Director of Middle School Robert Bryan attended the Global Student Leaders Summit (GSLS) in Shanghai, China, from Mar. 17-18. The summit’s focus was “social responsibility in the new global economy.” Education First Tours (EF Tours) organized the conference and invited Bryan as part of a delegation to evaluate the program. This economic-focused summit in Shanghai was the second GSLS that EF Tours has organized; Costa Rica hosted the first conference, which had focused on the environment, last spring.
Each summit features acclaimed keynote speakers who also participate in Q-and-A sessions with the students. This summit’s keynote speakers were Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg of NPR’s “Planet Money” and Jon Huntsman, Jr., the United States’ ninth Ambassador to China.
Students from all over the world attended the Shanghai summit. Windward is the only school in Southern California that has sent students thus far, though Bryan hopes to send Marlborough students in the future. Bryan said that the student attendees made a lasting impression on the evaluation committee.
“The questions the students asked were really smart and challenging and really impressive. I mean, the kids were really impressive, and our students would fit right into that conversation so beautifully,” Bryan said.
The program for the students attending this economically centered event involved creating a mock business or organization. The steps outlined in a pamphlet about the program led students on a realistic path for addressing a social issue, considering the needs of their consumers, creating a solution and sharing their idea with the world.
Bryan said that one of the delegation’s sole criticisms about the program was that it gave the participants a “Western experience,” rather than exposing them to more Chinese culture while they were in China. For example, participants only partook in one day of sightseeing, and much of the food that the conference served was not Chinese. Bryan suspected that the program may have been designed in this way so that people who were in China for the first time felt more comfortable.
Next year, EF Tours is hosting summits in Costa Rica in March and Switzerland in June addressing “environmental sustainability” and “innovation and the future of education,” respectively. Jane Goodall will be a keynote speaker in Costa Rica. Bryan strongly urges Marlborough students to look into the programs, as he thinks that they are fabulous learning experiences in which students share helpful and interesting thoughts about real issues in the world. Bryan said he would be glad to share information with any students interested in participating in next year’s summits.