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Nykeala West's Story

Nykeala West in Austria in 2023

I have returned home feeling so grateful for every minute of this experience. It is hard to put into words exactly how much of an impact this trip has had on me. I adopted new mindsets, understood different perspectives, stepped outside of my comfort zone many times, and learned a lot about myself and the world. New friends, new foods, different laws, and new experiences- like The Elps!

This experience gave students from all around the world including Mexico, Germany, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Austria, NS, BC, Vancouver and various states from the US, the opportunity to come together and learn from each other and discuss how social work is viewed and carried out in the places we are from.

We had lecturers from around the world teaching us important topics, we toured over 100 feet below mountains, we visited prisons, toured an old concentration camp, an HIV clinic, adoption agencies, homeless shelters, visited different cities and so much more. I experienced an overwhelming amount of passion and belonging when we visited Lebenshilfe Upper Austria, which is a facility for people with intellectual disabilities. This was the highlight of my trip- with my weekend trip to Vienna coming in as a close second. During the brief time I spent here, I felt like I connected with the clients and believed in the work being done. I am thankful that this was part of the trip because I now know that working with youth or adults with intellectual disabilities is what I want to pursue as my career.

Before this trip, I had no idea what I was passionate about. This blog does not do justice to how much I learned on this trip, I feel so filled with gratitude for this experience. This has had a significant impact on my life, and I am so thankful this program exists and that more people will have the opportunity to have this experience.