Special to the Gazette
Ana Staffen, a Grade 12 student at Stratford Central secondary school, has been given the opportunity to attend the Forum for Young Canadians, an experience only 300-400 students across Canada get each year.
The forum will take place from Feb. 23-28 in Ottawa, where she will spend a week on Parliament Hill and experience first-hand how Canadian government works.
While in Ottawa she will have the chance to gain a better understanding of the national decision making process in Canada, get inside Canadian politics and public affairs, and enhance her leadership and second official language skills. She will participate in workshops about politics and media and aboriginals in Canada, which Staffen says she is particularly looking forward to.
She will also be able to meet the nation's leaders, debate contemporary issues, and sit in both the House of Commons and Senate with the speakers from both chambers.
"I'm going with an open mind, and I hope I come back with a broader awareness of Canada as I know it," says Staffen.
Staffen hopes to gain knowledge from her fellow attendees about how people live in other provinces, and how a political move in once province affects another.
Earlier this year, Staffen went to Ottawa for a similar program with the Rotary Club of Ottawa, where she says she fell in love with the city.
"I'm really looking forward to learning new things but I'm most excited for the experience as a whole that I'll gain," says Staffen.
Government is a huge area of interest for Staffen. She is currently a student trustee for the Avon Maitland District School Board and a part of student council at her school. She has also applied to the University of Ottawa and the University of Guelph for internal development, and Carleton University for public administration and policy management.
"I'm really excited to use the education I get from any of those programs to change politics and to put my two cents in," Staffen shares. "I want to work in the Canadian government because I feel that is where I can be most effective for political change."
The forum is operated by the non-profit, non-partisan, educational foundation for the study of processes of Government in Canada.