Wow! What an experience.
Through the days of March 6-8th, a few other University of Toronto delegates and I attended the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership. I was previously excited going into the conference knowing I would be hearing some of the most amazing inspirational and motivational speakers, and taking away some great information to teach my team at Student Life at the University of Toronto at Mississauga’s campus. I did not however, know that I was going to make some unforgettable relationships and be as inspired as I am today, writing this a few weeks after the conference.
The conference began with an evening filled with “Meet and greet” sessions. At this time I really got to get to know people from all over Canada. Never in my life did I expect to be in a conference with students from post-secondary institutions from British Columbia, Yellowknife, Manitoba and Lakehead to name a few. But, the CCSL gave me this opportunity. During the meet and greet I got to hear about the leadership opportunities people are involved in around Canada. This was beneficial to me as I got to learn how many individuals had similar goals, but had different routes to achieve them.
What I take away from this conference is far more than the obvious. Yes I take new pathways to implement my goals on campus as a student leader, but, I also learned a key aspect of being a leader. And that is to care for one’s self. It is common for leaders to constantly think of others and the work they have in front of them. As a result, self-care takes a back seat. It is through this conference that I learned I must take care of myself whilst catering to my obligations as well. I must focus on my own dreams, aspirations and ultimate goals in life. Only then will I be able to lead myself and those with similar goals to success.
Yes, there were many things I deem memorable such as Roberta Bondar, Adam Kuhn and Kirstine Stewart’s inspirational talks on leadership and the confidence to chase one’s dreams and goals. However, my most memorable moment of this conference happened on the last session of the last day. In this session, the two session-leaders wanted us to describe ourselves. Many if not all of us discussed our roles. At this point the leaders reminded us that we are not our roles. We are certain characteristics and skills that have led us to specific roles. Their main goal for the session was to have us realize that employment comes and goes, in a few weeks many of us will stop working for the school as the year comes to an end. But the characteristics we possess stay with us throughout our careers. We are not our positions, we are our skills and characteristics.
I can safely say that never in my life have I been so empowered and inspired to create change. This feeling is perfectly accompanied by the motto of the conference; Change is the Only Constant. In the words of Roberta Bondar, “Inspiration is where it starts. Then you need to inspire yourself”.
Written By: Sidra Alam, University of Toronto Mississauga student