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A Memorable Experience and Opportunity to Remember - Illuminate x Durham STEM conference

Hi everyone! My name is Afrah Rabbani and I am a grade 10 student attending Pine ridge secondary school. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of attending the Illuminate X Durham regional conference today. It’s always nice to experience something new and different, and attending this virtual conference was a wonderful experience. With all the crazy things going on in the world right now, attending this well-organized and informative conference to divert our minds towards something productive during this tough pandemic life was great. I had the pleasure to attend workshops, compete in an exciting and intense case study, and listen to influential keynote speakers. I learned some new things and walk out with a more positive attitude and mindset.


As a young girl still in my teenage years, I learned from the first keynote speaker that young people as members of society have shifted, and play a very distinct role in today’s generation/society, but are still impactful and have their own unique understanding and ideas. Today’s youth have a cultural separateness from economic activity, are seen as a dangerous group needing to be controlled, and are ‘incomplete, not fully adults’. This came to show that often what young people have to offer when they’re young isn’t valued. Also, stereotypes suggest that young people are entitled, lazy, and media shows that our brains arent fully matured. However, many parts of our brain have developed to their peak, but that is not shown. This is also the age in which our creativity is at its peak, and we are natural experimenters who come up with bold solutions, and are risk-takers, which is a good thing. Moreover, it’s fascinating how our generation is spending way more time on education than before, which is helping in identity formation and shows we are focused on a purpose wanting to have an impact on communities, Overall, we learned to embrace our role as young people, to strive to make things better as a young person, and the significance of intergenerational collaboration. We should amplify our impact and take our learning experiences as opportunities to make a difference and contribute to the community, instead of just entirely focusing on learning. It also allowed me to reflect and ponder about risk-taking, and innovating, and how our ideas really do hold significance.


Furthermore, the next keynote helped me focus on diversity in leadership positions and helped me gain more confidence as a female leader. It made me as a female feel more positive about myself as a leader, and emphasized there should be a vast diversity of leaders, no matter your race, religion, culture, gender because we are all human with our rights. Moreover, Gender equality is extremely significant and gender-based violence is evidently unacceptable, we should all work toward impact and change. I also liked hearing about prioritizing people, which is crucial in our lives full of important people. There is also the deep idea of service vs success, which really allowed me to realize that doing good, sticking to good morals and values and doing good for others is so, so essential. I hope everyone listening understood that doing good is not something we should save for later, we should do good, and then we will ‘do well’. If we look out for others and do small kind actions, that can really make someone’s day. Just a simple smile is a good action, so next time you see someone, treat them with kindness!


I look forward to applying these useful lessons down the road and try to make my ideas and voice heard and contribute effectively to help make a positive and influential change. I want to apply these tips to pursue my future career or goals, and personally develop and become the best person I can be, and help others along my journey. As the years continue, I want to remember I am important, should always treat people with kindness, and do good for others and myself.


Thank you for taking out the time to read my blog!

Everything about the conference was amazing, I loved the interactive and engaging workshops and keynotes, but I enjoyed the case study the most. It was an exciting moment, listening to everyone’s brilliant and unique ideas with so much diversity and creativity within the many people who attended today! I learned some valuable lessons throughout this beneficial and engaging conference, it was truly a great experience!