SFU student team wins third at prestigious Oxford competition
By Phoebe Melvin
A team of five enthusiastic Faculty of Health Sciences students won third prize at a prestigious global competition at Oxford University for their inspiring presentation about the mental health issues facing second generation immigrant youth.
The Map the System challenge (formerly the Oxford Global Challenge) is an international initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. The challenge is unique in that encourages teams to pitch their understanding of a social problem and its wider context, rather than a quick fix for the social problem.
‘Bridging the Gap’ team members Stephanie Lam, Janani Ravikularam, Benta Cheng, Katrina Jang, and Hussein Elhagehassan focused on mental health and wellness outcomes in second generation immigrant youth.
“The topic of our research,” says Lam, “really ended up tying-in many of our individual interests together and it was something all of us have been able to either experience individually or observed in our peers.”
While investigating their topic, the team discovered that academic literature on the issue was lacking – especially in the Vancouver and Canadian context, which at times left the team feeling as if they were “researching something that doesn’t exist,” says Lam.
“Through the process, we realized the importance of lived experiences and started having conversations with second generation youth about their challenges and their pressures.”
It was this unique perspective and approach that resulted in their well-thought-out presentation that netted them the prestigious third prize.
“Having individuals from both Asian and non-Asian immigrant backgrounds come up to us and tell us how much they were able to relate to the concepts and the narrative we were telling (was a highlight),” said Jang.
Engagement was a common theme and personal highlight of the Map the System journey – from the preparation stages, through the SFU competition, Canadian wide competition and the global finals.
“Being able to have authentic and vulnerable conversations with young people about a topic that is quite stigmatized, has been the most enriching experience for both myself and hopefully for the development of this problem area,” Lam says.
After months of research, preparation, and practising right up to the last minute the team is thrilled to have been awarded third prize for their hard work and presentation.
“Our team had a very nice meal together and took some time to explore Oxford a little bit more. But most importantly, we went right to sleep!” says Lam.
SFU’s participation in the 2017-2018 Map the System Challenge was made possible by support from: RADIUS SFU, SFU Student Engagement and Retention, Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, SFU Alumni Association, Beedie School of Business and SFU Innovates, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation's RECODE Initiative and Trico Charitable Foundation.