This past weekend my husband and I attended a special event. It was the 100th anniversary of Mohyla Institute and a reunion for former residents was held in conjunction with the celebration. Mohyla is a student residence in Saskatoon that was originally established to help young people of Ukrainian heritage achieve success as they pursued a higher education. For rural students coming to the big city, this place helped ease the transition by providing a very homey atmosphere where many friendships were formed.
Both my husband and I stayed at Mohyla while attending the University of Saskatchewan. It was here that we met, fell in love, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. But we also had the opportunity to forge life-long friendships. Maybe it was the people, maybe it was the times, but that place became special to us.
My husband was the guest speaker at the banquet and I also had the opportunity to express some of my own thoughts about life at Mohyla and what it meant to me. Although readers my age might not be able to relate to my experiences, I think they will relate to some of the sentiments expressed.
In my remarks, I alluded to the fact that life was different in the 1970’s. (Okay, young folks, now would be the time for an eye roll.) I lamented that my grandchildren and future generations of young people would never have what those of us living in a residence with strong ties to our cultural background and a family atmosphere had.
We lived in a time when we didn’t have laptops or the internet or cell phones, but what we did have was a network of people who watched out for each other. We got together to watch the one television set in the lounge, to listen to music on the big stereo downstairs or to enjoy extra-curricular activities such as a spirited game of kaiser. We walked to campus together, we relied on someone’s notes when we couldn’t attend class and we shared our textbooks which were expensive or in short supply.
We were conscious about keeping our phone calls short so that others could use the one phone available on each floor. Few people owned cars, so those owners offered to chauffeur the rest of us around. Even fewer people had spending money, so we made our own fun. When someone received a care package from home, all of us got to enjoy the goodies (unless someone snuck it up to their room before anyone knew it had arrived).
Although today’s youth might think we were deprived, I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that our lives were enriched by that close, personal connection. Even as we were gaining our newly-found independence, we didn’t hesitate to ask for help and we didn’t feel inadequate if we had to rely on someone’s assistance.
We learned how to compromise, how to negotiate and how to appreciate others.
And I wouldn’t trade what we had for all the technology and convenience in the world.