By Paul Giurgeu and Chanz Valmonte, Communications Team
Entering into my first year of university, I knew I wanted to make the most of my experience. I was determined to figure out a way to balance my studies with extracurricular activities (as well as sleep, and social life, and sanity). At least, I would try my best! That’s when I found out about the Innovation Hub, a student-led initiative launched to improve student experience through research. The I-Hub would allow me to get involved on campus, cater to my personal interests, and positively impact a diverse group of people—no matter the size! For these reasons, I jumped right in! I completed the application (there’s CCR-credit, so win-win!). Now I’m here, writing a piece about my experience at September’s weekend-long training.
Walking into a room of about a hundred people, without knowing anyone at all, was quite daunting at first. The training consisted of various activities which involved going up to someone, and spark up a conversation from nothing but the typical, day-to-day topics assigned beforehand (such as a day-in-the-life recap and your best/worst lunch stories to name a few) felt a bit awkward and forced.
Throughout the course of the training and right after, I reflected upon the purpose and value of these activities (i.e. interviews and observations). Then I realized that the Innovation Hub strives to foster and facilitate learning; we, as community members, can communicate with people in a open space, where they feel safe, valued, and comfortable enough to share their own stories. Everybody has one: a story worth listening to and worth telling. Through these stories, we can build something that can be invaluable to some aspect of their everyday student life.
As a first-time volunteer, I’m excited to put in the time and effort, knowing that I’m working closely with all sorts of different people who are committed to the same mission of bringing about significant change to the student body. And as a member of the Communications team, I look forward to promoting the Innovation Hub—who we are and what we do—within the University of Toronto and beyond.
The weekend started off bright and early, with breakfast, coffee, and some sleepy eyes. Faces were full of curiosity and intent from both Innovation Hub volunteers and staff. We soon got off to an exciting start with a full debrief of the tasks, research, and events we would take part in this year. Over the course of the two-days training, we had the chance to get to know our group and become familiar with everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Teams were also able to begin working on the first steps of their project plans. The training sessions were filled with interesting presentations, bonding, and great food.
I must admit, it was difficult to keep my eyes open (due to the early rise), at times; I also wished the room had a window or two. Nonetheless, I found the training genuinely interesting and stimulating. At first, I thought that the training would definitely benefit from a later start-time, and task/topic efficiency. However, when reflecting post-training, I realized that this year—as a volunteer for the Innovation Hub—is going to be packed with thought-provoking, engaging projects and activities.
Overall, I had a great time!