Learning the CFI way by Madeleine Smith

by Community Forests International on July 10, 2014

From theory to practice: it's more difficult than it looks.

Last summer, I left CFI having given myself the personal task of taking what I'd learned here and applying it to my life. It's hard to fully explain, but working at CFI seems to go beyond just the work that gets done for the organization; it's a life commitment to approaching the world a certain way. I left Sackville moved and inspired by what I had participated in and witnessed here. I left filled with hope that small actions made in humility do add up, and can truly lead to positive change.

Since then, I have had the joy of delving into a new language and different culture in northern Québec, and the unique opportunity of learning how to plant trees in the Ontario wilderness. Listening to the tree planting mythology in the CFI office definitely provided the fodder for this last adventure. From linedancing with rural Québecers (there are video clips floating around somewhere that I pray never make it onto the internet), to finding a black bear had stolen my work equipment at my tree-planting camp, it has been an interesting year to say the very least. Through it all, I've tried to take what I found at CFI - the sense of unwavering commitment, compassion and openness towards rural communities in Canada, Pemba, and beyond - and use this same energy in the work I did elsewhere. It was quite difficult. As I'm sure anyone at CFI would agree, this is an unfinished, open-ended learning process.

And now I'm back (from outer space)! It was unthinkable to stay away any longer. There was really no question of continuing to build on what started here for me a year ago. I am thoroughly excited to have returned, and am ready to jump into whatever adventures are in store. As the Education Coordinator, I am looking forward to identifying new ways to share what we are achieving, and exploring how to welcome more community members into the CFI family.

If you are in or near the Sackville area this summer, drop by the office and say hello!

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