Patrick Froese made the most of his first trip to Ottawa.
The Edberg teenager travelled to the nation’s capital this fall as part of an Encounters with Canada program that focused on arts and culture.
“It was awesome,” said Froese, who is a musically-inclined Grade 11 student at New Norway School. “It was a very good time. It was very educational.”
Froese, 16, was among more than 100 like-minded students from across Canada who this September participated in the weeklong immersion in arts, culture and national history.
“It was really good bonding,” he said. “Going as an individual, you have to have courage to go and talk to people and eventually make friends, because no one else (in the program) has someone that they know. If you go with someone that you know, then it kind of takes away from the whole meeting everybody, because you just want to talk to your one friend, probably.”
Froese, a budding musician, was in his element in exploring the variety of workshops that comprised the arts and culture program.
“I’ve always been kind of an artsy guy,” he said. “I love anything (related to) art, really. More of the musical side.
“I took a breakdancing course — kind of going out of my comfort zone and trying everything I haven’t tried. I also did a Shibori tie-dye workshop. And I did trampoline one night — that was for fun.”
Creativity comes naturally for Froese, a music man who sings and plays guitar, drums and piano. He’s a member of the school band and an informal band with some of his buddies.
“I love composing, writing and singing — anything (connected to) music,” he said.
“Pretty much everything musical. You can’t really put a specific genre on it. It’s basically everything that sounds good. It could be jazz, alternative rock … who knows.”
Froese knows he wants to study music beyond high school, perhaps at University of Victoria in his native British Columbia. His family moved to the Edberg area when he was eight years old, but they still operate farms in B.C. and Alberta.
He’s a busy boy on the chicken farm near Meeting Creek, and he’s regularly on the road to Camrose for music lessons.
Among his prized possessions is a cherry-red 2011 Gibson SG guitar that he estimates is worth about $1,200.
“It’s my pride and joy,” Froese said with a smile.
While his week in Ottawa focused primarily on arts and culture, the educational element included immersion in life on Parliament Hill.
“At the end, you had to sign a form that says you’ve learned something about your culture and your government,” Froese said. “And I know that I definitely did. It was very eye-opening.”
His tour of Parliament Hill included a personal visit with Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson for a couple of hours.
“I got to actually go inside Parliament with him,” Froese said. “He’s a very nice guy. He showed me around. It was fun.
“He was giving me the tour and telling me about our country. I got to go inside the Parliament library, which was really cool. It smelled good — like old wood.”