Branksome Hall News

We Can All Effect Change: WAC 2023

On Thursday, February 9, 2023, hundreds of secondary students, teachers and staff from across the GTA—as well as a global audience who joined virtually—attended the 40th annual World Affairs Conference (WAC), co-hosted by Branksome Hall and Upper Canada College. The theme of the conference was “Hybrid Thinking,” a call to strategize ways to work towards a better future.
The conference opened with an inspiring keynote address by Branksome Hall alum and lawyer Tricia “CK” PURKS Hoffler'80. Hoffler held the audience captive with her graceful yet powerful speech discussing her rise to success in law. Attendees learned of how difficult it can be for those who do not fit society’s definition of success and how hybrid thinking is often necessary to get through the toughest spots in our lives. "Hybrid thinking means that you should never underestimate those who are different from you," declared Hoffler. The address evoked an array of emotions from the audience as it brought on laughter, joy and cheers as well as silence as attendees reflected on the reality of racism and discrimination in our world today. Hoffler left students with this inspiring message, “You have no choice, future leaders, but to be hybrid thinkers.”

Branksome Co-Chair Amyna, who attended her first WAC, said of the experience: “World affairs is not limited to just politics. Attending events like these educate young people on what is going on in the world to help them identify career goals.” Co-Chair Seungmyoung, who attended her fourth WAC, shared: “We wanted more focus on women’s empowerment and the involvement of women in world affairs. This year we had so many young women from Branksome participating, including alums.”

Throughout the day, Branksome students interviewed distinguished local, national and global leaders including Branksome parent and President & CEO of Roots Meghan Roach, sustainability expert Francisca Quinn, disaster relief executive Rahul Singh, and Toronto Sun editor in chief Adrienne Batra. Attendees learned how hybrid thinking can affect everything from humanity's environmental impact, to creating diverse and empathetic work environments and how young people can use their voices to change the world. “As we are all students who will become the leaders of the future, it is our responsibility to enrich ourselves and others with various perspectives and events from around the world,” said WAC's Head of Marketing, Angela, explaining why it is important to involve youth in world affairs. “Being a diverse student body, we should expand our awareness of international affairs to minimize ignorance and increase understanding, creating a more welcoming and accepting community.”

After a successful day, the conference closed with an inspiring address by Martin Luther King III, human rights activist and son of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King preached about the importance of hybrid thinking and how young people can effect change: “The complex issues we face in 2023 will demand new and creative strategies—war and poverty, global warming and pandemics, new paths for science and technology, racial justice, police violence and human rights. All of these challenges can benefit from hybrid thinking.” The 2023 World Affairs Conference concluded with more than 800 future leaders feeling inspired and ready to use their hybrid thinking to shape a better world.

The World Affairs Conference is Canada’s longest-running, student-led conference. More than 30 Branksome Hall students participated this year on the many teams that made this day a reality. For the full list of student organizers and volunteers, please visit the WAC program. Congratulations to all involved for organizing the conference and all of your hard work over months of preparation! This outstanding event was only possible thanks to your teamwork and leadership.

Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.
Branksome Hall
10 Elm Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada
M4W 1N4

Toronto's leading independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for girls. Study abroad in Grade 9.