Governor General's Youth Forum
Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Feb. 13-17, 2002
Marc, one of delegates who attended this awesome event sent us an email when he got home. We thought it really captured a lot of the emotions flying around, and thought it would be a fitting introduction to this website:
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Governor General's Youth Forum in Ottawa for a 5 day conference on "community involvement". It was something that I had applied for through the Students Commission but hadn't thought much about.
When I got the phone call at my school one day, telling me that I had been accepted, it was such a shock to me! What was I getting myself into? This was a question which would linger in my mind right until the very day that I finally arrived in Ottawa.
We arrived sometime after lunch. I remember going around to everyone and asking their names, even though I knew what a lost cause this would prove to be in the end.
As the days went on, everyone began to realize how lucky we all truly were. The food, service, and hospitality of everyone in the Rideau Hall staff was something which none of us had ever encountered before. It was as if we had stepped into a fairy tale. Everything was perfect. I mean, how many people can say that they did the YMCA with Her Excellency, Adrienne Clarkson and went skating with His Excellency, John Ralston Saul? I'm thinking that there aren't very many.
When Saturday night came around, everyone knew what was to follow the farewell dinner and dance. It was something which we had all been dreading since we had arrived. As quickly as it had come, it was gone. Nothing seemed to matter at that point except for what was going on around us. The mood had changed from one of cheerfulness to one of sadness and the horrible thoughts of leaving all the wonderful people which we had just begun to know. Our perfect little world was to be torn apart soon. But, I noticed a very different atmosphere to the ones which I had experienced in other conferences which I had been to. There was no talk of goodbyes or farewells. The only thing which I heard as I left the Ramada hotel that day was "see you soon". It was amazing! Here were 100 odd students who had been brought from across Canada and who were saying that they would someday meet each other again.
As I returned to the real world and attended school in my hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick today, I began to think about everything I had experienced and everyone I had had the opportunity to get to know. I began to wonder what they were all doing at that very minute. What it was that was going through their minds? In the end I realized it. It had taken me this long to click in.
We had all been brought to Ottawa, not to leave our experience behind or keep them for ourselves. We had all been chosen because we meant something to our community. Nobody said goodbye or farewell that day because we all knew that someday, somehow, we would all run into each other again. In our quest to do better in our communities, we would always be linked somehow. It is remarkably true what His Excellency had said during one of our many meetings with him, we, the teens of the world, are not the future, we are the now.
Be the now guys! See you all soon.