For nearly 50 years, Canada has encouraged its youth to get out and explore their country. Back in 1971, The federal government launched a program that allows teenagers to leave home and spend a month in a different province or territory.

The 'Explore' program employs over 20 post-secondary institutions across Canada  to host participating teens for the summer. Geared mainly towards 16 to 19-year-olds, the program assigns French-speaking youth to English-speaking schools and visa versa, offering them a different cultural experience within their own country.

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In British Columbia, the University of Victoria, Langara College and UBC will host 415 English-speaking students this year and challenges them to speak French for a month. They will also be engaged in a variety of social activities and regional trips that will educate them on the unique inner workings of the surrounding communities.

Those who qualify for the Explore program will receive a bursary of $2,200 that will pay for their accomodations, tuition fees and other expenses for the month.

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"This is surely an inspired, and inspiring, idea. Every year, thousands of teenagers will see parts of the country they might never otherwise have visited," writes the Times Colonist.

"They will gain a better understanding of the differing viewpoints that make up our national character. And they will take home memories that might help temper the inter-regional resentments that are inevitable in a country so large."

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Students who are interested in applying can visit the program's official website at Though the deadline has already passed for this year (the program started on July 3 and will run until August 3), applications for next year can be submitted anytime before March 15. Bursary awards are usually announced in April.

Keep the love of Canada alive with the Explore program!

Source: Times Colonist