Posted 06/09/2017 4:25:51 PM by Vanessa Smit

Imagine how one summer can change your life! That's what over 700 Canadian youth did when they joined the Summer Works Student Exchange (SWSE) program. For six weeks students from across Canada switched places to learn about a new part of Canada, improve their communication skills, and gain valuable work experience.

This summer we welcomed a group of vibrant young people into Vancouver. One of those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teens was Jöan Falex Mignot  from Quebec. We caught up with Jöan to hear about his experience, and he was quick to praise the program. “It was amazing… a lot of memories, saw a lot of things; I met a lot of people.” Beyond having the opportunity to try new things and make new friends and connections, Jöan learned that he has a hidden talent of coordinating. “I can organize more than I thought," said Jöan after he explained that he slipped into the role of the unofficial coordinator. He did that by being the main point of contact, keeping the lines of communication open and coordinating between the host families and students. Jöan has plans to connect with his local YMCA to explore opportunities to join the Y team as an official coordinator in the future!

We also had the chance to meet Ginger Arriola, who hosted Jöan in her family home this summer. Five years ago, Ginger’s daughter participated in the program and this summer her son was accepted as a participant. She became aware of the impact of the program after seeing how it helped her daughter thrive. She saw a little more confidence, more responsibility, improved time-management and greater social connection. Ginger is fond of the program and loves to refer people to SWSE whenever she can. She told us, “this is a program that extends beyond what they can afford or will be allowed to do... they’re exploring, and they’re learning at their comfort level and abilities.”

Now that summer 2017 has come and gone we are excited to start planning for the next year of Summer Works Students. For more information on the summer works student exchange program visit

Vanessa Smit

About Vanessa Smit

Vanessa is passionate about anything community and social responsibility related. Don’t be surprised if you find her playing in the sunshine or watching an NBA game. Vanessa is a Marketing and Communications, Manager at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver.

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