If you haven’t heard, the 2018 Canadian Conference on Student Leadership will be hosted by U of T. On November 22-24, student leaders from across Canada will gather in Toronto to discuss the cosmic concept of leadership from various backgrounds and perspectives. What makes this conference truly unique is that it travels across Canada every year, and it is students leading it every step of the way. From the planning to the executing, from organizers to the attendees. It’s open to all students regardless of your level leadership experience, or whether you believe you’re a leader or not.
Here’s some reasons to attend:
- Network with other students from across Canada
- Learn new things
- Build leadership skills
- Challenge yourself and grow
- Represent U of T
- Attend a banquet
Don’t believe me? Take it from the team leads:
“A great opportunity to meet new people, build leadership skills and collaborate.” – Victoria W. (Public Relations)
“An excellent space to network with other students from across the country and develop your leadership abilities in a collaborative and inclusive environment.” – Victoria B. (Hospitality)
“Fantastic opportunity to network with student leaders from across Canada and learn from them to push the boundaries in your own communities.” – Vinit (Publications)
“CCSL allows for students to share their voices on leadership, to connect with other leaders from across Canada, and to have deep conversations around how to promote positive change in our communities.” – Jacob (Programming)
“We’re excited to see U of T host a joint conference and the students have worked so hard to bring this amazing event to students.” – Sarah and Samantha (Staff Leads)
For more details, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Chair of the conference, Igor Samardzic, to learn more about the conference, as well as his thoughts and experiences with leadership. Thanks, Igor!
What is your role in CCSL?
IS: I’m responsible for the overall execution of the conference and providing support to the four team leads: programming, hospitality, public relations, and publications. And overall bringing the pieces and teams together so that the conference can be a success for the students.
How would you describe your experience being involved?
IS: It’s been phenomenal working with others Student leaders like the four team leads
It’s been fun to work on a conference that is student-run and student oriented. Although we have staff support, it’s the student team that we have that creates and executes the overall vision that we have.
It’s not always the case that you work in an environment that is intentionally created for students to have these experiences to grow in this way, where it’s very hands-on and practical such as planning this conference but also doing it in a way that if we need support or assistance, we know that we have our staff leads to help and assist us. To have the power to act on what we envision is pretty amazing. It’s very student centred and that’s the intention behind CCSL. It’s something organized for students and executed by students.
There aren’t many conferences that are geared towards students and focused on leadership at a national level. Our scope is very broad, intentionally, encompassing various backgrounds and interests. The conference travels year-to-year and the chances of it coming back to Toronto or Ontario is pretty rare so I jumped at this opportunity.
Have you participated in the CCSL before and what was your experience like?
IS: Yes, I participated in the conference held in Vancouver last year in 2017. I’ve never been to Vancouver before and it was a great experience to the city with everything it has to offer. Also, to participate in the conference and I got to present on some of the work that I’ve done in the Innovation Hub here that’s happening within Student Life and programming, and at different universities.
It was amazing to connect with other leaders from across Canada. You don’t get the opportunity to do that much. I think that our interactions are very local, such as within your college, or the university, or the city of Toronto, and maybe outside of the GTA. But there’s not very many opportunities to get out there and travel, focused on staying within the confines of U of T.
But being able to bridge that gap and travel to a different city or province to interact with hundreds of leaders from across Canada and create relationships and connections with them was the most meaningful part of the conference for me. Participating in the different workshops shows the different perspectives that people bring.
The diverse amount of backgrounds and opinions that people are bringing to various topics and subject matters. Or even hearing an old subject matter but with a fresh set of eyes was impactful to me. It expands your thinking even outside of the institution that you’re from and builds relationships.
What does this year’s theme, pushing boundaries, mean?
IS: It emerged from a place that we as a team brainstormed together. What we wanted the conference to be, the take-aways to be, the feeling for folks to leave with and feel while they are there. Pushing boundaries gets us at something that we are all struggling with through life.
Whether it’s the academic work that you’re doing, the personal goals, or career goals that you may have. Whatever it may be, in whatever terms that you are moving through life, we thought that having the ability to push yourself, that is comfortable for you, however you define that is an important theme to explore. It’s up for interpretation and how an individual sees those words.
We’re not trying to suggest that you always have to push boundaries, but we’re suggesting whatever that means to you and your positionality, however you interpret that in terms of going beyond, learning and growing. It’s not just about disrupting for the sake of disrupting, but productive disruption that is able to do much more than you would’ve ever thought.
This theme ties in to the conference with the programming we have (workshops, keynotes, socials, banquet), and the students coming together, learning, connecting with one another and having meaningful conversations, thinking in different perspectives, interacting with others you don’t normally interact with. Determine for yourself what that means to you, and how you define it.
Why should someone attend the CCSL?
IS: First, it’s at U of T, it’s a great way to show school spirit. It gives students the opportunity to participate in a conference that’s designed specifically to challenge our own thinking and designed to probe some of the things that are happening on our campuses, and engage students on a wide variety of issues. And to meet new people to make new connections and engage in productive disruption.
It’s an opportunity for someone who wants to learn new things, to participate in a three day conference, and experience a conference that is different from others. We’re trying to be very intentional and meaningful in the way that we’ve set up this conference. There’s activities, keynotes, reverse-keynotes, many different things that we’ve brought to the picture to push the bounds of conferences and individual’s goals. Engaging in collisions.
It’s for any student, whether you’re involved in something that is a formal type of leadership or something that isn’t. Leadership is subjective, everyone is a leader, and people are engaging with leadership all the time. Just because it’s not part of a title or you’re not a part of student life, leadership or governance, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply you. It’s open to any student that is interested in having fun, learning lots and having interesting discussions on different issues.