for Wickman will be the state Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, specifically the Deputy of Youth Empowerment.
Youth are allowed to volunteer more hours in the evenings or weekends to support community activities, to create their own community activities, or to support an organization or initiative of their choice.
After the exchange, thanks to his mother’s Swedish citizenship he would like to study political science in Sweden for free, which he said “is very convenient” considering the average university graduate incurs an average debt of $35,000. He wants to go into politics eventually.
While the majority of his costs are covered by CWY, Wickman does need to contribute $3,200. Wickman is holding a fundraiser at the Civic Theatre. Ten dollars will get you in the door to view the movie The Act of Killing on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m. The award winning 2012 documentary film by Dutch director Joshua Oppenheimer about the mass killings that took place in Indonesia in the 1960s. Fair trade coffee will also be on the evening beverage menu.
Finn Elliott of Nelson will also be taking part in the CWY program that will take him to the East African country of Tanzania for six months to do volunteer work related to reforestation.
Founded in 1971 Canada World Youth is a world leader in developing international educational programs for young people aged 15 to 35. A non-profit organization, CWY is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people that have a desire to become informed and active global citizens. CWY programs are designed to help youth experience the world for themselves, learn about other cultures and diverse Canadian communities while developing leadership and communication skills.