Strumming her guitar Sophia Higgins prepares to help others by learning leadership skills.
The Metchosin teen was selected to be a part of the Canada World Youth program starting this October.
The 18-year-old will travel to Price Edward Island with eight other young adults from across Canada and be paired with nine others from Indonesia.
Before she starts the program Higgins is required to raise $3,200 to help cover costs for the non-profit organization. Most of Higgins’ expenses are covered through the Canadian International Development Agency sponsorship worth about $20,000.
She is organizing a fundraiser this month at the St. Mary of Incarnation church showcasing her singing, guitar and violin talents. Her friends, fellow musicians Elena Hoh, 17, and Claire Brady, 18, will also perform. Hoh plays cello and ukelele, Brady plays the double bass and both will sing.
If Higgins raises more than the allotted amount at her concert, she plans to donate the funds to Canada World Youth.
Working three jobs to help earn the funds, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and create the concert.
“Organizing this is helping me learn leadership. It’s important for me to make connections in my own community,” Higgins said.
Starting in October the team will live with host families, one Canadian and one Indonesian per home, for three months in the Canadian province. Then in January, all 18 of them will travel to Indonesia for another three months.
“I went to Indonesia when I was five, but I don’t remember much. I travelled around Southeast Asia with my family,” she said.
This time, she will stay in a small town called Cikandang in West Java.
Throughout the six months Higgins and her peers will work in various communities, focusing on different areas of service.
Higgins is assigned to focus on health and the environment, but she will not know her assignments until she begins the program.
“This provides a great opportunity for young people. It can help us develop leadership skills and give us insights into the community,” said Higgins.
She has a passion for agriculture and would like to one day have a career in farming. She is looking into a non-traditional lifestyle that may include living in a communal setting on a farm with other like-minded people. “Land pricing is so expensive these days.”
When Higgins returns she would like to get some experience with WWOOfing – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which connects willing workers with farms to trade labour for room and board.
“Supporting Sophia is really investing in your own community,” said Ben Chung, recruitment co-ordinator for Canada World Youth. He explaining the program is only six months and then Higgins will come back to her community with what she has learned.
Chung was a participant in the program in 2008 and he worked in Brechin, Ont. and Honduras.
“For me it was really about learning leadership,” said Chung adding the experience honed skills and taught him about communication skills and teamwork.