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On 25 August 1992, I walked up to him sitting alone in the park. On his poncho blanket in the afternoon sun, he wasn't a complete stranger, in the way that no one in this town is. I recognized him as "that tall, bearded guy I don't know". Over the following year Bear and I hung out and made plans to travel across Canada in the Summer of 1993. I had no idea what a three-month roadtrip would be like, but it sounded like a good idea. Bear had journeyed to British Columbia before, and I trusted his experience and guidance on the road.

We travelled in a grey 1981 Honda Civic hatchback we named Harry after his previous owner. When we weren't camped on the back-road-side, or on the edge of fields, we stayed with Bear's friends, many of whom he'd met through Crossroads. For a month West of Thunder Bay, we travelled with another Crossroader, Michelle. Over the course of the Summer I heard Crossroaders talk about their experiences. They were people that I liked, and I grew to be friends with Bear and Shell. The way in which their words were animated by their Crossroads attracted me. When Bear and Shell suggested I look into a placement, it had already occurred to me. It made sense as something I wanted, something I could do.

I got involved with Crossroads through the local committee liaison, Bernie (to-Mali 1988), and attended regional orientations with Mark (to-Fiji 1994). Over the next year, I learned, fundraised and prepared for a placement that wasn't up to me. I expected one in francophone Africa because I could speak French, and wasn't surprised to be placed in Mali. I left my home town Fredericton, New Brunswick on 24 August 1994, two years to the day I walked up to Bear in the park. I made my way through rides and lodging with friends in Montreal and Ottawa and arrived in Toronto for national orientation. There I got last instructions, tickets, and met the six women who had also gotten placements in Mali: Holly, Isabelle, Kristin, Nathalie, Suzanna and Tracy.

ArrowRSeptember 1994