My high school teacher once told me that you don’t become a grade 12er until you’ve finished grade 12. I thought this was very enlightening at the time, and I still think it rings true to every role I’ve had over the years. Being a project leader is no exception.
It is my second year doing ARW and first time being a project leader. Last year, I took part in ARW as a participant and absolutely loved it (I wrote about it in one my previous posts, just in case you’re dying to know, here it is: http://blogs.studentlife.utoronto.ca/lifeatuoft/2017/11/13/a-snapshot-of-what-an-alternative-to-your-next-reading-week-could-be-like/) So this year, I came back and signed up to be a project leader. Funny thing, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but this wasn’t always what I thought.
As a project leader, I’ve been preparing for ARW since September although ARW doesn’t happen until February and I’ve attended numerous two-hour monthly meetings and participated in Spirit Week (a week of promotion events for ARW that I also wrote about, here: http://blogs.studentlife.utoronto.ca/lifeatuoft/2017/11/17/everyone-loves-puppies/) even though ARW runs for only three days. It goes without saying that being a project leader can be quite the commitment. There were moments that I wanted to bail, to make up an excuse for myself and say “meh, I can always do it next year when I have more time” especially during midterm season and the winter final, it was very easy to just say “I can’t do this”, but I can. And thankfully, I did.
My project this year was working at the ArtHeart Community Centre with my team of six amazing participants and my fabulous co-project leader Sania. We were tasked with preparing for their annual art show called SPRUNG and we had a blast doing it as you will see in the following photos:
I didn’t know how to truly be a project leader until the last day of ARW, knowing all the unexpected situations we survived as a team and seeing how much we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time still puts me in awe. As I was reading through the reflection book, I could truly feel the words that expressed much gratitude for the community and the people we met there, for the opportunity to use our artistic skills to contribute to a great cause and for the experience in seeing our individual ideas come to life through a supportive and loving collaboration.
It warms my heart when I open our reflection book and it reads:
If I had the chance to relive the opportunity I would not do anything differently because I had a great experience with the team and the team at ArtHeart. -Taha
ARW team taught how to laugh. -Josaane
The importance of contributing with your presence and labor, no matter how small the tasks are. -Kit
I learned that no matter what program you are in, you will be able to become friends with others with a different or same program. -Rhea
Seeing the volunteers and placement students interacting with participants made me realize the importance of compassion and hope when it comes to making a positive change in a community and keeping that creative spirit in the participants. -Joce
I am so thankful for this experience that I’ve had over the past months with the ARW2018 project and how many amazing things it has helped me learn about myself and the people around me. -Sania
Everything, everything about my project and team is what I had hoped for and beyond what I had expected. Life works out in the most incredible ways, as long as you can appreciate all the little opportunities that come along and make an effort to meet them halfway -Iris
At the end of the day, we are all each other’s inspiration and ARW is the perfect catalyst for creating these opportunities for us to inspire and to be inspired 🙂