International exchange a chance of a lifetime for cadets

By Heather Lavers
Roncalli High School
Port Saunders, Newfoundland

Imagine going to a foreign country for three weeks, eating foreign food and learning all kinds of new things, with your travel costs all covered.

Well, for 70 cadets from across Canada, this dream was realized. Every year, Canada participates in the International Air Cadet Exchange (I.A.C.E.) Program , this exchange takes place in several different countries all over the world.


The I.A.C.E. program began in 1946 between the United Kingdom and Canada. This year marks the 53rd exchange year. For a cadet to participate in the program they must be 17 or 18 years old. For more information regarding the I.A.C.E. program contact the Commanding Officer of your squadron.

The selection process for the course is very difficult. When you submit your application you must include things like your report card, a passport picture, a 500-word essay on why you want to go, an account of your past cadet history and a copy of your past course reports.

After this is accepted, you have a 15-minute interview with three air cadet officials. This interview usually consists of two high ranking officers and a representative of the Air Cadet League of Canada. After this, your application, and an interview report is sent to a selection board in Ottawa. Competition is fierce -- only the top 70 cadets in all of Canada are selected from a base of about 2000 applications per year.

The fortunate cadets who are selected receive an information package and they need to order a clothing package from Ottawa for use while they are abroad. There is also a contact list of all the other cadets from around Canada who are going to the same I.A.C.E. host country.

The first stop for the cadets is St. Jean, Quebec. There they meet the other cadets and receive a debriefing about their host country. After two days, they travel to their destination.

Norman Mayhew, a cadet from Coburg Ontario, says the trip to the United Kingdom was interesting and unique. "It was my first time on such a large airplane, it was very exciting at first but by the time we got there I was pretty restless of flying."

The cadets who traveled to the United Kingdom spend a week and a half traveling around England and after an eight hour bus ride, spend a week and a half in Scotland.

Stephanie Wright from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was impressed by the beautiful Scottish countryside and the rich history of England.

"All you see for an hour after entering Scotland was fields of green hills full of sheep," says Wright. "England was interesting in its history but doesn't compare to Scotland in beauty".

"This was the most memorable time of my life and I owe it all to the I.A.C.E. program for this chance of a lifetime," she says of the trip.