Being empowered doesn’t come from things that come easy to us. It comes from the tougher times where we push ourselves to the limits and survive to tell the story. That’s how I feel about this experience.

Everyone else was so excited for ‘Week In The Life.’ I, on the other hand, was terrified. I didn’t sleep at all the night before we moved in or the first night outside of our normal bunkhouse either. I was living without walls and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I have.

With a few changes, I’ve still been able to live this experience with everyone else. Though I helped with the building of the house, I don’t sleep there. I sleep in a room, on a concrete floor, with all the windows open. I have a mattress and a plastic chair, which are the only things that the others don’t have. No electricity. No running water. We all cook meals over the fire. It’s not an easy life to get used to.

We were all talking around the fire last night about the things we missed the most. The item I said I wish I had was a lamp. Just to be able to read at night is a luxury I definitely take for granted. The food item I wanted more than anything was peanut butter. Seems simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised how expensive it is for a family of 5 who are living on the income of one field worker! I’ll never look at it the same way again.

Showering is very different also. Though I find bathing with just a bucket challenging, it does raise a startling point about water usage. We as Canadians use far too much. To know that I can wash my hair and my entire body with just one bucket of water is shocking because I know I use far more in a shower with running water whether I mean to or not.

But the best thing that has come from this experience is that I feel it has made everyone better friends. In order to be successful in an environment like this, you have to be able to work together and function as one unit. I think we have done pretty well at doing just that. Personally, I have had to become better at acknowledging what I can and cannot do and ask for help. I am not usually good at that, but during this time I’ve had no choice. I’ve also had to do different types of work than the others would do. There are times I wish I could be in the fields working with them, but at the same time I like doing different work because I enjoy when we share our stories about our day once we’re all together in the evening again. It makes the experience all the more interesting.

Is this a way I would want to live for an extended period of time? No. But I have realized that the people who do live in these circumstances are extremely courageous and strong. After walking a mile in their shoes, no better words could be said. My frame of mind has been forever changed by this experience.

– Melissa, Academy Student 2015

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