A Walk Amongst Superheroes: A Lesson Learned from the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group International Service Project 2012

By: Stephanie Chan


As a child, I often dreamt of becoming a superhero–flying high and cruisin’ in the sky.  As these dreams are replaced by reality in young adulthood, there was still that golden child inside me that continued believing that we do, in fact, have superheroes amongst us.

My beliefs of the modern-day, real life superhero is constantly re-written as I grow older and wiser.  I want to share with you my latest interpretation of what a “Superhero is.

This past May, I had the honour of sharing amazing experiences of teamwork and accomplishments with 29 other individuals.  The lessons learned, bonds forged, and memories made are forever ingrained in my memory.  Certainly, nothing this memorable ever comes without blood, sweat, and tears.  It is in these times when people step up and suddenly their tights and capes – or magnetic heart core, if you prefer- become visible.

The group I volunteer with, the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group, embarked on a fourteen day journey to China for an International Service Project (“iProj”) on May 9th-22nd, 2012.  Our group is unique in that we run our own personal development, leadership, and management training program for youth aged 18-26 (a demographic that is often left with little support in the transition from school to the professional working society).  We traveled to China to accomplish three main goals: (1) to enhance the living environment of children at the Xi’an Children’s Village by designing and painting a mural in their assembly hall, and by making new friendships with the children; (2) to host a training session for youth leaders in Shilong by sharing our Canadian programs for leadership, personal development plans, business management, and environmental stewardship; and (3) to participate in and learn through the cultural exchange.

The Children’s Village: Finding the courage to release your passion.

As I had previously mentioned in a blog post here, during the days that we were painting the mural, there were specific moments when I witnessed individuals shine with their special talents.  When we found ourselves questioning our work in the middle of the mural project and in need of direction. Some members immediately became leaders and took charge.  Some showed us their hidden talents and expertise in artistic or logistical matters of the project, while others turned on an allure of amazement as entertainment for the kids.  The moment those individuals came out of their shells and seized that opportunity to step up was the crossing of a big threshold.  I was lucky enough to witness magic when I saw a fire, named passion, light up in the eyes of my peers.  It gives those who witness these moments a sense of hope: for a better result, for a better tomorrow, or for a better self.  This is exactly why the Rover Scouts inspires me.  The support we provide for each other and the encouragement to be the best version of ourselves enables each of us to, one day, stand up there and also pull off our blouses to show off the big S on our chests.

Shilong Training Session: Realizing your potential through strength and persistence.

In preparation for our service project in Shilong (Guang Zhou, China) months and months of perseverance challenged our strength and endurance.  We collaborated with the Youth Wellness Association and shared our Canadian program in several topics including leadership, personal development, business management and environmental stewardship.  The opportunity to work with some senior Rovers really opened my eyes to what management, task execution and completion, and diligence means.  One does not know what they are getting themselves into when they join the Rover Crew.  I knew that “excellence” is one of the Crew’s values, but I believe that true understanding of how the crew operates and how the crew trains its leaders of tomorrow comes only from taking part in projects.

For a chance to prove that we are better than simply settling for a sub-par performance, my peers clocked endless hours meticulously working and re-working the presentations. Even I am still amazed when I describe to my friends the number of times we had to go back to the chalkboard to re-build a different approach to our presentation.  We had to perform to a standard of quality that was at a level of which we could be proud of.  After all, we were sent off as Canadian ambassadors by the Honorable Alice Wong and were received by the Consul General of China.  We simply could not disappoint Canadians and Scouts alike across the Nation.

Cultural Exchange: Learning service as a universal language

Throughout the trip, we made friends with people we crossed paths with.  At the Children’s Village in Xi’an and with the members of the Youth Wellness Association in Shilong, we found opportunities to learn from the local volunteers. They offered to show us around town and act as our guide to the local pleasures.  It was encouraging to realize that even though we were not fluent in the same language, our passion for volunteering could still connect us on the other side of the world.  I also noticed a particular Rover member who spent quality time with the locals..  The passion he demonstrated was a highlight on the trip.  Not only did he come out of his shell, but he received them with such graciousness that I could hardly differentiate the line between host and guest.  Who was hosting whom?

This was a reminder to us that service is a universal language.  The dedication the locals put into volunteering was humbling and served as a live reminder of what we love to do at home: give back to the community.  The only difference—yet herein lies the beauty—is that they are in a country foreign to us.

Though the superheroes in our reality may not be blatantly web-slinging from building to building, they do exist amongst us and they exist in the people I volunteer with in the Rover Crew.  I found that the best thing we took away from iProj 2012 was that every part of the trip presented an opportunity.  These opportunities were perfect for Rovers who have not yet established or discovered their alter alias.  As a result, they get a glimpse of who they can be and pull on a cape of their own.  The bottom line is that this what the Rover Crew can deliver to its dedicated members, community, and Scouts Canada alike.  At the end of members’ journeys through the Rover program, we hope to have capable individuals who become leaders with their own unique strengths.  These same leaders are the same ones that lead scout groups all over greater Vancouver. If you ask me, youth in these groups are on their way to realize their own super powers when their role models are able to show them that every person can, in fact, pull on their own suits.

I encourage everyone to find their own epic adventure, just like ours.  Have the faith to believe that it is possible to become a superhero in your own way – whatever you immerse into can help you become that person you’re trying to be.  When you realize your superpowers, you will inspire others to do the same.  Your magnetic heart core will automatically draw us all in like a momentous tidal wave to help you move forward.



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