How Iteration Connected Me to My Superpowers

Written by Kaitlyn Corlett, Senior Project Assistant

A photo of Kaitlyn smiling to the camera, with trees and buildings in the background

When we think about superpowers our minds usually go to magical abilities or the supernatural. However, I believe that we all have superpowers and they’re our unique strengths we bring to this world. We might not know what they are at first, and it takes moments like navigating failure, overcoming obstacles, or facing uncertainty to begin learning what they might be. This requires learning from these experiences to gain a deeper sense of self, and a process that supports embracing uncertainty. 

Researchers Reflect: The Impact of Small Interactions

This blog post is part of Researchers Reflect, a series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher’s experience, stories, and learning moments throughout the course of their research. 

Written by Sabrina Wu, Senior Research Assistant

In the past, I often associated research with substantial findings and grand theories. But the key to needs-finding and design thinking research can actually lie in what is ordinary and familiar – small daily interactions. My work at the Innovation Hub allowed me to closely experience and hear the impact small interactions have on students and researchers. 

The Quiet Power of Silence

Written by Betelehem Gulilat, Content Writer 

Illustrated by Nikhil Parwar, Digital Storyteller 

Why do we as humans feel uncomfortable being in a space of silence? Whether it’s in the middle of a conversation, a work meeting, a stroll outdoors, or staying indoors in solitude, most of us feel unsettled by the absence of sound in almost every aspect of our lives. When silence is used with the right intentions, it can bring a world of meaning to our lives. It leaves us no other choice but to express empathy towards ourselves and others around us.

Project Insights from ‘Celebrating International Students: Being Brave Away from Home’

Written by Robin Martin, Serena Tran & Yuwei Jiang, Design Research Assistants for the Celebrating International Students Project

Illustrations by Nikhil Pawar & Marielle Dilla – Digital Storytellers

The international student experience at the University of Toronto (U of T) is anything but homogenous. The Celebrating International Students project began during the  2019-2020 Design Thinking Experience Program (DTEP), and quickly took off after recognizing just how complex, and at times similar, the challenges of being an international student truly is. Over the last year and a half our research teams have delved into our archive of more than 600 interviews to get a broadened sense of the international student experience from before and during pandemic. We were also grateful to have interviewed several U of T staff in October to round out the data even further. 

In this blog post, we will be sharing the main insights we have uncovered after interviewing and carefully analyzing our existing data, as well as our team members’ personal reflections from this project. We also share Building Bravery Design Principles to empower one another in celebrating international students at U of T, and a link to our report.

The Art of Active Listening

Written By Betelehem Gulilat, Content Writer

Illustrated By Vlada Gorchkova, Digital Storyteller

Part of what makes us human is the need for forming connections that make us feel truly heard and understood. There is a sense of belonging that comes with feeling supported that allows us to deeply understand ourselves, one another and discover what we find meaningful in our lives. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of active listeners. Through the art of active listening, a simple conversation can inspire change, strengthen relationships, and lead to innovation.

Active listening is fundamentally the ability to attentively understand the meaning behind the words of the speaker without the intrusion of your own thoughts, opinions, and judgment on the matter. Unlike the simple act of listening to words, active listening involves understanding why the person may be feeling a certain way, where they are coming from, and the message you are receiving. (1)

Researchers Reflect: The Power of Empathy

This blog post is the first of Researchers Reflect, a new series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher sharing their stories, experience and learning moments throughout the course of their research.

Amal is wearing a jean jacket, smiling towards the camera with a whit ebackground.

Written by Amal Yusuf, UTQAP Research Coordinator  

Since 2019, I was given the privilege and trust to listen to students’ stories and experiences throughout a variety of projects, such as the Presidential and Provostial Task Force for Student Mental Health, Food Insecurity on CampusLet’s Talk About Failure Project, Student Experiences at Rotman Commerce, and much more! Being a part of this work has been a real growing experience for me. Today, I will be sharing a bit about this journey and how it has made an impact in my area of work and studies.  

Reconciliation & Reflection: Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Please note that this post speaks about residential schools and the meaning behind Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We acknowledge that the land in which we work from at the The University of Toronto has been, for thousands of years, the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. Learn more about which lands you may reside on, and the treaties and histories connected with it, at: https://native-land.ca/  or https://www.whose.land/en/


On September 30th we commemorate Orange Shirt Day, a day intended to raise awareness on the centuries long impact Canada’s Residential School System has had on Indigenous communities, knowledge, traditions, and beyond. Orange Shirt day comes from the experience of Phyllis Webstad (Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation), who was six-years-old when she first arrived to a residential school. On her first day of arriving at the school she was stripped of her new orange shirt. This is what she has shared on what it felt like – and you can learn more about Phyllis’s story in the link provided: