How I Engage in #HamOnt
There are so many Mac students who have never ventured outside of the McMaster and Westdale area.
It’s true, the McMaster “bubble” is real! But Hamilton is a beautiful city and there’s so many reasons to go out and explore. Whether you’re into arts and music, food, activism, or the entrepreneurial scene, there is something for everyone.
Don’t know what you are into, or how to get started? I found four very different students and asked them to share how they engage in #HamOnt.
Chukky was an international student at McMaster, but you probably know him as the MSU president. How did he get involved in the community and develop his love for the city?
“Hi friends, my name is Chukky Ibe. I spend most of my time volunteering around the city. In my younger years, I was involved with the Hamilton Youth Arts Council. I then joined the Hamilton Youth Poets, Empowerment Squared, and volunteered on a municipal campaign.
Hamilton is a great city once you get to know it. It is beyond the waterfalls, coffee shops and restaurants. At every turn you go, there are communities working hard for each other and building on our strong history. It reminds me very much of Lagos – ambitious, always on the move, and looking forward to become the next big thing. I started engaging in Hamilton because I wanted to be part of a building this ambitious city.”
Noel is a second year social sciences student who has grown up in Hamilton. Here is their story:
“My name is Noel and I’ve engaged in #HamOnt through being the member of a youth council for NGen Youth Centre, a local youth centre in Downtown Hamilton. This centre is youth-led, and we work as leaders to support youth of all identities and backgrounds and create a supportive community. We also advocate for more resources for youth and young adults in the city of Hamilton.
I really love being a part of NGen Youth Centre’s youth council because it’s become a community where I feel supported and cared about; volunteering helped me feel connected to the greater Hamilton community for the first time even though I’ve lived here my whole life.
I got involved through a previous Student Success Centre program called MacServe Reading Week, where we did a placement at that youth centre. I loved the vibes and sense of community and ended up coming back after the program ended. I’m a second year Social Work student and thanks to my experiences there, I really want to work with and support youth after I graduate.”
Sabrina is a third year sociology student who moved to Hamilton in her first year and is now involved in the community. How did she get into that?
“My name is Sabrina Denicola and I engage in #HamOnt through Experiential Education opportunities. Three years ago, I accepted my offer to attend McMaster University and move to Hamilton because as a person who is passionate about social issues and making an impact, I wanted to pursue an education with purpose. I knew after my first lecture at McMaster that I have chosen the right university and city to complete my undergraduate education. I have taken various interdisciplinary courses that have allowed and empowered me with the tools and opportunities to be both engaged with community affairs and continue in my learning. As a result of courses offered by the Faculty of Social Science’s Office of Experiential Education or the Arts and Science interdisciplinary Community Engagement minor, I have been able to stay engaged with #HamOnt – from interacting with diverse youth at NGen Youth Centre (like Noel) as a fundraiser (SOCSCI 3F03), to bonding and leading craft activities at a women’s safe place drop-in centre (SOCSCI 3EL3), to now learning about various city movements as a student partner for McMaster’s Office of Community Engagement. These past three years engaging with the city have consisted some of the most valuable and impactful experiences of my life.
I disagree with the idea a lot of people have around leadership and community engagement – they think you need to organize a huge rally or choose between succeeding in school and getting involved. Movements and initiators need followers as leaders too – social change may consist of one person taking the first step, but it REQUIRES the participation and support of all. I may not organize huge rallies, but I definitely make the effort to partake in events like ‘Take Back the Night’ as a supporter. I am grateful that do not have to choose between school and getting involved because my degree supports my community engagement. If you are a student who struggles to make time to engage with #HamOnt or would like to but have no idea where to start, I encourage you to complete an experiential or community-engaged education course at McMaster University.”
I’m Jennifer, a third year kinesiology student, and if you’ve read my previous posts, you can probably guess that I love Hamilton.
In first year, I was one of those students who never left campus. Coming from a suburb, I was actually kind of scared to go to Downtown Hamilton; however, in the summer after my first year, I stayed in Hamilton and started looking for a job. I worked a number of different part-time jobs in different parts of Hamilton, which forced me to travel regularly to places that I wouldn’t normally go to, such as Dundas, East Hamilton, and more obscure parts of Downtown Hamilton.
One of my coworkers was really into biking, and would take me and another coworker biking in many different trails along Hamilton, and that’s how I got into exploring and appreciating all the beautiful nature that Hamilton had to offer. I’m also a huge fan of music and cheap concerts; I loved going to art crawls in the summer and was also really into finding small concerts to go to at the Casbah. Hamilton is such a great place to discover new music!
I’ve volunteered around the city for various different organizations, from serving food on Barton St, to building community gardens, to helping people with spinal cord injury in their exercise programs at the MacWheelers gym right here on-campus. These opportunities allowed me to interact with many different members of the community, which was really sweet.
Recently, I’ve gotten into the food scene and started an Instagram account to document my food adventures around Hamilton, which has helped me try new places and engage with the independent businesses in Hamilton. I absolutely love visiting recently-opened businesses and chatting with the owners. I love how there is such a strong sense of community and how each entrepreneur has their own unique story. Hamilton truly has so many amazing people and things to do, and I’m so glad to be able to call this place home!
There’s so many different ways that you can engage in the city, whether it is through volunteering, exploring on your own, supporting the local artists and musicians at art crawl, or even just having a conversation with a business owner at the farmers market! I hope that these stories were able to get you to think about how you can get involved in the Hamilton in your own way. Let me know in the comments how you engage in #HamOnt!