New Year New Experience by Julia Nord-Leth


Dear Champions Alumni, Family, Friends and Followers of the Champions Program,

My name is Julia Nord-Leth (Teacha Nord-Leth to the students on island) and I have been involved with this program for the past three years. This program is a huge piece of what has made me who I am today, and I am always so proud to be a part of it. This year I have had the opportunity to come back as Dr. Joanna Sheppard’s teaching assistant, which I am so grateful for. Working alongside Dr. Sheppard has been such an incredible experience that has allowed me to view behind the scenes of this program and really shown me how much dedication, love and passion she truly puts into making this program what it is today.

This year I have had the opportunity to teach within four different primary schools including: Mary E Pigotts, T. N. Kirnon, Golden Grove and Jennings Primary. Each and every school I had the opportunity to teach at was extremely welcoming by the students and staff as always, and I instantly felt as if I belonged there. Bouncing around from school to school has allowed me to grow in so many ways and foster countless connections between the staff and students on island as well as with my UFV colleagues. In each school we are teaching multiple life skills such as respect, empathy, conflict resolution, patience, etc. in the form of physical and health education. It is always so exciting to get the chance to collaborate further with the teachers here in Antigua in order to build best-practices. Because I had the opportunity to move from school to school throughout this month, I taught with so many different individuals, and got to see an abundance of different teaching styles, classroom management techniques and the chance to work with so many different types of students. That experience has allowed me to grow professionally and will benefit me while pursuing a teaching career.

I titled my blog “New Year, New Experience” because that is one of my favorite components of this program. Each year may look similar on paper; however, arrives with so many more building blocks that encourage you to ‘push your practice’ by expanding your current skills and knowledge to grow even further. Looking back at the person I was three years ago versus who I am today always reminds me how far this program has pushed me to grow and further my personal and professional goals.

Today we wrapped up our 2019 champions program by spending our morning soaking up our last moments on the beach beside our hotel. Once we walked home from the beach, the champions quickly packed up their last items and jumped onto the bus headed for the airport. Departing the island is always filled with an array of emotions starting from excitement to head home, to heartbreak from leaving our students and schools. After our final goodbyes, hugs, and tears, another amazing year came to an end.

This island truly feels like a second home for me, because of all the support and love I feel from my fellow champions, as well as the warm welcomes and connections we build with all of the Antiguans we encounter.

One final cheer,


Julia Nord-Leth

Teaching Assistant

One thought on “New Year New Experience by Julia Nord-Leth

  1. Way to go Champions! Looks like you all had a successful time on the island and I can only imagine the impact you made on your students. I loved reading this blog post, Julia. You can tell that your heart is truly invested in this program and that it has shaped you into the person you are today. I find that the program continues to stay with me every day, even years later, and continues to have huge place in my heart. It sounds like you were a wonderful teaching assistant and leader! Congratulations to all 2019 Champions on your incredible experience. Safe travels home everyone!

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