When you think about 4-H, it’s unlikely the first places that come to mind are Jamaica or Taiwan or Costa Rica, but families from across Canada are hosting farmers from those countries and more this year.
Part of the 4-H Canada Going Global program, Andrew Grose from Alma spent the month of July in Taiwan, touring and learning about the differences in culture, food, agriculture and manufacturing, among other experiences.
When he returned, there was just one month before Ruby, or Hsu Ning Jui as she is known back home, would come to stay with his family at their farm. Ruby hails from New Tai Pei, Taiwan and on the last day of her trip to Canada, with some stops in the United States, reflected on her experiences.
“I did so many things for the first time. I did a lot and I learned a lot,” she said sitting around the Grose kitchen table after lunch last week. “I find that everybody here will try anything they can. They would say, ‘you can do it’ and that inspired me.”
She says she will be bringing back the 4-H Canada spirit to her home in Taiwan.
“You learn by doing,” she said.
There were some aspects of Canadian living that she had to get used to pretty quick. When she was coming to Canada, Sharon Grose, Andrew’s mother, asked her what she wanted to do once she arrived on their farm.
“She said she wanted to go to Manitoba,” laughed Sharon. “We all looked at each other and asked, ‘does she know how far that is?’ But, we made it work. We took a 14-day road trip and in that time, we drove 17 times the length of Taiwan. Everything in Taiwan is less than a four-hour drive away.”
Among the ‘firsts’ Ruby experienced while visiting was eating pie for brunch, showing animals at 4-H fairs in different provinces, driving a tractor into the fields, riding in ATVs and much more.“I love pie. I never had it before,” she said. “I also learned that I can talk to strangers. Everyone is so friendly.”
Andrew’s trip was a little bit different, travelling to the densely populated Asian country, staying with two host families and experiencing an unfamiliar culture and lifestyle. He says everyone should sign up for something like this if they get the chance.
“Just go for it. It is such a different experience. Coming from Alma, where I live on a farm, and we have such large open spaces, just going to another country, seeing how they live and experiencing the different culture and food, it is just awesome. Try it,” he said.
Ruby says she hopes her experience in Canada and the United States can encourage others to take the plunge into the unknown.
“Just not to be afraid to face anything. It is brave to try things that you have never done before,” she said.
The 4-H Canada Going Global exchange program partnered up with agricultural programs in eight countries, with ten Canadian farming youth taking trips to countries like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, the United Kingdom and Finland. Each country also had young farmers representing them here in Canada throughout the year.
Andrew kept a blog of his trip to Taiwan, and it can be found at www.4-hggexchange.weebly.com.