Meeting Up with the Minds we Meet

Two years ago I started out on an accidental journey. That journey has taken me?virtually?across Canada from the east coast to the west, and around the world.

During this journey, I met a flautist, a saxophone player, and a woman who sings in her car. I met world-travellers, new Canadians, and people living in the same town in which they were born. I met a nurse, a librarian, and a sexuality counsellor. I met a future Olympic competitor, an aspiring writer, and a few people whose future was still wide open. And they were all AU students.

It began with an e-mail. I sent a note to The Voice Magazine‘s editor with what I thought was a brilliant* idea: a student interview series. The Voice at that time was running a tutor interview series and I thought a series of student interviews would also be interesting to readers.

The editor responded promptly. Great idea, he said. Go for it.

No wait, me? I was strictly the idea person on this. I’m a writer and a student, not an interviewer. I dislike talking on the phone, my hearing is not the best, and, frankly, I’m not a people person. It would be a big challenge for me.

So I did it.

Over the next couple months, I developed a set of questions with the assistance of The Voice Magazine‘s editor. We also came up with an ad to?hopefully?entice students to volunteer for interviews. To make being interviewed sound attractive, The Voice offered to throw in a swag package as a reward for each interviewee.

By late summer, the hunt for students was underway. I contacted the only other AU student I knew?a friend of my son’s?who agreed to be an interview guinea pig. I recruited more students through the former AUSU Forums. Nearly every student I asked for an interview said yes.

The first Minds We Meet student interview was published in September 2014. Since then, The Voice Magazine has run student interviews almost every second week. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing students from Nanaimo BC to Corner Brook NL. I’ve also interviewed an international student from Pakistan who was then living in Korea, as well as three Canadian students temporarily overseas in France, Egypt, and Australia.

Through it all, I got to enjoy what most AU students don’t?interaction with other students. Speaking with dozens of AU students, I had conversations about courses, e-texts, and the challenge of balancing university studies with everything else. We commiserated about epic fails, laughed about quirky habits, and dreamed of convocation. We connected.

I felt grateful for each interview. Even better, each student interviewee said they enjoyed being interviewed. And The Voice readers reported, through the most recent readership survey, that the Minds We Meet series is the most-read feature.

My final student interview was published May 2016. But the Minds We Meet student interview series will continue to interview students like you. Every AU student has a unique story to tell. Please share yours by contacting

(* It may have been a brilliant idea but not as original as I thought. A later peek in The Voice Magazine archives told me that the magazine has, from time to time, featured student interviews.)

(We always like student interviews when we can get them, but you were the first person who took up the challenge of actively seeking them out every month. For that, The Voice Magazine, and I’m sure the students, thank you. – Karl)

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

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