The day was designed to be a wake-up call.
Western Academy of Beijing's annual Global Issues Conference (GIC) aims to explore and raise awareness about challenges of our time. But this year was different: The goal was on inspiring action to make a difference in the world.
Students planned, created and hosted a full day of workshops to explore and educate their classmates and international school peers about a variety of different issues in their local and communities, including climate change, gender equality, treatment of animals, environmental sustainability and more.
While the event has a tradition of raising awareness, Grade 12 student Danny Du, who co-organized the event, set out to make a bigger impact in his final year as part of the Global Issues Network student group which hosts the event. He wanted to provide a "Wake Up Call" and drive his peers to take action.
"To wake up means to actively understand the profound implications of our actions," he said to an auditorium of more than 500 students in the Opening Ceremony. He told the story of his own wake-up moment, when he traveled to remote islands in the Pacific Ocean to find thousands of plastic bottles accumulating. It was that moment that he became truly aware that his habits regarding waste have a direct and lasting negative impact, and decided to change. "Every time you make a decision like that, it is one less burden to our planet."
Alongside students hosting workshops for their peers, a number of special guest speakers were also part of the day's activities. Crossroads International Director and philanthropist David Begbie was the keynote speaker, who connected with the students and led a motivating conversation about how the smallest changes can make a big difference in the world.
"The countless hours students spend preparing and planning this event are driven by their own personal passions and the feeling of responsibility to educate their peers on the importance of caring and making a difference," said WAB Teacher and GIC Supervisor Lorraine McMullen. "A student like Yuk-Yuk Lam, who worked with Danny to coordinate and lead the event, are so incredibly inspirational because of the risks they have taken throughout the process of joining the organizing committee in Grade 8 and now leading it so well in Grade 12."
The GIC also saw the Middle and High School celebrate International Day. Students wore clothes to represent their countries and enjoyed a lunch with food from countries, thanks to WAB's parent volunteers through the Parent Link.
Thanks also go out to our other guest speakers who came to share their stories, including:
- Becky Wang, Co-founder of Roundabout
- Terry Townshend, who discussed saving Earth's biodiversity
- Mary Peng, Founder of International Center for Veterinary Services
- Cathryn Berger Kaye, who discussed service learning in schools
- Magdalena Gonzalez, Founder of Bamboo Bicycles Beijing & Beyond
To learn more about how WAB connects its students with inspirational and influential people, visit our Connect page.