When I first walked into Pitman 200, I was more anxious than I’ve ever been in my life. My hands were shaking, I felt numb and I missed my parents and my home tens of thousands of kilometers away in Dubai’s blistering heat. I didn’t know that by the end of the next day, I would be dreading something very different: going back home.
I met some of the most wonderful people my age by swallowing my fears and walking up to a table to make a name tag for my door. I got to know some of the most interesting people my age by playing a form of bingo that served as an icebreaker. I got to know some of the most brilliant people my age by sitting at the dinner table with them. Normally, it takes years and years of slowly building trust, spending time with, and getting to know a person before it can be called a friendship.
At SHAD, all it took was the sparks of conversation for one to click instantaneously.
Within the first week of SHAD, I had 71 new best friends. The SHAD speaks were a way for us to come out of our comfort zones and learn how to speak in front of an audience. Our biotiles were a way to learn about the people we’d be spending a month with. The two night camping excursion was a way for us to bond over our mutual dislike of mosquitoes. We had campfires both nights while we were there, and it was the first time I’d had a s’more. We scaled a climbing wall made from logs. It was so difficult, but man, did we feel good at the top.
We made tie dye shirts with our rec groups, all named after professional sports teams from Toronto. The farmer’s markets on Wednesdays are arguably the most looked forward to event each week, where we’re allowed to walk around the lively city of Toronto in groups of three and more.
Last, but not the least, the PA’s and the Program Directors. SHAD Ryerson wouldn’t exist without them, their guidance and how deeply and genuinely they care about each and every one of the young individuals in their care. From sitting with us at mealtimes, discussing our ideas with us at project times, to generally supervising us and making sure that we’re all okay, mentally, emotionally and physically, they’re the cement that holds Pitman Hall together.
SHAD may just be the best thing that’s happened to me so far.