By: Tee-Tee Appah
Arriving to SHAD was an experience truly unique to everyone. Getting to meet people from across the country, hear their stories and connect with them created an common link between strangers. It wasn't hard for each and every one of us to become familiar with each other, and spark friendships. The moment everyone landed there was a thunderstorm, which was really typical of Thunder Bay. The weather didn't bring us down, as we all participated in introductory games and other activities
The first day of SHAD was a day to remember. I am still able to recall walking into a huge crowd of students. All from different parts of Canada. All from different ethnicities. All of whom I had never met before. Just as I was beginning to feel nervous someone smiled at me. As I reciprocated a small smile, I noticed that people around me seemed to open up and smile as well. It was at that moment, I started to feel welcomed before my SHAD peers.
During our very first meal together, we met our program director and program assistants. We had a delicious barbeque dinner and cake to celebrate Canada Day. We sang our national anthem with pride and joy. After some ice breakers, we waited until dark. Our Canada day festivities were far from over. When nightfall came we went outside to light sparklers. The beautiful sparklers illuminated the small pond in front of the Agora building. In that moment, all of us SHADs celebrated as Canadians.
At SHAD Lakehead, it is absolutely imperative to spend some time visiting some of Thunder Bay’s beautiful tourist destination. After the first and longest week, we had the opportunity to visit the Amethyst Mine. At this locally owned family business, we were not only able to learn about how amethysts are formed as well as the nature of rocks in that area, but we were also able to search for rocks as souvenirs. Collecting rocks brought our group together. I took notice of the way people grouped together to find what they deemed the nicest rocks. By watching this, I was able to see a beautiful and unique SHAD community taking shape.
In our second week, we had the privilege of participating in an overnight camping trip at Sleeping Giant Provincial park. Even though some of our SHAD community did not willingly identify with an outdoorsy persona, we all eagerly awaited taking part in the camping trip. When we arrived, we spent time bonding by playing frisbee, volleyball and simply conversing amongst each other. That same day, we went for a 13 km hike. At the very end of the hike, we were greeted with the most beautiful view of Lake Superior. Despite its chilly temperatures, we took in the waves with warm arms. We ended off that day with roasting marshmallows, making s'mores and singing campfires songs. We were able to create a memorable and joyous atmosphere with our voices, and the few musical instruments we had.
Here at SHAD Lakehead, a typical day for us consisted of a breakfast at the Outpost (our dining hall). Usually, we would all eat breakfast together, then head over for morning lectures. Most days, our program director put together a lecture for us on various topics, such as Axiomatic Design or Eleatics. All of the lectures were very informative and sparked a new interest in all of us. Following this, we had our SHAD Speaks presentations. Each SHAD put together a ten minute presentation on a topic of their choice that relates to the STEAM field. Our presentations offered a new perception on different topics. Lunch would proceed in the Outpost, we would be greeted by the warm scent of food. After lunch, we would have a presentation by a special guest. Our guests would include several individuals from the Ontario area. We had the privilege of meeting doctors, lawyers, accountants, geologists, and many more exceptional professionals. Our group would always ask as many questions to broaden our knowledge. Before dinner, we we would often have recreational activity in efforts to burn off some of the energy we had pent up all day. This was a great opportunity to play team sports with other SHADs. Once again we would come together for dinner, and talk about all the various happenings of the day. As the days came to a close, we would entertain ourselves with several late night festivities. The room would always fill with laughter and positive energy.
The SHAD program has been an overall memorable experience. We’ve created an atmosphere of creativity, innovation, and fellowship. The eye-opening moments, the adventures, the smile shared between friends. All the little moments, came together and created the perfect SHAD experience. I wish all SHADs nothing but the best life has to offer them. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we did not take for granted. An opportunity that will never be forgotten.