Over the past few months, Political Science undergraduate student Émilie Weidl has been working as a Bilingual Student Tour Guide at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. Canadian university students are able to obtain this post through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) with Veterans Affairs Canada. Émilie works with 15 other Canadian students at Vimy or Beaumont-Hamel, which is the Newfoundland Memorial. Her job principally involves providing guided tours of preserved tunnels and trenches from the First World War in both official languages, providing general interpretive information pertaining to the monument and the site, and welcoming visitors.
Émilie has greeted visitors from all over the world, including a large number of Canadians. Due to the important anniversary this year, hundreds of Canadians made the pilgrimage to France in order to trace the steps of their ancestors. Hearing their stories brings the site to life. It was especially meaningful for Émilie to be able to participate in the ceremony commemorating the hundredth anniversary of armistice at Vimy. Along with these incredible moving experiences, she has also gained an abundance of knowledge surrounding WWI history. She has been able to immerse herself in French culture, while still being surrounded by Canadians. Since she had two days off a week, Émilie has had the opportunity to explore much of the north of France, as well as some major European capitals. This experience has allowed her to grow in different ways.