It’s 5:30AM on Saturday, March 14th. While others sleep late into the morning, it’s time to get ready. It’s the first day of MIST!
Gotta wear your school colours ‘cause your team is competing for best dressed. And of course, you can’t forget your photography portfolio! You get to school, get on the bus, and chant your way to the University of Toronto.
This is it! You’re here! The 8th annual Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament. It’s swarming with over 700 competitors, alongside coaches, teachers, judges, volunteers, and organizers. Hard to believe it started with just 80 people back in 2008 when MIST Toronto became the first MIST region to be established outside the United States.
MIST starts with navigating the St. George campus for orientation, while a blur of chanting and spirit and banners and drums create palpable energy in the air.
After the debrief, you head to the commons room to drop off your food drive items. Commemorating the lives of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, you notice that the “Feed Their Legacy” initiative is new this year; it’s heartwarming that the victims of Chapel Hill are still so fondly remembered.
Before you know it, it’s time to get to the first competitions! Your school is participating in MIST bowl, and the audience is just as involved as the competitors are: everyone is armed with drums and horns and chants. This is the norm for most competitions, with schools competing for awards in over 35 different competitions.
After some celebratory school spirit, the group heads to the workshops. Between speakers like Yasin Dwyer, Zahid Naeem, and Pervez Nasim, it’s no surprise the mob splits in different directions with plans to regroup for the next round.
The hours fly by, and now it’s time for your own competition. You get ready to present your photographs to the judges. Anxious but prepared, you begin explaining how you represented the MIST 2015 theme of Sincerity in your photos. You finish, thank the judges, and pray for the best. After all, the winners from the Regional Tournaments qualify for MIST Nationals.
Now that your work is done, you head to the film festival, thinking of the sincerity theme and excited to see what films the schools have come up with. You notice some new schools at MIST this year, the lists keep getting longer and longer… Pushing through the crowded hallways, it’s easy to see that Toronto is the largest MIST region, and MIST is now officially the biggest Muslim high school event in North America.
As the first day wraps up, you’re waiting to see how your sports teams are doing at the finals, hoping for good news. Awards night may be a couple days away, but your school is already getting ready to celebrate.
For Muslim youth across the GTA, MIST is an opportunity to connect and showcase talents while building bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood along the way. It may be the end of day 1, but the infectious MIST spirit will last well beyond the weekend.