Being Graceful 24/7

I’ve been going strong with my ballet classes at the Athletic Centre, but I can’t believe I’ve completed a semester of pirouetting. Honestly, it still has not hit me that I will no longer be going to the dance studio every week to practice my dance moves—however, that doesn’t mean that the dancing has to be over!

Over the course of the semester, I learned to incorporate one of the toughest type of sports into my daily life. I practiced the art of strengthening my core by correcting my posture while in class, I kept up with my planking, and I stayed faithful to my warm up stretches. When I was not in the dance studio, I tried my best to incorporate every graceful aspect of ballet in between dance classes. Now, I call that discipline.

I remember attending my first class and having to depend on looking at the wall-length mirror for guidance as the instructor called out positions. Now I feel as if I’m on autopilot when it comes to going from one position to another—it’s slowly becoming second nature to me.

1st position, feet are angled opposite from one another while touching at the heels.

2nd position, feet are still angled opposite from one another, but this time a few inches apart.

3rd position, one foot is placed in front of the other while still angled opposite.

4th position, same as 3rd position, but this time a few inches apart.

Are you noticing the pattern here?

Last but not least, the 5th position, where feet touch each other again, but heel to toe.

Dancing does not have to be an optical illusion. -VIA MOILLUSIONS.COM

See, I got this. And I’ve improved with each class!

With practicing straightening my posture while in and out of class, I’ve also found myself focused dancing gracefully. I decided to look at my participation in ballet as something more than just physical activity. After all, ballet is both a sport and an art form. As time went by, I learned that balance within my core is key when trying to perfect the plié and tendu. I found myself more in-control than ever and I’ve been able to twirl around the dance studio with a little more self confidence. Most of all, I’ve been able to relax while going to this class, which was much needed considering how exam season is here.

I started this class with sore feet, but I think I’ve been able to toughen up after all of that practice.
I’m never going to be a professional ballerina, but hey, one can dream.

One can dream though! -VIA 5-SECONDS-OF-IDOLS.TUMBLR.COM

What have you done to prepare yourselves for exams while staying active?


A Final Farewell to U of T

For the past four years I have said goodbye to U of T in April. But it was a tentative goodbye, said with the knowledge that I was returning to the woes and joys of student-hood in September. Now, this April, today, I am saying goodbye to U of T for the last time.

To commemorate my time here, I went for a little walk the other day. Here’s some of what I saw:


I remember when my parents dropped me off at those doors. I was nervous. I came in with boxes and bags and posters to hang on my wall. But beyond my edgy nerves, I remember the undeniable thrill of arriving. I was starting a new life, and I was making a new homeIMG_0095

When I discovered the UC Quad, I knew I was home. Standing on the low stone steps leading down onto the open green grass, and looking across at those sunlit archways, I remember how my imagination exploded with the possibilities at U of T. I dreamed up a whole life for myself, a whole new me, really. And it turns out, at a place as magical as U of T, dreams drift right into reality.


My main stomping-ground in first and second year, Hart House Library. Curled up in a red arm chair, bathed in warm sunlight, a novel laying open on my chest—it may not have been the most academically productive space, but you can’t ask for a better setting for a studying induced nap.


Yep, a secret, forbidden stairwell at Hart House. Where does it lead? I’ll leave that to the naturally adventurous…


This room in Northrop Frye Hall! There are lots of wonderful reasons that make this room special. Peices of that university dream that I never really expected would come true. I’m sure, if you think about it, there’s a room somewhere at U of T that makes you feel the same way. If not, just you wait!


The Isabel Bader Theatre is the most comfortable lecture hall at U of T. Trust me, it’s science! Not only did I have first year philosophy in this theatre, which I will never forget—because it’s first year philosophy—but the Bader was also home to The Bob sketch comedy performance. Here, in this theatre, I really got to be me, and a whole lot of other people, but mostly me.

Wow! What a great pleasure it has been to attend the University of Toronto. It was certainly the best, most fulfilling, most challenging, and most rewarding part of my life, to date. And it was extra special having the opportunity to share some of my experience with you, the U of T student community, this last year.

To all of you who ever read one of my posts, and to the whole of U of T, the professors, T.A.s, students, admin, caretakers, grounds workers, chefs, cashiers, and coat-check volunteers:

Thank You. It was diamond!

- Stephen.


Getting Back To Business

Last week was all about settling in to the new semester. This week, it’s all about bringing my game back. Now is the time to juggle school, extra-curriculars, and physical activity.
Being active during the holidays was admittedly easier. However, this semester with three new half courses added to my previous load, I need to start planning out when I going to exercise.


During first semester, I would exercise on whim, but would still schedule in a registered class, like Pilates. Yet I’ve made a pact to crank up intensity when challenging myself. I know that organizing and planning workouts are the next step to achieving my new goals. Of course, I love being spontaneous like any other student at this university (does anyone consider 2:00AM food runs a normal way to bond with their friends now?). But when it comes to getting back on track, structure is crucial to realizing my goals. Over the past few days, I reviewed my schedule to see what exercise plan I can realistically commit to now that life is just getting busy again.

Ah, the start of the week. The overall beginning. Monday.
I only have two classes. My last one ends at 4PM. I don’t know about you, but whatever happens on the first day of the week seems to set the tone for the days that follow. So from now on, I am going to aim to make Monday a gym day, when I go to Hart House and use the elliptical and other machines and do not care about working out in front of peers and strangers. By starting the week with going to the gym, I hope that it sets a positive “you can do it!” type of attitude when trying to exercise on the other days.

Speaking of starting off with exercise, today is the first day to start on building the MoveU Passport that goes into your Co-Curricular Record! If you want to sign up, just bring your T-Card to the Athletic Centre main office, and from there you can get on going with attending free drop-in exercise classes and social activities on campus. For more information, check out the facebook event page for the program. Don’t forget to #tryitUofT.

Tuesdays are two-class days as well. However, I finish at 3PM Since I’ve picked up a heavy course load with dense readings, I will devote Tuesdays to one registered exercise class so that I can head on out to the library afterwards. I`ve got my eye on a Judo class-stay tuned!

I’m scared about Wednesdays. They are eight-hour class days this term. My last class ends at 6PM, so I still have the evening and night to myself, but I don’t want to end it by collapsing onto my bed.  Since hump days are stress-ridden days, then this shall be a day devoted to relaxation. I will unleash my stress by dancing in my room, doing yoga, or Pilates, and any stretching that will calm me down. How else will I keep up with my planking?

Thursday is yet another two-class day. However, I plan to make this a rest day. I will recharge and not panic over whether I should go to the gym or not because Queens Park is too icy to cross through. I think it will be much needed. Of course, just because I’m not going to the gym, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be huddled up in my bed on a TV-watching marathon. I’ll nonetheless do my best to keep active during my “free” day.

Fridays are slack days! It’s the end of the week, and I’m practically free, except for one class that ends at 11:00AM. I plan to make this not only a gym day, but a day centred on walking all over campus. I don’t want to just leave my relaxation to the confines of my room and planking—I want to be able to calm down in a public setting as well while taking in the sights and exploring hidden gems around U of T. Most recently, I’ve wanted to get acquainted with Hart House. It’s more than just using it as a place for going to the gym. I’m planning to check out live shows playing at the theatre there—as inspired by fellow blogger, Stephen’s post on theatre-going.



The past. I think. VIA GIFRIFIC.COM


Freedom at last? Only temporarily. Depending on my workload and what’s due the week after, I will devote my weekends to either exercising or doing homework. After all, with no academic classes, why not take advantage of drop-in classes? Last semester, I was able to do a few drop-in cycling classes that my friend taught, and I plan to do the same for this time around as well.

As for Sunday… well that’s a different story. Even though it’s the last day of the weekend, I think it’s best to admit that Sundays are truly Mondays. The pangs of guilt for procrastinating on readings all? And then spending all day catching up? Grudgingly completing rudimental chores? Worrying about the tests and assignments due in the upcoming week? For all of that, I’m leaving Sundays as a day for spontaneity. I could make time to hang out with my friends, go shopping, read a book outside of the curriculum, discover a parkette, and more!

I mean, I’m a university student after all; I still need some rebellion from my daily schedule.

So with all this fussing over trying to be organized how I’ll fit in my exercise, I could use some helpful hints. Tell me readers, how do you squeeze in staying active!

New Year, New Resolutions.

It’s 2014. Second semester has already started and I’m still trying to settle in. Along with my two full-year courses, I’ve got three new half-year courses, so my schedule has completely changed. And speaking of change, my schedule isn’t the only thing getting an overhaul. My goals have changed too. I know, it’s typical for everyone to make a few resolutions at the beginning of the year, and also to drop them after a few weeks, but this year I’m a little more hopeful.

My reaction to every new years resolution making before 2014. – VIA BILLBOARD.TUMBLR.COM

During the holidays, I took some time to reflect on my last semester and my attempts to establish a healthier lifestyle. I made a jumpstart on my aspiration to make a total 180 by getting out there and being active.I signed up for a Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. I made a pact to go to the gym at least once a week, and conquered the ever-so-despised plank. That was only the beginning. With the new year, I’ve come prepared with new, yet realistic, goals that I hope to achieve by the end of the semester. My goals for 2014 are as follows:

1) Try out a new exercise class.
With the second semester starting and all, I’ve been a bit inspired by the #tryitUofT campaign celebrating January as the month to get into new clubs and events. When it comes to exercise, I am craving a new approach. I’ve always stuck to slow, relaxation exercises, like yoga and Pilates. I think it’s now time to try something new. Now that doesn’t mean that I will quit Pilates— I mean, that whole semester spent doing planks wasn’t all for naught. I plan to keep up my relaxation exercises, along with my crazy dancing when I’m in my dorm, and in the gym.

I’ve been looking into martial arts, to even quirky classes like archery. Oh the many options that Hart House and the Athletic Centre at U of T has to offer!

2) Eat healthier
First semester was all about getting off my butt and moving my body. Second semester is still going to be about that, but it will also be about finding balance with the meals that nourish and energize my body. This is especially important after workouts, when I need my muscles to recover. I’ve realized how important eating healthy is; I find it affects my stamina when I have to move around all day. If I want to achieve my new goals, I need to start treating myself better.

Most of all, I don’t want to have a mid-day slump. I want to be able to be energized going into the gym and relaxed going out of it.

For inspiration, I took a look at fellow Student Life, and Health & Wellness, blogger Gloria’s post on mindful eating.

3) Go to the gym three times a week
Last semester was all about getting rid of the fear of going to the gym alone and exercising in public, and honestly, even though there are some days when I find myself slipping back to those thoughts, I’ve never once regretted going to the gym. Now it’s time to bump it up from going to the gym casually to making my commitment official.

4) No More Sleeping In
Oh my, sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping in is even better. But it’s a time-costing luxury that gets in the way of doing my work, and being an active person. Just like eating healthy, sleeping well is another goal that isn’t directly connected to being more active, but plays a huge role in the quality of exercise I get. So I want to be able to get to sleep earlier, and wake up earlier. I don’t want to go to the gym in the evenings, but instead, I want to start off my day by going to the gym first! That old expression, “you snooze, you lose” has never been this relevant!

What I used to think about sleeping. – VIA THETEENAGEGENTLEMAN.TUMBLR.COM

So far, these are my “healthy” goals for this semester.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014?

Halloween: Fight or Flight?

When I think of Halloween, I think of a holiday based on horror. But a holiday based on tackling my fears? Not really. However, this year, I bit the bullet and decided to attend MoveU’s Halloween event, Scary Skate. Yes, I took the name of this event quite literally; ice skating isn’t exactly my forte.

I’d rather do this than skate. –VIA SOULFULSOCK.TUMBLR.COM

I know. Despite all the free skating, free rentals, free refreshments, all the free glory, I was still trying to find a way of getting out of the event. I mean, the weather was kind of rainy, and my common room was warm and cozy, and practically told me to sit on the couch and watch TV for the night. However, I knew that if I backed out, I would regret not giving myself a chance to try to tackle my fear. It’s thrilling to take a few risks once in a while, and just remind myself what I can do. And again, the event was free, so there was nothing to lose.

Despite the rainy weather, I walked to the Varsity Centre. Since “free” is practically a magic word for the university student, and ice skating is (surprisingly, in my opinion) a harmlessly fun past-time for many people, Scary Skate was quite full, so I ended up having to wait for a while until I finally got to put on my skates. While waiting around with a few friends, I watched some students skate on the rink. There was one girl doing a triple axel, and two people were falling down repeatedly. I instantly knew who I was going to be when I hit the ice.


When I did get on the rink, let’s just say that I spent the majority of the time grabbing on to the boards, while doing a little skating here and there. Most of my energy was spent on screaming or laughing every time I managed to skate free of my friends’ arms or the boards. The thing about skating is that in order to balance, you need to have a strong core. Even though I barely skated without support, I managed to avoid falling face first onto the ice when I did let go. This feat, my dear readers, is probably due to my new found friendship with planking and the core strength I’ve developed as a result!

Planking is a wonderful thing that will protect you from this. I think.. –VIA SENIORGIF.COM

Afterwards, I decided to hit up Victoria College’s Halloween pub night, instead of watching TV, because I felt energetic about the fact that I actually got on the ice. I wanted to reward myself. At the pub, I talked to my friend, who is also a spinning instructor at the Athletic Centre, about my time at Scary Skate. After telling her how it was a sort of a struggle for me, she told me that she also leads a skating class every Friday morning (um, how does this girl find energy?). She offered to teach me how to properly skate one-on-one at the Varsity Centre next time. I’m also planning to drop by the Athletic Centre for another spin class because what else is friendship for but to support one another? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve found that it pays to talk about where I’m at in my journey for a more active lifestyle. Just talking about what I need to improve on helps to make my change feel real, especially if I’m surrounded by active friends willing to encourage me.

So ice skating is a work in progress, but Scary Skate was nonetheless fun! I enjoyed goofing around and not being serious with friends (while they showed off their spectacular skating skills). Most of all, I like the inclusive mood at MoveU events, especially since I’ve been getting into a rut with my lone exercise routine. After all, you can only do so much planking alone in your room.

Anyway, next week, on November 6th, MoveU and UTSC’s PACE team are hosting a tri-campus event: dodge ball at Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park. It’s only $5 and transportation will be provided, as well as free food and equipment. I’m sorry, but I have to repeat: Trampoline Park. Free. Fun time guaranteed. I’ve never been to a tri-campus event before, so this is going to be another “risk-taking” task that will call on me to conquer another fear: getting over my shyness. But, this is going to be at a trampoline park, and nothing is going to stop me from going.

I’m going to bring my game on next week. –VIA GIFBAY.COM

Since I’m tackling a fear each week, I dare you, fellow readers, to do the same. Perhaps I’ll see you at the trampoline park?

— Amanda

in which we give thanks at Thanksgiving

This album has been my constant companion over the last few months, but also this past weekend in particular.

It’s a free, downloadable EP of seven tracks by a friend of mine called “I AM”, Nicholas Cheung, who is a music producer from Vancouver. “Mandarin” is my current go-to track: brisk and mellow, subtly layered the same way trees along Highway 404 are turning autumn shades of reds and browns.

It’s free, and it’s good. 

Fall in Canada means Thanksgiving, which means a long weekend, which means turkey and family feasts, and the return of the pumpkin spiced latte.

However, being an International student during a Canadian national holiday means I face the problem of not having a family to celebrate with.

I’d heard about turkey dinners and Thanksgiving before, but 2009 was the first time I encountered it in full force, as the downtown Toronto core drained out into quieter cottages and lake houses for the weekend.

Public holidays are days set aside for family and friends to enjoy themselves together communally, however for a family like mine, separated by a 12-hour time zone, it can be hard to feel festive.


Thanksgiving Skype hangouts with the family!

I’m sure there are many of you out there who are just like me, who for whatever reason, are unable, even on publicly designated “spend-time-with-your-family” days, to be with them.

In my first year, it was a rather lonely ordeal, as residence would clear out over the weekend, and I’d be left to figure out to do with the extra time – usually studying. Over the years, I began participating in the extra-curricular communities on campus and started developing relationships with many different people. We studied together, worked together, and celebrated together.

Four years later, Thanksgiving for me has become eating celebrations over the weekend with communities of people I’ve come to call my family in this city. These are the people who have changed my university life in drastic ways, and are a big reason why I call Toronto a home now.


Celebrating with Baked Veggie Lasagna and a 20 pound honeyed ham. That’s right.

People are key focal points around which our lives revolve because they have the capacity to give us immeasurable warmth and love

We all belong to our own communities, big or small.

I know our university is a sprawling mass of buildings in the middle of a sprawling urban center.

But the campus can be more than just a series of lecture halls we move to and from.

U of T is home to vibrant, and dynamic communities, full of people from all sorts of disciplines and from all over the world, connected together by skills, interests, faith, or values.


Went somewhere 2.5 hours away this past weekend with my faith community.

Ulife offers a comprehensive directory of groups on campus, including their contact information. If you’re looking for a place to get connected, and didn’t get around to Clubs Fair during Frosh week, this is a good place to start.

If you’re an International looking to get connected, there are many groups on campus that get together to celebrate with each other in place of family at all the events. The Cumberland House just off St. George and College host different events regularly to celebrate different holidays and host conversation cafes.

Every Thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful for the people who have become my family in Toronto.

Who did you spend your weekend with?
What were you thankful for this Thanksgiving?


Arts & Science Student Ambassador: On Rotman Commerce and Life @ UofT

There are almost 26,000 undergrad students enrolled in 300 programs in the faculty of Arts and Science (A&S). The A&S Student Ambassadors represent the thousands of students in our Faculty, and provide prospective students great information about the school, their experiences, and their programs. You’ll find the Ambassadors at events like the Ontario University Fair and Fall Campus Day (save the date – October 19th).

I got to speak with Amara, one of the Ambassadors, about her program and life as a UofT student. She found out about the opportunity through the Career Centre’s Job Postings page, and it caught her eye because she loves talking to people and sharing her experiences (she’s telling the truth – she’s friendly and awesome). She dropped tons of gems about her program and experience here at UofT!

Rotman Commerce

Amara is in her 3rd year in the Rotman Commerce program. As a Student Ambassador, she gets a ton of questions about the program. She answered a few of mine and debunked some “Rotman Myths”.

Rotman commerce in three words – “I love it!”

Rotman commerce in 21 words - “It’s a great program…it’s given me lots of opportunities that I don’t know if I would have had at other places.”

Other pluses - It’s in the heart of Toronto, the faculty is stellar, and they have the perk of being enrolled in both the Rotman School of Management and the Faculty of Arts and Science. She does admit that it’s a challenging and competitive program, but for her, it’s worth it because “it really builds you up!”

But it’s not a co-op program! - Internships are not guaranteed, but opportunities are available if you take the time to look for them. After spending 2-3 days a week attending interviews and networking events, Amara’s already got an internship lined up for next summer!

Suit-clad Rotman students might seem intimidating – In her first encounter with the program, Amara was intimidated by the high-profile program and smartly dressed students, but things have changed. “Yeah, we might seem intimidating with like, suits on”, she says, “but on the inside we have the same fears and the same concerns as everyone else.”

On Life At U of T (I’m awesome for using the title of the blog in a post)

Choosing a College – It’s common, Amara mentions, for prospective students to be confused about UofT’s colleges (“but I thought this was university!” cried the UofT applicant). She loves her college – Woodsworth – and highlights two things about colleges in general: they “are like your family outside of your program”, and they “have a lot of events that will help you get to know more people”.

Overcoming Challenges – Amara had to drastically change her study habits, change the way she thinks (“U of T is more about thinking than about memorizing”), and look for support amongst upper year students and professors. Despite the challenges, she remarks happily, “Over the past three years I’ve seen myself grow and become better, and I think that change in myself is why I’m happy about choosing U of T.”

Last Words? – “I love UofT. I love Rotman Commerce. I love being on this campus and being in this city…[UofT] is the best university in Canada and I’m really proud of it.”

A million thanks to Amara for letting me interview her for this post!
To find out more about the A&S Ambassadors program, click here

Introducing this year’s Community Crew!

A hearty welcome to new U of Ters, and Big Ups to those of you continuing your very own Life @ U of T.

I’d like to you all to meet this year’s Community Crew!!



When I first met Abdullah I was amazed by the sheer knowledge he has of U of T. I learned more about U of T’s campus in five minutes than I have over the last year of being an OISE student here. A passionate advocate for post-secondary student issues on campus, Abdullah guarantees that U of T can be a really lovely place if you explore your passions and get involved. I believe it! Abdullah is this year’s Community Crew Captain. You can find him on twitter @lifeatuoft, and on Facebook at Life At U of T: St. George.




Melina’s upbeat energy is pretty contagious. Serious. You can’t be around her for five minutes before you’re grinning. Like from ear to ear. A fourth year Cinema Studies and Lit major, she’s got giant passions for photography, ballet, and a vegan lifestyle. When she first came to meet me, she gingerly climbed the stairs at Koffler to where I was sitting. I’m pretty sure she just wanted to tiptoe, but I could spot her distinctive style a mile away. Keep your eye on her photography skills: she’s Life @ U of T’s official Community Crew photographer, and she has quite the eye! Check out her pics on Twitter and Instagram!


When you meet Katrina, you feel as though you’ve known her for a long time. She’s so comfortable with herself that you feel all comfy too, and you just relax. Truth. Go up and say hello to her, you’ll see what I mean!

Told ya.

Katrina joins us all the way from Hong Kong with her elegant sense of style and love for science. Intramural sports, meeting amazing people, and challenging herself to do better is what makes Katrina’s world turn. She’s a Life @ U of T blogger – watch for her posts starting next week!

Michael is an Engineering student with a love for food truck fries and all things Theatre.

Sidenote: Who doesn’t love food truck fries? You can stay away from them all you want, but you know you secretly love them :D.

Um, anyway, back to Michael. U of T is huge, right? Huge – which got Michael feeling nervous about meeting people and making friends on campus at first. The complete opposite happened instead: Michael got overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways to participate in Life at U of T. These days, you can find Michael stretching his acting chops with an Improv club on campus. Just wait, maybe you’ll catch him on stage at Hart House one of these days- just maybe. But first, you’ll definitely find him on Twitter, @Michael_UofT.

If Stephen’s wry, deadpan wit doesn’t have you cracking up, well…[insert witty comment here]. Stephen’s strategy for getting to know U of T: Just Say Hi (see video below). You can find Stephen making his way around campus on his trusty bicycle, or chilling out at Knox College. A combination of Sketch Comedy talent and Diabolo’s fantastic coffee make this guy who you want to keep your eye on for future Life @ U of T blogposts.



Last but not least, a big Hello from your Community Crew:

Welcome aboard everyone! I look forward to working with you!

- Aziza

Getting Out of a Rut

“…And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done…”

-        Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

University has a structure associated with it. A process and solidity that many find comforting. We go from one year to the next, attending lectures and seminars and completing assignments and tests. The campus, despite being large, becomes a second home and the friends that we’ve made along the way become family. But sometimes the regularity and predictability that the structure of school offers can become repetitive and dry. Boring. But it doesn’t have to stay boring.

Stepping out of our comfort zone can be a good thing.

I’m a shy and reserved person and it’s easy to let that hold me back. It’s easy to want to withdraw from conversations or opportunities because I feel uncomfortable.

When we sit in the background, we lose control of some aspects of our lives. We’re the only ones who can decide to step out of our comfort zones and take the risks that will ignite a spark of inspiration. Last semester, I blogged about attending my first yoga session ( At the session’s start, I felt like a fish out of water. I’m glad I stuck it out because I’ve found that yoga is a great way to relax for me.

The world isn’t out to get us.

I see some students who are prone to playing the victim. When they’re in a rut, they like to sit in their rooms wallowing in self-pity and complaining that the world is out to get them. When we feel left out or stuck, it’s natural for some of us to assume that it’s because other people are consciously trying to leave us behind. But it’s all a matter of perspective. Oftentimes, the only thing that is holding us back is our reaction to the world.

The best way to get unstuck is to create work that we care about.

So much of the work we do is mandatory. And I understand that it all has a purpose. But sometimes when we lack passion for this essay or that paper, we fall into a rut. You’ll notice that the people who are the happiest and the most successful are often the ones who believe in voicing their ideas. The ones who do the work they have to without shirking the work they want to do. A friend of mine writes for The Varsity. That means she has some extra research she has to do and some extra deadlines she has to meet but the fact that she enjoys it outweighs all the extra “work.”

Doing something you’re passionate about is the best way to feel involved and stimulated. Ignoring the voice in my head that said “there isn’t a point to this” was the best thing that I did in university.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing…”

 -        Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go


Black History Month: Important for Everyone

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I don’t know all that much about Black History Month. I remember learning about it and celebrating it in school when I was younger. But since then, I’ve found that I’ve had fewer chances to attend Black History Month events. Sometimes it’s because I don’t know when or where the events are happening. Other times, I can’t go due to previous commitments. And then there are times when I choose not to. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy. And other times it’s because I think to myself “this doesn’t apply to me.”

Last Thursday, a friend and I attended the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education’s “Lunch for a Cause” event, in acknowledgement of Black History Month. I was a little worried that we’d stand out, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that that really wasn’t the case. The event was a wonderful learning experience. It was amazing to see different people from different backgrounds sharing and remembering the accomplishments of a single culture together. It was also the first time that I’ve tried Caribbean food and it was right up my alley! I love spicy foods and flavors and the jerk chicken and goat curry were exactly that.

We hung around for a bit and I spent some time talking to the organizers of the event. I stood with them as they watched people from different walks of life mingling and laughing with each other and discussing some of the historical figures who were responsible for the Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, among others). Reflecting on the injustices that African Americans have encountered and remembering the individuals who stood together to overcome some of them was humbling ( One of the organizers turned to me and said “Isn’t it funny to think that something like this wouldn’t have been possible a century ago?”

That’s when I realized that Black History Month is important for us all, not only because of who it honours but also because of what it teaches us:

1) It teaches us to celebrate, rather than to tolerate, each other’s differences and unique characteristics.

2) It teaches us to share our culture, our food, our thoughts, and our accomplishments with those around us, regardless of ethnic background.

3) It teaches us to be thankful to past and present leaders who have fought long and hard to ensure we live in a society that is largely accepting.

4) It teaches us that it’s never too late to change. That society is dynamic. And the injustices that exist today don’t have to exist tomorrow.

5) Finally, it teaches us that we are never truly alone. We should never exclude ourselves from events and opportunities because we feel they “don’t apply to us.” Sometimes (more often than not), the only barriers that exist are the ones that we establish in our own mind.

Black History Month continued throughout February. I hope you consider participating in some of these events!

Happy Black History Month, UofT!