“One percent. Two percent. Three percent milk?!” This is the first thought engraved in my memory about Canada.
You must be puzzled ... “What?!” You must be wondering if I didn’t see the beautiful array of lights illuminating the dark Vancouver night sky as the plane descended, or the groves of pine trees filling Vancouver Island, or the picturesque ocean view. I did. I internalized it all and thought it was beautiful, but these qualities did not leave permanent images in my mind like that milk did. Something so trivial, you may think. Honestly, it is the little things that impact people the most; the things you miss, the things you come to love, the tiny, minuscule details. It’s always the little things.
My journey to Canada has been the furthest and longest I have been away from home. In this short journey so far, I can attest that it indeed is the little things. The little things that people do to make you feel welcomed. The little things you did back home and can’t do here. The nostalgia that dampens your day and the motivation that keeps you going. The little things that make all the difference. The little things, like that milk. That milk that first marked the realization to me of the array of options that Canadians have. Options that my little country, Belize, does not have access to. Milk ... something so common, yet something that made me start to realize all of the bigger things that Belize does not have access to.
If we look in terms of coastal resilience, for example, both Vancouver Island and Belize are vulnerable to the effects of climate change’s rising sea level. Vancouver Island, however is better prepared in its awareness, action plan and ways of mitigating these effects. Belize, on the other hand, does not have the privilege to these options. This is the reason why my Belizean colleagues and I, through the help offered by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship, are on this journey working to make available better and more effective options for our beloved country of Belize.
Through the two courses I have completed so far, I have learned about many aspects of sustainability and ways of dealing with stakeholders. I have learned about the motivations and constraints that initiatives face and have studied both success stories and failures. The different innovative approaches, implemented by Canada and countries across the world in their efforts towards achieving sustainability and resilience, are fascinating. I am always thinking of which strategies might be applied in Belize, and how.
Though my stay has been short, every opportunity and experience I have had in Canada (both inside and out of the classroom) leads me to think back to my cherished Belize. My Belize with its limited options but wondrous opportunities. My Belize that has taught me resilience and the importance of community. My Belize that brought me to Canada. Lovely Canada that has embraced me and opened the door for new opportunities. Charming Canada that will continue to teach me resilience and the importance of forming a community. Canada, the country I will make second home in the next two years and will enable me to change not only myself but also the future of my home country.
- Yasel Acosta, VIU Master of Arts, Sustainable Leisure Management Student & QE Scholar