Abra shares her adventures since leaving FSJSS…
December 3rd….wow! We’ve collectively made it through school start up, Terry Fox walks, report cards and parent teacher interveiws, the first snowfalls and are now three weeks away from our Winter break! As always a big THANK YOU to all of you who work tirelessly to make our schools such special places for our students.
First things first, we want to warmly WELCOME the many, many new educators that joined SD 91 this school year. We warmly welcome all of you to beautiful Nechako Lakes and hope that you are settling into our communities and schools. Perhaps one of the best ways to welcome you is to share the reflections of a former graduate.
Since graduating from FSJSS in 2003, Abra Atkinson (nee Johnson, Playfair) has been involved in the tourism industry. Earlier this year, Abra responded to the following nationwide audition call in Outpost Magazine:
We are looking for a pair of travel hosts in hiding. This is a nationwide call for two Canadian women that we can send on a whirlwind adventure across Thailand, from the highlands of Sop Moei to the beaches of Ko Tao.
Thank you Abra for sharing with One91…
“You won’t realize how beautiful it is until you’re older,” said my parents when I was growing up in Fort Saint James. Turns out, they were right, as usual. Of all the places I’ve lived and visited, “the Fort” will always be the most beautiful because it is my home. Thinking back on my childhood, I was lucky to live in such a wonderful community. A small town full of close friends and family was the perfect place to grow up and make memories. When I look back at some of my fondest memories as a student of SD91, I can’t help but think of a few of my favourites including Dave Stainton, Marylin Gammon, Ms. Van Meer and of course, Mr. Ogi! Even though you don’t realize it at the time, these wonderful humans are shaping you for the real world, the big leagues. No, you may never use trigonometry or need to recall any quotes from Shakespeare but you will need the other tools that they are secretly embedding inside you. Life skills, people skills and communication skills are a huge part of every day life so “Thank You” to my teachers, for preparing me for the future ahead and for helping me to achieve the success that I have today.
How did it all start? In grade 12, I entered and won the Miss Caledonia Pageant which granted me a bursary to the Thompson River’s University in Kamloops, BC. There, I enrolled in the Tourism Management program (following Naomi Stainton and Mary Huffman’s helpful advice) and received a bachelor’s degree. After that, the tourism industry rolled out in front of me like a red carpet and I couldn’t wait to start my adventure!
Straight out of University, I got a job in Kamloops with Rocky Mountaineer Vacations working at a dinner theatre called “Two River Junction.” It was my first taste of tourism outside of the classroom and I couldn’t get enough! Tour groups would come to the venue three nights a week to eat fantastic food and watch a live skit about Billy Miner
and his infamous train robbery. I was in love! Shortly afterward, I took a job as the Tourism Coordinator for the Kamloops Indian Band. There, I planned and executed cultural performances and festivals and got a taste for the marketing side of the tourism industry. I fell even further in love (is that even possible?!) with all that tourism had to offer.
Over the past ten years, I’ve been the Executive Assistant at Pacific Western Transportation, the Executive Assistant of Tourism at the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, the Event Coordinator at the Ramada and the Assistant Coordinator for the Northern BC Winter Games. Throughout my career and also through my personal travels to Inuvik, Mexico, Cuba, Hawaii and now Thailand, I’ve met so many amazing people and heard some extremely epic travel stories! As Saint Augustine said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
My recent journey to Thailand was a game changer for my tourism career. In September, I applied to a casting call for Canadian women who wanted to host a travel show. After a
lengthy and detailed application process (thanks again to those secretly embedded communication skills), I got a phone call telling me that I was chosen as one of the two hosts for Tan Your Mind 2 – “Thailand”! In November, the camera crew, my co-host and I toured the “Land of Smiles” for three weeks from top to bottom learning about the diverse culture, the rich history, the turquoise beaches, the delectable cuisine and the charming people. I can honestly say that Thailand humbled me and gave me a deeper appreciation for the little things in life. Bringing toys and books to a village that had never seen a Westerner before was an eye-opener without a doubt. Growing up in a small town contributed largely to my admiration for people and instilled a passion in me for caring about others. The experience of communicating not through language but through the expression of passion and interest will stay with you forever. True tourism is not knowing the dialect but still being able to understand each other. Respect for another culture is a universal language and if you have that then you have everything you need to travel.
What’s next? The documentary that we filmed in Thailand will be available at www.tanyourmind.com starting in January so definitely check that out!
Where will I go from here? Follow along on Instagram @abraatkison and on my Facebook page at Travel Tales and Foreign Feasts to find out! I have a few trips planned
for this Spring and possibly another documentary to film in the new year! Also, take a look at the generous travel company and sponsors that sent me to Thailand by visiting Outpost Magazine on all social media platforms!
See you on my next journey!
Abra Atkison (Nee Johnson, Playfair)
I hope that you enjoyed this post from Abra and as always, if you have a story from your classroom, school, department that you would like to share through One91, let me know.