Are you between the ages of 18-35? If so, the Canada World Youth organization (CWY) has an exciting and life-changing experience available for you.

In the words of Jeremy Neeposh, a 26-year-old from Mistissini, the trip with CWY was “a great way to see the world”. In June, he returned from a four-month internship in Africa and wanted to share his experience. Neeposh knew about the program as he had already done three other internships abroad.

As part of its International Aboriginal Youth Internships Initiative, the CWY has been hosting 10 international internships with the aim of improving their skills and employability of Aboriginal youth along with offering them a chance to engage in international development.

The 10 interns who are selected are sent either to Nicaragua, Peru or Tanzania. Before they even leave Canada, there is a weeklong pre-departure training in Toronto as well as a briefing, evaluation and training session in preparation for the four-month overseas internship.

Neeposh picked the Tanzanian internship since he had never been to Africa and wanted to check out the local culture for himself. When he got there, he was surprised how different it was from our preconceived notions of Africa. Upon his return to Canada people asked him what it was like. He replied, “It was nothing I ever imagined it would be. Nothing I saw on TV about Africa was true. It was very different, what my eyes have seen. I was in awe.”

During the internship, the youths live with a local host family in the community where they are volunteers. In Neeposh’s case, his host family was, simply put, “awesome”. During his time there, the host family’s son became a little brother to Neeposh. The boy’s curiosity left a lasting impression on Neeposh.

Each destination offers a different experience for the Aboriginal youths. In Nicaragua, interns will be working in Estell with the non-profit organization FUNARTE. They will be working together to combat school violence as well as strengthening gender equality through art and sensitization campaigns.

Interns who go to Peru will be based in Palca and they will work alongside the Brigada de Voluntarios Bolivarianos del Peru. This internship will promote a healthy homes initiative where interns will be addressing domestic health issues as well as building eco-friendly stoves and refrigerators.

Sustainability is the theme of the Tanzanian internship. The volunteers will be staying in the Chamazi district, where they will be working at an eco-village operated by Uvikiuta, an independent non-governmental organization that works with youth. The project promotes environmental conservation through sustainable planning and practices.

The Tanzanian internship was divided into four different areas of volunteering. For the first month, Neeposh helped out in a school taking care of children with special needs. The next month was spent working at Uvikiuta’s office.

The environmental sustainability took centre stage in the third month when Neeposh assisted in the planting of trees in Zanzibar. And for the final month of the internship, Neeposh got to coordinate with volunteers from Kenya for community work.

After their overseas internships, the Aboriginal youths are required to volunteer in their home communities to promote international development aid. The youths also give public speeches relating their experiences to their fellow community members.

These internships are about more than just receiving valuable work experience and training, they are about inspiring the next generation of Aboriginal leaders. The skills that will be conferred to the participants will only serve to promote sustainable development in their home communities.

The CWY was founded in 1971 and has been a world leader in the development of international educational programs for youth between the ages of 15-35. The programs that the CWY has developed were designed to encourage young Canadians from all backgrounds to experience the world for themselves and give them the opportunity to learn about foreign cultures and languages.