Tillsonburg's Emma Cox, 17, has her sights set on an international trade mission to China next month.
Cox, a Grade 12 student at Glendale High School, was selected by Global Vision to be an official ambassador on Junior Team Canada, a 40-member team (ages 16-25) that will go on a Canadian trade mission to China from July 27-August 14.
"My guidance counsellor, Mr. Gooding, suggested I apply to a Global Vision conference in Ottawa (June 3-7) and on the same website there was a link to apply to go to China this summer. So I read about it, applied, and happened to get in," she said.
Cox, who will be taking economics at University of Ottawa in the fall, thought the trade mission would be a good opportunity to gain experience in her field of study. But it's more than that, she added.
"It's an opportunity to help Tillsonburg expand, to help businesses here expand internationally and get into the Chinese market. The team looks really, really cool and I thought it would be a really good opportunity to meet new people from my generation that are as excited about the world as I am - and want to make a difference."
Junior Team Canada will visit four major Chinese cities during the trade mission - Chongqing, Chengdu, Kunming, and Hong Kong.
"The idea is to partner with businesses here in Tillsonburg," said Cox, explaining her role on the trade mission. "In return for their sponsorship, I'm going to represent them overseas. The idea is to connect them with other businesses in China that they might be able to work with to encourage trade and communications. I will be making detailed reports about everything that is going on, and working to meet mandates that the businesses have come up with. With my team, we'll build those reports and then bring them back.
"The people who sponsor me will receive all the information they need to make a proper decision on how to move forward with their global expansion goals. We can't sign contracts for our businesses, but the sponsor businesses will receive all the information we find. If they are able, they may decide to partner with someone, or begin trade with someone. Or even if they decide not to, based on the information the information that we've been able to gather, either way it's a success because we know we've done our job."
As of last week, Cox had gained sponsorship from Marwood Metal Fabrications and is seeking more sponsors.
"The idea is to get youth involved with the process because we will be the leaders in the future, and we need to know how all this works. We want to see Canada and China have better relations, with trade and communications. And now that the government has signed some things that may make that easier, it's a good place to go for trade."
Each student ambassador is responsible for partnering with businesses and organizations in their community to raise $5,500 in sponsorship for the team, representing approximately half of their total individual cost of participating (covering flight fare, accommodations, meals, supervision, programming and materials). Global Vision funds the remaining half through national and regional partnerships.
"We have a very unique relationship... with Global Vision we're working with the Canadian Embassy and established Chinese business people. So we're kind of working with the Chinese leaders, and they're just as enthusiastic to work with us as we are to work with them. The whole idea behind the mission is to encourage trade and relations between our countries."
Global Vision is a national charitable organization that operates the Junior Team Canada (JTC) program. Since 1991, Global Vision, a national charitable organization, has provided more than 30,000 Canadian youth with the skills, experience and knowledge they need to compete in the global economy.
"It's going to be quite the experience," said Cox. "I'm really looking forward to it. I'm pretty good at communicating with people, I'm pretty social and I'm easy to get along with, so I think the meetings shouldn't be a problem. I don't think that will be too difficult at all."
So far, she had raised $2,500 of her $5,500. Her next sponsorship deadline is June 27th, requiring $1,500. And the remaining sponsorship sum is due July 18.
"So I am trying to speak with businesses, and getting contacts with businesses who may be interested in sponsoring me. As well, I'm going to have a table at Turtlefest, and I have paintings in the library right now that are for sale. I'll have others available at Turtlefest as well - any profit from those will go toward the trade mission."
Cox also recently set up a gofundme.com page for her fundraising (My Global Vision Mission to China www.gofundme.com/trademission).