By Bethany Vanasse
After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Place aux jeunes Eastern Townships has jumped back into hosting in-person Discovery Trips. On the last weekend in May, Champlain College and Bishop’s University students were invited to explore the Townships.
Since many students at our local, English post-secondary schools did not grow up here, this Discovery Trip was an opportunity for them to leave campus and broaden their horizons. The trip primarily focused on exploring the western half of the Townships, with stops in four regions, including Des Sources, Brome-Missisquoi, Haute-Yamaska, and Memphremagog. Over the course of the weekend, they had a chance to see some of Danville’s historic architecture, admire Sutton’s natural beauty, and fall in love with Knowlton’s quaint charm. A few students, who had previously considered moving to Montreal to continue their education, were suddenly enchanted with the allure of small towns and quiet, rural living, and realized that they might want to rethink their future plans.
The weekend kicked off bright and early on Saturday morning with a meeting at Mental Health Estrie in Lennoxville. The students had a chance to learn about working as a mental health care provider as well as understanding what it means to work in community development and the rewarding aspects of this type of career path. On day two of the visit, the group had a tour of Virgin Hill Coffee Roasters in Foster and sat down with one of the owners to discuss the ins and outs of starting a business in the Townships. The students learned how flexibility, creativity, hard work and perseverance are only just a few characteristics that entrepreneurs need to bring their dreams to fruition. One of the main takeaways was that, even in the face of setbacks and challenges (of which there have been many for most small businesses throughout the pandemic), it’s possible for an innovative and dedicated team to work together and pull through. It also became clear that when local businesses generously take care of their community year after year, the community will be there to return the favour with their loyalty and support.
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By Bethany Vanasse