Dear Family, Friends and Followers of the Champions Program,
My name is Claire Liversidge, I am a third year student at UFV in the Kinesiology Exercise Health Program. This year I have been placed at Villa Primary School in Antigua. I decided to apply for this program because I wanted to be challenged and build positive relationships with like-minded people. I have always had a passion for children and exercise. Among many things, this trip marries those two passions together.
This weekend was our first ‘free’ weekend and was full of different activities that exposed us to different parts of the island. On Saturday we spent that day as a team volunteering at a community basketball tournament. It was fun to interact with some of the teachers at our school and people of the community outside a classroom setting. Sunday was equally busy, we spent the morning at the near by beach and went to Shirley Heights for an event in the evening. Shirley Heights is a National Park in Antigua and delivered breathtaking views that I had hoped to see. At the park there was music, food, and lots of dancing that exposed more of the Antiguan culture. What I found interesting was the large amount of non Antiguan’s at the event. It was definitely a change of pace and a different view of Antigua outside of the city.
Today, we had the day off and spent the morning of Labour Day at Hide Away Beach. As a group we were invited to the beach by fellow Antigua colleagues of Dr. Joanna Sheppard who recently visited us in Canada. They were very generous and cooked us a Antiguan meal on the beach. As a whole, they choose to spend their personal day off with us. The champions and I are grateful for the warmth of they bring into our relationships. Alongside the Antigua colleagues, fellow teachers and students at the school are equally welcoming. One of my favourite parts through the past week has been experiencing the sense of community the people on the island live by. Everyone is part of a family in one sense or another and each of them lookout for each other with caring hearts. On the first day of school during the morning assembly it was announced that our school had donated books to their sister island, Barbuda who was devastated by hurricane Irma. The principle then said, we know that other countries can help, but we wanted to do it ourselves. This stuck with me and reflects the base of community the island stands upon.
I am additionally thankful for for my teaching partner, Selyen, who I can learn from and grow with in this experience. The first week has been difficult at times with learning curves in the classroom and also filled with many positive moments. I have quickly built a strong bond with her and I am excited to see the impact we will have on our students. The students have been steeling my heart piece by piece thought the week and after four days away from the school I am excited to go back Monday morning.
As an exercise science student at UFV I have not taken any of the teaching practice classes. However other Kinesiology classes at UFV like sport psychology 366 have reminded me to think with an open mind and learn to appreciate others differences. I have and will continue to try and absorb everything that I learn like a sponge. Each moment between champions and students have already been impactful in small and large ways. These experiences will lead me to the type of life I want to live both professional and in daily life. My career goal is to become a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, although we are teaching in classrooms and it may not apply directly to my end goal I have learned that the positive relationships between people are what make it count. There would be no learning from a teacher without true connection. Wherever I may end up, I will be able to make a difference through thriving relationships and a sense of community.
“‘Ohana’ means ‘family’, and ‘family’ means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
-Lilo, Lilo and Stitch