World Youth Canada is coming to Lacombe as part of an exchange with Palca, Peru. This month, a group of young people from Canada and Peru will come to Lacombe to live and work in the community as part of a World Youth Exchange.
Each year, offices across the country choose host communities for the exchange programs they have.
Lacombe has been a successful host community in the past and so has been chosen once again this year. “It’s a cool thing to have it come to your community,” said Jody Hamilton, a volunteer who has worked with World Youth in the past.
Hamilton has volunteered to help Shirley-Anne Soloway-Seely find host families and work placements for the youths in the exchange. Soloway-Seely said time is running out to have everything organized as the exchange begins in less than two weeks.
The exchange group is working and living in Palca, Peru. They will be arriving in Lacombe on Sept. 16th and will be living and doing volunteer work until Dec. 1st.
For the exchange to be a success, host homes and families need to be found for the visiting youths. Soloway-Seely said they are looking for people who are willing to open their homes and be a part of the experience for the duration of the group’s stay. The last time an exchange happened in Lacombe was in 2006.
Soloway-Seely said she hosted a pair of youths for that exchange and enjoyed the experience. In fact, she is still in contact with the individuals who were placed with her as part of that exchange. She said she considers them part of her family.
She added it also brings the host community closer together as well, as she got a chance to meet other host families in the community and get to know them better.
Host families are paid a stipend to compensate for feeding the extra two mouths and get to be part of a great cultural exchange, she said.
Soloway-Seely said the ages of individuals involved can change between years and exchanges, but are usually in their late teens and early tweens. She added this year’s group is between the ages of 17 and 24.
There are nine pairs, 18 youths in total who are part of the exchange. Each pair has one Peruvian and one Canadian exchange member.
These pairs will be the same ones currently placed together in Peru.
Soloway-Seely is also looking for work placements for the youths. During their time in Lacombe, the youths will offer four and half day’s worth of volunteer work each week for 10 weeks.
“It’s a huge injection of volunteerism into the community,” said Hamilton. She said this year, the program has a focus on healthy living and healthy eating, so organizations, particularly volunteer organizations, related to such industries would fit well.
Organizations like Lacombe Action Group, Lifelong Learning Association, and FCSS have been work placements in past years when Lacombe has been a host community.
Once a week, all of the youths in the exchange will meet together to present on what they have learned so far as part of their volunteer work. Hamilton said the object behind this is that the youths learn things from working in the host communities that they can apply elsewhere. “It’s an educational program without a doubt.”
Anyone interested can contact Shirley-Anne Soloway-Seely at 403-392-2210 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.