You could tell that in here, people mattered. At the core was of all of their work was solid relationship building.
From the moment I walked into ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) I knew that I had made the right decision. I felt instantly welcomed and connected. People were open to conversations and answered all of my questions with a smile. The executive director’s door opened up directly to the drop-in – and she greeted everyone who walked through the door. The office was decorated with art of all kinds – some made by staff or clients or students from the art school. Sometimes you could find someone playing a musical instrument in the drop-in. You could tell that in here, people mattered. At the core was of all of their work was solid relationship building. I felt at home instantly.
Being in a small town was a new experience for me. Though I come from the prairies, I’ve always been a bit of a city girl. Nelson is not tiny, but it is definitely not Vancouver. There are different issues that arise, different agendas being pushed. There are many challenges that people in rural places face being far away from an urban centre. I think witnessing this first hand was a great learning experience for me, going back t0 Vancouver, to understand how this affects my rural clients.
There is something truly special about a place that is so small, so short on resources and understaffed, but is doing such progressive, innovative work. There is so much passion behind the work. The people truly believe in what they are doing – otherwise they wouldn’t last. They work creatively and efficiently to get things done.
I am truly grateful for my experience in Nelson and at ANKORS. The community aspect was really special. If my legs were too tired to walk up a mountain to get home there was always someone who would offer to drive me. I met some interesting, amazing people who toured me through the scenic communities – from wild hot springs, to beaches that go on for days, to challenging hikes.
I found that being away from my comfort zone I had time for me. I was able to reflect, and get to know myself in a new way. I had time for self-care and exploration. And got to pick and choose who I spent my time with.
As far as practicum experiences go, I was really pleased with mine. Getting away from Vancouver was rewarding in many ways. I was able to learn in a new environment, I was able to grow into myself as a person and as a social worker, and I gained a new level of confidence and independence. I feel that this decision was vital in preparing me for my future career as a social worker.