Experience of a lifetime

Two Parkland students traveled to Australia as Youth Ambassadors

Colin Bishop and Alex Dombroski spent nine days in Cairns

Colin Bishop and Alex Dombroski are two teens who shared a life experience this past summer that most people their age haven’t.

Bishop and Dombroski, both 17, traveled to Cairns, Australia as Youth Ambassadors with the Sidney Sister Cities Association. They spent nine days in Cairns with other Youth Ambassadors from Minami (Japan), Oyama (Japan), Riga (Latvia), Zhanjiang (China) and Scottsdale, Arizona.

“It’s a program we were invited to participate in about three years ago, but we didn’t have enough time then to get it organized. When it came up again we decided to jump on it and we approached Parkland Secondary to help us find a couple of candidates,” explained Sarah Carroll of the Sidney Sister Cities Association (SSCA), adding that Parkland principal Lizanne Chicanot was very supportive.

“Through the process of looking for Youth Ambassdors we came by Alex and Colin and we knew they’d be great ambassadors of Sidney,” said Carroll.

Bishop and Dombroski flew into Sydney, then traveled to Cairns where they spent five days in a classroom setting at a secondary school and four days exploring the city.

“Cairns is such a beautiful place,” said Bishop. “The mix of the landscapes in the area, with agricultural, coastal, mountain, it’s a very beautiful place and what the effort the city has gone to to make Cairns a tourist designation is fantastic.”

The two stayed with host families during their time in Cairns which Dombroski said allowed them to explore parts of the city they may not have otherwise seen.

“That part was really great,” she said.

The two said they formed bonds with the other Youth Ambassadors from Cairns’ other sister cities and learned a lot about different cultures.

“It was a spectacular experience and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take it,” said Bishop.

Bishop and Dombroski also took time after acting as Youth Ambassadors to travel to other parts of Australia including Brisbane. They raised all the money for their travel on their own, said Carroll, and the SSCA gave out two $1,000 scholarships to the two upon their return.

“It’s a marvellous thing for students like Alex and Colin to travel and get to know people from around the world and learn about different cultures. That’s what Sister Cities are all about,” said Carroll, adding that SSCA plans to continue the Youth Ambassador program.

Bishop and Dombroski said they are excited to share their experiences with their peers once school is back in session as well as with members of the SSCA at their October meeting.

Art on display at CACSP

Alex Dombroski’s photography from the trip as a Youth Ambassador to Cairns, Australia is on display this month at the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula’s gallery in Tulista Park.

Sixteen of her favourite photos from the trip are on display along with several works by artist Richard Wong who also traveled to Cairns as part of a Artist in Residency Program at Tanks Arts Centre this summer.

Wong, a watercolour painter, took 11 paintings of endangered local and Canadian wildlife with him and worked on 24 pieces while he was there which depict Australia’s endangered flora and fauna.

The show “Sidney in Cairns” runs at the CACSP Gallery until Sept. 21. For more information visit cacsp.com.