GIN Singapore 2012: The Local GIN Symposium 27-28
“More than 700 students from schools in Asia and beyond gathered in Singapore from 9–11 November to tackle global sustainability issues. Co-hosted by Singapore American School (SAS) and UWCSEA East, the 2012 Global Issues Network conference in Singapore (GINSING) was the largest GIN conference to date. More than 450 High School students converged at SAS while more than 260 Middle School students gathered at UWCSEA East for the first GIN conference-within-a-conference for Middle School students.
Students and staff from UWCSEA East and SAS worked together over eighteen months to design, organise and implement the conference. The students who served as conference organisers and facilitators gained invaluable experience and leadership development through their participation in GINSING that will continue to serve them long after the conference.
The planning committee intended that GINSING be an action-oriented conference as evidenced by the theme – ‘Time to Act, Time to Change’ – as well as the student-designed logo. The GINSING name and roots in the logo reflect the ginseng plant. As ginseng roots are used for their healing abilities, so does GIN contribute to healing the planet.
According to Mike Johnston, Middle School Principal at UWCSEA East, the real benefit of GIN is that delegates are empowered to act. “The key to GINSING is that each student walks out of the conference with an action plan to implement a sustainable solution to a global issue in their school or community.”
The first day all delegates participated in activities designed to enhance their knowledge about possible responses to a variety of global and sustainability issues. Middle School participants visited the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab (WELL) in Dairy Farm Nature Park for an experiential session led by the JUMP! Foundation followed by a sustainable picnic. The session fostered leadership and teamwork as well as environmental awareness.
High School delegates participated in one of 21 different ‘ecoCare’ excursions across the island planned in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board that focused on nature, technology or education. Activities included installation of a green roof project, exploring preserved ecosystems and visiting sites that address solutions to environmental and resource management issues.
Following the first day’s excursions, all participants gathered at SAS for the official opening including keynotes from Room to Read founder John Wood and magician Scott Hammell as well as dance performances by SAS students and Epic Arts. The evening culminated with a Peace Concert and Global Village exhibition of NGOs.
Throughout the weekend, an impressive group of keynote speakers and NGO mentors engaged students with knowledge and inspiration while also coaching them in leadership and organisation skills. To support the conference’s commitment to action, GINSING introduced Global Action Network Groups (GANGs) to allow students from different schools across the region to share and learn from their experiences with a global issue of choice and to network with one another to create effective solutions to that issue.
Technology and social media played a large part in the conference and are continuing to do so as participants stay connected online. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other online tools all played a part in communication and sharing during the conference and in maintaining connections afterwards.
On the final day of the conference, both the Middle and High School student GANGs developed plans and articulated their commitments to action. At SAS, High School GANGs wrote and presented their Local Action Plans (LAPs). Some even created and shared videos expressing their plans, which were to be creative, doable, realistic and sustainable.
In addition to preparing and sharing action plans in their GANGs, Middle School participants submitted ‘I will…’ statements expressing a personal action they would take upon their return home. These commitments to action are ultimately what GIN is all about.
As one student shared, “Bringing together like-minded, passionate, ready-to-take-action young adults enables intellectual exchanges and…enriches and expands the knowledge base of the leaders of the future. GIN conferences are integral in educating and inspiring younger generations to act now.”” Source: UWC