One of my personal ‘bucket list’ goals of learning was learning basic Mandarin, and during 2020 I finally found the time to make it happen. Here’s a few resources I really liked to help you get started on learning!

Disclaimer — I am very much a BEGINNER in Mandarin! I can say basic phrases, have a oral vocabulary of 400–500 words, I can read ~250 characters, and I can write ~100 characters.

Resources are at the top, but if you want to learn more about why I wanted to learn Mandarin & my process, I wrote a bit about that…

The following is notes from a book I read in September 2019 kicking off my academic journey into global health. Any views expressed are my own or notes from the book.

**these notes aren’t comprehensive by any means, and these views are all of the book and a few of my thoughts**

Biggest takeaways

  • Vertical (disease specific) vs horizontal building (strengthening overall system) of healthcare systems — how can you take a diagonal approach to developing healthcare systems while working in the market-based frameworks of cost-effectiveness needed to attract dollars?
  • Global health is biosocial — more than health & science…

I recently spent two weeks teaching in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) with the Ivey LEADER Project. Our teams teach business concepts to promising entrepreneurs in emerging markets around the world.

Immersing myself in a culture while building relationships with my team and entrepreneurs was incredibly rewarding. This article is a summary & reflection of my experiences and learnings while in Sarajevo. Any views expressed here are my own.

Thank you to the LEADER team, Restart & Salih Musić, the Bosnian American Friendship Association, and USAID Diaspora Invest for making the BiH LEADER Project happen!


East meets West: Sarajevo’s history…

Strategies for more systematic reflection


A personal reflection about balancing work, play, and thought on a short and long term basis. Two strategies for more systematic reflection; clearing my brain in interstitial spaces and scheduling in time to step back.

Climbing real + metaphorical mountains (Squamish, BC)

I found first semester in a new business program to be an invigorating time of meeting amazing people and incredibly rapid intellectual growth. It was also a rollercoaster of recovering from a hip surgery, balancing passions and extracurriculars with school commitments, and adjusting to a new way of thinking about structuring problems.

There were busy, unexpectedly challenging days, and weeks where I felt like I…

Before I begin, I’m incredibly grateful to @TwitterU and the #DevelopHER team for making this journey possible!

#DevelopHER is one of Twitter’s Take Flight conferences I attended last week in San Francisco, aimed at empowering underrepresented student groups in tech. Spending four days in the Bay Area out of my Toronto element, a myriad of reflections converged as life became tech, art, narrative and life once more. The following is an extended & candid reflection upon these perspective-changing four days, in which my experiences both at the conference and exploration SF informed each other.

Take a peek into my thoughts…

Last weekend, I attended two mental health focused events in our community.

I’m writing this article to share with you a huge challenge faced by some London youth and consider how better service integration & improved user experience can be used to improve health care services and other complex systems.

Nspire Western, featuring mental health leaders in London community.

Challenge: For London youth struggling with their mental health, it can be tough to know where to seek appropriate health care services in the city. Where do London youth…

Religion, meet tech. Vatican, meet hacking. Pope Francis talked about the growth of scientific and technological innovation coming along with more equality and social inclusion in his TED talk last year. This formed the basis of VHacks, the first hackathon at the Vatican.

Me + the Pope on my shirt next to our hacking venue (Hotel Columbus, in view of the Vatican!)

Adventures at seven other hackathons have taught me that you never fully know what to expect at each event beyond getting little sleep, building something cool, and making new friends. VHacks re-defined the hackathon experience by linking tech-based creation with a focus on human-driven, ethically centered challenges, and creating a diverse participant base to tackle these problems.

What you’re going to see in this post:

Why should I attend a hackathon [as someone who doesn’t have a coding background]?

How to make the most of your first hackathon.

A bunch of helpful resources to help you get started.

Hack Western 4 x Smart Cities: we made a IoT sensor system to monitor cleanliness of public washrooms.

Having just finished Hack Western 4, I’m looking back at the last year of hackathon adventures (everything from pitching to social impact investors to sleeping on cardboard boxes) and tackling the most common question I get asked:

Biochemist, business disruptor, and policy leader, Hadi Salah doesn’t let anything stand in his way. Five years ago, he co-founded Hacking Health, an organization that breaks down barriers to innovation in healthcare by bringing together developers, designers, and healthcare experts to co-create solutions. Hadi is currently a health industry lead at Ontario’s Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist; Nspire chatted with him about the future of health care and diving into areas outside of his comfort zone.

“We thought the health system was complicated from the outside, but being on the inside, we see a different level of complexity…

Erica Yarmol-Matusiak

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