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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure

Meet the Current Cohort

Camille Ancessi

Camille is a visiting student from UBC in her fourth year majoring in political science and minoring in international relations. She hopes to learn more about housing where there’s a sense of place for everyone and how to dismantle barriers that can be in the way. Her studies have focused on the refugee crisis and the realities of migration. Through the Dialogue program, she also seeks to develop concrete skills in critical listening and public speaking. 

Marie-Gabrielle Béchard

Marie is a French Canadian who calls Vancouver Island home. She is a third year student majoring in Resource and Environmental Management. She is passionate in urban development and aspired to make a change towards the housing issues in Vancouver as well as rural areas by making communities more sustainable to the locals. In her perspective, housing is about sustainability, and how the three pillars: social, economic, and environmental interact with one another. Outside of the classroom, she also enjoys hiking and surfing!

James Chan

A peanut butter connoisseur and speaker of 3 languages, James Chan took a leap after high school, and moved from his hometown of New Territories, Hong Kong to Vancouver, Canada for university. Through this transition, he quickly found that, despite the new sights and culture, Vancouver and Hong Kong both suffer from similar issues regarding housing inaffordability. Coming from a background in psychology, James views the Vancouver housing crisis through a unique lens and is particularly interested in how changes in the economy and housing market can affect the sociocultural expectations of moving out and owning property.

Vanessa Cheng

Vanessa Cheng is deeply connected with Vancouver, having grown up in the Little Italy neighbourhood in Commercial Drive. Vanessa is passionate about land use policy and would like to see a better balance between housing, agricultural, and industrial land uses. She hopes to acquire new perspectives on the cause of the housing crisis in order to find better solutions. Currently Vanessa is finishing her B.A. in Geography and a minor in labour studies and political science. 

Shina Kaur

As an American undergraduate student, Shina was eagerly ready to begin her first year in Orlando but a last minute turn of circumstances lead to much confusion and uncertainty. After visiting family in Vancouver, she fell in love with the city and decided to pursue her education in Psychology at SFU. Within her first year, she was a Community Advisor on SFU Residence which eventually led to the Area Coordinator position. Spending two years of her time assisting in domestic and international student transition showed her the value of housing. She is now the VP of University Relations for the Simon Fraser Student Society and wants to incorporate the values of this program into the SFSS. She values flexibility and her motto is to go with the flow. She describes herself as an "optimistic-realist" and is excited to find constructive solutions for the public issues we face. Her love for chocolate matches her very sweet personality.

Zariya Khan

Through her extensive post-secondary education and her work at Richmond hospital, Zariya has encountered valuable experiences and developed strong skills as a student and a professional. While her work and academic life are not directly connected, Zariya has found her 7 years of work as an enriching experience and has grown passion into environmental issues. Having finished a forest and natural areas management diploma at BCIT and currently working on her resources and environmental management degree at SFU, Zariya hopes the Semester in Dialogue will strengthen her public speaking and facilitating skills to become an active advocate in climate change issues and sustainable development.

Kevin Kuo

Kevin Kuo is a fourth-year political science major from Hong Kong. His interest in housing issues sprung out from the housing situation back home, where the housing market is the least affordable in the world. While Kevin hastraveled to over 16 countries, he was profoundly inspired by his time in Singapore where he was impressed by the social harmony and sustainability. Kevin might want to become a civil servant, he is not too sure yet but he knows that he wants to help others.

Andriana Lanji

Andriana Lanji is in her 4th year at Simon Fraser University pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Health Sciences with a minor Gerontology. She is deeply interested in the social determinants of health, public health and health education. She is excited to interweave her passions for health to the complex relationship of the housing crisis. In her spare time Andriana loves anything outdoors from fishing to skiing and gluten-free baking.

Ana Mendez

Ana Mendez is starting the fourth year of her Bachelors’ degree at Simon Fraser University in Human Geography and is also pursuing a minor in Sustainable Development and a certificate in urban studies. Her interests include sustainability, gentrification and homelessness; looking at all of these topics through a social lens. Outside of school, she loves the outdoors, photography and travelling. She is excited to utilize her passion for sustainability throughout this semester in dialogue and into further education past her undergraduate degree.

Brian Portner

Brian is a Health Sciences and French Studies student in his final semester at SFU. He is a Recreation and Youth Worker for the Township of Langley and has volunteered for four years as a facilitator for a sexual health education program within Vancouver Coastal Health. He aspires to move to Australia upon graduation either for further education or to work and travel.

Bradley Sarandi

Kickstarting his first year at SFU, Bradley is currently pursuing a certificate in Urban Studies within the Faculty of Environment, majoring in Geography and considering a minor in Dialogue. Bradley was brought to the Semester in Dialogue Program out of his desire to better understand societal interactions within shared spaces, specifically as they pertain to the intersections between identity, sexuality and gender. Bradley self identifies as a movie buff and foodie and appreciates the art of Drag, in his spare time.

Hedieh Shadiloo

Hedieh values self-growth and the inherent good in others, using her empathetic skills to understand her world. Completing her last semester in Health Sciences, she is learning to transition from university life into the real world. Transferring from Capilano University, she felt the time crunch of making friends while navigating a new environment but has done it successfully. Outside school, she spends a lot of time in community building activities such as the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, which assists 11 to 15-year-olds plan and perform service projects in their neighborhoods. Her priorities center around the community and assisting others in making positive changes in their life. This drive to help others and facilitate self-growth leads to a potential career in dentistry, operating community clinics and assisting where she can. Oreo cookies are the way to her heart. 

Ann Tony

Ann grew up in Kenya until 2015 at which point she moved to Vancouver to study environmental studies at SFU. Educating the public about waste reduction and management is one of her passions. She aspires to pursue further education and ultimately a career in environmental planning and sustainability. 

Juan Trevino

Having immigrated from Mexico to Texas and then to Vancouver, Juan immersed himself into his new surroundings almost immediately by beginning a work term within the International Services for Students at SFU. While pursuing his Communications degree, he developed a keen interest in social advocacy towards vulnerable communities. Now in his fourth year, Juan hopes the Semester in Dialogue will broaden his capabilities towards meaningful dialogue, that he hopes to utilize in his future in social work.

Rose Wu

Living on UBC campus since she was 2 years old, Rose is pursuing her degree in Global Resource Systems which has fostered a holistic mindset in exploring housing futures. Rose is excited to dig deeper on the relationship between the crisis and the resulting cultural tensions; as well, she also wishes to focus on the identity crisis that many Asian-Canadians face around housing and property as a symbol of independence and success. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, creating artwork, and keeping up with the NUMTOT meme page.

Victor Yin

Victor was born and raised in North Burnaby, and is concerned about the housing crisis occurring in his hometown. He is working towards his BA in Geography and would like further his understanding in urban planning. He believes an open dialogue with people from different backgrounds will help accommodate the needs of a diverse and growing population. In his spare time, Victor can be found taking photos, rock climbing and following an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure