Hello friends, family, and supporters of the Champions,
My name is Carlin Klettke, and I am a 1st year student of the Champions program. I have attended the University of the Fraser Valley for the past four years, studying Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Science as well as Psychology. When Dan asked the champions at a red couch meeting how we have prepared for this trip, I reflected on how, even despite not being in the Pedagogy field, my education has equipped me. This thought immediately brought me back to Carl Neinhuis’ KPE 366 Class, Applied Counselling for Fitness Professionals, where we were taught the value of experiential learning, along with efficient methods to help, listen, and understand those with whom we are connecting. Not only this, but my kinesiology professors, like Alastair Hodges, Brian Justin, and Amber Johnston have themselves modeled a passion and energy for teaching and for impacting the lives of their students. Although I came to the island with some first year jitters, I knew my education had been leading me to this experience.
This is the beginning of our last week on island. If I had no calendar, I honestly wouldn’t be able to say if I have been here for a couple days or for a couple months! In this time, I have been blessed to work with many knowledgeable teachers, including our own second year champion, Jaclyn McNicol, alumni Jenelle MacDonald, and Stamper Kam Taylor. These teachers have pushed me to grow in my teaching and in my ability to connect with the students, encouraging me to bring the energy while opening my eyes to all of the little things that make any teacher exceptional. Through working with these individuals, I’ve learned to push aside my pride and to adapt a mindset focused on growth by learning from other educators through observation and discussion. I look forward to maintaining this attitude in Canada and continuing to reflect on all of the things I’ve learned!
As promised, this program has been chalk full of surprises and learning curves. We have been discovering how to collaborate with other teachers, while being met with endless smiles from students; we’re figuring out how to work past our own frustrations in order to be present for the students, while making new connections with fellow champions and Antiguans of all ages. Despite having learned so many things that it almost becomes blurry, most moments remain crystal clear. The first time walking up to the school and being so warmly met by students and teachers, the first time we’ve felt that one on one connection with a student where we can almost see the understanding forming in their mind, the first time we experienced homesickness or frustration and fellow champions lifted us up, inspiring us forward; this experience, if it can be explained at all, is a collection of those heart melting moments that are simply unforgettable.
Luckily for us, Dr. Joanna Sheppard is using her knowledge of this stunning country to take our minds off of the time we are yearning to have with our students on this Whit Monday, a national Antiguan holiday. Our day started off bright and early at 5:30am, where our Champions were both participating and volunteering at a road race and relay. Stationed at checkpoints, our champions gave out encouragement and refreshments, cheering on our friends and the Antiguans speeding by. Next up was “Mojo’s Magical Island Tour,” which surprised me not only in the beautiful sights that we saw, but the bonding experience that it allowed for with our fellow champions. We were able to see the Devils Bridge, rich with history; we splashed in the waves of Half Moon Bay, and visited an ecological site where we observed how the island has changed over the last few years. As incredible as the beaches were, and while the historic sights were hauntingly beautiful, what I will take away from this day are the connections made between all those experiencing this program together. Thank you to Dr. Joanna Sheppard and all of my fellow champions for making this experience truly unforgettable!
With a full heart and happy tears,
Mary E. Pigotts