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Je me souviens, Riviere-du-Loup
Rivière-du-Loup (RDL), a little town in northeastern Quebec claims to have the second most beautiful sunset after Hawaii.
The sunset was indeed gorgeous- filled with vibrant colour and welcoming warmth, but it did not compare to the beauty of the people I shared it with.
In summer 2010, I spent 5 glorious weeks in RDL for a French immersion program called J’explore. I arrived with little expectations, but I came back with treasured experiences that allowed me to grow as an person.
RDL was magical thanks to my fellow explorers. Everyone brought ideas and characteristics unique to who they were and where they came from. Someone from the western provinces like Alberta introduced us to the unofficial sport of “muddling” - one big party in a mud field. Another delighted us with his Newfoundland accent because he was the only “Newfie” we have ever met. As I just came back from an exchange in France, I taught everyone French slang and was soon dubbed the resident tutor, a role that I loved because I was gratified to help others improve.
A friend told me that everyone is a blank sheet (like tabula rasa) and living brings colour. As people meet, their pages touch and the colours seep from one page to another, making every page even more special.
Undoubtedly, my page was overflowing with colours because everyone I met created a palette even more diverse than the sunset. They mixed together into a whirlwind, taking the town, and me, by storm. I felt like the sky, absorbing all the colours to make me the best that I’ve ever been.
Through my new friends I discovered more of who I wanted to be because I found great traits in each of them from which I wanted to learn, such as incorporating more art into my life and taking more initiative to meet new people.
Despite our differences, by being there all together that summer, we created idiosyncrasies that bonded us tighter: from playing a card game with absurd rules that we fondly called “Mao” to inventing words to get around the strict French-only rules.
Those five weeks gave me new
encouragement on what I wanted in life. The experience cemented my desire to travel because I realized that I wanted to create many more similar rich experiences and relationships. I was amazed to find that through diversity, people always manage to come together. Moreover, I found that no matter where I am, I naturally fall to the role of a tutor. It gave me great pleasure when someone used a French expression that I taught her in the correct context. It is a role I am proud of and would like to keep.
The memories of RDL remind me to remain passionate about new adventures. The diversity of people I encountered during this experience was eye-opening and fortunately, our friendships still remain strong to this day.
When I see the colours of sunset, I can see their smiles cheering me on.