June 7, 2019 - 1:15pm
Joe Thoong, a second-year VIU Graphic Design student, is heading to Russia in August to compete in WorldSkills Kazan 2019 with Team Canada.
“Best in the World” is a title a Vancouver Island University (VIU) Graphic Design student hopes to earn this summer.
Following a three-day competition in Halifax last week, Joe Thoong earned a spot on WorldSkills Team Canada 2019, and he heads to Kazan, Russia, August 22-27 to compete against top contenders from across the world in the graphic design category.
“This is something I’ve wanted for years now, and for it to actually happen feels surreal at this point,” says Thoong.
To qualify, he had to first win the 2018 Skills Canada National Competition last year (every second year is a qualifying year for the world competition), then return to nationals again at the end of May to participate in a special qualifying competition. To prepare, Thoong has been training five days a week for the past year.
“For me, this included school, homework, work, reading books and monthly practice sessions,” he says. “I’d often end up recording 30-40 hours of training per week.”
Skills Canada, founded in 1989 to promote skilled trades and technology careers amongst Canadian youth, hosts the only national multi-trade and technology event of its kind for both high school and post-secondary students and apprentices across the country. Regional and provincial competitions are held across the country to select the students who participate in nationals. Every second year, national winners move on to a competition that qualifies them to join Team Canada for the WorldSkills competition.
This is Thoong’s fourth year competing in Skills Canada competitions – he started in Grade 11.
“I think at the beginning, I hated to lose, and for the first two years, I won silver but not gold. The idea of coming back and redeeming myself was always satisfying,” he says. “But now I think it’s becoming a lot more about craft and pushing myself. I want to keep getting better and learning more.”
Thoong had help from his coach, VIU Graphic Design Professor Nancy Pagé, as well as others in the department.
“Nancy has volunteered hours and days of her free time to help me train and I can’t thank her enough,” he says. “None of this could have been done without her.”
“It’s been a pleasure working with Joe,” says Pagé. “He works hard and has made the training easy for me. Knowing the level of skill required to be on Team Canada, this win is a true testament to his abilities. I’m very proud of him and excited to see what happens in Russia.”
Thoong says for the WorldSkills competition, his goal is to achieve a medallion of excellence, which a competitor needs to win at least 700 out of a possible 800 points, if not a placement on the podium, to win. Aside from training this summer, he’s also taken on an internship with Becoming Design Office in Victoria, a multi-disciplinary studio.
“Skills competitions have taught me how to focus, work quickly and efficiently, and a lot of technical skills, but I’ve also learned a lot of life lessons such as sacrifice, the feeling of defeat, and how to focus on today,” he says. “It’s made me a better designer, but also a better person.”
Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University
Tags: Teaching and Learning