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Sights set on eastern dragon

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (July 09/04) - After a taste of higher learning, Nigit'stil Norbert has decided to take a break from the classroom and books to try living in another country as a way to expand her mind.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Providing she can raise enough money, Canada World Youth volunteer Nigit'stil Norbert will travel with several other Canadian youth to do volunteer work in China's capital city next year. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

The 19-year-old was recently asked to take part in the Canada World Youth mission to Beijing, China, which will include volunteering as an English teacher for other students of similar age.

"I totally forgot that I had applied to go," said Norbert, who made an application to the organization when she was in Grade 11.

Two years passed and so did Norbert's graduation from Samuel Hearne secondary school, as well as a year of general arts and sciences courses at Yukon College.

"I was extremely excited to be selected," she said of CWY's offer to live and work four months in the often referred to Land of the Sleeping Dragon.

Getting ready

In preparation for her trip, Norbert will spend four months in British Columbia with other CWY volunteers. In January 2005, she departs for four months of living in what she expects will be an entirely different world.

"I expect to bump into people a lot," she said, joking about Beijing's population that at last count had surpassed 14 million residents.

"I also expect to learn about the history. There's so much history and culture that goes back thousands of years. I expect to be amazed."

When Norbert travels to China, not only will she be representing Canada, but she will also be an ambassador of the Gwich'in. She plans to share her heritage with her hosts.

A summer job at the Western Arctic Regional Visitors Centre provided Norbert a timely opportunity for her to brush up on her history as a tour counsellor there.

"I'm learning a lot about my culture with that job so it's good, especially before this trip," she said.

However, what Norbert takes most seriously is her hopes that she will encourage others her age to make similar opportunities for themselves.

"Not a lot of youth get this kind of chance and that's what I really want to let people know by doing this," she said. "When you finish school there's a lot out there that you can do."

Now that's taking the bull by the horns, or should we say dragon?