Attending from Mount Royal University in the western province of Alberta are Andrew Jones, Yolanda Genu, Nicole Kuziw, Matthew Thompson and Adam Leitch, and joined by Professor Victoria Calvert.
The students are here to get hands-on experience working with local organisations, and have been contributing to this week’s 42nd Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police annual conference.
The link to the Cook Islands for the Canadian contingent was through a Cook Islander named Ta Tumu – a Baptist pastor practicing his faith in Canada and a family friend of Calvert.
“He articulated that this would be a good place for students to work in a safe and interesting environment,” said Calvert, adding the use of English here was also a contributing factor.
The experiences have been far and wide according to the students, from learning local business practices to experiencing true Polynesian hospitality.
“One thing I leaned about is how island time is like,” said Leitch. “Here, time has a more relaxed view.”
The sentiment is repeated by Genu, saying “I’ve learned to be more flexible, which is something they teach us in our programme.”
Jones, who has travelled throughout America, has been taken aback by “the friendliness of it all,” as has Thompson, who conversely hasn’t had the opportunity voyage outside of North America.
A big highlight mentioned by Kuziw was experiencing a true Cook Islands feast, which included an umu.
“I love the pigs,” she said, pointing out the pork roasted on the spit as well as the traditionally prepared pork cooked underground. “It’s all different, but really good.”
In addition to lending a helping hand at the police conference, the students also performed a personal goal-setting exercise at Papaaroa Adventist School, went on a fishing trip, and broke a sweat with a hike to the needle.