With only a couple of days of practice, students from the school bands of Carleton Place High School, and Hillside High School in Valleyview, Alberta performed a morning concert at Carleton Place Terrace senior’s residence in Carleton Place on February 5. The concert is part of the first leg of a once in a lifetime youth exchange opportunity for these young musicians. From February 3 to 9, 2015, 30 students from Carleton Place High School are hosting 21 students from the Alberta high school. The groups’ goals for the exchange include developing a greater understanding and appreciation of Canada’s diverse history and culture, developing their artistic skills, and fostering a strong sense of Canadian citizenship. One way the groups are achieving these goals is by sharing their mutual love for music with the elders in their communities. Later on in the school year, the students from Carleton Place High School will travel for a reciprocal visit and concert performance with their new friends in Valleyview, Alberta. “I participated in a SEVEC trip to Lachine, Quebec in 1979 when I lived in Calgary and will remember those memories forever,” describes Cynthia Yuschyshyn, the music teacher and group organizer at Carleton Place High School. “I am happy to take up the torch and give students a chance to connect, make music, and forge friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. My students are excited about our upcoming exchange and look forward to meeting new friends. Many of the students on this exchange have never participated in an exchange or have never been on an airplane.” “I am looking forward to meeting and seeing new people. I have never been out West. I am excited to hear what kind of music they play and meet other musicians,” says Chandler Aitken, Carleton Place High School student age 16, about his upcoming trip to Alberta. “SEVEC’s mission is to create educational opportunities for Canadian youth to deepen their connection to this country and to one another,” explains Deborah Morrison, Executive Director for the national charity. “SEVEC exchanges can be based in school curriculum, music, sport, or community service but every exchange allows youth to explore this beautiful country, learn about our languages, cultures, and heritage, make friends, grow as individuals, and develop into more engaged Canadian citizens of tomorrow as a result of their experience.” The two groups have been twinned under SEVEC’s Youth Exchanges Canada program. The program is aimed at youth groups between the ages of 12-17 from various provinces and territories across Canada. Last year over 4,500 young Canadians and their chaperones travelled in Canada through SEVEC, which is generously supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Exchanges Canada program.