By DJ Shuman
In the last week of September, I was one of three ESDH students who travelled to Edmonton, Alberta to attend the Canadian Student Leadership Conference. As representatives of Nova Scotia, we learned a lot about how to be effective leaders, what diversity looks like in a changing world, and what the future of Canada can look like.
Through different lessons and exercises, we were taught what it meant to be a leader. In the keynote speeches, we were touched by the moving stories of individuals from many backgrounds. We heard from the living Canadian legend, Col. Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, about how his perseverance led him to do the unimaginable. In a very emotionally compelling presentation, we heard from Michel Chikwanine, a former Congolese child soldier whose heartbreaking story taught us that pain shouldn’t be what defeats us, it should be what motivates us.
During the whole conference, we were met with a shocking amount of culture and diversity. Every meal had a large variety of new cuisines. Each day’s session started with an ethnic dance or presentation. There was even a whole day dedicated to highlighting our strengths through diversity. Another great speaker of the conference was the motivational educator Keith Hawkins. Keith taught us that diversity isn’t just what you can see; it’s something that exists in all of us.
Talking to so many youth leaders from across the nation really opens up your eyes. I have met students who are organizing mental health initiatives, starting a small business, or getting involved in large ways in their community. Learning from what past and present students have done can inspire other young people to get out there and do-their-thing.
Meeting so many other Canadian students taught me that we aren’t all the same; we’re a painting made up of brushstrokes of so many different shades and colours of culture.
We came back feeling that the weeklong trip was well worth it. We all learned a lot of valuable things that will help us improve both student life at ESDH, and in our communities.