Stanley cup champions, PhDs, award-winning entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, empathetic educators, dedicated parents, innovative engineers, expert communicators, passionate humanitarians, warm-hearted counsellors and enthusiastic students. These represent a fraction of the adjectives and careers we could use to describe the people that make up our committee of Discover Year mentors and educators.
It would be hard not to feel humble when you surround yourself with this group of amazing people every week. Recruiting these high-performing and high-class individuals is, without a doubt, one of my proudest professional achievements to date.
At Discover Year, we meet every Wednesday for our Discovery Days, where this talented and generous group of people donate their time, their expertise and their warmth to our students. They teach them, and they learn from them.
I knew these people were incredible before we ever had our first workshop. But it’s one thing to look out at the beauty of the Dead Sea, and another to dive in and feel it’s support, keeping you afloat.
Floating might be the best way to describe the way I feel during our Discovery Days.
Every Wednesday I listen to our mentors, and every Wednesday, just when I think that – maybe – I am a special person who knows something others don’t, our mentors share such insightful thoughts and life-changing experiences that I realize just how ordinary I am.
It is truly humbling.
Week, after week, after week – constant reminders of just how ordinary I am. Or, put another way, just how extraordinary our community is.
If the humility I feel from their talent and character keeps me grounded, the inspiration I draw from their generosity makes me float.
We’re talking about some of the busiest, most passionate and capable people you can imagine, and here they are setting aside time to share their stories and expertise with us every week. Then there’s the feedback they provide, which steers the direction and development of the program. And of course, there are the coaching sessions they offer our students throughout the year. All of this for free.
In a world where everyone – from first-graders to freelance writers to firemen – seems to be over-scheduled and over-stimulated, these wonderful people set a whack of hours aside to inspire our students. They tell us stories of their trying times and their triumphs. They help us build crucial skills for future careers and current challenges. They teach us, and they learn from us.
They want to fulfill a basic human drive that sometimes seems to have been left in the evolutionary dust of the 21st century: to help the next generation thrive, without asking for anything in return. They don’t ask, but they do receive.
In fact, part of the inspiration for me comes from seeing the joy in the mentors’ faces when they tell their stories, and when they listen to our students share theirs. Teaching and learning. Learning and teaching. Around we go, all of us better off at the end of the day than when we started.
I learned many things during our first Discover Year. In fact, it often felt like I subconsciously founded the program as an educational tool for myself. I have learned new skills and I have come to better understand people in my life. But more than anything, I have been constantly reminded that, regardless of how many terrible things are happening in the world, people are fundamentally good.
The power of Discover Year lies in its people. They help us maintain our humility while inspiring meaningful personal and career development. In a society where disengagement and entitlement are common themes when discussing our labour force, humble and inspired young adults stand to make a very positive impression upon their future colleagues.
Learning and teaching. Teaching and learning. This is our way at Discover Year.
At a time of year when we traditionally express our thanks, I am incredibly grateful for the humility and inspiration that our community fosters.