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Bridge the Heart

Youth Citizens Forum
Digital Skills Program
Professional Development Network
Youth Citizens Forum

The Youth Citizens Forum program is our signature civic engagement initiative. It incorporates educational content, leadership development strategies, experiential learning, and opportunities to work with professionals and experts in government, civil society, and the global community. The program focuses on developing transferable skills for effective civic engagement. Participants develop their knowledge about the political process, social justice issues, and world affairs, as well as leadership capabilities through participating in workshops, speakers events, conferences, and other programming. A focal point of the program is a policy project. In groups, participants collaborate on a policy research project on a particular issue or public policy on the local, national, or international level they identify under the guidance of experienced undergraduate student mentors. Regularly-scheduled seminars and simulations give participants the opportunity to explore and analyze not only the topics of their policy research projects, but also a wide range of other policy issues.

Digital Skills Program

This program seeks to provide the skills youth need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information are increasingly conducted digitally. The way students learn at school is rapidly changing and we hope to support newcomer students in adapting to these changes in learning. The BTH digital skills program aims to equip youth immigrant students aged 15-18 with vital digital skills that will help them succeed at school and explore online resources.

The virtual program is designed to teach a range of skill sets including digital communication, such as digital content management, presentation and spreadsheet skills; STEM skills, such as multimedia creation and coding; and finally digital collaboration skills, such as online event coordination. The program will be curated to specifically meet the needs of high school students and carried out completely online by volunteer students from universities around the world. With our regular workshops, we hope students will have a smoother transition into online learning and be able to leverage all the digital tools available to them.

Professional Development Network

Bridge The Heart high school participants receive ongoing support and mentorship in preparing for their post-high school future. In addition to individualized mentorship, current undergraduate students in universities and colleges host in-person or virtual seminars to discuss preparations for post-secondary education and their own experiences. BTH’s volunteer network of young professionals and current undergraduate students with internship/work experiences will also participate in seminars to discuss career opportunities and preparation. BTH also hosts various workshops for professional development.

Photo Gallery

COVID-19 Update: Since March 2020, our programming and events have been conducted entirely online. Here are some photos and descriptions of our programming in the past years. If you are interested in joining us in our virtual programming, please complete this registration form. Thank you!

Youth Citizens Forum (November 2019)

We were honoured to welcome Senator Salma Ataullahjan as our keynote speaker. As the first Canadian Senator of Pakistani origin, she shared her inspiring story of building a new life in Canada, her experience with integration, her dedication to community service, and her commitment to and passion for her work in advocating for immigrant communities and international human rights as Senator. She also shared her valuable advice about how volunteering and community service not only bring personal fulfillment, but also most importantly facilitate community-building and help all of us transcend our differences. During the Forum, four BTH members presented their learnings on a policy topic that they are very passionate about and have been researching together: climate change and human rights.

Youth Citizens Forum (October 2019)

We were honoured to welcome Councillor Amanda Yeung Collucci as our keynote speaker. As the first-ever elected female Chinese Canadian City Councillor in Markham and Chair of the Budget Committee, she shared her inspiring story and valuable advice to our members at the event. At the Forum, three BTH members presented their learnings and experience from our experiential learning trip to Ottawa this summer to their peers who learned about the federal political system, how our federal election works, and the history behind many key sites in the nation’s capital.

Ottawa Experiential Learning Trip (August 2019)

From August 16 to 18, 2019, our members visited the nation’s capital for our annual civic engagement learning and experiential trip. We visited Parliament Hill, West Block (which currently houses the House of Commons), East Block (which houses maintained offices of former PMs and Governor Generals), the Senate, Rideau Hall, and the Supreme Court of Canada. After accumulating knowledge of Canadian politics and honing public speaking/debating skills during the school year, our members gained first-hand experiences in learning about federal politics, our judicial system, Canadian history, and the capital city’s culture!

Charity Gala in Support of Unicef Canada (May 2019)

On Saturday May 25, Bridge the Heart and Merit Education co-hosted our 2019 Charity Gala in support of Unicef Canada in Toronto. Attendees included elected officials from all levels of government, students, parents, members of the press, and community leaders. $16,000 CAD in total was raised through live auctions, silent auctions, donations, and fundraising campaigns. All proceeds went towards Unicef Canada to support its work in humanitarian relief in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and to help children whose lives have been significantly impacted by Cyclone Idai. More than 50 artworks were presented by renowned professional artists and members at the Gala for auctioning; our members organized the evening’s programming and a variety of performances. Through successfully organizing the Gala and fundraising campaigns prior to the evening, our members developed their leadership and teamwork skills, as well as their global perspectives and community awareness as global citizens.

Meeting with Unicef Canada (March 2019)

BTH members visited the Unicef Canada office in Toronto to learn about Unicef’s work and to discuss our fundraising initiatives in support of the organization.

Professional Development Workshops

Our mentors shared their own unique experiences navigating the university application process. The workshops were also live on multiple platforms for students who could not join in-person. Following each session, our mentors hosted Q&A sessions with all students to answer questions and to provide individualized advice.

Model Politics

During our Model Politics activities, BTH members acted as Member of Parliaments in the House of Commons. They engaged in a debate on some of the most current federal public policy debates of our time. Participation in Model Politics helped our members develop research, public speaking, debating, and writing, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities.

Model United Nations

During Model United Nations activities, BTH members acted as diplomats and heads of states, and engaged in debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing our world. Through these activities, our members practiced English speaking and gained more knowledge on world issues.

Press

Bridge The Heart was featured in the December 2019 issue of the Senate of Canada's digital magazine. See Senator Salma Ataullahjan's visit:

Annie Hsu's statement at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on April 2, 2019.

Letter from Geng Tan, Member of Parliament for Don Valley North

Letter from Amanda Yeung Collucci, Ward 6 Councillor, City of Markham

Letter from Billy Pang, Member of Provincial Parliament for Markham-Unionville

Letter from Vincent Ke, Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley North

Testimonials

“Bridge The Heart has given me so many incredible opportunities in public speaking and leadership development. These experiences opened my eyes and helped me realize that I have the power to make my voice heard. Throughout the past year, I experienced so much personal growth from BTH programs. Thank you to my mentors for always encouraging me to take initiative which has helped me to gain more confidence and valuable skills in communication and leadership!” - Sherry He, Class of 2020

“Being a part of Bridge the Heart over the past two years has allowed me to develop valuable transferable skills through organizing programs and working alongside a group of talented peers to make our visions come to life. As a young person looking to pursue business in the future, BTH has given me the opportunity to watch an organization grow from the ground up—making it an incredibly rewarding and unique experience.” - Anjali Siromani, Class of 2019

Executive Board

Annie Hsu
Founder, Executive Director

Hi! My name is Annie Hsu and I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying International Relations and History. I was born in Toronto, but I grew up in China until the age of 11 when I moved back to Canada. Having experienced the challenges of integrating into a new community, I am immensely passionate about Bridge The Heart and the work we do. At Penn, I serve as a Perry World House Fellow, Editor-in-Chief of the Sigma Iota Rho National Honor Society for International Studies Journal of International Relations, Student Fellow at the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. I previously served as the President of the International Relations Undergraduate Student Association. Professionally, I have worked in the foreign policy field and have been involved in several research projects. In my free time, I enjoy practicing Chinese calligraphy, playing the guitar and piano, and visiting art museums. I am very much looking forward to meeting you at BTH events!

Rebecca Jiang
Co-Founder, Executive Director

Hello! My name is Rebecca Jiang and I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Consumer Psychology. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, but spent the majority of my childhood growing up in Qingdao, China until the before I moved back to Australia. At Penn, I am involved as a Director of Innovation and Impact in the Penn International Development Society, a board member at the Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement, Fox Fellow at the Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies program, a volunteer at the iCare Club mentoring local internationally adopted children, and a brother of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. I hope to combine my schoolwork with my passion for rural economic development and social impact to benefit local and international communities.

Anjali Siromani
Director of Development

Hi everyone! My name is Anjali and I’m a first-year undergraduate student at Cornell University, at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. I was born in Mumbai, India and have since lived in Toronto and London, England. Moving around throughout my life has given me a passion for social advocacy and social entrepreneurship which I have been keen to pursue throughout high school as the Secretary General of Appleby College’s Model UN conference and Business Club President at my school. I am also a SHAD Fellow and participated in MP John Oliver’s Oakville youth council to further my interest in these areas.

Sherri He
Director of Operations

Hi! I’m Sherry and I’m an undergraduate freshman majoring in Interactive Media and Game Design at University of Southern California, at the School of Cinematic Arts. I was born in Chengdu, China and moved to Canada when I was five years old. I was an English tutor for students in China who wish to study abroad, as well as a piano teacher for elementary students. For hobbies, I enjoy gaming and drawing, specifically designing characters. In high school, I was the co-editor of the yearbook team. Along with my school's Free the Children team, I have organized many charity and fundraising events and hope to continue helping children in my community and around the world. Participating in charity and volunteer work has helped me develop my interest in social advocacy and helping my community. If anyone has questions about Bridge The Heart, applying to colleges, or just about me in general, please feel free to reach out!

Derek Li
Director of Outreach

Hi everyone! My name is Derek Li and I am working towards an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. I was born in Toronto, Canada. Throughout the years, I have developed countless experiences from business studies and marketing knowledge. I am interested in basketball, golf, swimming, table tennis and ultimate frisbee. I am honoured to be a part of the Bridge The Heart community, not only enriching myself with the amazing opportunity, but also allowing me to share my experience with others and helping other students achieve their goals. Hope to see you all and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Our Partners and Supporters

Thank you to our partners and supporters for your continued, invaluable support for our vision and work!

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