This year I had the wonderful opportunity of participating in the Shad Valley program at the University of Waterloo from June29th to the July 25th. During the course of this month, my abilities were stretched to its limits and my mind beyond capacities I would have never thought of. Like literally.
I knew what an amazing program Shad Valley was hearing it from friends who went, teachers, counselors, principals, you name it! But I didn’t really didn’t know about it until I experienced it. That sounds extremely cliche and I don’t blame you, but really I think that was one of the first times in my life that the word ‘mind blown’ was actually applied to the correct context.
So it all began, when I left my family and friends on June 29th after an early sweet 16. Bittersweet goodbyes were exchanged, and living in Vancouver, I finally realized I would be missing out on so much of what Vancouver had to offer, so I was kind of skeptical about Shad. I would miss my friends, my family, and of course the spectacular Vancity, so I didn’t really pack until well let’s say really close to when I had to leave. Anyways, when I boarded the flight, I had done some previous stalking on Facebook, (hah like you don’t) so I was prepared to make some friends in advance. So after a quick flight to Calgary, I switched flights, and found myself waiting for this mysterious Shadling called Kelly. As this girl who matched her profile pic came and sat down, I was like oh hey Kelly *insert last name her* and I guess to her I said it pretty creepy, we even joke about it now, but she was like who are you, with a WTF look on her face. And that was basically my flight there.
Now the next weeks at Shad would be a heck of a whirlwind so I’ll drop in some of my most memorable experiences and leave the rest of it for you to find out yourself, or even better to experience it yourself;)
There were certain moments that made Shad amazing, but nothing could be scrutinized on it’s own. It’s like you either take the whole package or you don’t, you can’t just choose one single thing. Shad was a time that I was so at peace even though from all the scrambling from 7am to 11pm at night, but I felt at peace in my heart. I think the number one thing that was important for me to take away from Shad is community. We talk A LOT about community. But Shad is literally my family. I’m sorry friends and family at home, but through that month, I bonded with all 53 other shads, and around 10 staff members, (mostly shads.) Anyways I think a main personal example of this was when I shared something I haven’t told anyone, well other than God or my journal, but I told it to my House at Shad. A house is basically 9 members randomly put together as a group on the first day for reflection. And hell, my tears flowed like no tomorrow, but everyone also gave me their trust, while I gave them mine. They told me things, and I told them things. We connected<3 Another thing that I felt tug at my heart strings was when my friend Kylie told me something about her personal life when we went for a jog in the scorching heat of the FIFA FInals Day. We were bonding and we didn’t care if we looked like crap and smelled bad, but we still managed to pour our hearts out. Thanks Kylie:’)
Then these experiences at Shad were so distinctive like so so so unique. I would have never got to to do these activities or experience things like I did at Shad at home or anywhere else. One of those indescribable moments was at the Cyprus Lake camping trip. One night, our Program Assistants, took us to this beautiful patio when the sky was clear. And all of us laid our backs down and stared and stared at this breathtaking view in front of us. As I glanced at the gazillion of stars looking down on me, I began to realize how small I really was. It kind of made me sad but also strangely happy too. My dream is to make a change, an impact on the world, and while the stars made me feel so infinitely small, somehow their twinkling lights inspired me to shine just like them. Even though stars may be small to me they were actually big, so I wanted to be kind of like them. Being a city girl and all, never had I been in a state of such tranquility. There was no light or noise pollution and everything was frozen. No one moved, everyone was holding their breath, so transfixed by the night’s glory that neither one of us wanted to break that delicate trance that seemed to hold us together. And then there was this other undeniably good experience of when I got to see Toronto, haha jks, I did see Toronto and it was amazing, but the experience of getting to participate in dissecting cadavers was a whole element on it’s own. I really want to be a doctor, so getting to touch real brains, real people, real muscles, real hearts, real digestive systems, and the list goes on! I was so excited, I learned so much from real life application and doing and implementing, and not just learning.
Shad has taught me so much, like learning to always better yourself. Your own personal self, no one else. You shouldn’t compete with other people, or things, but only yourself. Better yourself. Also I learned that iteration is extremely important, you have to keep trying to keep thinking of new ways to solve problems. And of course Shad taught me so much but it taught me to really apply. Perhaps the best example of this was creating our own product that would target this years topic of how Canadians could live large while maintaining a small footprint. We had to incorporate all the knowledge we learned from lectures, group sessions, professions and weave it through mathematics, science, technology, and engineering, entrepreneurship/business.
And I can’t wait to mention how amazing the people are! Like never had I ever done a group project where everyone actively participates and cares just as much as you do.
We are all nerds and we are proud of it! We are all people who passionately care about something and work hard to achieve our goals and dreams.
This wonderful Shad journey has made me so blessed and so thankful to have been able to partake in this journey with 64 other amazing people.
There were ups and downs, like a situations my design group had to go through, but I’ll post that some other time. And oh, to be honest, there were way too many things to write, but my hands are kind of tired so I’m going to let them rest. To list some things there was all the talent people displayed at performances, the Divergent style Capture the Flag game, delicious foooood, and epic dance partaysss:)
You can find pictures of my amazing trip above! I hope this convinced you be willing to participate or apply! Visit the official Shad Valley website to apply: http://www.shad.ca/