1. Will I have my own room?
Yes, each assistant has his own furnished bedroom. We encourage people to bring items to make their room comfortable, bed linen and towels are supplied so you don’t need to pack those items!
2. Can I bring my own T.V. / lap top / cell phone?
Yes, you can bring these items. Cable TV and internet costs are shared by the members of the house. Some houses may not have internet access. Some assistants and core members have asked to install internet and have been given permission to do so provided they cover the cost. The important thing to remember is that all these things are great as long as they help you build relationships with your house mates. For example helping a core member to look at photos on your lap top is great, spending a lot of time, on your computer, alone in your room while your house mates are engaged in other activities is not a good thing! A number of core members have their own computers and appreciate if you are willing to help them learn more about computers. While we do not have a strict internet policy assistants and core members generally hold each other accountable around computer use.
3. Will I be able to phone home?
Yes, each house has a long distance plan and each assistant pays for their own long distance calls monthly. It is a very good plan and people generally find making long distance calls quite affordable. You will be expected to follow the guidelines around recording and paying for your phone calls. Because the phone is shared by 8 people each house works on developing a good practice of phone sharing!
4. How big is Wolfville?
Wolfville has a population of approx. 3500 people. When Acadia University is in session the population doubles to about 7000 people. There are a number of café’s, pubs, a library, cinema, small stores in the town. It is a pretty town located on the Bay of Fundy . The main shopping area is New Minas which is about 8 km away. While there is a (infrequent) public bus system, each house in our community, has a vehicle so people are often going to New Minas for groceries etc. Halifax is about one hour’s drive from Wolfville.
5. I have an International Drivers License; will I be able to drive in Canada ?
We have worked hard with our insurance company to develop some guidelines around driving. Canadian Drivers (under 25 years), who have been insured a minimum of three years can drive our vehicles if they obtain a Nova Scotia license and if they pass a driving test with a local driving school. Canadian drivers (under 25 years) who have not been insured for a minimum of three years may be able to drive if they take a defensive driving course and obtain a Nova Scotia license. The cost of the driving course may be shared by the assistant and the community. International Drivers will not be able to drive in our community on an International Driving License. As with Canadian drivers they must obtain a Nova Scotia driving license. They may also have to take a Defensive Driving course depending on their age and driving experience. There are also particular policies in the community regarding inexperienced drivers and winter driving. It is a good idea to bring copies of your driving license and proof of insurance with you if you want to be considered as a driver in the community.
6. Will I have much time off?
Each assistant has a day off a week and a weekend off each month. First year assistants also are entitled to vacation time depending on the length of their stay (up to 31 days if here for a year). Afternoons are generally free. Time away is scheduled within the house team. It is sometimes possible to have an extra evening away with the support of the team.
7. I am 18; will I be able to drink alcohol in Canada ?
No, the legal drinking age in Canada is 19 years. We also have an alcohol policy in the community which permits limited responsible drinking in the homes.
8. What training is provided?
In addition to information on the Philosophy of L’Arche, training is provided in a number of areas including the following: First Aid, Crisis Prevention, Medication Delivery, Fire Safety, Behaviour Management, Personal Care, Individual Program Planning, Conflict Management, Planning and Organizational skills, Aging, Medical Information, etc. Assistants meetings happen every two weeks; there is also specific New Assistants Training that takes place.
9. I don’t have any belief in God, will that be a problem?
Many of our assistants come without any particular faith background. However it is important to know that you are coming to a community which is faith based. This means that there are practices in the community, which may be new to you. For example you might be asked to support someone to attend their church or you may be asked to hold hands at the supper table while grace is said. The expectation is that you respect these practices in the community. Also accompanying people to church is seen as part of the responsibilities of your job as an assistant. We are an ecumenical community so when we have community prayer it is led by the group (not by a particular church); our prayer is generally very open and welcoming to all people regardless of their faith beliefs. In L’Arche the spirituality is focused on service and how we treat each other and how we form relationships with each other. Not having a belief in God is not seen as a problem, as long as we can respect the beliefs of others and the beliefs / practices of L’Arche as an ecumenical community.
10. Must I stay a full year?
We usually ask for a year’s commitment though we will consider a request for a 6 month commitment. Occasionally people are not able to stay for their full commitment but our expectation is that people honour their commitment. It is important for the core members and for your team mates. Off course no one will prevent you leaving, but we ask that you give it careful thought before you make the commitment .