Alumni Update: Nathaniel Brew

I was able to check in with Nathaniel (‘21 alumni) recently about his experiences since leaving Act Five. It was great to reconnect with him and hear what he’s up to. Nathaniel is always on the lookout for adventure, and he has postured himself as a lifelong learner, coach, and friend. He’s one-of-a-kind, and deeply missed among the Act Five community. That said, we are so excited for him and the things he’s pursuing. Check out what he has to say!Alyssa Zilney, Program Lead

Question: What have you been up to since Act Five? What are you doing now? 

After Act Five, I worked for the summer at Coldwater Canada leading canoe trips and leadership experiences for youth. It was an awesome experience. After the summer, I flew to BC. I have been doing the ERT (Emergency Rescue Technician) program out of Columbia Bible College. It’s a mixed bag of emergency response work and bible college. I’m loving it. 

In addition to taking bible college courses, I get a whole bunch of certifications. They include Search and Rescue certification, Mountain Rescue, Rope Rescue Technician, EMR 1 (Emergency Medical Responder), AST 1 and 2 (Avalanche Safety Training), and more. It’s a crazy amount of training and super practical! 

For the second year of my program this fall, I get to do a full-year Outdoor Leadership course. I’m really excited for it. 

I also live in Residence at my school. It’s not like Act Five, but it’s a place to live and I’m grateful for that. I spend a lot of time working out in the gym and visiting my girlfriend, who lives off-campus. I have some heavy homework days so I find myself in the library a lot too!

Q: What has been a challenge for you since leaving Act Five?

In my program, there are lots of students straight out of high school. Not tons of maturity or seriousness about the work. This is challenging when I take my work and school really seriously. But with this challenge, me and some of the older students are growing in leadership with our peers. 

Additionally, I’m learning that it’s a very difficult field and can be very taxing on the individual. This kind of rescue work can be draining and requires that we talk about hard things. I learn a lot about people who die, and people who have hard experiences. It can be tough on me emotionally. 

Q: How do you see the lessons from Act Five influencing your life and work now? 

Importance of community!! As soon as I got here to BC, I knew I would need community. That would be the most important thing. This knowledge came from my time at Act Five. I’m grateful to have found this here. 

Geographical area is also a big one. I walk to church and I love the church I’ve found here. My church is super inclusive, which I love. Act Five showed me that to live faithfully looks like engaging with the people that are different from me and who might believe different things. I really feel this in my church and that I have an opportunity to practice this regularly. 

Another thing I learned in Act Five is that reflecting on the experiences you’re having is really important to actually gain anything from them. The experience I’ve had this year is very fast, and if I don’t find time to journal about it and reflect on it, it just seems to go soooo much faster. The ways we practiced this in Soul Care and Storytelling at Act Five really stuck with me. This also leads to the way Act Five’s emphasis on habits and rhythms helped me to learn that I flourish when I have structure. Often I don’t want structure because it makes me feel weak, but I know I flourish when I structure my days with habits. It helps me to enjoy the present moment. 

I want to be someone that helps people on their absolute worst days. God really put it on my heart to go into rescue work. My time with Act Five and Coldwater helped me to learn that I work really well under pressure. I felt really encouraged in my decision to come to CBC. I was worried about leaving the Act Five community – nine of my best friends went to the same school and I moved across the country. It felt really daunting. Act Five’s director, Jon, was the first person to really tell me to go for it. He encouraged me to follow my own path, which really helped with my decision to come. 

To have older people (staff) to surround you who are very affirming of who you are and what you hope for – that in and of itself is worth the experience at Act Five. It has been really important to me and I really carried this from Act Five. Additionally, Act Five’s partnership with Coldwater led to my opportunity last summer, which led to me making this choice to move out west. It’s all connected!

A lot of the reason I would have stayed in Ontario would have been for the community I had in Hamilton, yet a lot of the reason I left was because of how strong the community was and how I felt I could carry that forward. Act Five is one of the major contributing factors of why I chose to do what I did.

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