A month at SHAD UPEI

Introduction (Brady Church):

It seems like only yesterday that 48 of us arrived at the tiny Charlottetown airport, clueless as to what we were in for during the month to come. Upon arrival at UPEI we all felt a wide array of emotions. Some of us were excited, some were scared, and others were just trying to figure out how they were going to manage sharing a bathroom with three other people for a month. But one thing was certain; we were all here for the experience of a lifetime, and were determined to make the most of it. There were plenty of ups and downs along the way, but we all made it through, with the help of the amazing community here at SHAD UPEI. Now only one day away from the end, we’re taking the time to reflect back on the incredible experiences and opportunities that SHAD has exposed us to.



Week 1 (Amanda Wang):

The first week of SHAD was jam-packed, with us all learning how to get around campus, meeting 47 other SHADs, and starting to build a community. After a hectic day of traveling and panicked last-minute changes to SHAD speaks and biotiles, we finally got to meet each other and introduce ourselves. The next day, we were tasked with the challenge of completing team-building games as we continued to get to know each other. Midweek, we had our first project meeting and started the process of defining the problem and establishing each others’ strengths and weaknesses. The theme of this year's project would be "Resilience in Natural Disasters" and all of the SHADs were eager to start working on it. Soon enough, the weekend was here and we went camping in Stanhope National Park. Although we were sunburnt and “mcsquato”-bitten, we were too busy swimming, participating in sandcastle building competitions, and having cook-offs around the campfire to notice. To end the night, we went on a silent walk along the Stanhope beach as the sun set in the distance. The only sound to be heard was the waves crashing gently on the red sand shore. After arriving back at the campus the next day, there was a frantic race to the showers and laundry machines. While all the SHADs were exhausted, we were excited for the fun-filled weeks to come.



Week 2 (Bry Daniels):

The minute we hit the grassy lawns of UPEI once more, our camping trip seemed like nothing but a dream - however, something inside of us had changed. Something about the hundreds of "mcsquatoes" and beautiful sunset walks bonded us together more deeply than we ever could have on campus, and we began week two with a passion. In a lecture about creative thinking, we learned that frogs, in fact, can not fly, and explored the importance of learning through reflection. Our favourite lecture of the week was one by Dr. Brian Wagner, known on Instagram as fluorescent_chemist, where we learned the mechanics behind fluorescence and saw its effects in a rainbow of different chemical mixtures. Having also worked on building and programming our Arduino robots, we ‘raced’ our creations in line mazes, allowing our competitive streaks to shine through.



This week we also got into the thick of our projects, having distilled the theme into project ideas. Many of us went back to the drawing board several times. Our fearless leader Kaaren took on the task of introducing us to financial statements in an attempt to aid us with our business plans. Saturday marked a momentous (and much-needed) occasion for SHAD UPEI: our first day to sleep in. General rejoicing was followed by exciting PA-facilitated workshops, and watching Croatia get trumped by France (causing both dismay and elation). We also traveled to one of the many dairy farms on the Island to see its daily workings. Despite some smelly moments, we agreed that hanging out with cows and friendly dogs was one of the more memorable days on our lovely island of ruby, emerald, and sapphire.


Week 3 (Alex Monteith-Pistor):

The next Monday, it was back to business. Throughout the following week we enjoyed a variety of lectures on bacteriology, nuclear waste, and music during catastrophe, as well as different rec activities such as an inspirational dance session and pool adventures. By far, the best one was the first annual SHAD UPEI Olympics. It was a tough competition, full of teamwork, determination, and most importantly, molasses and shaving cream. One of the week's highlights was an inside look in Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, a globally-recognized food product development centre downtown, where we had fun sampling different herbs and sweeteners. We returned downtown on Saturday, the last day before the business plan was due, enjoying delicious ice cream and seafood, and sightseeing around the town. The day finished off with the wonderful opportunity to watch a musical based on an integral part of PEI culture, Anne of Green Gables. When we woke up the next morning, we prepared ourselves for a grueling 9 hours of project time. Tensions were high and emotions fluctuated throughout the day as teams rushed to complete business plans and prepare pitches. Despite the stress, by the end everyone was proud of the work they had accomplished. And with that, the third week at SHAD UPEI was over.



Week 4 (Jason Guo):

From the start, project time was dominated by grueling arguments, tense debates, and frantic brainstorming on how to best increase the resilience of Canadian communities to natural disasters. Three weeks of dedicated work led up to this: pitch night. This process was facilitated by a panel of experienced judges with expertise in science, engineering and business. Each group made its way to the stage to pitch their million dollar idea. Solutions ranged from an ash cleaning robot to a website for connecting survivors, and all were exceptional. Ultimately, we felt that awards didn’t really matter, because we were all extremely proud of what we had accomplished in such a short amount of time.


The next morning, we packed our bags in preparation for the last beach day at SHAD at Basin Head. We had the opportunity to work with Dr. Irene, an environmentalist focused on rehabilitating biodiversity in an estuary near the beach by collecting and planting mussels in mud-drenched bogs. We were also granted freetime to take leaps of faith from the top of a wharf into the water below. Most of us were initially frightened by the height but by the end we were cheering each other on to jump out of their comfort zones. Everyone was drenched in salty water, as we enjoyed our last beach experience in SHAD UPEI 2018.



Conclusion (Eva Redmond):

As we prepare to depart from UPEI for good (or a while anyways… you never know!) one thing's for certain, SHAD was most definitely the experience of a lifetime. We learned something new in everything we did, from the breathtaking sunsets, to the super exciting rec activities, there was a lesson in it all. Last night we all got together and discussed what we had learned throughout SHAD and there was plenty, including: how to work better in teams, broadening our horizons with new topics and challenges, learning to step out of our comfort zone, and of course, how to share one bathroom between four people. Most importantly, we discovered that SHAD is where everyone has, and always will have, a place.



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