Starting with a profound Lionel Gelber Keynote Address by John Stackhouse and ending with Colin Tweel’s poetic summary of the event, this year’s World Affairs Conference was a resounding success. Thanks to this reporter’s idea and the tireless effort of Winker Xiao, Upper Canada College welcomed, for the first time in its 184 year history, a rapper onto its grounds. The up-and-coming lyricist Shaun Boothe was one of the Conference’s highlights, and because of the success of his performance the Executive Committee plans on bringing in a musical act to close next year as well. If we are lucky perhaps the talented Toronto wordsmith Shadrach Kabango (aka Shad) will grace us with his presence.
The two days that comprised the Conference were busier than the mailbox of a TOK teacher the morning a paper is due; Ezra Levant found someone he didn’t disagree with about everything, Sarah Dobec proclaimed that soil was a living organism, and Olivia Chow shared some practical political knowledge.
Students from across the world (yeah, we were surprised too) came to attend the 30th anniversary of UCC’s annual convention on global issues, and their intellectual prowess was as noticeable as that of the speakers. Question and Answer periods were invariably filled with thought provoking inquiries that expanded the discussion and engaged the audience. Some poked holes in speakers’ arguments, others were designed to shift the discussion, and some, like John Lutz’s question about the U.N. charter of human rights, served to clarify a speaker’s position.
Overall it was a wonderful Conference which tackled a diverse range of topics and brought them together under a general ethical theme. Everything from Eamon O’Keefe’s Stalinesque opening speech to the gigantic balloons during Boothe’s performance made this year’s WAC a more memorable experience than last year’s WAC, kind of.