Elizabeth spent two weeks in Houston, Texas this summer as part of the United Space School program representing Western Canada. We are very proud of how she represented us. Below is a summary written by Elizabeth about how she felt about her experience, and what she learned. Her excitement is absolutely infectious, and brought absolute joy to our year. We can tell that this combination of intelligence and enthusiasm will result in success as she persues her dreams.
United Space School has been one of the most unique and exciting experiences of my life. Not only was the program an amazing scientific learning endeavour, but I also learned a great deal about cultures around the globe from my fellow students, and made lasting friendships with my host family. I will forever be grateful to The Hangar Flight Museum for making this happen for me.
The educational side of the program was filled with brilliant speakers working directly in the aerospace industry. I still feel the awe of meeting so many intelligent and experienced people that work in the field that I am so very passionate about. There were astronauts, rocket scientists, astrobiologists, and so many more! Working with what they taught us, my team was able to accomplish our goals effectively and efficiently.
Speaking of teams, you may already know that the FISE Space School curriculum also involves forming teams, each with a unique focus, to plan different aspects of he mission. When I first researched the United Space School, I thought I wanted to be on the Green Team, which was focused on developing a habitat on Mars. Don't get me wrong, I love biology, and the green team's potential for design and growth of crops attracted me. But after we had received our assignments, I realized I was thinking more and more about the Red Team, which focused on rocket design and transportation to Mars. I ended up changing my mind, and pushed to be placed on the red team during my interview process. Luckily, it worked out, and I got to work with engines and rockets to my heart's content. Red team was excellent: they were passionate, smart, supportive and a joy to spend time with! Every person was a gem, and I know I am so lucky that I got to work with them. When the going got tough and the deadlines were hours away, we could still support each other and have a blast singing our team song. Not only did this program teach me about the industry, it taught me about how to cooperate with others in bliss and also gave me a much clearer idea about what I want to pursue as a career path.
In addition to learning scientific things, I also learned about culture. With this task the utmost cooperation took place, and because of this I have developed freindships with so many awesome students around the globe. Meeting people from all over the world can be an interesting process. There are so many different cultures coming together to communicate and learn about each other. Honestly, I knew very little about a lot of the countries that were represented. Luckily we were all very understanding of one another and had a good laugh when talking about what we knew (or thought we knew) about one another's culture.
We did just plain talk about where we came from, but all of us also had to prepare a presentation for the culture fair. I did a speech about one of Canada's most loved and respected heroes: Terry Fox. Turns out, almost no one knew who he was! Also, as an impulse, I also sang the national anthem whils Purushoth, the eastern Canada representative, played the trombone. I really enjoyed watching all of the other presentations too, there are so many talented people in this world! Every student got along with one another so well, day one of school we were blasting music in the vans having a karaoke session. The extra activities after the work day had ended only brought us closer together! There was so much laughter. I know the friendships I made at space school will last a lifetime, and I have happily added "travel the world" to my bucket list, just so I can see them again.
A final element that made the trip special was my host family, who really did make me feel like family. My host family showed me what it is really like to live in Houston, and accepted me into their home with open arms. Without them, none of these amazing things could have happened. Ellen, Bevan, Bryana and Emily are some of the sweetest, funniest and most down to earth people I have ever met. My fellow "space cadet" Danielle, from South Africa, was just the same. I am so incredibly lucky to have received the family unit I did. My host family was so excited to show Danielle and I the real Texan experience too! We got to go to a major league baseball game, several local restaurants, Keemah the amusement park, and the beloved Buc-ee's deluxe gas station, the most gigantic gas station-slash-souvenier-shopping experience you can imagine! We also got to meet their family and friends and talk about our own cultures. Even better than all of these things though, was the bond built! We were not afraid to talk or joke about politics, cultures or each other. Danielle and I had so much fun with them, and I shall be visiting them as soon as I can.
This program, in every aspect, was spectacular for me. The educational aspect was something I had only dreamed of previously, the students were the kindest group of kids I have ever met, and my host family brought me into their lives and showed me the truest meaning of Texas. I feel incredibly honoured to have represented Canada, and I am proud to announce that I could bring home an award. The flag award, which is appropriately named because it comes with a United States flag that was actually flown over the US Capitol Building, was presented to me for my enthusiasm and passion for the program, it is the highest award a student could receive. I have som much love for this entire experience, and I hope to one day come back as a program mentor. It has helped me decide what I want to do with my life, it has helped me grow in more ways than one, and will forever be a highlight of my life. I would like to give The Hangar Flight Museum my deepend, most genuine thank you for giving me such an awesome experience. I truly did enjoy every single second!
If there are any questions about the program or my experience I would be happy to answer them, I can be reached at elizabethdrewcalgary(at)gmail(dot)com