It was definitely an adjustment coming from Edmonton, where I used to skate six days a week, three hours a day. Because figure skating used to take up so much of my time, I wasn’t able to pursue other interests. As soon as I came to Shawnigan, the opportunities just came flooding in. I really like art and drawing, and I am now able to pursue them more. I was also able to learn how to play rugby.
Being part of a team was a first for me, and it was so different from what I was used to. Rugby is way different than figure skating. First of all, there’s the whole comradery thing. The seniors were so welcoming and helpful when I was new. I had no idea what I was doing, but they didn’t care and they welcomed me in without hesitation. It has been a very good experience and has taught me about teamwork and team building.
When you are playing with a team, you aren’t just playing for yourself anymore. You play for your team. You work for your team. You look out for your team. In skating, you have your coaches, but when you step onto the ice, it's just you. But, on a field, if you make a mistake, or need help in a difficult situation, you have people that can step up to help.
The Shawnigan figure skating director, Ms Ransom, has helped me so much to continue my training. I needed more time to practice and she arranged for extra ice time and coaching at other clubs.
I have become a lot more confident since coming to Shawnigan. I am not super outgoing naturally, but the School has helped me become more assertive, and to not be so passive in everything – to go out there and talk to people. I have found a great community here at the School.
I love all the trails and walkways around campus, and when I am not feeling great or I need some time to myself, I walk along these trails to regroup and relax. The campus is really lovely and beautiful and I find walking helps me channel my thoughts. When I walk, my mind goes everywhere and it's a whole creative experience, and it's helped me to form my ideas and reach out to new experiences.
I love the history of this place. I never really realized how much history there is at Shawnigan until I went down to the school museum. This place is old! It’s always interesting to hear about how it used to be, and all the things they used to do. I love hearing the old stories.
It makes me really want to change the School for the better. When I leave this place, I hope I will have left a good impact, especially on the younger students. The seniors helped me so much when I was younger and I am forever grateful for that. It’s not always easy at first, sometimes you just need that person that you can lean on, and I hope that I am that person.
I feel like there’s a lot of positive progress here at the School. From my experience these last few years, I feel that the support for the LGBTQ+ community has grown exponentially. There’s a lot of conversation in our community about the social issues facing our world today. With conversation comes change, and that change is definitely for the better. I am so proud of the progress we have made at this school – it’s so positive.
I feel that every year, SOGI just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s so nice to see everyone at our meetings, and it’s a great reminder that you aren’t different – you are just like everyone else. Having that small community really creates that greater sense of belonging. When I was in Edmonton, I didn’t have a space like that, and it was challenging as I navigated my younger years. I have found a group of people here who have taken me under their wings.
At its heart, SOGI is a place where you come to learn. It’s another great educational opportunity where you learn about the community, and it helps you see from different perspectives and it broadens your horizons.
When I was really young, I was so scared that people would find out about me and my “secret” that I lived with a lot of fear. Since being at Shawnigan, I have come to realize that the world is much kinder than I think it is, and that there are a lot of great people who really care. I understand now that in the world there are always going to be people that object, or are uncomfortable, or will say things, or make jokes that are offensive, but that this happens everywhere and to many people and it’s not indicative of society as a whole. While it can be greatly uncomfortable being vulnerable, through vulnerability we make those true connections, and I think that’s so important and that is what happens here at Shawnigan and through SOGI.
The whole School has embraced our SOGI community. It doesn’t feel like SOGI, and then the School – SOGI is like the community in the School. You really get a great sense of belonging here at Shawnigan.
I am grateful for all the opportunities I have at the School, and all the things that I am able to do. There are a lot of people in the world that don’t get to have this experience, and I feel very fortunate that I am able to have it. I am so grateful for the seniors in the House who have helped me so much and shaped me into who I am today, and I am grateful for all my friends, who will always be there for me no matter what.
- From an interview with Han S. '22 (Groves')