Joining Hi-C was something I looked forward to, as I got to see a couple of the retreat videos from the years that my sister went to. Growing up, I wasn’t really actively part of the St. Tim’s community so I didn’t have a strong faith and only had a few close friends, which made joining Hi-C something that I was also nervous about. I was always really shy and timid, and would keep 99% of my thoughts to myself. I remember looking up to a lot of the older Hi-C members when I first joined, wishing I could be more open like them and try to make more meaningful relationships – but never having the courage to do so. On the bus ride of my first retreat, I remember spending the whole two hours fighting myself about what to say to my seat partner, how I was boring them to the point that they were just reading a book by them-self, how I wasn’t saying anything, how I should say something, etc. I shared this during one of the group discussions and my group leader, Jonathan, reassured me that people aren’t as harsh as I picture them to be, and encouraged me to be more confident in myself. My first few years in Hi-C were pretty uneventful, as I often kept to myself and would simply have fun watching what everyone else was doing during our events.
It was only in grade 10 that I started to participate more in the community and ask more questions regarding my faith, as I was part of the Communications Team (which was a project we never really got to finish, haha). At this time, I was starting to struggle with my belief in God and how little I really knew about Christianity and my own faith. Luckily, I was able to start to ask more questions to myself and really listen to sermons at the same time that Pastor Simon became Hi-C’s pastor. I was able to learn a lot of lessons and messages, gain insight that was really relevant to my growth. I think I started pushing myself to express my thoughts more and try to make bigger contributions in the conversations and discussions I had with others. Still, I was always very anxious while socializing and would constantly put myself down.
My grade 10 year was also Jonathan’s last year, and he was someone I really looked up to since I first joined Hi-C so it was memorable for me to have a meaningful conversation with him during one of his last retreats. Jonathan was the first to encourage me to consider taking an exec position within Hi-C, which became something I thought about loosely until the end of the year. It was after the summer retreat that I was invited to be part of the exec group, so I took this opportunity to really learn more about God and grow as a leader, and work towards making Hi-C more like a family. Before this, I wasn’t comfortable with myself and with Hi-C so I couldn’t connect with others easily or really find my place within the community, but it was around this time that I felt more of a sense of belonging – and it was something that I wanted to help others as well.
It was only during grade 11 that I started to open up much more, pushing myself to be more social and look out for others the same way the leaders of Hi-C cared for me when I first joined. I got to be part of weekly discipleship where I reflected weekly, which was something very new for me, and I also got to be part of the planning and execution of all the Hi-C events. As I learned a lot from the other execs that were already part of the team, it was a really fun, fruitful experience that shaped my mindset and the way I continued to socialize with others. While I still do have some anxieties and all, I really learned to be more conscious of those around me rather than myself, to reach out to others more and value every conversation. I feel like I learned much more about God’s Word and my faith without even realizing it during this year, through studying and listening, yes, but also through experiencing the love within the community. I don’t know if my faith would be this strong if I didn’t meet the people I did in Hi-C and be able to create all those sincere relationships.
In the past year, I’ve been able to get to know every single person in Hi-C and for that, I’m very grateful, as I also get to learn a lot more about God through these people. I’ve learned to jump out of my comfort zone and stand at the front of many events, work with the other members of Hi-C and reach out to a lot of the younger students. Every single retreat has been so meaningful to me and each one has allowed me to grow more, deal with my struggles and strengthen my friendships. I learned to bear burdens with those in Hi-C and connect on deeper levels than I could with anyone I’ve met at school. I think Hi-C just hits different.
As my last year in Hi-C comes to an end, I feel really grateful. For everything that I’ve come to know through Hi-C, whether it’s people or sermons or experiences. During the times that I’ve been struggling, there was always someone in Hi-C who showed that they really cared for me, which was something I really needed growing up. It’s also what made me want to give back the love I received to others, and I’m glad I was able to do so in the past few years. It makes me sad to think that I won’t be able to see everyone every week like I used to, but I know that even if I’m away for a year or even 10 years, I’ll still be able to connect and talk with everyone like we were never a part so it eases my worries. I also know that Hi-C is filled with really wonderful, great leaders who will continue to grow in their next few years, which leaves me with absolutely no worries for how unique and loving Hi-C will continue to be in the future. I hope that every single person will have as precious an experience as I did in Hi-C.