Judith Hege at her workplace, Winnipeg Harvest.
MCC Photo / Alison Ralph

Judith Hege at her workplace, Winnipeg Harvest.

My IVEP placement is at Winnipeg Harvest, a food distribution and training center. I work for volunteer services giving tours for groups, working with the volunteers and being part of managing the volunteers and related administrative work. I like to work with all the volunteers coming from different backgrounds, abilities and ages. It can be challenging and extremely busy, but you also get so much friendliness and joy from the volunteers.

One day I came to my workplace in the morning and at the entrance area I met a woman from Zimbabwe. I shook her hand and said: “Good Morning!” I don´t know why I shook her hand. Normally Canadians just say “Hi!” and maybe wave with their hand (except if it is very official and you introduce yourself). After I shook her hand I excused myself and was going to leave but then she told me that she was from Zimbabwe and that in her home country they shake hands if they like someone. I told her that we in Germany also shake hands. I stood there and shook her hand again and again. It was a lovely encounter in a week where I felt very lonely.

Living in a host family gives me a deeper insight into Canadian culture. For example, my host sister celebrated her birthday two days before her actual birthday. I had promised her I’d bake a cake, automatically thinking they would eat the cake at the beginning of the party at 3:00 pm when all the kids come over. Luckily I asked about it, because we ate the cake after supper. In Germany we would not celebrate a birthday before the actual date and we would always eat the cake at cake time - 3:00pm.

I enjoy the IVEP program because I get to meet young adults from so many different countries. At mid-year conference, I got to talk to people from all over the world and learned about different cultures. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve and learn in Canada and feel blessed to be here.