Alumni Zach Wysoczanskyj took the time to answer some questions and to update us on what he has been up to since his time with Experiences Canada. This quick read shows just how life changing a youth exchange can be.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Ottawa to immigrant parents, growing up in an outdoorsy family. I grew up doing lots of skiing, canoeing and camping.
When and which Experiences Canada programs did you participate in?
I have participated in an exchange to 2014 to Fond Du Lac, in northern Saskatchewan through my school.
How did your participation and involvement with Experiences Canada impact your life?
The experience of Fond Du Lac was very formative. I saw poverty in Canada for the first time in my life and the experience opened my eyes to conditions in remote communities. The second significant impact was sparking an interest in aviation as we flew into Fond Du Lac’s gravel runway on a small 12 seat aircraft. I enjoyed the access to remote places that aviation gave, as well as the fact that I would be providing a tangible service and not working as a non-essential paper pusher. The pilots spoke highly of the career, many days off, travel benefits, a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment at the end of the working day. What appeals to me most about a career in aviation is the dynamic environment and access to remote places. My exchange to Fond Du Lac was the first time that I was able to interact with the aviation world directly.
Can you tell us about where you are now? What does your life look like today?
I am about 4-6 weeks away from graduating aviation college as a Transport Canada certified Commercial Pilot with a frozen Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL-A). After high school, I spent 10 months living in my car and traveling around North America. It was on this trip that I set my sights on being a pilot after meeting many pilots on the road whose lives I found fascinating. After two and half years of college, I hope to work as a floatplane pilot this coming summer. This will require me to relocate from Montreal to northern Ontario for 4.5 months per year followed by 7.5 months of vacation.
What advice do you have for today’s youth?
My message to the youth is to take a gap year. Use this time as an opportunity to explore your interests and determine what skills you would like to have. Kids are graduating university with degrees that they are not passionate about, that give them no real world applicable skills and with tens of thousands in debt.
Take some time to reflect on what you want out of your life and act with purpose in your attainment of skills and knowledge that will help you accomplish your goals, whatever they may be. Create your own goals and expectations instead of grinding yourself down to satisfy somebody else’s.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I believe that exchanges should be mandatory for all Canadian students. In a country that is tied together by little more than a passport, understanding and respect is the only way to ensure a just future and continued prosperity.
If you are interested in learning more about Zach’s career, check out this VLOG which was filmed for our Career Choices program.