Have you been selected to go on an Experiences Canada exchange in the coming months? We’ve put together some suggestion for ways to make your exchange the best possible experience.
We love to hear from you! Send photos, videos, news clippings, and testimonials to firstname.lastname@example.org or Submit a story about what your Experiences Canada experience was like and it could be published here on our website!
Youth Ambassadors are responsible for documenting their exchange through photos, videos and participant reflections. One participant per group is chosen to take on this leadership role. These ambassadors help us share everyone’s experiences during their exchange and helps us to develop and improve our youth exchange programs.
Benefits of becoming a youth ambassador:
- Document the Exchange and take on a leadership role
- Have your story featured on our website
- At the end of the year have your story and photos commemorated in a digital yearbook.
Want to become the youth ambassador of your group? Contact your teacher/group organizer!
Being a Good Twin
- Communicate prior with your twin and their family to get to know them before you arrive
- Respect your host family schedule
- Be respectful and always use your manners
- Accept differences — you may be introduced to different foods, languages and traditions. This is a great way to immerse yourself in a different culture and expand your knowledge and respect for diversity
- Do your best to get to know your twin and their family. Participate in conversations, ask questions. During the week, make an effort to really get to know your twin.
- Find out what your twin likes; music, books, theatre, sports
- Treat your twin and their family how you would expect them to treat you when they visit.
- Stay in touch!
Being a Good Host Twin
- Consider creating a video of you and your family to share with your twin before they arrive.
- Try to find out what you and your twin have in common
- Include your twin in family conversations so that they feel part of the family for the week
- Introduce them to your friends
- Share email addresses so that you keep in contact
- Share birthday details so you can send birthday wishes to each other
- Be respectful and kind
- Ask your twin what they like to do in their down time
- Enjoy your time with your twin, these relationships can last a lifetime!!
YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL (YAC)
Experiences Canada knows providing the best possible experience for young people is impossible without their input! The Experiences Canada Youth Advisory Committee, known as the “YAC”, is made up of youth from across Canada who provide us with their perspective on how we can improve our exchange programs and forums. The YAC helps to raise awareness for Experiences Canada and undertakes a variety of activities to help us offer a better experience for our participants! The members of the YAC come together in Ottawa each November to make a presentation to our Board of Directors. Members also participate in monthly telephone conference calls with Experiences Canada staff to track the committee’s goals throughout the year. As a member of the YAC, youth serve for up to two years, with the possibility of a third year if elected to the Executive Committee.
WHO CAN JOIN? YOU CAN, IF YOU:
- Have participated in an Experiences Canada exchange or forum within the last 3 years;
- Are between the ages of 14 and 17;
- Have at least one year remaining in high school, and;
- Have been recommended for participation by your school or community group.
- Have your opinions heard and help improve the future of exchanges;
- Extend your exchange experience by meeting new people and learning more about how we operate;
- Travel to Ottawa for an annual face-to-face committee meeting – all expenses paid;
- Earn valuable volunteer work experiences, expand your networks, and receive news of other amazing opportunities across the country!
WHAT DO MEMBERS OF “THE YAC” DO?
- Work on initiatives and projects determined by the Committee itself;
- Participate in media and public relations associated with their committee participation;
- Participate in teleconferences throughout the year;
- Travel to Ottawa once a year;
- Agree to be on the committee for two years. Members of the committee are selected in August. Membership in the committee runs from August until June two years later.
IF THE IDEA OF CONTRIBUTING YOUR VOICE, IDEAS, AND ENTHUSIASM TO OUR MISSION APPEALS TO YOU…
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are there opportunities for individual exchanges and travel experiences?
Our regular program is a group exchange. Occasionally, Experiences Canada organizes youth forums that are open for individual youth to apply. If you would like to be put on our youth mailing list to be notified of future opportunities please register here.
What alumni opportunities are available?
We are very keen to stay in touch with our past participants! If you haven’t already done so, sign up for our Experiences Canada alumni Instagram page, or our Facebook page. Each year we also invite alumni to apply for one of 12 positions on our national youth advisory committee, and we are always looking for alumni to help support the program by volunteering to visit with schools and groups in your community who may be travelling on exchange for the first time, or assisting us at local teachers conferences and presentations. From time to time, we also offer opportunities for alumni to represent Experiences Canada at other national youth conferences and events.
How can youth be more involved in exchanges?
We encourage Group Organizers to engage youth participants in the planning of their exchange experience. It is a great opportunity to get youth to stop and think about what makes their own community special, and what they’d like to showcase to others. Each exchange group is also asked to identify a youth to act as Youth Ambassador to work with Experiences Canada staff to help document their exchange experience through social media, and in the Experiences Canada annual digital yearbook. If you are interested in this role you should talk to your Group Organizer.
Where do we stay when we visit our twin group?
Experiences Canada exchanges are intended to be a reciprocal, homestay experience. Each youth participant is billeted in his or her selected twin’s home; likewise, adult chaperones are expected to host each other. If there are circumstances in which a group is unable to billet in homes, either for cultural, space and/or safety and security reasons, it is possible to request and plan a common stay arrangement.
What if I have other questions?
Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions.
What kinds of activities are involved?
The types of activities you do with your twin group should generally reflect the local culture, community, and history of where your group is located. Current guidelines from Canadian Heritage require that a minimum of 30% of each exchange week’s activities be historical or heritage related. Additional activities may reflect specific thematic exchanges and can be organized accordingly for music, sports, leadership, outdoor education, anti-bullying discussions, and more. In collaboration with the twin group organizer, each group designs a hosting week program that shows off their own community and meets the objectives of each group’s exchange learning plan and Canadian Heritage’s guidelines. Please note that all participants in both groups must participate in all activities during both halves of the exchange.
How do I apply for an exchange?
Applications are completed and submitted on-line by the Group Organizer.
Where can I travel on an exchange?
Anywhere in Canada! Experiences Canada is active in all Canadian provinces and territories. Groups can request a specific destination or let our staff recommend one.
How old are the youth that participate?
Experiences Canada Exchanges are designed for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
What is an Experiences Canada Exchange?
An Experiences Canada Exchange is a reciprocal, homestay exchange between two groups of Canadian youth, each in a different part of Canada. Experiences Canada exchanges are enriching, enhance learning and give participants an experience that lasts a lifetime.