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Bridge the Heart

About Bridge the Heart

Founded by Annie Hsu in 2017, Bridge the Heart (BTH) is a non-profit and youth-led organization comprised of a team of young people who are passionate about peer-to-peer empowerment, intercultural exchanges, and giving back to our communities and the world.

Vision

Our vision is to create an ever-growing network of diverse youth leaders who will build a just and equitable world.

The Bridge the Heart Difference:

In communities across Canada and the world, there is a diverse array of organizations and immigrant services centers established to provide support to new members of communities. We acknowledge and appreciate the work of these organizations, individuals, and governments in helping to shape diverse communities of inclusion and acceptance. However, we see the urgent need for the provision of support specifically to youth who are not only entering a new community, but also a critical stage in their lives in discovering their identity and shaping their own values. Although civics education is a part of education curriculums across Canada, we identify the importance of participatory civic and global citizenship education to fulfill civics education’s ultimate objective of civic engagement. ​ Bridge the Heart ​​ is an irreplaceable community of youth helping youth through this important process. We are teens – young people with real understandings for our peers. There is no other organization that understands the teenage demographic and our needs in the authentic way that we do. Our organization’s model is helping youth immigrants transition into their new communities through participatory civic education, global citizenship training, and personal development mentorship. As we embark on our journey of pursuing our passions and making a difference in our world, we support others around us to reach their full potentials in our communities.

Young Citizens Program
Global Activist Project
Post-Secondary Readiness Program
Bridge The Heart Certificate
Bridge The Heart Certificate

he Bridge The Heart Certificate is a journey record of personal development through BTH programs. The certificate takes ​ between one and two years to complete, and is a culmination of participation in all three BTH programs. The Young Citizens Program and Global Activist Project (GAP) Program have three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels. To achieve a level, the participant must complete respective requirements. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants, as well as offer more exciting opportunities and rewards.

Participants are exposed to both the Young Citizens Program and Global Activist Project Program to achieve the Silver level, which entails basic training, in both programs. With assistance from peer mentors, participants select and set personal objectives for the duration of their participation in the BTH Certificate. Based on personal objectives, each participant selects to specialize in either the Young Citizens Program or Global Activist Project Program, and achieves Gold Level, which involves greater in-depth activities and commitment, for the program of his/her choice. Throughout participation in both programs, participants are expected to further their own personal development through attending Post-Secondary Readiness Program events. Finally, participants design and complete an Individual Capstone Project tailored to prepare for their post-secondary plans with peer mentorship

To accommodate individual needs and time availability, Bridge The Heart hosts different sessions for all three BTH programs on a regular and cyclical basis. This allows participants to complete the below requirements at their own pace by choosing sessions to attend and tailoring their own curriculum.


Requirements:

BTH Certificate:

● Achieve Silver level for BOTH the Young Citizens and Global Activist Project (GAP) programs
● Achieve Gold level in ONE (either Young Citizens or Global Activist Project) program
● Attend at least 1 Post-Secondary Readiness event
● Complete Individual Capstone Project

Young Citizens:

Bronze:
● 1 session of Civics 101
● 1 session of Policy Semina

Silver:
● 2 sessions of Policy Seminar
● 2 sessions of Model Politics
● 2 sessions of Skills Development Workshop

Gold:
● 1 Policy Research Project

- 1 op-ed article (individual)
- 1 research report (group)
- Presentation at End-of-Year BTH Conference

● Field-Trip and Presentation


Global Activist Project (GAP):

Bronze:
● 1 session of International Relations 101
● 1 session of Global Affairs Seminar

Silver:
● 2 sessions of Policy Seminar
● 2 sessions of Model Politics
● 2 sessions of Skills Development Workshop

Gold:
● 1 Policy Research Project

- 1 op-ed article (individual)
- 1 research report (group)
- Presentation at End-of-Year BTH Conference
- Annual Unicef Charity Galaz (group)

To begin your participation, sign-up and register for your Bridge The Heart membership by visiting the “Get Involved” page.

Young Citizens

This leadership development program incorporates educational content, leadership development strategies, experiential learning, and opportunities to work with experts in the domestic political system and civil society. The program focuses on developing youth immigrants’ domestic civic awareness and transferable skills for effective civic engagement.

The program has three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels. To achieve a level, the participant must complete respective requirements. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants, as well as offer more exciting opportunities and rewards.

Participants develop their civic knowledge and leadership capabilities through participating in civic education lessons and skills development workshops. A focal point of the program is a public policy project. In groups, participants collaborate on a policy research project on a particular issue or public policy on the municipal, province, or federal 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 topic of their policy research project, but also a wide range of other public policy issues. The program culminates with an advocacy and field learning opportunity in which Gold Level participants present their research findings and subsequent policy proposal to relevant leading professionals and policymakers. Through meeting with key policymakers and leaders in relevant fields, participants gain experiential learning in these interactions and on-the-ground visits.


Young Citizens:

Bronze:
● 1 session of Civics 101
● 1 session of Policy Semina

Silver:
● 2 sessions of Policy Seminar
● 2 sessions of Model Politics
● 2 sessions of Skills Development Workshop

Gold:
● 1 Policy Research Project

- 1 op-ed article (individual)
- 1 research report (group)
- Presentation at End-of-Year BTH Conference

● Field-Trip and Presentation

To begin your participation, sign-up and register for your Bridge The Heart membership by visiting the “Get Involved” page.

Global Activist Project (GAP)

The Global Activist Project (GAP) trains youth immigrants to become engaged global citizens, effective youth activists, and student leaders in their communities and the world.

The program has three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels. To achieve a level, the participant must complete respective requirements. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants, as well as offer more exciting opportunities and rewards.

Participants develop their global affairs knowledge and leadership capabilities through participating in international affairs lessons and skills development workshops. Gold Level participants identify and research one global issue. In groups, participants collaborate to translate their research into a tangible initiative for social change which includes community outreach, advocacy campaigns, philanthropic fundraising, volunteering, media strategies, and meeting with relevant policymakers and organizations. The year culminates with an annual Charity Gala event organized by participants in partnership with Unicef Canada. Past GAP initiatives have included work on equal access to education, humanitarian relief in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, addressing the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and food security/child nutrition. Global Activist Project (GAP):


Bronze:
● 1 session of International Relations 101
● 1 session of Global Affairs Seminar

Silver:
● 2 sessions of Policy Seminar
● 2 sessions of Model Politics
● 2 sessions of Skills Development Workshop

Gold:
● 1 Policy Research Project

- 1 op-ed article (individual)
- 1 research report (group)
- Presentation at End-of-Year BTH Conference
- Annual Unicef Charity Gala (group)

To begin your participation, sign-up and register for your Bridge The Heart membership by visiting the “Get Involved” page.

Post-Secondary Readiness Program

Bridge The Heart high school participants receive ongoing support and one-on-one mentorship in preparing for their post-high school future. In addition to individualized mentorship and counselling, current undergraduate students in universities and colleges in Canada and the United States host in-person or virtual seminars to discuss preparations for post-secondary education and their own experiences. In addition, BTH mentors conduct virtual tours of their own educational institutions and share their own educational experiences through online videos. 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. Youth immigrant students will receive college and job readiness training based on personal needs.

To begin your participation, sign-up and register for your Bridge The Heart membership by visiting the “Get Involved” page.

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

In an interview with Fairchild TV, Annie discusses her journey of integration, discovering her identity as a Chinese Canadian young woman, and pursuing her passions through Bridge The Heart. Watch the full interview:

In an interview with Chinese Canadian Voice, Annie shares stories from her journey as an eleven year old arriving at Canada to now mentoring younger students and immigrants through Bridge The Heart. Read the full interview:

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

“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 and CEO

Hi! My name is Annie Hsu and I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying International Relations and History. I was born in Toronto, but I grew up in Shanghai, China until I was 11 years old when I moved back to Canada. Having experienced the challenges of transitioning between two cultures and integrating into a new community, I am immensely passionate about Bridge The Heart and the work we do, as they provide me with a platform to give back and support others around me who may share similar experiences.

At Penn, I serve as a Perry World House Fellow, the President of the International Relations Undergraduate Student Association, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the online journal of the Sigma Iota Rho National Honors Society for International Studies, and an executive board member for the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project. I have pursued my passions in foreign policy and international development as one of four Junior Team Canada delegates at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, a United Nations Millennium Fellow, and a former intern at the Council on Foreign Relations. When I am not researching or volunteering, I really enjoy exploring different cultures through food, practicing Chinese calligraphy, playing my guitar and piano, and tracing the avant-garde history of Impressionist paintings.

Anjali Siromani
Chief Development Officer (CDO)

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.

Lexi Ding
Co-CEO of Canada

Lexi Ding is a first-year undergraduate student at Western University, majoring in Financial

Modelling with the Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) status to the Ivey School of Business. Lexi was born and raised in China until she moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the age of 15. In high school, Lexi held the position of Community Director in our Student Representative Council, head editor of our School Year Club and Manager of the art club. Lexi received her first job from McDonald’s in grade 9, which lasted for two and a half years. She became the youngest certified Crew Trainer at her store after a year working experience. In Junior Achievement Program (JA), Lexi was the president of her own company, which sold children friendly Playdoughs. Some of Lexi’s current extracurricular involvements include being a marketing intern of a startup company as a selected member of Western Marketing Club; an executive on the Global China Connection and an director of Girl Up Western, a non-profit organization that supports UN programs promoting the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries.

Sherri He
Director of Greater Toronto Area and Programming

Hi everyone! I’m Sherry and I’m a Grade 11 student at Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga, Canada. I was born in Chengdu, China and moved to Canada when I was five years old. Currently, I volunteer as a teacher's assistant in Tzu Chi Foundation Chinese School's junior bilingual class and am an English tutor for students in China who wish to study abroad. For hobbies, I enjoy playing the piano and is currently a piano teacher for elementary students. I also enjoy drawing and hope to go into video game design in the future. At school, I am the head designer of the yearbook team and an executive member of Young Aspiring Doctors. 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. As the Director of the GTA, I oversee all Bridge The Heart programming in the GTA including North York, Markham, and Oakville.

Derek Li
Co-Director of North York Branch

Hi! My name is Derek Li and I am a senior year student at Thornhill Secondary School. Hard to believe that I’m about to graduate and be out of here! I was born in Toronto, Canada. Throughout the years, I have developed countless experiences from business studies, engaging in commerce and gaining marketing knowledge. I consider myself as an athlete establishing interests in sports such as; basketball, golf, swimming, table tennis and ultimate frisbee, competing to help my school team win in the championship. Even though I am not an excellent piano player, I have attained an interest in music and dancing, cultivating the newest trends in pop culture music and rap. 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 higher goals and academic standards. I see myself as an extrovert, participating in many social activities, so if anyone has any questions or want to know more about me, please don’t hesitate to talk to me!

Langxing (Arthur) Deng
Head of North York

Langxing Deng is a grade 11 student at York Mills Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada. He was born in Guangzhou, China, and lived in China for 11 years until he moved to Canada in 2013. After staying for 3 years in Canada, Langxing moved back to China for his grade 9 year at Shenzhen College of International Education. In grade 10, he returned to Canada to study at York Mills Collegiate Institute. Langxing is a passionate innovator and thinker who has been immersed in both the eastern and western cultures and fully understands the difficulty to overcome cultural differences and adapt into a foreign culture.

Langxing is deeply involved in school activities and the community. In school, he not only serves as the president of Computer Science Club and Go Club, but is also a member of the tennis team, a member of the Robotics Team, and an executive of the Debate Club. While serving as the event co-chair for a fundraising gala hosted by UNICEF Canada and Merit Education, Langxing also started his own non-profit organization to teach English in rural schools in China. He participated in the Yale Young Global Scholars program, a selective summer program for accomplished high school students and youth leaders around the world, in the summer of 2018.

Serena Fang
Co-Director of North York Branch

Membership Leadership Team

Sherri He

Serena Fang

Derek Li

BTH Mentors

BTH Mentors

Peer-to-peer mentorship is the cornerstone of our work. Bridge The Heart is always looking for passionate, empathetic, and experienced individuals to provide invaluable peer-to-peer support and mentorship to our members by sharing their educational and professional experiences. For more information, please visit the “Get Involved” page.

Canada Mentors

Dalhousie University, where she is currently studying Neuroscience.

Jessica Telizyn

Western University, majoring in Financial Modelling with the Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) status to the Ivey School of Business.

Lexi Ding

United States Mentors

Harvard, concentrating in Computer Science and Neuroscience, with a secondary in Economics.

Zeel Patel

University of Pennsylvania, intending to pursue a major in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and a minor in Consumer Psychology.

Rebecca Jiang

University of Pennsylvania. He hopes to study finance and behavioral economics.

Shehryar Khursheed

College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and probably minoring in Consumer Psychology

Jackie Sussman

Wharton School from Islamabad, Pakistan. At Penn, he is an official photographer for the Law School, a House Resource Assistant for Rodin College House, Vice President for Wharton Business Law Association and Vice Chair for ASPIRE. He still hasn't decided his major but is leaning towards marketing and statistics while pursuing a minor in photography.

Asfandyar Cheema

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Things David loves include mathematics, martial arts, talking with people, and food. He is currently considering concentrating in pure mathematics and computer science. He also speaks Japanese and adores Japanese Anime.

David Gao

Johns Hopkins University, studying chemical and biomolecular engineering, minoring in Entrepreneurship and Management.

Steven Kong

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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