Meet your RAs: Graduate Residence

Residence Life - 15 July 2021

Work in residence and gain a whole new perspective. Juan and Bonnie, your Resident Assistants in Graduate Residence, give you the lowdown on what to expect.

 

Juan Garcia Rivas, RA

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Why did you become an RA?
Ever since I came to Edmonton, one of the first people that reached out to me was a member of the residence community. Since then, living here has helped me understand how vibrant and awesome the community in residence is. I wanted to give back and help the community like someone helped me, and being an RA was the perfect role for this!

What’s the best thing about working in residence?
The best part truly is getting to know people and making friends! Living in residence has provided me with so many friendships, taking on an RA role has furthered that even more. I get to know all of my residents on a personal level and I get to help them and ensure they are having a good time while living in residence. :)

How do you know if a student leader position is right for you?
How do you know anything is right for you? You don’t, but you still have to try! If you are a person who likes being involved in a community, and you're creative and loves helping others, then I think a student leader position is right for you!

 

Bonnie Luo, RA

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Why did you become an RA?
I clearly remember the first day I moved here from Hong Kong to my new clean and organized studio: On my way to get my luggage, I met a newcomer from the UK who trying to get into the lobby with his ONEcard, who ended up being my neighbour across the hall. (He studies math and was shy but polite.) I also bumped into my first friend, Gary, who was doing his laundry but willing to talk with me for an hour and even introduced me the nearest grocery store. It was a late August evening and I could already feel a trace of Chinook, but it was a different kind of a chill from Hong Kong (where you always want to put a minus sign before its nominal temperature!). Yes, I fell in love with this place on my first day here.

I became an RA in my third year at Juniper House. All these years, trees have turned yellow and green and RAs have come and gone. too. I could tell it wouldn't be an easy job, but it was worth taking the challenge! I love this place and want to make it a better place to live in.

What’s the best thing about working in residence?
Oh, god. It is hard to pick only one thing. As an international student, I've never stopped looking for new ways to connect with people from Canada and other parts of the world. If you are like me, I would recommend applying for an RA position, as it is one of the most effective ways: In the first month of my job I probably chatted with one new person every day! (A win, right?)

I also got to switch my role in the community from being helped to helping people. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing people baked their first brownie through the Baking Night I organized.

Last but not least, I got my leadership skills back. I used to lead group projects every day, but after years of hibernation in the ivory tower of academia, I found myself stuttering even when showing people the way to Jasper Ave. (Shocking but not shocking.) When I saw that one requirement of being an RA is leadership skills, I knew this was the right time to wake Captain Bonnie up. Now, after one and a half months, she is back!

How do you know if a student leader position is right for you?
In my opinion, to be in a student leader position, three qualities are essential. The first quality is to have a strong sense of responsibility. It is important to take the lead and serve residence when necessary. For example, students who just moved here are not familiar with the available services. It is our job to make sure they get what they need.

Second, it is not enough to want to help; you need to know how, too. That is, an RA must have problem-solving skills and be able to stay calm in case of an emergency. These are crucial in maintaining this community safe and worry-free.

Lastly, an RA needs to be inclusive. We are living in a multicultural community where people have different minds and lifestyles. Respecting other cultures and understanding each other's behaviours is a must and is also helpful for avoiding conflicts!

 


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