Prior to starting my stretch experience, I was originally set on a completely different path. I knew that I wanted to do something involving the environment as that is what I am passionate about. When my first plan didn’t work out, I tried reaching out to a possible opportunity through my cousin’s wife in the Northwest Territories dealing with Inuit/ First Nations rights. I had come home for the weekend and decided to stop at my mom’s workplace before heading back to Edmonton. She was engaged in a conversation with a colleague who was in the process of looking for someone to continue on his work in the greenhouse as he was being relocated to the new school that is opening. My mom suggested that we talk to each other as we might be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. I explained to Mr. S all the requirements I needed to fulfill during my stretch experience and he was giddy with excitement to make this work. Over the next month, we came up with a detailed plan as to what my summer would look like. Initially, I was overjoyed for this wonderful experience that was conveniently located in my hometown but as the summer drew on, my excitement turned to dismay. Scheduling meetings was difficult as he said that he would email me when we were to meet. When meetings were scheduled, he would be a half hour late or not show up at all. I wanted to learn, but I was becoming frustrated. This was turning out to be very different than what we had previously discussed. Being that he was a well-known person in the community and was held in high regards by many, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt that things would turn around and be back on track. Nearing the end of the summer, it became very clear that he had forgotten the requirements I had previously discussed with him and had been focusing on the operations manual I was preparing for him— something that was only supposed to be a very small part of my experience. I decided that it was time to confront him and arranged a time for us to meet in person. When I expressed my concern at not completing what is required of me, he became very defensive. In the end, it was clear to me that his priority was receiving his operations manual, not on my stretch experience. We were able to talk about how his systems would be useful, however I felt defeated for I knew that he was done with me and he had not taught me enough to be able to implement his ideas on my own. Reflecting on this experience, I have learned that even if I have made a commitment to something, if it feels wrong I should back out and find something else. I have great potential and I should be trying to reach it rather than trying to appease others while optimistically hoping for a better outcome. I refuse to look at this as a failure, but rather a learning opportunity that will better me in the future as I try to become the person that I seek to be.
- Blaire Koswin