I always appreciate when local residents submit content for The Barrhaven Blog, and today’s post is extra special because it was submitted by a younger member of our community. Aashaz Syed recently had the opportunity to work at Queen’s Park as a page. In today’s post, he shares his thoughts on what it was like to work in the Ontario legislature.
When I received my acceptance email I was shoveling snow with my younger brother outside, it was a snow day with freezing rain so I didn’t go to school. When my brother went inside to drink water he checked our laptop to see any if there were any messages from his teacher, but instead, there was a notification indicating I had been accepted into the page program. To be very honest, I did not believe him when he came back out to tell me – screaming at the top of his lungs – but somehow I wasn’t surprised; there was a little part of me that knew I would get in, after all the hard work I put in with my application. I was quite pleased nonetheless and it was a big achievement but I had to see it for myself for all I knew my brother could have been playing a prank on me. When I saw the email, I was bubbling with joy and could not contain myself; out of all these students I was one of the few selected. I was overwhelmed but was able to tone it down a bit. I really thought I wasn’t going to make it with about 2000 students applying every term.
As I stepped into the legislative building for my first day, I felt nervous, excited, and even surprised to find myself there. We were told when we got there they would’ve chosen more pages but since it was an election year they only chose 25 instead of the usual 50.
The page program was a fantastic opportunity, it made me improve in qualities such as responsibility, interdependence, independence, and initiative. It has helped me realize how to hold myself in an office environment and how the laws are made in our province. We got to meet and interact with all the MPPs who are incredibly helpful. If you deliver a message to the wrong person, they will kindly direct you the right person. We got to learn first hand about how they start their day very early to prepare the questions and answers related to the issues being discussed in the legislature. Question Period looks quite different, but according to MPP’s they add a bit of theatrics for fun. The exciting part of question period was the debates between the parties and receiving inside information before it reaches the public. When the tensions rise up, the speaker has to step in and we (the pages) make sure the speaker’s words are obeyed.
Might I add that when you get there you will become an expert at ping-pong (table tennis) as that is basically all you have to do while you’re in the page quarters (apart from math and legislative process classes). I really hope that many more people will apply for the page program because there is so much to learn and explore – not to mention you get paid. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t having fun with my fellow pages. We were all in the same boat as we all were new to this (from school to a professional environment, straight into the highest office of Ontario) which made us come closer together as a team and as friends. When I or my fellow pages needed help, we were there for each other and had incredible support from the coordinators and staff.
The university students doing their internships as Legislative Ushers were very kind and helped you in any situation, whether you forgot where the person you are delivering to sits, or who you’re delivering it to. The Page Program is in itself a prestigious opportunity and to receive it is an honor.
I would recommend this opportunity to anyone, even if you don’t have an interest in politics. It will give you a great opportunity understand the basics of professional life and spend time with the people who are making policies on how to govern our wonderful province in the best way possible.