With over 600 delegates from 33 countries, this year’s World Affairs Conference (WAC) was one to remember, uniting students from around the world. Making it even more memorable is the anniversary WAC is celebrating—40 years to be exact.
WAC is North America’s largest and Canada’s oldest annual student-run current events conference, and after 38 years of being an exclusively in-person conference at a regional level, the last two years have marked the globalization of WAC, due to the pandemic.
The event is co-hosted together with Upper Canada College (UCC) each year and Branksome and UCC students work together to produce a world-class event.
This year’s event began with the opening keynote address by serial entrepreneur and marketing professor Scott Galloway of NYU’s Stern School of Business. He spoke about the post-COVID-19 future for technology’s “Big Four—Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook–and how they influence the development of smaller businesses. “He ended with a message for young people that communication and the ability to tell our story are crucial to success,” said Kashish, Grade 12, who headed up marketing for the conference.
The day progressed into plenary sessions—eight smaller sessions on specific topics—including cryptocurrency, futuring education equity internationally, Canadian Truth and Reconciliation, cybercrime and innovative sustainability-related inventions.
The closing keynote was given by the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, who addressed the federal government’s work in equitable housing and DEI, outlining their new investment of up to $50 million dedicated to building housing for Black households.
“He acknowledged the need for reform within the criminal justice system to better support individuals who face discriminatory barriers like mental illness and racism,” said Kashish. “Furthermore, Minister Hussen motivated students to start participating in Public Service in their communities from a young age, and to explore the different aspects, whether it be housing, healthcare or education, to understand where their respective passions lie.”
The World Affairs Conference is an important annual event for students to gain experience in planning a large-scale conference, working with counterparts at another school and being actively involved in world affairs. Here are a few thoughts from students involved in planning the conference and what it meant to them.
Quotes from the Organizers
Catherine, Grade 12, WAC SPRINT Team
Working on the WAC executive team for the past three years has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. As the first-ever Director of SPRINT, the World Affairs Conference's entrepreneurial challenge, I was responsible for designing a multi-week program, finding speakers, marketing the event and securing funding, alongside my co-head, Ian from UCC. Seeing our hard work come to fruition and being able to connect brilliant students with entrepreneurial mentors and funding has been endlessly rewarding. Because of WAC, I have grown tremendously, learning how to organize an event, communicate with a team and gain experience that will be valuable to my future professional pursuits.
Seungmyoung, Grade 11, Plenaries Team
It all started as an executive position but eventually became another life-changer! While engaging with diverse speakers, especially Professor Scott Galloway, I was already exposing myself to “world affairs'' by striving to find the intersections between their needs and the needs of youths and training myself to become a global changemaker. When he called my name at the end of his keynote to deliver a message regarding the importance of “telling your own story” in becoming a successful entrepreneur, I was so grateful that I could leave at least a small mark in the audience’s lives. Spending another great year with WAC as the Executive Head of Plenaries not only gave me a great sense of responsibility but also reminded me of the amount of support I have from my amazing team members. I have no doubt that the team will continue to grow next year and beyond and that, through all of our hard work, the world will actually be full of positive affairs instead of negative ones.
Miranda, Grade 12, Programs Team
My time with WAC has shaped me into not just a better person, but one more acutely attuned to the ills of the world, one seeking to actively do my part to alleviate said ills in every aspect of my life, and arguably, one significantly better at tuning out 20-minute life story speeches. As WAC40’s Executive Director of Programs, alongside my co-head Jack from UCC and the stellar programs team, we strove to make yet another year of WAC better than the last, to creatively inspire being the good in the world in every attendee. Here’s to a great conference with the best people!
Kashish, Grade 12, Marketing Team
This year, I was the Head of Marketing for WAC. As someone who wants a future career in marketing, this role gave me fantastic exposure and firsthand experience in learning and applying some marketing techniques, leaving me giddy with excitement. I feel proud that our hard work paid off and that we were able to reach over 33 countries, especially through the Global Ambassador program we set up. The opportunity to collaborate with the innovative and driven UCC team, my co-Head, Justin, in particular, was unbelievably valuable and definitely contributed to the success of this year’s conference.
Lauren, Grade 12, Conference Chair
WAC is a symbol of the power of collaboration. It is not only the result of months of tireless work from a group of students from Branksome and UCC, on the day of WAC, hundreds of students from around the world came together. Even in these unprecedented times, WAC showed that students care about global affairs and their potential solutions.
Through working on the WAC team for the majority of my time at Branksome, I have learned the importance of collaboration and communication. I have also discovered my own love of international relations and politics, something I plan to study next year at University.
Sophie, Grade 12, Conference Chair
As Lauren said, the strength of WAC is its team. The students from Branksome and UCC that came together to make WAC a success this year worked so hard, and I am so proud of everyone’s contributions. Despite 2022 being WAC’s second virtual year, I think that the conference successfully honored WAC’s 40th anniversary and I am excited to see the future of WAC.