Written by Vivian Ngo
Thinking back, it was really exciting to start school at UofT. The beautiful campus was something that left me in awe. Exploring magnificent buildings, taking in the gorgeous outdoor spaces on campus, and that sense of freedom that comes with being in post-secondary truly was a thrill. As excited as I was, there was a part of me that felt university life will be spent in isolation. I learnt how to get to my classes, where to go for help, and even met new friends in my classes but I later realized I was actually hoping to find a community at my new school. I wanted to be a part of the UofT community.
My good friend, Vicky La, introduced me to the many opportunities that were available at the CCP. There were so many different ways to represent my new school all around the city. I signed up to participate in Alternative Reading Week (ARW) that was being held during reading week in February.
I was placed on the ARW waiting list and ended up getting assigned to a project called ‘It’s Me to We’ hosted by an organization known as Dress for Success. Surprisingly, Dress for Success was located very close to campus and allowed for my fellow team and I to get to know our surrounding neighbourhood.
On the first day during ARW’s official launch, I met with my fellow team members who were also in the same project as me. We were a group of six who easily got along with each other and became friends.
As a team, we learnt Dress for Success’ purpose was to help empower women through providing professional attire to allow them to seek employment. Not everyone can seek employment and show up for an interview because of their lack of access to professional attire which is why Dress for Success accepts clothing donations to address this need.
Our job as ARW volunteers was to lift boxes of clothing, organize them and to place prices on them. As tedious as it sounds, it was actually quite enjoyable. We got to learn more about each other in our team during that time and witness firsthand how a community interacts.
There were clients who needed help to find employment; there were a group of friendly staff who were willing to dedicate themselves to help run Dress for Success, there were donators who willingly donated their lightly used clothing and lastly, there were volunteers who willingly used their time to help in any way possible.
It was great being able to represent our school in our community through ARW. At the same time, I realized I was a part of a community at my school. I was a part of a team of fellow students that was dedicated to learning by being engaged with our community.
After this experience, I was motivated to learn more about the other programs offered by the CCP.
This leads me to where I am now! Starting this September, I will have the chance to volunteer in a classroom with kindergarten students as a ‘From 3 to 3’ tutor and to start my trainings and meetings as a project leader to prepare for next year’s ARW! Needless to say, I’m excited and thankful for the opportunities that the CCP offers.