Embracing the unknown - one man's journey from the Kootenays to South America

Embracing the unknown - one man's journey from the Kootenays to South America

College of the Rockies, Golden, BC


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South America is a place of extraordinary beauty. My first steps on this continent were in Santiago, Chile in the summer of 2006. In the past five years I have returned five times. This time it?s for good. My name is Greg Snell. I am a graduate of the Adventure Tourism Business Operations program, College of the Rockies, Golden Campus.

I am currently based out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I say 'based' because I do not actually have a place to call home; I stay mostly in hotels. Actually, after a while the hotel becomes ?home?, no matter where that may be. I am a South American Tour Leader/CEO for a Canadian company, Gap Adventures. My job is incredible and I love it.

I first heard of Gap Adventures while studying Sustainable Adventure Tourism at COTR, Golden Campus. The company was intriguing and their initiatives within the world of international tourism, impressive. Gap Adventures is a leader in the field of sustainable adventure tourism. I knew I should be working with them.

Working abroad

This was around the same time I was presented with the opportunity of working abroad with the COTR International Department through a Canadian International Development Agency project. The application for Gap Adventures would have to wait. This was an opportunity not to pass up. My campus manager in Golden was kind enough to provide some insight into the project and its past. I had Ecuador in my sights.

The project was right up my alley, working with local communities to assist in the development of their natural assets through sustainable practices and initiating a future plan which focused on strengthening the culture, society, environment and economy of a community through tourism. I was hooked. I applied and was accepted. Amazing, eh? A few weeks later, I flew to Ecuador, accompanied by two other COTR students; Kate Troxel and Jordan Berkhiem.

College of the Rockies ATBO course
If you love culture, people, the outdoors and the unknown, then embrace it. The College of the Rockies will help you do that.
Photo courtesy of Greg Snell

The project was an incredible experience and the trip, something I will never forget. We stayed with host families for six weeks and worked daily with a university in the city of Guayaquil, Universidad Espiritu Santo. They were an outstanding help and all of us were united in our focus on the task ahead.

Opportunity is right around the corner

We were able to design seven post-graduate degree field study positions within one community (Dos Mangas) along the Ruta del Sol in Southern Ecuador. These positions were set as internship opportunities for students studying tourism and hospitality in Guayaquil, but were also a chance for the communities to carry on sustainable practices themselves, outside the immediate needs of tourism.

My life as a tour leader in South America has come together mostly by the actions I have made in the past. It is incredibly important to be open and aware of different cultures and to have general global knowledge. There is also something to be said about the value of researching potential employers, and then making and sustaining contact with them no matter where you are, and no matter where the road may take you. Bilingualism is a huge asset, no matter which language.

Also, always keep your eyes open for potential opportunities. I have found it best to know what I like to do and to go for it, whatever and wherever it may be. My experience in Ecuador was one of the main reasons I am still in South America today. COTR?s International Department is filled with amazing opportunities for current students. If you love culture, people, the outdoors and the unknown, then embrace it.

Saludos y suerte!

**For more about the College of the Rockies and their Adventure Tourism program, read this story, or click on the links in the first few paragraphs of the story you just read.**

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