Air Training Corps
The International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE). IACE links air minded youth organisations across the world on a 15-day exchange visit each Jul/Aug. The first such exchange was in 1947 between the ATC (UK) and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. The Association is now 19 nations, exchanging some 600 cadets/adults annually with English as the common language. The UK exchange is about 90 cadets with 14 nations, in second place to the USA (100 cadets). Visits must have an aviation theme with a cultural, adventurous and entertaining programme. The following countries are members of IACE:
United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Singapore.
International Air Cadet Exchange 2000
18th July to 3rd August 2000
Three months before the trip, I receive the itinerary for the International Air Cadet Exchange to Canada 2000. Looking through the plethora of planned activities I found it difficult to take in. I couldn't believe that, firstly, the trip had been organized so well that they knew the program down to the minute, three months in advance, and secondly we were going to fit all this into just two weeks. I'm glad to say that apart from the odd adjustment both were true.
All of the UK Cadets participating in IACE, met at RAF Uxbridge for one night before departing to their respective host countries. There was a real atmosphere of excitement and everyone was eager to meet people going to the same country. The Canadian party was not difficult to find - there were 31 of us!
The flight to Canada was long and seemed to take forever but gave us a chance to get to know some of the group. On Arrival in Montreal, Quebec, we were greeted and quickly taken out for dinner. Little did we know that this would be the theme for the next 16 days - eating large amounts of good food and rushing about to the next activity. Our first full day in Canada started with a big breakfast (the first of many) and a welcome by the various organizers, the civilian and military sides of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. Each country was introduced along with the number of cadets visiting. Together, we were a group of 77 Air Cadets from 12 different countries: Australia, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Japan, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, USA and of course the UK. They introduced us to our hosts, briefly explained what to expect in the next sixteen days and outline the rules. We had not been in Montreal for one day before we left on our grand tour, which would take over 2000 miles, a small distance, around this vast Country.
The Second City we visited was Ottawa, Ontario - Canada's capital. Here we visited the Parliament and the city, and attended another big meal. One of the most memorable parts of the Exchange was white water rafting on the Ottawa River, it was an awesome experience. We spent an entire day throwing ourselves into these movie style waves, whirlpools and rapids.
From Ottawa, we departed for the spectacular sights of Niagara. We were split into small groups to stay with host families. The intention was to mix cadets from different countries rather than the same groups sticking together - it worked quite well. I was paired with three girls from the UK, and girls from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Turkey. Over the weekend we saw beside, above and even under the awesome Niagara Falls. However, despite passing them everyday, their sight would never bore me. Some touring and many barbecues later, we departed the Honeymoon Capital of the World and set off for Toronto.
Niagara is a small city built around a natural phenomenon, Toronto, on the other side of the Great Lake Ontario, is a bustling modern city containing some of Canada's most amazing man made structures. Right at the top of the list is the largest free-standing structure in the World, the (Canadian National) CN tower. We had lunch in the 360° revolving restaurant, over 1000 feet up. The view was incredible, definitely the best way to see the city and Lake Ontario A short stay in Toronto and we were on the move again, visiting various theme parks, villages and a Canadian Forces Base on the way, we headed for Quebec City.
Once more we met with host families, only with a little difference. The province of Quebec is French-Canadian. I had expected to hear some French, but still a lot of English. To my surprise it was quite different. Only one of my host family spoke English, but it definitely added to the fun of the weekend. We had a great laugh trying to communicate in my version of French. Out of all the cities we visited Quebec was the most picturesque, filled with some really beautiful sights.
Our last destination in Canada was back at Montreal, but our trip was by no means over. There was a lot to see and do in the last few days, a baseball game at the Olympic Stadium, tour round the city, the 3D Imax theatre and the Quebec Space Camp. We celebrated our last night in Canada with a formal dinner - as if we hadn't eaten enough already. Although it was our last official IACE activity, the dinner, speeches and presentations had an upbeat and positive tone. We ended our voyage with a disco, and a lazy day by the pool the next day as everyone went their separate ways.
We all exchanged addresses, and since we've been back most of us have been in contact with each other. It has been quite easy to keep in touch through e-mail and the Internet especially to our friends overseas. I think we will keep in touch for a long time. Although, the backdrop of Canada was pretty amazing, it was the Cadets who made it special. The Exchange was a unique opportunity to learn about other countries from like-minded people the same age as us. The language barrier proved not as big as I had feared as most of the cadets spoke a good amount of English, and in fact the challenge of finding easy ways to communicate added to the whole experience. We discovered that we had more in common with our foreign counterparts than first thought. I had many conversations with a Belgian Cadet about who was the best "South Park" cartoon character.
The Air Training Corps offers a world of opportunities to us. In my
opinion, IACE is definitely one of the best. For me, it was a chance to see and
do some amazing activities, to represent the UK abroad, to meet some great
friends from all over the world, but most of all, to have a unforgettable time
and a great laugh. I would recommend the International Air Cadet Exchange to
any cadet. Throughout the trip it was evident that the Exchange is held in
high regards by all the Air Cadet Organizations we met. Our hosts in Canada,
Military and Civilian, had pulled out all the stops to ensure that IACE 2000
was a roaring success. We all owe them a great many thanks for a wonderful
voyage, and I hope that the Exchange continues to be such a success in the
CWO Paula Hastie
Duke of Edinburgh's Award