This past summer I took a forty day trip across Canada. The entire trip was under the umbrella of a larger organization called CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), an organization aimed at improving global peace by educating teenagers and children about other cultures and social issues. With the title “Peace Bus”, the program was meant to educate us about Canada’s role and history in global peace via various “peace” activities to be carried out during the trip: however, we only got to do three of the planned learning activities over the forty days. So, you may ask, what did we do for the five weeks? Well, that’s a great question, and hopefully, by reading about what we did, what we experienced, and what we learned, you’ll want to take a trip just like this sometime soon.
The trip started in Victoria, B.C. We went on the Eastbound (EB) Peacebus, and had our final destination in Halifax, NS. There were nine delegates total (coming from all across Canada), and three adult leaders who would facilitate our travels. Almost all of us strangers, we quickly became friends after realizing that we would be confined to a fifteen person van for the next forty days.
-Half the bus shopping in Victoria, B.C
The goal of the trip was to learn more about the history of Canada, and learn more about the four pillars of CISV (human rights, sustainability, conflict resolution, and diversity). In each city we went to, we did volunteering work and if we had a delegate from that city, that delegate organized the volunteering for their city. We were encouraged to choose activities that meant something to us- resulting in a wide variety of activities that showed a little bit of what we thought could benefit from help in our cities.
While finishing my CAS project was nice, the real experience of the trip was getting to cross Canada with eight other like-minded young people. Driving across the country gave us breathtaking views. Personally, I loved driving through the rocky mountains- from where we drove, we were able to see the jaw-dropping glaciers.
-View from Gonzales Bay, Victoria B.C
-View from the bus as we drove through the Rocky Mountains, from B.C to Alberta
-A field, somewhere in Winnipeg. Prettier than Saskatchewan.
While traveling, we either camped out in the Canadian wilderness or stayed at a delegate or fellow CISver’s home (we call them homestays). This meant we literally spent 24 hours a day together, sleeping, eating, and talking. We discussed our home cities, different issues affecting our daily lives, and so much more. By talking with everyone, I realized how different each part of Canada truly is both community wise and geographically. For example, Fredericton NB has a much more laid back environment than the urban city of Toronto or the touristy town of Banff, Alberta. And frankly, our amazing city of Toronto is much more grungy than many of the other cities in Canada- something that I only fully realized when I returned home at the end of the adventure.
-Taking a picture at the famous Toronto sign at City Hall
While learning about everyone’s hometown was awesome, the best part of the trip was really just getting to know everyone. Spending time in the bus, singing together, laughing (sometimes crying), and staying up all night (or trying to) truly made the trip special. The best moments of the trip were when all of us just got time to talk. Whether in the bus, under the starlight when we were camping or hanging out in any of the homestays, those were the moments when memories were made.
-A bright photo at the Museum of History in Ottawa
The photos throughout this essay barely showcase this amazing experience. Getting across the country was truly something I won’t forget, and as many of my friends know, I love talking about it, so if you have questions about the trip or how to be a part of it next year, let me know!
-My favourite picture of us, from Kitchener, ON.