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posted by Jeff Bowen alias jeffcbowen on Wednesday 2nd of September 2015 12:41:23 PM

I had been enjoying the excitement that was the 2915 Ryerson University Orientation Week. The downtown Toronto campus was alive with excitement as the existing student body welcomed a new crop of students who are about to start the next stage of their learning adventure at Ryerson. There are two intersecting streets cutting through the urban campus and both are closed to vehicular traffic so students, downtown livers, and visitors are milling about, enjoying the party-like atmosphere. I was about to unlock my bicycle and ride home when in the midst of all this noisy activity I saw this beautiful young woman. She was checking her cell phone while standing in front of my favorite coffee shop. Ensuring that she wasn’t in the midst of making a call, I told her I wanted to ask her something. She smiled, lowered her phone and said “It’s ok. I was just checking it.” I introduced myself and my Human Family photo project and told her she would make a great subject if she was willing and had five minutes. She looked at my contact card and said “Sure. That sounds nice.” We shook hands. Meet Blessing. I suggested we move a few steps past the coffee shop patio tables and make use of the sheltered light of the covered walkway leading (appropriately enough) to the entrance of the university Image Arts Department which houses the photography program. There was a serenity in Blessing’s posing. All I had to do is indicate the spot I wanted her in and ask her to look at my camera lens. No need to give a huge smile but just relax. I had to inform her a couple of times to take a little break because I was waiting for students entering the building to clear the background. Easy peasy. I learned that Blessing is 18 and came to Toronto from Edmonton Alberta just three days ago because of Ryerson University’s highly-regarded acting program. If she was a bit overwhelmed by the jumble of confusion and excitement surrounding her at Orientation “ground zero” on Gould Street, it didn’t show. Her goal is to be an actor and she figures she is in the right place to do her training and (hopefully) launch her career. “How do you like Toronto so far?” “It’s been great but I need to get settled. I’m basically homeless right now. That’s what I was doing when you introduced yourself: Continuing my housing search.” She has already met some fellow students and they are working together to find accommodations to share as roommates. “How would friends who know you best describe you?” “Oh, they would probably say I’m introverted, active, and like to keep busy.” “Introverted, and you want to be an actor?” (She smiled.) “I know, but on a stage I can take on a role and be really outgoing.” I pointed out that most who undertake street photography projects, especially street portraiture, describe themselves as a bit shy and that doing their projects help them to be more outgoing. “Exactly” she said. “So, what do you do when you’re not acting or rushing around looking for an apartment?” “I read a lot, especially classics and mystery books.” “Do you have a message to share with the world through my project?” “Yes. It’s always good to plan ahead, especially when you are moving to a new city. Find your accommodations before you move!” I got the sense that Blessing wasn’t overly-stressed and was confident that things would work out. The few minutes we shared together were delightful. I got a taste of the excitement of the young at the very start of a new adventure. In Blessing’s case it is the adventure of higher learning but also the adventure of a new city and new friendships. It was fun to share that excitement through her presence. Thank you Blessing for taking time out to meet and participate in the Human Family project. Have a great time at university, make friends, study hard… and good luck with your apartment hunt! This is my 30th submission to the Human Family group. See more street portraits and stories by visiting The Human Family.

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  • Published 09.27.22
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