Day 183 - Andree

Day 183 - Andree (6th person I approached)

July 02, 2014 - I had been out earlier today running some errands and approached a few people, and none of them wanted to chat. I came home and had something to eat and then went back out. I talked with two people who each said they would, but didn’t have time. They’re following the project now at least. Andree was sitting by herself having something to eat and reading a digital book. She agreed to chat with me “for a few minutes” - we chatted for the next twenty minutes or so.

 

Andree was born and raised in Quebec City, Quebec. She has one sister who is five years older.

“I always tell people; we’ve had two arguments in the fifty years I’ve known her. She doesn’t remember the one I recall, and I don’t remember the one she does. So all in all, I’d say we get along pretty well. We are completely different people, but have a mutual respect for one another,” she said. Both of her parents are also from Quebec.

“My sister and I went to private schools. Complete with nuns and everything. I think my parents thought we’d get a better education by going private? I’m not sure really. We were raised Catholic, but I never felt forced to accept a religion. I remember when I went into the first year of high school, they held a Confirmation Day. We had a choice. Either attend the Confirmation or take the day off. I told them I had already done Confirmation Day at my previous school, although I hadn’t, and took the day off. I have no regrets about that whatsoever,” said Andree with a confident smile and laughter. 

 

When she was eleven years old, her mother enrolled her in gymnastics.

“I think my mother wanted to find an outlet for my excess energy. I would go three, four sometimes five days a week to practise. I was never very good at it though. I joined a local gymnastics club because I wanted to do more than my school could provide. When I was thirteen, the club gathered a few of us together and started to train us to be coaches. I wasn’t good enough to be a gymnast, but I knew enough to coach others. I think they had great foresight in that decision. I continued coaching throughout my school years,” she said. 

 

After high school, Andree went to CEGEP (a Quebecois program - General and Vocational College).

“I was given a choice between health sciences or letters. I wasn’t any good at Chemistry, I never understood the relationships between the components. I liked Physics though. I used to go to the Physics class and sit in the back, even though I wasn’t taking the class. The teacher knew and even though he thought it was funny that I wanted to be there, he would let me stay. Physics made sense. ‘If you hit a ball, it will go in this direction,’ that made sense to me! Letters was language and grammar. I took letters,” said Andree. After two years of CEGEP, she then went to university in Quebec City.

“I studied Language Translation. With Canada being bilingual, there were lots of jobs for translators. I found the whole thing to be pretty boring though. But, four years later, I got my BA (Bachelor’s degree) in Language Translation,” she said. 

 

One month after graduating from university, Andree got a job as a gymnastics coach for a local club.

“I was a gymnastics coach for many years. That became my full time career. I taught at all levels. I’d have mothers and toddlers groups in the morning right through to competitive level gymnastics in the evenings. All ages, all levels. Then I started to get invited to judge competitions. And the more I did that, the more advanced the competition level became. I’m now an international judge and I spend time travelling all around the world judging competitions,” said Andree. For the last ten years, she has also been working at a provincial and national level based here in BC (British Columbia).

“I work in the administrative side now as well. Putting programs together, both provincially and nationally working with Gymnastics Canada. It’s exciting and sometimes challenging work. But it has it’s balance, seeing the development of the sport and the athlete’s that I get to watch grow. I’m also very fortunate that I’m still living with the passion that started for me as a little eleven year old girl,” she said.

 

As an international gymnastics judge, Andree gets to satisfy another passion, for travel.

“I will get to go say to China, and I’ll take an extra week after the competition and explore that area, on vacation. I love that. I like that I can still discover surprises,” she says. I ask Andree what she means by surprises.

”Well in Europe even though it’s older and exciting, it’s a bit more predictable. In China for example, things don’t look or smell familiar in the same way. There’s surprises and discoveries all around. I’m the type of traveller that I’ll leave the place where I’m staying in the morning, and my plan will be ’turn left’ outside the door. And I just wonder. I’m quite a loner as far as friends and being social goes. I do have a few friends and I enjoy them, but I like time by myself as well. I always have done, even as a child. For many people, travelling is a way to connect with others and that reenergizes them. For me, I love the idea of having a week in a foreign country and not having to talk to anyone, or at least, keeping it to a minimum. That’s how I get refreshed. Switching off.” #notastranger