Alumni Shelby Yoder took the time to answer some questions and share what she has been up to since her time with Experiences Canada.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Shelby Yoder (born Larsen) and I was a participant in a second language exchange with SEVEC (now Experiences Canada) in 2006. Like many prospective participants, I was very nervous to travel without my parents and to live in the home of a family across the country. My anxieties were completely unfounded, as my time on exchange was one of the highlights of my junior high years.
How did your participation and involvement with Experiences Canada impact your life?
I recall coming home from my exchange feeling really excited about learning French. I found myself watching Radio Canada, listening to French music, and even reading some of my favourite novels in French. From that time on I was eager for any opportunity to be involved with SEVEC. In high school I participated in the Volunteer Youth Exchange Alberta and joined the Youth Advisory Committee where I became the YAC president.
Some of my highlights during my time with the YAC include our yearly meetings in Ottawa, volunteering at a booth at the Langley Canada Day Festival, and speaking at the CASLT Conference with one of my teachers. After high school I continued my studies in French and received a B.A. and a B.Ed. majoring in French and today teach secondary French as a Second Language and Physical Education in Edmonton, Alberta.
Over the last nine years as a teacher I have had the opportunity to host two language exchanges with Experiences Canada and hope to participate in a third this year. It is a unique joy to me to provide this opportunity to my students, as I know first hand the profound impact that this program has on its participants. All these years later, I am still in contact with my exchange partner and a few of the YAC members, the relationships created during this program are truly life long!
What advice do you have for today’s youth?
My advice to Canadian youth who are considering participating in an exchange: DO IT! You will be so grateful you did!