This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend the 34th ResLife Conference “The Best of”, hosted at the wonderful University of Toronto Mississauga Campus. What is the ResLife Conference? You can think of it as a science fair..but for Dons (student-staff or professionals who work to maintain an open and positive community in residence). Universities and colleges around Canada gathered to present their “best of” ideas on community building, teamwork, resident engagement, etc. to share what works at their institution (and also to take a shot at the prestigious Julianne Pettigrew Award).
Despite the horrendous traffic getting to Mississauga, the family of deer (who apparently lives on campus) made the trip worthwhile. Who would have thought that they would be outgoing as well? There was one that actually nuzzled my fellow delegate-Don, Liam’s hand.
Game faces on, here is Don Liam and I getting ready for our introduction. Each school was given a “best of” song and toy from the past 34 years and had the challenge to make a cheer. Glendon was given That’s What Friends Are For and Pokemon training Cards. As the smallest delegation of 3 individuals, I must say that we did a pretty fine job at repping Glendon.
Saturday provided the best surprise ever despite the early start in the day. Drum Café was the opening keynote speaker. Imagine walking into a lecture hall decked out with 200+ bongos…who wouldn’t be excited? “Do you have a heartbeat? Well if you do, then you’ve got rhythm.” I will never forget that unifying and universal message that was created through music – a conversation of positivity, creativity, accessibility and openness.
During the rest of the day, I got to sit in 5 presentations out of 45:
- “We’re All Mad Here” – an Alice in Wonderland themed presentation on mental health.
- Appreciative Advising – a presentation on structured community building.
- Becoming a Buddha Don – incorporating techniques and terminology from Buddhism.
- The Dream Team – how can you maintain and create teamwork to the max?
- Beyond #ResLife Life – how to look beyond ResLife and apply it to your future aspirations.
It was definitely a day of learning and exploring new ideas and energy from other schools!
Once presentations were done, it was off to the ResLife Banquet for some social fun…and food! How cool was it that they had a snow cone station?
Besides the formal attire, food, music and games…a banquet is not complete without some dancing. And, a dance competition at that! Liam was recruited to be one of three judges (according to the Conference Council, York University is one of the top 3 dance institutions…and so we had to “voluntell” a delegate to judge) and had the tough job in deciding the top dancer of 2014.
Overall, the conference was an amazing opportunity and an even more awesome experience that I feel so grateful to have participated in. Enthusiasm, positivity and creativity were clear motifs…as our closing keynote speaker noted, this conference aims to be that one “shot of energy” before you hit that wall called February. If there was anything I could take from this event, it is continual inspiration – keep aspiring to be great whether that is re-innovating an idea or believing how wonderful you are. You realize how impactful each person is and how you can make a difference in your community. You can and you will because you’re magical!