I quick update on what’s been going on in the lovely town of Wainwright, Alberta.
Today was my first full day on base, and everything I learned six months ago is coming back to me quickly: The ranks, the regiments, the names of weaponry and which building are which.
The weather is cool, but cloudless and sunny. No snow yet.
The biggest change here from my last exercise, unknown to me until I arrived yesterday, is that we aren’t training for Afghanistan anymore.
In fact, the scenario isn’t set, as far as I know, in Asia. And it’s not set anywhere in the Middle East for that matter.
The journalists don’t know much yet, but we have some details: We will be on an “island,” where the insurgents will be just as well armed as the Canadian troops. I believe it is going to be a UN-led mission, and that the primary language of West Isle is going to be Spanish.
It’s very different from Afghanistan. While it isn’t supposed to replicate a real-world conflict zone, we think the economic and political climate of the environment will be similar to that of Haiti.
But that’s only a guess. I’ll find out for sure when the exercise starts.
Armed with five textbooks, two jackets, three heavy sweaters and more wiry wool socks than anyone should ever have, I am 10 minutes away from boarding my Edmonton-bound plane on my way to Wainwright, Alberta to spend another three weeks living on a military base.
Last April I paid to take a course in foreign correspondence, which included several weeks practical experience covering troops as they rehearsed manoeuvres, practice for how Canada plans to transition out of Afghanistan.
Who knew I would have loved it as much as I did, but here I am: I signed myself up for round two, and went after getting the opportunity with everything I had.
Sure, I’m missing a midterm, a research project, two guest speakers, an in-class essay, a quiz, multiple assignments and many readings. But what kind of student sleeps anyway?
This experience was simply too much to pass up: Sponsored school fees, free accommodation, free meals, reimbursed travel and the experience of a lifetime. (Well, a second experience of a lifetime.)
On top of it all, I am getting paid to do what I love. Do you know how cool it is to put on my resume that I have done contract work with the Department of National Defense? Very. Cool.
Boarding time, wish me luck.
(It took me 10 minutes to write this. I need to work on that.)