I spent most of my Friday last week at the Orientation for Alternative Reading Week! I went into it not really knowing what to expect, but it was really fun to meet my teammates and let me appreciate yet again how many intelligent and interesting people there are to meet at UofT!
If you don’t know what ARW is or you’ve forgotten, check out a previous post here: http://blogs.studentlife.utoronto.ca/lifeatuoft/2018/11/26/start-thinking-about-arw/
There are a lot of different ARW projects occurring in the city, but since this is my very first year experiencing it, I decided to stay close by and picked something on campus! I’m working on a project here with “Innovation Hub”, which is something I only learned about this year. The main goal of Innovation Hub is student-centred design thinking. According to their blog, they are:
“an initiative that partners with internal divisions, departments, and student organizations to conduct empathy-based research that deepens our understanding of the student experience, so that we can design with students rather than for students.”
Sounds pretty cool, right? All I know as of now is that my teammates and I are going to be given the opportunity to explore a problem/challenge impacting the UofT student experience and use Human Centered Design Thinking to combat it. I’m going to be chronicling my experiences and writing a blog post about it after reading week is over, so watch out for that!
During the actual orientation, we didn’t really focus to much on our projects but instead covered the ground needed to prepare us for the work ahead. There were workshops and presentations about how to go about community-engagement successfully, stressing the importance of forming genuine connections with people when you’re working with them and realizing the multitude of ways that they are helping you and teaching you in turn. There was also a workshop on equity, which I also really enjoyed because stirred up some really interesting conversations about social justice and problems that marginalized groups endure in society.
All in all, it was a really good experience and definitely got me hyped up for ARW! Stay tuned.