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World Youth at the Hot Spot


Editor's note: This is the second in a series of profiles of Canada World Youth participants working at job placements around Squamish.

Zach Rowe was looking tired.

"I started to rub my eyes and I can't stop," he said. "I can't sleep."

Victoria Garcia looked much better. Cheery, patient: ready to deal with the world, or at least with Squamish.

Which was partly what had brought the two of them to Hotspot on Cleveland Avenue. They explained their task: to create a "community access map" of Squamish for youth.

They had spent most of the week sitting in the Hotspot, he said, doing "lots of research about the history of community mapping."

"It's not important for me to read about mapping," said Garcia. "For me, it's better to know the community."

The project, explained their supervisor, Pam Gliatis, was "an opportunity to engage" youth in the community. Rowe and Garcia said they were confused.

"Confusion is the first sign that you're actually learning something," Gliatis said. "If [in the end] we've learned something, we'll be happy it's not that we get answers. It's that we've asked questions."

Hotspot opened in January this year, under the partnership of the Sea to Sky Freenet Association, the Squamish Volunteer Centre Society and the Squamish Environmental Conserva-tion Society. It calls itself a "shared non-profit community resource centre located in the heart of Squamish." It's basically an internet café.

Physically, it is located between a liquor store and a dancewear store in downtown Squamish. It has bright walls and big, fully-postered bulletin boards, with 11 functioning computers lining the walls and a sort of computer graveyard in the back, where parts are salvaged for the creation of new, Franken-computers.

Hotspot has become a regular meeting spot for us Canada World Youth/Foro Juvenil folk. It's nice because, in Rowe's words, "it never really feels busy." It's a comfortable space where we can check our email, sip mate (an extremely popular type of South American tea, sucked from a gourd with a metal straw, or bombilla) and chat after work.

A crew of students runs the internet café: two are in university, but most are still in high school.

"We've always had a focus on youth," said Gliatis. "We utilize youth as a resource. I don't think we know enough about what youth think about this community."

Garcia agreed.

"This work is good for the community and also to interact with youth or First Nations people. We can look at what the community has, what the community needs and what are the projects for the future. And then we can put those things on the community map.

"I study psychology in Uruguay," she added. "It's very important to me to learn about this, because I am learning about the same sorts of things in Uruguay."

"It was my lifelong dream," Rowe joked, on why he took the job at Hotspot.

"Hotspot was the best option at the time. It seemed cool, because I got to work in the community, not just behind a computer in an office.

"Now, I'm happy with my job placement. I'm happy with Squamish. Both my family and my job placement are great," he said. " [But] I don't know what to expect in Uruguay."

Next week: Ain't no policin' like community policin'.

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