Conrad Grebel University College has felt like home to Joel Woods since he was 12 years old. Following in his sister’s footsteps, Joel attended Ontario Mennonite Music Camp (OMMC), a two-week camp at Grebel that mixesmusic and faith with a traditional camp experience. In just two weeks, Joel felt like he belonged at Grebel.For the next five years, Joel returned to Grebel each August for OMMC, shapingexciting summer memories, hiscreativity, a love for music, and eventually hispost-secondary path. 

“By the time I knew I wanted to study at the University of Waterloo, Grebel was an easy choice,” said Joel, who is now living at Grebel as a 4th-year Statistics student with a minor in Music. With a program tailored to his interests, Joel gets the best of both worlds. “Creativity speaks to me a lot. I find music courses to be a nice balance to my otherwise math-heavy courseload,” he shared. Withmusic classes and practice roomsa few steps away from hisdorm, Grebel gives Joel the opportunity toeasily incorporate music into his daily life.

Exploring the many extra-curricular activities and leadership opportunities thatGrebelhad to offer, Joel became actively engaged in student life. He lived at Grebel as a resident and as a don. “I loved being a don as it allowed me to give back to the community and help make this place as welcoming for others as it has been for me,” expressed Joel.He has also servedon Chapel Committee, played on intramural sports teams, performed in coffeehouses and talent shows, and he also plays piano duringthe weeklyhymn sing each Sunday.Last year, I also had the opportunity to work on staff at Music Camp, which was a fun full-circle moment for me,” Joel added.

Along with Joel’s community involvement, he also appreciates the small details that make a big difference in bringing people closer together.“Some of Grebel's traditions go a long way toward making people feel included. The fill-the-table traditiondefinitely comes to mind as a way of connecting people,” Joel said. “Being able to come to a meal and know that there will be people there to talk to is nice. It is really special to be a part of a place where people know and care about you.”

For Joel, Grebel became more than just a place to live and study. I find it so fascinating to think of how much of my current life has been shaped by my mom looking online for summer camps. A huge part of my life has been centeredat Grebel ever since!” Joel shared. Throughout the years, Joel has made meaningful friendships with people he has grown to love dearly, creating fond memories and relationships that he will carry with him beyond graduation.

By Farah Jurdi