Quebec to Prince Edward Island
My name is Vicky. I’m 23, and I live in Quebec. In the spring of 2015, I enjoyed a five-week stay in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, as part of the Explore program. It was the best time of my life. I blossomed like a flower in the sunshine. I gained confidence and discovered that I love to speak English! I have so many wonderful memories that it’s hard to choose just one — but here goes. One evening, the instructors and staff surprised us with an early Saint-Jean-Baptiste-Day celebration. What a treat — they even served poutine! At one point we were in a circle singing On va s’aimer encore by Vincent Vallière, and I was filled with love and happiness. I remember the moment we sang the words “On va s’aimer encore, à la vie, à la mort…” (Let’s keep loving, in life, in death). Surrounded by new friends, I felt happy. That’s when I realized that the adventure was real and my life had changed forever. I’d met young adults with whom I’d developed an incredible rapport, even though they’d been total strangers only weeks before. Those new friendships continued after Explore, and we stayed in touch in person, on Facebook, by text, or through Snapchat.
A few months after I came home from the session, it turned out that the lyrics we’d sung had been tragically prescient. My best Explore friend, who’d occupied a very special place in my life every day, was killed in a savage, unprovoked assault. The shock wave of this loss brought our Explore community even closer together. Tributes flowed as we mourned him. Support welled up from Quebec all the way to P.E.I.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Explore program for giving students such an intense immersion experience and an opportunity to meet amazing new people. If I hadn’t gone on that trip, I wouldn’t have met François-Xavier, and I wouldn’t be who I am today. For that, I will be forever grateful.