By Rachel Newcombe
I have always been proud of being a Bishop’s student, and never miss an opportunity to show off my purple pride. I am also proud of being a part of the English department – let’s be honest, we’re probably the best department here. But it was not until I became involved with QUEUC in 2015-2016 that I realized what it really meant to be a part of something bigger than your own school’s department.
On the first day of QUEUC I met a lot of students from schools across Canada and the United States. I have to say I was initially a little worried that as someone whose interests lie predominantly with journalism, Howard Hawkes films and absolutely everything Harry Potter, I was not going to be able to relate or even understand some of the things presented by other students. Kind of like when Harry is worried he’s going to be the worst in his class in The Philosopher’s Stone because he was raised by Muggles. (I was not kidding about the fandom). And just like Harry, I had nothing to be worried about; everyone was so nice and friendly, and we all had many common interests – after all, we’ve pretty much all encountered work by a Brontë or Blake at some point in our academic careers!
As a Bishop’s student, and a moderator for one of the weekend’s panels, I was eager to show off my knowledge of the town, and made it my mission to provide information to as many people as possible. I wanted to show off the attributes of Bishop’s and the department, namely that it was comprised of the best people of all time. Following that logic, it was only natural that I and a fellow BU student invited some of the QUEUC participants to hang out that first evening.
I took great pride in showing off my town. I was able to advise them about what the best Provigo wine was, navigate them through the nomenclature of student off-campus buildings (I’m looking at you, Animal House and the Ritz), and recommend some fun Saturday night activities like the Bishop’s University Film Festival. But what I enjoyed the most was talking with the students who came out with us, and finding out about their universities and their experiences. When we settled in for a night of games, drinks and conversation, I already felt like I had known these people my entire life. We laughed, we told stories, and we stayed up late sharing information about ourselves and what we wanted to do with our lives. By the time the first full day of QUEUC arrived, I had already learned so much, not just about academics, but about other people, who like me, loved what they did.
It never occurred to me that I would be learning so much about people that weekend. It gave me such an appreciation for interacting with other like-minded people, and a bigger appreciation for the department and the school I was a part of, that worked to give us these opportunities. Without them, I would never have known anything about York University, or about Derrida. I also wouldn’t have met people that changed the way I thought about academics.
The entire QUEUC conference is like a giant group of friends getting together for a weekend that is both educational and fun. We’re a flock of ducks, happy to be together, swimming in our pond. Except in our case, we’re sharing our experiences, and our pond is probably made of coffee.