“And how did you get this job?” That is the question that nearly every Canadian that visits the museum has asked me. Talking with Canadians that visit this museum is always special. They have been travelling Europe for weeks or months, and here, in this little village in Normandy, they’ve found a little piece of Canada. Every year there are 7 Canadian guides that come to work here at the Juno Beach Centre, and they are what gives the Centre its distinct Canadian feel.
My name is Scott Entwistle, I am the Visitor Services Manager here at the Juno Beach Centre. In 2015 I was a student guide from January to August. How did I get this job? I took a leap, and it was the best decision I have ever made.
I remember the exact moment I decided I was going to apply here. I was studying for an economics exam in second year university when it dawned on me that I didn’t want to just do four years of school and graduate. I wanted to do something. Something that was a bit different, something that would get me out of my comfort zone. I was a Canadian university student, and was bilingual thanks to the French immersion I took in school, that covered the basic requirement to apply to be a guide at the Juno Beach Centre. But more than that I wanted this, badly. I wanted to live in Europe, I wanted to give tours of Juno Beach, to explore my own family’s history here and I wanted to see more of the world than my little corner of North America. But all of the desire in the world means nothing unless you actually go out there and do something.
I remember sitting in Vancouver International Airport, looking at the plane that was going to take me across a continent and an ocean, and all I could think was: “What am I doing?” I had never travelled alone before; it was a daunting realisation that I wouldn’t be back in Canada a for 8 months. I was, suffice it to say, well out of my comfort zone.
And when I returned to Canada 11 months later (because naturally one tacks on 90 days of travel around Europe after living in France for 8 months), all I wanted to do was go back. The memories I had made, the people I had met, all of it made for an experience that I will never forget.
Working at the Juno Beach Centre is an amazing opportunity. You get to talk to people from all over the world every single day, stand on Juno Beach on the anniversary of the landings, meet with veterans who fought here and live with 6 awesome Canadians who came here for the same reasons. But beyond that, you are living in Europe. You can go to the bakery every day, you can take the train to Marseille or Strasbourg for the weekend and you can take 90 days after your work term and visit 17 countries like I did. Beyond the work, Juno Beach opens your world to so much more.
People asked me how my time in Europe was and I didn’t even know where to begin. In the last year and a half, I’ve climbed more Alps than I can count, swam in the Mediterranean, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic. I have driven across the country of Liechtenstein in 14 minutes and through the centre of Paris. I’ve been to the first concentration camp and the house where Anne Frank hid for years. I have showed my grandmother were her dad fought in Normandy and been to the monument at Vimy Ridge. These examples are not to brag but to share what the possibilities are.
None of this would have been possible without the Juno Beach Centre. The guide program here opened up a world of possibility to me, and I cannot encourage young Canadians enough to take the leap. Live abroad, do something a bit different, something that you will remember for the rest of your lives. Going to school for 4 years and jumping into a career is the straightforward thing to do. It is what we are encouraged to do all throughout high school. But it isn’t what you have to do. So consider taking a year off and working somewhere special. Somewhere that doesn’t have an equivalent in Canada. Come work at the Juno Beach Centre, and find out for yourself what’s out there.
Scott Entwistle is the Juno Beach Centre’s Visitor Services Manager. The last 2017 application deadline is November 25! Apply today!
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.