Gabo Zavala, BSC - Biochemistry
From the moment I stepped on campus everything seemed to be in fast-forward. One minute I was getting settled in my dorm and the other I was getting off the bus coming back from the IPE rodeo on the last day of Jumpstart. I was surrounded by so many people from countries I forgot even existed, and I loved every second of it. Meeting new people, making new friends, and exploring this new region that I was going to call “home” for the next few years.
It’s impressive how fast I fell in love with the UBCO campus, the people, and the city. In the lapse of one week I was not only excited to be Kelowna, but proud to be part of this campus. Being a participant in Jumpstart was a huge part of my first year, it placed me in a great position to do whatever I set my mind to in this new environment.
The Jumpstart leaders of my year were extremely helpful and just a lot of fun overall. I became friends with most if not all of them; they were the main reason why I decided to apply to be a leader next year. Ultimately, I wanted to give other students the experience that my leaders gave me.
“Dim Sum Tacos” was the name that me and Ivy Liu chose for our team, mostly because we were both starving and craving food from home (China and Mexico, respectively). For the next week we were known as Team 17 and had 15 students that we had to look over, mostly making sure we didn’t leave them in random places around the Okanagan region. It was a great experience getting to know the incoming students, answering their questions about campus, and helping them become excited to be here.
It was undoubtedly a hectic week, but it was so much fun that most of the time I was either laughing or smiling. I call it “Jumpstart bliss”, when you are in this bubble on campus with all of your friends and nothing of the outside world really matters. There were moments where I had to remind myself that it was a job, it didn’t feel like it. We were always joking about something or playing some sort of game; being a Jumpstart leader was everything I thought it would be and more.
In any case, the best part of the job was knowing that I made a difference in helping incoming students’ transition to Canada. The coordinators of that year (Alejandra Garcia and Mirabelle Arodi) were amazing; they made sure that we all had everything that we needed in order to greet the 250 new-to-UBC students. Witnessing their work made me think that it wouldn’t be half bad to try it out myself.
“Check your email.” I’ll never forget the moment I found out I got the job of Jumpstart Coordinator, along with Evelyne; I was surprised, excited, happy, and simply ecstatic. I was ready to do everything and anything in order to make it the most successful Jumpstart to date.
During the summer, the work was overwhelming at times, not because it was difficult but because there never seem to be an end. There was always one more email to send, another excel list that need updating, or budget that needed fixing. It was something else, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t been the best job I’ve had to this day.
When the first day of arrivals for Jumpstart finally came, it felt like time sped up - just as it did during my first Jumpstart. The job was to create the best experience for the incoming students and the Jumpstart leaders, a total of about 300+ people. Yes, things went “wrong”; there were many little mishaps that were annoying and mistakes were made. But when this happened, Evelyne and I just laughed hysterically and kept on rolling. I think it was the healthiest way to deal with our stress – and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime!
The experience was like no other and working for four months with Evelyne and the IPS staff (especially my direct supervisor, Phil) was incredible. The six senior leaders we had were exceptional and I have no idea what we would’ve done without them (cry, most likely). All our volunteers had the best energy and were always cracking jokes about one thing or another. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I was given to be Jumpstart coordinator and, if I had to do the job all over again, I would in a heartbeat with a smile on my face and a coffee in my hand.