Back before WE was what it is now, it was called Free The Children, and one of my favourite neuroscience friends was a big advocate for them during our McGill days. But since I had found my place with an organization called SOS, Students Offering Support where we used the money raised through tutoring students on campus to bring projects to life in third world countries, I only heard of their work through the grapevine. SOS was an amazing concept, students helping those abroad, while also helping themselves get the grades they wanted. We travelled to Costa Rica to help rebuild a community centre that was decimated by a volcanic eruption and the following year found ourselves in a remote little village in Panama to aid in their agricultural endeavours. Between that, working 2 jobs and being an overachiever, my plate was pretty full. So Free The Children was my friend's thing, and I had SOS.
When I started at MuchMusic, Free The Children had been renamed WE to encompass their more diversified reach, both locally and internationally. The MuchMusic VJs had the opportunity to host WE Days across the country, to stand on stage and introduce various inspirational speakers, students and performances to up to 20,000 students who earned their way to WE Day by volunteering in the communities. It was the perfect blend of what I loved to do in my previous chapter as a science-loving McGill student with a passion for international development and a newbie VJ in the TV world. But like all things, patience is everything and there were more senior hosts in line to take the next rotation.
Two years ago it was my turn to hold the WE Day microphone for the first time and stand on stage in front of more people than I could wrap my head around. Since then I've been fortunate enough to meet speakers and students from across the country and even participated in the special Canada 150 WE Day that took place on parliament hill last summer.
And then, it came full circle. During some of my darkest months last year, I booked a last minute 2-week soul-searching trip to Portugal where I practiced yoga, meditation and attempted to surf every day. Shortly before going, there was a 1-week extension to that trip to Kenya with my WE family to see the work first-hand that I had spoken about on stage numerous times. The universe is a mysterious and magical entity, and so I flew to Portugal in search of myself for two weeks and ended up going straight to Kenya where I was quickly reminded that when you come together to focus on something with greater purpose, the path to self-discovery is an added bonus but not the primary source for fulfillment. We were welcomed with open arms by the Masaai Mara community; they danced with us, taught us the history of their culture, the Mamas showed us the impact of coming together to create a positive impact that rippled beyond themselves with beading, we learned about the incredible lengths the women have to go through to get clean water before the wells were put in place, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. More than all of that, we laughed, we shared stories, we created memories over coming together to share a little bit of ourselves. I came home rejuvenated, grateful for the experience and inspired to live life with more purpose and dedication to doing good in my community and abroad.
2017 was tough. But tough is ok. Tough you can get through.
2018 started and one of the first things I had the opportunity to do was fly to my hometown of Montreal to once again hold that WE microphone and do what I love to do, a perfect blend of of my two chapters. And because it was my hometown, you know I didn't hold back throwing out that I am a proud McGill graduate and got an impressive cheer when I asked the crowd if there were any other proud science nerds in the audience.