By Glen Herbert
A sign of spring at Rosseau Lake College are the community talks given by the Grade 12s. Each has a chance to speak to the whole school, and the talks tend to be very personal, thoughtful. A student in our last graduating class, Judy Chen '22 spoke about how she came here four years ago, from China, to begin Grade 9. She arrived a bit late that year, just after opening day, so the following day she set out on a canoe trip, this despite the fact that she'd never been in a canoe before. Days after uprooting all that she knew—friends, family, country, coming half a world away—she was in Killarney, paddling a portion of the Canadian Shield. As Graham Vogt said recently, “she didn’t even blink an eye.”
Judy admitted that coming to RLC wasn't part of a grand plan. Even the country itself—studying in Canada—wasn’t part of any plan. “You could say that ending up in Rosseau was an accident,” she says. “Luckily, it was one of those good ones.” It began at home, during her Grade 8 year, when a friend was attending an RLC admittance interview. Judy asked if she could tag along, maybe curious as to what Rosseau was all about, or why her friend would consider going there. While at the interview, she heard that a spot was available, and was asked if she would like to take it. “I was not prepared at all,” she says, “butI just thought, ‘why not?’ It could just be fun.” Two months later, give or take a day or two, she was in that canoe, on that trip, not blinking an eye. A door had opened, and she had walked through it.
During her talk, she said that her story is about “holding on to those great opportunities.” “If I didn’t just go for it at the beginning, there is no way that I’d be sitting here today, and talking with all of you.” She feels that coming to understand why Rosseau was the right place for her, even after she’d spent some time here, “is another piece in my journey.” “We have the opportunity to do stuff, like sleep out, field trips.Fun activities, like animal tracking, and so on.” She adds, “the experience that this place can provide to us is the reason why I chose to stay. And I know that there is less and less opportunity out there to do the things we do hereafter I graduate.”
Judy concluded her talk addressing her peers directly, saying that, “I really wish that all of you enjoy the time you spend here. And when it comes to the day when you need to leave this place, you leave with the unique experience, valuable memories, and meaningful relationships. Really just make your time here worth it. … I believe that, here, all of us are given a chance to have our own magic, which helps us not only determine who we are, but also find the ones we really care about.”
The end of the school year is a time of goodbyes, but also of new beginnings. Next year, Judy is off again, heading to university. There will be more experiences, other journeys, and part of RLC will go with her.