The Search for Meaning by Nick Guenther

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!


5 thoughts on “The Search for Meaning by Nick Guenther

  1. It sounds like you might have found your calling, Nick. Teaching can be quite challenging,as you have found and there are some days when you really wonder if you have ever made an impression at all and that can be very dispiriting and frustrating. Then, all of a sudden, you have the experience of watching the light come on in your students’ eyes and you realize you have made a difference. Keep up the good work. You WILL succeed if you choose this as your career and you will find it very personally rewarding. I shall be thinking of you!

  2. Nick.. Dad and I are extremely proud of and excited for you and your future!!
    Enjoy the rest of your time in Antigua!! Lots of love xoxoxoxox

  3. Hello Nick, I never really fully understood depression until recently when I experienced it myself. I cannot imagine struggling with depression for close to ten years, you are incredibly strong! I am glad to read that this experience has given you a sense of purpose which has impacted your attitude towards yourself and your life, I also found this to be true when I was a part of the program last year. I like the quote you included from Joseph Campbell because it reminds us that meaningful lives stem from our actions and passions. I wish you happiness and health and enjoy the rest of your time on Island.

  4. What an honest and vulnerable post, Nick! You seem to have discovered your passion for teaching and you have an exciting road ahead of you. Teaching is a very challenging profession, with many emotional moments like the one you described. It’s a profession you will put your entire heart and soul into and it sounds like you’re doing just that with your experience in Antigua. I’m glad to hear the positive impact this program has had on you. It still has that indescribable impact over me, as I am heartbroken to be unable to join the program this year and feel as though something is missing. It’s so great to hear how your newfound sense of meaning and purpose is guiding you and will continue to do so when you return home. Good luck with your remaining weeks on the island!

  5. Nick, you are such a tremendous person. I’m so blessed to have met you and gotten the opportunity to work with and witness you in action. I know that whatever you do in the future, you will be a success. Keep up the good work bro. Much love…

    P.S. – I hope that invitation is still open when I get back to Canada (Whenever that is… lol).

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