In Community: the Importance of Reflection & Meaningful Work

By Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera

ZOOMlockdown and asynchronous. These are some of many words that come to mind for this academic year. It’s also been a year of many firsts. Many more students have been attending classes remotely, campuses have transformed, and the Class of 2020 has celebrated their graduation virtually in their homes within their bubbles.

The uncertainty unearthed many concerns for the future both near and far. Whether its deciding where to study or spend time with friends, or travelling amongst a sea of students, losses have been felt all around. For others, the pandemic might have also felt like an unexpected gift to reflect on what’s important. Perhaps it’s been a mix of everything, too! We have seen these realities in our work, both through research projects and in our own teams. Reflection on what we have accomplished this last year not only helped us learn from our experiences, but it also reaffirmed why holding space for meaningful work is so important.

In this weeks post we’re excited to share what our team members have reflected on in the last 6 months. In a series of collaborative and reflective exercises over MURAL, we asked our teams:

  • What have you or your team been most proud of?
  • What things have you or your team wanted to improve on throughout the term?
  • What does success look like to you moving forward?

Light bulb wiht rays of lights with one ray a twirled arrowWe hope you enjoy hearing from our students, and we look forward bringing more meaningful opportunities to our communities this year! Click or select one of the numbered questions below, and the question will expand for you to read!

1. What have you or your team been most proud of?

Personal Triumphs 

    •  ‘I’m just proud that I enjoy my work’  
    • ‘Gaining confidence in my ideas’ 
    • ‘Balancing school, work, and life during a pandemic’  
    • ‘Gaining the agility to jump from project to project based on timelines’

Team Victories

    • ‘Meeting lots of competing deadlines at the end of the term’ 
    • ‘Being honest about our capacity and helping one another!’ 
    • ‘Equally contributing and brainstorming in each task’  
    • ‘Communicating and relying on each other as a team’ 

Praises Upon Praises 

Meeting in the Middle

    • ‘Being able to change direction on projects and to ask for help when needed’  
    • ‘Finding agreement on what the data was telling us’  
    • ‘Using each person’s perspective and expertise in analyzing and developing ideas’  
    • ‘A hundred cycles of divergence-convergence that ultimately worked’ 

Final Stages

    • ‘Completing a final report that I’m proud to share with all my family and friends!’ 
    • ‘Finishing our Robarts Library presentation and seeing our stakeholders happy’ 
    • ‘Seeing our Communications Campaign for Academic Integrity across various UofT social media accounts and platforms!’ 
    • ‘Creating graphics that our stakeholders & team really likes’ 
    • ‘Seeing our work resonate with so many students and hearing their stories’ 

‘Being able to change direction on projects and to ask for help when needed’ 

What things have you or your team wanted to improve on throughout the term?

Finding the Balance

    • ‘Not setting my work hours so it feels like you work all the time’ 
    • ‘Trying to stay active while being stuck at home’  
    • ‘Time management and making sure to take time for ourselves’  
    • ‘Setting internal deadlines’  
    • ‘No meal prep. I’ve cooked maybe 7 times the whole term’  

Communication & Connection

    • ‘It is really difficult to connect with people virtually, in the coming months we need to restructure and come up with new direction to connect with more people’ 
    • ‘Working together and trusting my team’ 
    • ‘Taking initiative and holding each other accountable’  
    • ‘Being really clear from the start of who are audience is/who we’re writing for’ 
    • ‘Continuing to work virtually effectively – but it’s so tough in a virtual world’ 

‘Time management and making sure to take time for ourselves’  

What does success look like to our team members moving forward?

A megaphone

Time to Replenish

    • ‘A consistent sleep schedule’  
    • ‘Prioritizing my mental health’  
    • ‘Chatting more with my friends! Organizing my “screen time” energy’  
    • ‘Taking time to read for fun and watch some movies!’ 
    • ‘Feeling like I am in the writing zone. I miss my Muse’ 
    • ‘Spending more time listening to podcasts and audio books to help with my physical health, in balance with a career that is ALL on the screen’  

Small or Big, a Win is a Win!

    • ‘Celebrating all my wins! Even if its a 30 second dance party’  
    • ‘None of my loved ones get sick and we’re all vaccinated and able to be in person next year’  
    • Keeping in touch with my emotions’  
    • ‘Regaining new energy & positive lookout!’ 
    • ‘Balancing life, school and work without frequent burnout’ 
    • ‘Keeping my scope for success as open as possible – it can be the small things’  
    • ‘Imagining new possibilities after all of these difficult times. Being hopeful for what the future holds, given there is so much unknown right now’  

Future Aspirations

    • ‘Landing a full-time job’  
    • ‘Finishing grad school!!’ 
    • ‘Getting internships!’ 
    • ‘Getting accepted into grad school *fingers crossed*!’ 
    • ‘Honestly, I have so much stuff coming up for my PhD. So just continuing on and staying focused on why I’m here. It’ll be tough but worth it in the end’ 

‘Celebrating all my wins! Even if its a 30 second dance party’  

Through reflection over the last 6 months, we’ve continued to check-in and learn from one another. This was so important to keep in mind as we continue to navigate our work virtually!

Two speech bubbles overlapped with a heart in the centre.

We want to thank all of our students and community partners throughout the last year who have continued to make our work so impactful. We’re looking forward to continuing to offer fantastic work opportunities and partnerships to the UofT community, along with sharing project insights and updates in the coming weeks! 

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