Conrad Grebel University College is welcoming second-year students who have never set foot on campus but already hold leadership positions.
Mechatronics engineering student Kyle Ferrier, an Orientation Week leader, is “unbelievably excited” to move in.
“I was worried that I wouldn’t be a great O-week leader since I feel like a freshman myself, having never been on campus yet,” he said. “Ultimately I realized that I can still foster the Grebel spirit as another student along for this wild ride.”
The 2020-21 school year sparked innovation as pandemic precautions dictated courses needed to be offered virtually for the entire year.
As an administrator for Grebel’s Discord server, Ferrier helped facilitate an online space where Grebelites could connect, ask questions or share.
“I’ve met quite a few friends at Grebel through online activities like O-week, weekly waves and game nights,” he said. “Most of them I have never met in person, so I am really looking forward to finally being in the same room, sharing mealtimes and just hanging out.”
With the move to online learning in 2020, many students decided to live at home. Grebel is located at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
With only single rooms available for the 2020-21 school year, there were about 100 students on campus, 60 percent of the usual number.
“From making tables with dividers so we can eat together, to making unused classrooms into game rooms, study rooms and a place to watch movies all at a physical distance, Grebel did a fantastic job keeping community at the center,” said second-year student Nathan Toews.
More than 100 nonresidents could visit the campus to join the outdoor fun or log on virtually.
First-year virtual resident Selah Woelk enjoyed making online connections.
“Sometimes it felt like I was missing out, but people kept coming up with inventive ways to keep us all connected,” she said.
Grebel hosted virtual and in-person events like door decorating, virtual chapel, volleyball and a weekly Zoom meeting where the entire community met for announcements, a speaker and conversation. Woelk was a primary cast member of the all-virtual musical production of Big Fish.
This fall, peace and conflict studies student Merveille Mwankin will live at Grebel and is excited to join intramural teams and in-person chapel services.
“I am looking forward to meeting my virtual friends physically in person, strengthening friendships and building new relationships,” she said. “Grebel has helped nurture my faith by surrounding me with other believers and providing Anabaptist-Mennonite values such as love, peace, nonviolence and justice.”