As an educator, I firmly believe that much of the significant learning that happens for students happens outside of the classroom; that when learners get involved in their school and community, their educational experience is that much richer.
This month I, along with my academic chair, was privileged to accompany ten of our learners from three different programs to participate in the Enactus Canada National Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia. What a learning experience it was – for all of us!
“Annually, the Enactus Canada National Exposition brings together student, academic and industry leaders from across the country to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s future leaders and entrepreneurs. Over the course of the three-day event, students showcase how their community outreach projects and business ventures are enabling progress through entrepreneurial action. Through rounds of live, presentation-based competition, business leaders serving as judges determine which Enactus team and student entrepreneur will be named National Champions and represent Canada on the global stage.
The competitive process, along with additional programming, provides an opportunity for collaboration and best-practice sharing, fosters innovation, encourages results and rewards excellence in entrepreneurial, community leadership.” (Enactus Canada)
We had originally told our team of approximately 20 students that we would be holding auditions to go to Vancouver, as it would be so expensive to get there and we only could afford to take five. However, when our still-new team was named Regional Champion of the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge in March, Jim & I were determined to get all ten of our presenters from regionals to the national exposition – and we did!
The experience was amazing. To be surrounded by hundreds of student leaders, educators, and community who are all working together to make the world a better place through innovation and entrepreneurship? Inspiring… Energizing… Empowering…
I had the privilege of watching one student’s face as we started to taxi for take-off on her first time on an airplane; I can’t put that experience into words.
It was an exhausting and exhilarating week, filled with practice and performance; networking and team-building. In addition to spending most of our time at the conference or practicing, we also made time for sight-seeing, pool & hot tub time, shopping, and celebration. Sleep was in short supply while we were there, but it was worth it.
We won a “Spirit of Enactus” award for our National presentation, and cheered for Enactus NSCC Truro when they won one too. We screamed with joy when Rebecca Dunphy, president of Enactus NSCC Waterfront, won Student Leader of the Year for the country. We recognize that a win for any of our teams is a win for all of us.
There were other opportunities for individuals during the expo: Jim & I attended a faculty advisor session on the first day where we learned from the other faculty advisors from across the country; Kelyn attended the HR forum; Beth was onstage with the Nova Scotian flag during opening ceremonies; Nicole & Jim attended the executive forum; I attended the HSBC Women’s Leadership forum (a highlight of the week for me); and Holly & Emma stayed an extra two days to attend the Unilever Leadership Summit in Squamish.
We were able to record each of our presentations, both of which we are so proud of.
Bethany, Holly, Emma, Hailey, and Kelyn present the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge, outlining our “Raising the Roots” project. It is an honour to think that we were among the top seven teams of 51 in the country who competed in this challenge.
Maddie, Samantha, Sydney, Jennifer, Nicole, and Hailey present our National Competition presentation, outlining our three projects and two events undertaken this year. We won a Spirit of Enactus award for this presentation:
The students were all asked to send testimonials about their experience, with permission for me to share. I am humbled when I read them, realizing just how impactful this experience really is for them. When they look back on their time at NSCC Pictou, it is these experiences, connections, and their personal growth that I hope they will remember.
(Note: testimonials are also being complied into a report about our year and our impact, which will be sent to our supporters.)
“To me, Enactus is an opportunity for individuals to showcase their strengths through empowerment and to build upon existing communities to make them the best places for everyone, regardless of the circumstances. Enactus is a way for students from various educational disciplines to come together and influence one another to build sustainable projects that will help vulnerable populations strive for excellence. This organization allows me to act on my desire to aid others in being the best versions of themselves while also building a strong team of leaders to change the community we live in for the better. By helping people who surround us each day, we are changing the lives of those individuals, while also directly impacting ourselves to continue our efforts for meaningful change. To me, Enactus is a way I get to positively represent those in my community and help them to show the world their incredible potential.
“What an amazing opportunity it was to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia for Enactus Nationals. As a first year student your really don’t fully understand how much bigger Enactus really is when you go from your small first full year team to the teams your compete against at nationals. How crazy is it that we had the chance to change people’s lives by creating projects and career for people that need it. The amount of opportunities and the experiences Enactus NSCC Pictou has giving me is so much more than I could have thought I would have gain in my first year at NSCC Pictou. The amount of awesome support from our campus and our community is wonderful. I am so proud to be part of something that is is creating a better future for us.” ~Hailey
“There’s a special feeling you get when you look into someone’s eyes knowing you’ve helped them, that sends chills throughout your entire body. Being involved in Enactus gives you that feeling over and over again. It’s an extremely humbling organization to be involved in, and is constantly reminding you how lucky you are. We’re not just doing one good thing for someone and leaving it be, we’re continuously changing people’s lives for the better. Even though we’re young students we are leaders, and we prove that every day.
Vancouver was a great experience, there’s nothing like travelling to bring a team closer together. I found we really worked and cooperated as a strong team during the week, and were extremely supportive of one another. The trip bonded us like nothing else could, and I feel even more confident now, going into next year. Listening to the other school’s ideas through presentations were very inspiring and eye opening as to how large of an impact we can make on the world. Although our team is small, we are strong and I can’t wait to continue making an impact on our community with them.” ~Bethany
“Enactus has given me an opportunity to do things I never would have done before. I am now more comfortable working with people, and being in front of an audience. Enactus has shown me just how much we can accomplish when we all come together as a team. I was able to see changes throughout our own community, as a result of our work.
From travelling to Vancouver, I learned just how big the Enactus organization is. I wasn’t aware how many schools, students and faculty are involved in this great organization. I was able to attend the HR forum which allowed me to meet Enactus members from other schools and provinces. Based on the presentations I watched, I was amazed with how much each team is accomplishing to better their communities, as well as Canada.” ~Kelyn
“Enactus is more than just entrepreneurs doing entrepreneurial things. It is about helping people in need, building stronger communities, as well as creating jobs for people in need. We all take the time and see the needs in our communities and think “let’s be that change”. I’m proud to say, we were that change for the people in our community! I’m proud of all the teams that are part of Enactus, especially the NSCC teams, who are just a big family across the province.
“What a whirlwind of a week!! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to go to ENACTUS Nationals held in Vancouver this year and experience it with such a great bunch of women (plus Jim)! Coming from the practical nursing program I loved getting to know other students and faculty members who I most likely would not have interacted with otherwise. It has made my college experience that much more enjoyable. I walk on campus not just as a student coming to learn but I feel a sense of comfort, acceptance…I feel at home.
“During my two years of being a member of Enactus it has taught me so many skills needed for life that I wouldn’t learn in a classroom. I have met new friends and found a new view at how to look at things in the real world. Without Enactus I don’t know what I would be doing right now when it comes to my everyday life. I’ve made a brand new family that I would not change for anything. When going to school, getting involved is something that I now highly encourage everyone to do because it enhances the value of your education and how you see things differently.
In the most recent event which was the National Exposition in Vancouver we have built new team skills and ways to keep building the team and encouraging people to want to be part of what we are. When away at the national exposition you meet new people, networking and trading your skills that you have learned with other people so that in the end, everyone can succeed.
Although I may not be a student anymore at the Pictou Campus, I will always stay an active member as Alumni to the team and remember what Enactus has taught me and carry it on for the rest of my life.” ~Sydney