SHAD is singlehandedly the most captivating experience I’ve ever experienced. A single taste of this amazing community will rend anyone overcome, with their huge, honest hearts, to their complex, contemplative cortexes.
Our first true weekend here strangely diverged from the normal 16-hour days. All we were privy to was this: breakfast served at 7:30; Fiducial (Roll Call) at 8:30. Even the usually descriptive “SHADule” was unusually cryptic: bring comfortable clothes, good shoes and the quintessential water bottle (also NO laptops)
And so we did. Our faith in the program organizers was admirable; they had certainly done us no wrong yet… and so we followed them onto the buses. Soon enough I succumbed to sweet slumber. It was then that my seatmate woke me, crying “Wonderland!” in my trembling ear. It seemed that we were going towards the largest theme park of the nation. Soon enough though, we would see it pass by.
While many of the SHADs elicited a cacophony of disappointment, I exhaled a sigh of relief, for such large parks were never much-loved by my introverted self. We reached a more secluded area soon enough.
The sun, wind and yes, even those insects were in our faces. Two of those three would be useful in producing energy as we witnessed later. In the Kortright Centre for Conservation, north of our campus at Ryerson, we were guided through various archetypes of what beauty a sustainable human world could easily produce. The concepts of wind turbines, photovoltaics, and even kinetic-powered bicycles were readily devoured by our curious minds.
Perhaps what was most amusing were the various games we could later play. Be it Capture the Flag, frisbee, soccer or even improv, we had complete choice regarding recreation. I, of course, not being the most physically inclined, chose improv as one of them; but they were all fun regardless.
We eventually made our way back to Toronto on the same gilded vehicles that had brought us there. Going back seemed a lot shorter than when first going on this adventure. We reached the campus and made ourselves home once more.
But our rest was short-lived; dinner was to be had soon. Keeping with the theme of unorthodoxy, we were led to Lou Dawgs instead of the cafeteria. We were sated with a preposterously grand menu of three items and three sides (which we had decided on earlier anyway). I enjoyed my pulled pork in utter euphoria, and beheld the faces of those around me as they did the same with their own meals. Perhaps one of the most delectable suppertimes of my life.
It was then that we made our way back to our beloved campus, the happiness palpable. When we finally got there, it seemed the organizers had a present. The most unconventional gift of all… triple the SHAD (free) time than on weekdays! Was this the real life?
Honestly, if it were up to me, I would make these days the new normal. What more could one ask for?