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.
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.
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)
Written by Sanskriti Maheshwari, Rosemarie Shephard, and Amal Yusuf, Data Analysis Researchers for the Let’s Talk About Failure project
The Innovation Hub partnered with the Division of Student Life Academic Resilience Initiative to learn about UofT students’ experiences with failure: how they define failure, how they endure it, and the impact it has on their lives. We explored existing data on the topic in our archive of over 600 interviews and reached out to students at UofT to take part in our dialogue-based feedback sessions. We approached this project with the intention of hearing from and listening to students’ stories surrounding failure in their own words and on their own terms.
By Ayaan Hagar – Project Team Lead, Kethmi Egodage – Community, Social Connection & Support for Students Team Member, and Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer
Our new reality has accelerated change in all areas of our lives, from work to socializing, we’re staying connected to our communities through the most hyper-connected platform called the internet. What elements of digital connections and communities help students feel like they’re connected with one another? With this question in mind, we’d like to introduce the Digital Community & Connectedness Project. Building on our previous work, this project is exploring how the student experience of finding and engaging in community continues to shift during this time, and what implications this has for those who build and facilitate connections within the online UofT community.
In times of uncertainty, navigating an unfamiliar space can feel like an impossible task to achieve. Last March, we were in this very spot where we didn’t know what our work at the Innovation Hub would look like. But what we did know is that whatever it may be, it would be immensely valuable in these times. By embracing change we’ve been exploring new ways to support the UofT community and ensuring we continue to drive our work by students for students through our design research projects. We’re so excited to share that by embracing change, new channels of our work have been inspired to connect individuals and build community in dynamic ways.
Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Writer and Editor
I am a wheelchair- using mother and a PhD student at OISE in Social Justice Education. When the lockdown in Toronto began we lost access to daycare and we also lost more than one support person (Nurturing Assistants) who felt that their own lives were too disrupted by the pandemic to continue to provide ongoing support to us. Without this direct support neither myself nor my child can shower safely, and I have no means of taking my twenty-one month old outside on my own. On top of which our building has been plagued with significant apartment maintenance issues all summer which has meant I have had to solve big family pandemic issues for 4 months and counting….
Written By: Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Editor and Writer, Innovation Hub
At the Innovation Hub one of our projects focuses on engaging International students. International students currently make up 25.4% of the undergraduate and graduate student population at U of T.1 Questions around how the University of Toronto can support this group in the best ways possible and how their needs differ from domestic students is extremely important to the work that the Innovation Hub is engaged in, not to mention that, student engagement and a project by and for students is our bread and butter.
Meng Xiao recently wrote a book titled Student Engagement in Practice: Chinese International Graduate Student Engagement Handbook which is a book inspired by her own doctoral research from OISE’s Doctorate of Education Program at the University of Toronto.