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Meet a Heritage Hero: Cisco Armstrong

Meet Cisco, one of our Heritage Heroes. Cisco is a graduate from the University of Guelph where he studied International Development with an emphasis on Rural and Agricultural Development. He is now enrolled in a Masters program in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden. This past summer, Cisco lived and worked on a small community organic farm in southern Austria. He and his wife were implementing permaculture elements to the farm and supporting its operations.

Cisco answered some of our Heritage Heroes questions…

ON HIS VOLUNTEER EFFORTS:

A few years ago, my wife and I kick-started a youth-led permaculture project in Kathmandu, Nepal that emphasized participatory dreaming, designing and implementation of a multifunctional garden at a home for abandoned girls. The youth essentially directed and design their own project, with us supporting them by providing the petri dish for their experiment. While at the University of Guelph I was also a refugee support student with an organization called WUSC. Going further back I have supported Habitat for Humanity both locally and internationally, and have been involved with a number of youth initiatives.

ON HIS GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

“I am most proud of the fact that, throughout my academic career, I remained true to myself, to my own needs and well-being, and most significantly, that I listened to my own inner compass. Despite the environmental pressures of being in an academic institution, I was able to remain open to life and take risks when it felt right. As such I allowed myself to take time off from school to travel, pursue interests, and simply live under my own will. When I did choose to be a student, it was because I really wanted to. When I did not want to, I was not at school. Through this mentality of being a student when I wanted it, I have two major (tangible) accomplishments that come to mind. First was getting accepted for a spot in a competitive exchange program to study in the Fiji Islands, where I met another beautiful exchange student who now happens to be my wife. Another highlight was attending an ALIA (Authentic Leadership in Action) Summer Institute as a scholarship student, where I first encountered the power of participatory leadership and some of its related methodologies.”

ON HAVING A HERITAGE RESP:

“I would recommend that parents open an RESP for their child as it will ease the financial burden of being a student as well as being the parent of a student, if one day that child chooses to attend a post-secondary institution. That said, I suggest that parents be weary to not use an RESP as a form of coercing children into one day studying. Education is most effective when chosen, that way a young person feels like they have ownership over their learning (and their lives). With ownership comes motivation and responsibility.”

Thanks to Cisco for his participation and for being one of our Heritage Heroes. We look forward to seeing where his future endeavours take him.

To see more Heritage Heroes stories, click here.