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Silvia Birsan

Silvia Birsan, MEd '00

Arbor award-winning alumna talks about her background, volunteer experience and professional work. Her OISE credentials have enabled her to lead a dynamic career in Canada, USA, and Europe.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the OISE Alumni Association (OISEAA)?

Volunteering, community contribution and the professional work are the three main pillars of my public life. At the time of graduation from OISE with a M.Ed. in APHD in 2000- I was living in US with my family. We came back from Indianapolis IN to the Convocation to get my diploma, however, we were two hours late. Since that moment I promised myself I would become involved with volunteer work at OISE. The chance came in 2012 when I returned to Toronto. As the Chair of Spring Reunion 2013 and the Co- Treasurer 2012-2014 my contribution became reality. I felt rewarded every single moment of planning, organizing, staying focus on the task to making things happen.

Can you tell us more about your professional life?

I moved to Canada in 1994 as a professional – I was working in Lausanne, Suisse, with  “Village D’ enfant Pestalozzi” as an educational counselor at the time of immigration.  My first personal achievement was to open the Romanian International Language Program at Secord Public School and then coordinate the classes as an administrator in several other public schools in Toronto. On the professional area, OISE gave me the opportunity to continue my graduate studies and demonstrate my loyalty for the field of education. Since graduation I have thought college level courses and worked as a behavior clinician for 12 years in Indiana, US. Now, I teach Psychology at Seneca, Centennial, and Humber College.

How is your Romanian heritage influencing your life?

I am proud of my origins; Romania, as other East-European countries - had a very strong educational system. My BA in Philosophy and Psychology from University of Bucharest built a strong structure to my future achievements. I knew J. Piaget in Romanian and French before I moved here; the question was how to transfer my knowledge and adjust to the new society; professors at OISE understood my potential and for that openness I am now giving back with humbled respect.

Do you work with other non-profit organizations?

I am the founder of two non-profits in the US; one is the “Romanian Cultural Society of Indiana”. Second, is the “Rites of Passage – Multicultural Counseling & Educational Services”; Over the years I have developed a series of Emotional Focus – Art and Music programs, which became the start point of small –group counseling and workshops. We operate now also as a business. It is a permanent dialog with local non-profits, which work with newcomers, immigrants, women at crisis, seniors, or children with adaptability issues.