Written by Chris Smith
BEEP.BEEP.BEEP. The alarm clock wakes you up on a regular Monday morning. Like many others, you rush to grab your bagel and coffee at Tim Hortons on your way to school. As you walk from your car you comment to a stranger how chilly this March seems to be compared to last year. You sit through lecture after lecture; you can’t wait for the day to end. On your way to downtown for lunch a classmate makes a comment about the homeless person on the street and how they probably do drugs. After lunch, you attend one more lecture. Your day is finally finished. You spend the rest of it in the warm library finishing up on the essay you neglected to do on the weekend in favour of going out for drinks with friends. When it’s closing time in the library you head on home to your own place of residence.
It’s a regular March morning, like many others. There is a chill in the morning breeze, and you wake up with the sun. You leave your place of residence and hop on the next bus towards school for the day. No breakfast today, no money for it. Lecture after lecture, the day is almost finished; however the hunger pangs have not subsided. Lunch consisted of an apple and half a bagel generously offered from a classmate after they caught your stare. After school is finished for the day, you spend your night in the warm library. If anyone were to ask, you would say you are finishing homework. It’s almost closing time so you head over to the Laundromat to wash your clothes. You head back to your place of residence for the night. No one knows the location: under the bridge, with your personal items hidden secretly in the brush.
What is the difference? These are fictitious stories meant to compare how similar a regular students’ life to a student whom is homeless. I recently participated in the Five Days for the Homeless event hosted by Brock’s Business students. I heard many stereotypical remarks, like those in the first story, which challenged me to rethink my views. I also heard very heart touching and enlightening stories that reconfirmed some of my personal values. One particular story came from a friend’s mom whom works as a professor at Sheridan College. She wished that more students knew how prevalent homelessness really is. She has better understanding of this problem and every year she teachers homeless students who are trying to better themselves but are unable to afford it. In juxtaposition, there are students who complain how they cannot afford to go out on weekends but take for granted the roof over their head. Others complain they cannot head downtown to check out the new restaurant but take for granted the full cupboards at home.
There are many local and international problems in this world, and as young people we need to take a stand for what we believe is right. By participating in Five Days not only did I make some amazing friends, I took part in changing the stereotypical image of homelessness, raised awareness, and challenged myself to survive in a new situation. I also learned two important lessons that I encourage my fellow Brock students to follow. First, next time you pass another student, offer a pleasant smile or hello. You never really know if one day those strangers will become your friend, or what challenges they face. Second, I encourage students here at Brock to engage in more volunteer opportunities because you’ll never really know the incredible benefits until you do.