Year 1 in Edmonton: Competition, camaraderie and community

Since starting at MDB Insight over a year ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of great projects in Canada’s western provinces, so when the  opportunity came up to attend program in Edmonton, I was excited to return to the Edmonton area. Besides, Edmonton is my hometown, and it’s nice to visit as often as I can!

For those unfamiliar with the Year 1 format, the course runs for five and a half days, beginning Sunday evening and proceeding through Friday afternoon. While the lecturers were inspiring and helpful, I have to agree with Brock Dickinson’s point in his lecture that we would learn as much from each other over the course of the week as we would from the structured class time. He was right in two important ways.

First we all had many opportunities to conduct hands-on activities that required team work, grappling with and understanding important concepts or practices, and often communicating our small group findings to the larger class. Second, we had plenty of opportunities to hear about the experiences of different communities through our classmates.

I can’t speak highly enough of the importance of forming strong relationships with peers in the field. Whether bonding over a couple pints or scurrying to beat another “team” at a challenge, the program fostered mutual respect, friendships and camaraderie. Over the course of the week, I had the great pleasure of meeting wonderful folks from all over BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Overall, Year 1 was an enlightening experience that expanded my mind and introduced me to so many people that I look forward to running into again down the road. I returned home with a renewed sense of optimism and great ideas about how to improve my own work and better serve the communities I have the opportunity to work with.

Now… if I could only find time to finish my Year 1 paper!