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What I learned, what I’m grateful for, and what made me happy -- Kelsey Harding

When I sit down to write, a few days after returning home from the Chinook Project’s mission to Nain and Sheshatshiu, I have finally had a chance to stop and start really reflecting on this experience. The Chinook Project has been an eye opening and absolutely amazing experience that is difficult to put into words. Besides having the opportunity to gain surgical experience and improve various veterinary skills, this trip provided me with something much more; and this reflection piece provides the opportunity to reflect on that “more” – describing something I learned, something I’m grateful for, and something that gives me happiness.

Although I could write for pages and pages about everything I learned, one of the most important things this trip has taught me is to never be afraid to step outside my comfort zone. This trip really pushed me to the limit -- both mentally and physically – and I’ve learned that out at the limit is where the magic happens. Working with our team allowed me to start finding a sense of confidence in unfamiliar and intimidating situations.

I am grateful for each and every one of my teammates and all of the amazing individuals in Nain and Sheshatshiu who were vital in coordinating the clinics at each location. There is a rather clichéd saying – “there is no ‘I’ in team”; and with 76 surgeries and 147 medical appointments completed in just eight days it has never been clearer to me just how important teamwork is. My teammates’ unrelenting hard work, positive attitudes, support and ability to laugh through the long, exhausting days has really solidified for me what kind of a veterinary team I will be in search of upon graduation.

There were two main things that made me happy about this trip. The first was having the chance to explore a different part of my country that I was unfamiliar with. We had a chance on our last evening in Nain to do some hiking just before the sun set and view some breath taking scenery. We all stood on top of the mountains taking pictures, and, as one of my teammates put it so perfectly, “You cannot possibly capture this kind of beauty in a picture.”

The second thing that made me happy was the strong bond that our team was able to develop over the course of our trip. It was really cool to watch and also feel the improvement in efficiency and self-confidence between the first day in Nain to the last day in Sheshatshui. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to really get to know my classmates Alie, Liz, Chris and Michelle. I also feel privileged to have had the chance to learn from all of the truly amazing veterinarians that were a part of the team. Lastly, this bond that formed between us made me realize that I wish I knew all of my other classmates on the same level. Moving forward I will be making sure I take the time to get to know my rotation mates better in order to get the most out of my last year as possible.

(Kelsey Harding, AVC 2017, traveled to Nain & Sheshatshiu in 2016 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing. This is one of Kelsey's pieces)

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