By Mohamed Bah.
Hi all! This summer for my Stretch Experience I had the opportunity to be a monitor for the Explore Program in la Pocatière, Quebec, for 6 weeks. These weeks were a learning and giving experience that will live on eternally in my mind. From the standpoint of a multilingual person, I had many (mis)conceptions about the process of learning a new language and the impact it had on us.
I thought my experience as a tutor would help me deal with the students’ needs and personalities but I was not prepared well enough and I firmly believe that I will never be.
I went to Quebec with the goal of helping 267 students get better at French and came back after living one of the best learning experiences of my life.
All the work and planning that I did before starting the program and during the week of orientation that myself and my 8 colleagues took part in was shattered by teenagers who were eager to perfect their French. Some days were a test of creativity and flexibility.
As a monitor, I was in charge of creating up my own workshop, running a few activities and generally making sure the students live the best summer of their lives. I had originally planned to create a workshop on leadership, but a senior monitor already had one since last year *insert tears here*. I decided to do one on Travelling (Franco-Voyage), specifically in Francophone places. My goal was to make them discover the vast world in which what they were learning could help them, but I quickly turned into a Tolerance, Respect and Diversity workshop. There were even some touches of climate change awareness here and then. The students were more mature than I expected and helped me in rebuilding my workshop to suit their needs. I am thankful to them for making our monitor/instructor-student relationship productive and respectful. There were times when it was not so great like when they woke me up at 6:00 am to open doors because they were not “scared” of me unlike other monitors but it was a great experience overall. I hope that through my interaction with them I was an exemplar person and motivated them to always look out for the people around them
I enjoyed the entire program and working with the students but my best memories and greatest leadership adventures were with my colleagues, les Anim-O for those who speak French (monitor=animateur). They made me rethink the meaning of team and the importance of diversity every morning that I was with them. From working on inclusive activities for people with diverse French levels and different mental and physical abilities to our emergency responses, they helped me grow as a person. I will miss them at least as much as the beautiful sunset that I cherished during my time at la Pocatière.