My favorite part of the trip was seeing the beautiful scenery and lakes in the Yukon. As soon as I arrived at the place we stayed (the Kluane Lake Research Station), I was fascinated by the breathtaking views that surrounded me. During my stay at the Kluane Lake Research Station, I had the opportunity to go on two hikes. I was really grateful for being able to enjoy the nature and the fresh air there. On our last night at the Kluane Lake Research Station, the staff held a BBQ/farewell party for us by the beach. The stunning view of the sunset and clear water made me feel like I was in a wonderland. It was such a privilege for me to be in this wonderland.
There were a few challenges, which I encountered and grew from during the trip. Frist, I survived the days when I did not have cell phone and wifi services. Without the distraction of technology, I was more engaged in the present moment by admiring the nature and enjoying my peers’ company. As I spent more time being present with my peers, I learned so much from their unique life experiences and I was really inspired by them in so many different ways. Second, I overcame the challenge of sharing a cabin with multiple people. Since my roommates were super respectful and opened-up, I ended up really enjoying their company. We became close because of this roommate experience.
Prior to the trip, the Project Leaders did a great job to inform me regarding what to expect in the Yukon. As the Project Leaders already warned me about how demanding the physical labor could be, I was not surprised about the actual work I had to do. In fact, the physical labor part was not as bad as I imagined. The program actually exceeded my expectations. I have gained so many valuable experiences out of this trip. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to engage with local residents at Teslin through cleaning up their yards and having dinner at their homes. Through my conversations with them, they shared first-hand knowledge, stories and talked about their way of life. On Canada Day, we visited a cultural centre in Whitehorse. I very much enjoyed watching the performances there and hanging out at the gallery, learning about Indigenous art. Through visiting museums, I learned a little bit about the traditions and histories of the local First Nations. I also learned that Indigenous culture is not just one culture. Instead, there are many Indigenous cultures.
I thoroughly enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle we experienced in the Yukon. In a small community, people know each other and they watch out for each other. Although the materials are limited in the Yukon, people thrive on the limited resources. For example, instead of counting on imported meats, people go hunting and smoke their own meats. Also, as cell phone coverage is limited, people in some areas do not have cell phone services all the time. Without extensive cell phone service coverage, people value face-to-face communication more than online communication. From seeing how local people adapt themselves to limited resources, I learned that I don’t need much to live a good life. Sometimes, a simple lifestyle can bring contentment. Because of limited resources, people are aware of conserving the resources and are more grateful for what they have. Living in a resourceful city, I appreciated the convenience I have. Also, the Yukon experience has made me to be more aware of not wasting resources. During one of the workshops, I learned many ways of conserving resources, and I would like to apply that learning to my daily life.
For me, the most valuable part of the program was the relationship I built with the rest of the group. Each individual brought their own strengths and unique personalities to the team. I was surprised by how open and supportive everyone was to each other. There was no negative judgment for anyone’s contributions to group discussions. Everyone’s contribution to the team was recognized and appreciated. The Project Leaders and Assistant did such an amazing job to create a respectful, safe, and positive environment for everyone to grow and learn from each other. Every participant also played a key role to sustain the positivity and make the entire trip memorable, exciting and special! I would definitely recommend that everyone participates in this rewarding and life changing trip.
– Helen Ling