Dear family, friends, and followers
My name is Nick Guenther and I have faced a number of obscure challenges in my life leading up to this point.
Growing up in Abbotsford BC, I played high level hockey for most of my youth. However, I was always on the bubble of making every team. One year I was cut from a team for being too small. Nothing to do with skill, just size. My struggles continued when my family moved to Calgary for a few years. While I made many friends in Calgary, I never felt like I was an important part of a friendship group, as I’m sure many people have felt.
We moved back to Abbotsford and I felt similar feelings throughout my time during high school. I have been bullied throughout my life, even by close friends. They may have thought it was harmless, but I felt otherwise. As a result, I have battled depression for close to a decade. Because of this, it has been hard to find meaning in my life. I have been studying to become a Physical Education teacher since I started at the University of the Fraser Valley. I joined the golf team where I had success, but I had limited play time due to disagreements with the coach. During my four years, I felt pushed aside and neglected. I eventually quit which was a step in the right direction for me. Since I left the golf team, I have still struggled mentally and emotionally. I have recently opened up more to my parents and loved ones. This was another big step for me. It is incredibly difficult to tell the ones I love how I truly feel about how I feel about myself. I have been longing for a sense of fulfillment and meaning that has been incredibly difficult for me to obtain.
During my first two weeks in Antigua, I have discovered a newfound sense of purpose. Some days have been incredibly difficult. I even balled my eyes out one day from frustration. Despite this, I can feel the positive impact that I have on the children. I love showing up to school every morning and seeing faces light up as we pull in to the parking lot.
Today my teaching partners and I were given house shirts from the Principle of Jennings Primary. Some of the students were pumped that I was in their house and even chanted “Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy!” as I walked into class with their house shirt on. Others came up to me and said “you are no longer my favourite teacher.” It is amazing how the students react to the smallest things. We are not supposed to have favourites, but I obviously do.
This program has given me a sense of meaning that I have been lacking throughout the past decade. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but this trip has reaffirmed my thoughts. It is a lot of work, but the work we do has an impact on the lives of numerous children. This newfound sense of meaning has rejuvenated my attitude towards myself and towards my life.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” – Joseph Campbell
PS. I cannot thank Dr. Joanna Sheppard and the rest of the 2018 Champions for being incredibly supportive of me and making me feel so loved and part of something special. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!