Why You Should Register for WAC

By Will Huang

It is that time of the year again. For some, WAC is the highlight of their year. For others, it is a reason to stay after school with Ms. Marshall to serve their WAC detention. The 39th World Affairs Conference is happening tomorrow Saturday, February 6th. This article gives an overview of the conference and reasons to register. 

A Global Conference

Annually held at Upper Canada College in Toronto, Canada, the World Affairs Conference connects over 1000 students, with a common interest in current affairs, typically from across North America. Throughout the history of the conference, UCC and Branksome students have mainly made up the attendee list. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the 2021 World Affairs Conference will be hosted online and available worldwide! Students have registered from countries all across the globe including Australia, Poland, Indonesia, and Kenya. 

In case you wanted to interact with students from around the world, there will be optional networking sessions staggered throughout the schedule to create connections between students who would have otherwise not have been able to attend WAC. The conference’s improved diversity of attendees ensures a more meaningful experience for students. 

Highlighted Talented Speakers

While the virtual nature of the conference has certainly limited some of its best features, it has also proved to be a benefit for speaker outreach. Since the pandemic has effectively sheltered the world, the costs of getting a speaker at WAC has decreased dramatically and speakers are much more likely to consider attending the conference because they can present in the comfort of their own home. As a result of these inadvertent advantages, WAC has been able to solidify a variety of popular and influential speakers.

Here are just a couple examples of the quality and diversity of the speakers lined up for WAC. 

Bharat Masrani (Plenary Speaker) – Bharat Masrani was appointed Group President and Chief Executive Officer of TD Bank Group on November 1, 2014. Bharat has more than 30 years of banking experience and is a member of the TD Bank Group Board of Directors. 

Daniel Wright, Stacey Piculell, Sarah Keo (Plenary Speakers) – Daniel Wright (Co-Producer), Stacey Piculell (Co-Producer), and Sarah Keo (Production Coordinator) were a big part of the team behind Netflix’s to The Social Dilemma (2020)

Dr. George Elliott Clarke (Keynote Address – Poet, novelist, playwright, and critic Dr. George Elliott Clarke was born near Windsor, Nova Scotia.

Allen and Eva Lau (Opening Address) – Allen Lau is the CEO and co-founder of Toronto-based Wattpad. Wattpad is a website and app for writers to publish new user-generated stories. Eva Lau is an entrepreneur-turned investor who is one of the few women leading a venture fund in Canada. She is the founding partner of Two Small Fish Ventures.

Link to website containing all speakers and descriptions. 

Startups and SPRINT

In addition to WAC’s massive speaker lineup, the conference is hosting a startup exhibition this year. Students will be dispersed into breakout rooms where 13 startups will give insightful advice and answer their questions. Below are two examples of the types of startups which will be present at WAC

  • Alice Insights – uses machine learning to provide solutions to climate risk and opportunities.
  • DreamAI – optimize the potential of future economic immigrants in the Canadian economy, maximizing the opportunity for a sustainable and successful livelihood.

Additionally, WAC has improved upon SPRINT, an entrepreneurial challenge. 

  1. Collaborate alongside passionate students from all around the world to learn fundamental entrepreneurial skills in a startup ecosystem!
  2. Validate ideas through specialized workshops on Marketing, Tech, and Finance 101!
  3. Craft a pitch to be presented to a panel of experts judges for prizes up to $1,000!

In this 2-month online program, students will tap into their potential and learn how to develop and market business ideas with the help of other young innovators, industry mentors, and successful entrepreneurs. This is an opportunity for any high school student to initiate real business ideas and gain experiential learning opportunities to apply what they’ve learnt and solve the world’s biggest problems.