Alas, this was my last week at the Institute for Liberal Studies. It has been a chance to reflect on just how much I have done over the past 7 weeks: I have seen the misty sights from the top of Burnaby Mountain outside of Vancouver; I have spoken French for an entire weekend in Montreal; I have ridden rollercoasters dozens of metres above the Las Vegas Strip; and, I have been able to call the calm and beautiful Ottawa home. On a less happy note, as of early Sunday morning, I had visited Vancouver International Airport a total of 6 times since I arrived in Canada.
This week I finished a number of small projects. The Institute for Liberal Studies is preparing for their second Freedom Week of 2016, which will take place at McGill University in downtown Montreal. Over the course of the two 2016 Freedom Weeks, the ILS will have spent a collective 10 days immersing roughly 90 Canadian and US university students in the ideas of freedom that are so important to our future. Last year, my friend Michelle went to Freedom Week feeling mild discontent with the way her political party, the Liberal Party of Canada, operated. She came away with renewed optimism and vigour for influencing the future of her country: this time not (necessarily) by fighting along partisan lines, but by making the case for change to the people. She gravitated towards liberalism thanks to the ILS, and she is by no means the exception to the rule amongst Freedom Week participants. Michelle now feels far more comfortable getting involved in diverse groups, disagreeing openly with her professors, and questioning accepted belief. From my involvement in Mannkal, I have had a very similar experience. From what I have heard on my first week’s lecture recordings, I have many points to bring up with my professors.
I had poutine for the first time on Thursday! Mine was slightly modified (okay, very modified), with jalapeños, Sriracha, avocado and vegetarian gravy, but it was delicious nonetheless. That night, Michelle and I went to Matt and Janet’s for a lovely dinner. In addition, I was allowed to hold their copy of the 4th edition of The Wealth of Nations, printed in 1785! I could not imagine two nicer people to work for. I imagine that the effect Freedom Week has on students is in part due to the charisma, likeability and tolerant attitudes of these two.
I said goodbye to the wonderful Canadians I’ve met, especially Matt and Janet, and my close friend Michelle! Back to the real world, I suppose. Thanks must go again to the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, who are doing amazing work influencing a generation of Western Australians from diverse backgrounds. I have had an incredible time. I take pleasure in knowing just how many curious and intelligent students Mannkal sends on similar experiences each year. The future looks bright.