When Timothy Khoo was choosing a university, he looked for something that stood out. “I kept hearing about this Mennonite residence from my family and church community, and it piqued my interest,” he said. Khoo is now a second-year Honours Physics student at the University of Waterloo and a returning upper-year student at Conrad Grebel University College.
Tim grew up in the Mennonite community and attended Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. Living at Grebel just fit into place. “Honestly, Grebel was one of the reasons I chose UWaterloo,” he says. “I thought that coming here would be a great chance to develop my faith. What I didn’t know was what else I would find.”
Khoo has connected with Grebel for four terms and has been actively involved in student leadership throughout his time. He has participated in the chapel committee for several terms and has also been a don in residence.
“Grebel’s community feels like a family because you really get to know everyone through events like community supper and chapel,” said Khoo. “Having such a strong community is so impactful during your university experience; it overshadows the stresses of school. These are the fond memories I will remember when I’m older.”
Just as Khoo’s social circle has grown, so has his spirituality. “Grebel is an interesting place to grow spirituality,” he said. At Grebel, there is diversity of religious backgrounds as well as people with little to no faith background. Khoo connected to Grebel’s Mennonite heritage and identity. “Even though it is principally Christian, there are so many different denominations and a lot of diverse perspectives to hear from. We get to have open and free discussions that are insightful and make you solidify your own perspective,” he added.
Chapel serves as a “mid-week reset” for Khoo. “It prompts me to reflect on my week and discover how my faith intertwines with my life and asking myself ‘How am I living my faith out?’” he shared. He found that his spiritual journey at Grebel became more rewarding by being an engaged member of the chapel committee.
“With Chapel, you get out what you put in. Being in chapel committee had me getting involved in ways I never thought that I could, such as informal preaching. That helped me build my faith as well,” he said.
Through exploring his faith during chapel, worship and having open discussions with other Grebelites and Grebel’s chaplain, Khoo knew what path he was ready to choose. “Coming to Grebel helped me push forward my faith so much,” he said. “My experiences here inspired me to be baptized. I realized that I had enough answered questions and I was ready to commit to continue walking down this road and learning about my faith.”
While there is so much at Grebel that Khoo has come to appreciate over his four terms, his experience would not have been the same if he had not lived out Grebel’s goal to inspire mind and spirit. “Faith-based events facilitate community bonding and promote intentional opportunities for friendship,” said Khoo. “Faith is a huge puzzle piece that makes my Grebel experience even more wonderful.”
Farah Jurdi is a co-op student at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario.