Reflections on the Global Issues Conference at Western Academy of Beijing

Reflections on the Global Issues Conference at Western Academy of Beijing

Fourteen students from grades 9 to 12 enjoyed our school trip to the Global Issues Conference at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). From the keynote speech by the world famous Jane Goodall to engagement with some of the more than 60 student-led service and action organizations at Western Academy of Beijing, our students were impressed and thoughtful. Beyond the full assembly portion of the Global Issues Conference, there were three sessions in which our students had about 40 seminars from which they could choose to attend (4 led by adults, the rest led by WAB students). Organization of the Global Issues Conference at WAB was led by a group of 13 WAB students. Below are our students’ reflections from what they experienced and some pictures from the conference. Click here to read the WAB article about the conference. 


“I enjoyed the conference because it showed many different views – and some solutions – to major world issues.”

“This was the first time I went to an IB school other than QAIS. I was able to see the IB terms in the school such as the IB learner profile so I felt the connection to our school because we are learning from the same program even though we are in different regions.”

“Some issues that were talked about at the conference were sad, but the students are doing good projects to make these things better.”

“This conference made me think of how our school could possibly do a conference like this. It reminded me of a talk that I have had with someone else at our school about getting Qingdao’s international school community to work together. I wonder if we could make a conference with the 7 international schools in Qingdao and maybe have student ambassadors from the different schools that get together to plan it rather than relying upon school staff.”

“I was thinking about all the different clubs they have at WAB and thinking that we can do more clubs like this at QAIS. I am thinking about all kinds of different clubs: Fetch (for stray dogs), dance and singing.”

“I’m looking forward to going back to this conference next year.”

“My favorite class was a student-led class about Alzheimer’s disease. It is a disease which causes people to lose their memory and it is painful. There was a video they showed of a man with Alzheimer’s losing his memory. He forgets his wife, his children, his favorite color, his hobbies. It deeply affected me. I want to learn more about how to prevent this disease and hope we can one day cure it.”

“The WAB Global Issue Conference was an experience that inspired. We could think deeply about what we could do as a community and how we can share with each other.”

“I attended a workshop by the head of UNICEF for China. She spoke about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. We also got an insight into the future of education by using virtual reality viewers to watch a video about a Syrian refugee girl’s life called Clouds Over Sidra 360. It was a very interesting class however I thought it could have been more practical. If our school did something like this, I think that we could create an online learning activity showing students what our learning is like and how we could improve it for others using technology since technology in education is such a major thing in the world today.”

“All the workshops I went to were cool and enjoyable.”

“As someone who has worked on organizing QAIS’s Inspire Project, I was shocked and amazed at how everything at the Global Issues Conference was organized by the WAB students. The keynote speakers were invited through the students’ work. All the management and ideas for stage performances and workshops were great and enthusiastic. Event though our own community is smaller, we can carry out this kind of amazing work too. I have more ideas how we can do more at QAIS after attending this conference.”

“We should help people in Syria. We should donate money to charities for Syria or create our own charities. We could sew old blankets together to help the refugees. We can make dolls for refugee children with old clothes.”

“I hope in the future I can be confident and go on stage and share ideas in front of a huge crowd. I was really impressed by the WAB students, some of whom not only led classes, but spoke about what they were doing in front of the full assembly of 1,200 people.”

“I learned a lot of people do not have access to enough food.”

“From this experience, I feel it is really important to promote similar ideas in Qingdao. In Beijing, maybe it is easier to accomplish major goals because there are more people or because WAB is an older more established school. To raise our standards to this level in Qingdao, I think we need to earn the trust of our community. I think to start we need some impressive community actions that don’t require as much human interaction like trash cleanups. As our school is still tight and small, I think we can coordinate major actions more easily and leave a big impact.”

“I attended the Spectrum workshop that discussed people with different sexual orientations. I highly agreed with the ideas behind the student-led class on LGBTQ+ people and how they are discriminated against. I felt the class could have discussed a wider spectrum of sexualities and genders, meanings of them for people and, also, how people can be each other’s allies.”

“I was surprised by the students who were teaching the classes. It seemed like they were real teachers. They had very good English and explanations. At the same time, I felt a bit isolated in the class because our school’s students were not known in this school as most of the students came from WAB or other schools in Beijing.”

“I was really amazed by the school – not only the facilities, staff and students – but especially by the programs that the students created.”

“I started my day at a class led by Melissa McKenna who talked to us about health and juice. I really liked this workshop because I was able to learn how important it is to eat healthy. The class inspired me to possibly push others in a similar way so that we can all be healthier versions of ourselves.”

“The whole WAB conference was huge. It helps me to see the advantages and disadvantages of our school and its size.”

“Today I had a lot of fun. I was interested in many things and learned a lot from the different sessions. The freedom of students at WAB and the environment of the school really impressed me.”

“I was really inspired by Theresa Pauline. She believes that if you dream something you can and should do it. Her project with people in Uganda making internationally sold yoga accessories made me want to travel the world and experience new situations.”

“We could raise awareness about gender issues by having boys dress as girls and girls dress as boys. Ask them how they feel. Talk about feeling awkward and not fitting in.”

“I have always liked helping others and have created small, short-lasting projects. Today I was inspired to create long-lasting projects that are both fun and helpful to others. Since our school is smaller, we could bring our developed ideas and framework to other international schools and our administration to see if they have ways they could support our ideas.”

“I attended the Acts for Alzheimers workshop and while it did not offer any solutions for people with it, it did offer preventions and background information.”

“There were so many workshops run by the students about meaningful projects. I think we can do workshops like this in our school too. I am thinking about projects I’d like to do, maybe teaching English or helping out orphans.”

“As the school is very big, I could see a lot of students from different countries. A problem I saw was students gathering together by their nationality. I think many students in international schools need to improve this part.”

“Create a new standard of beauty in school for week. Ask students what effect it has calling something we normally say is ugly, beautiful and the other way around after a week.”

“The students from WAB have a lot of creative ideas that are helping to beautify their school. All the art work and posters from different school events, and many countries, impressed me with their color, creativity, diversity and school spirit. This kind of creativity encourages more of the same. I would like to have more displays like this in our own school.”

“I attended a workshop led by Theresa Pauline who inspired me to take my own problems and the problems of others and turn them into creative solutions. Learning how to transfer this idea can lead to ideas for helping people in less developed countries. I think it would be interesting to go to less developed countries and learn more about other people’s lives and how they want to improve them. Then, we can consider what they want and turn it into a project to help them.”

“The most memorable workshop for me was Fetch. I think saving stray dogs is a very meaningful project. The student who started this project said that it was also her personal project which gave me some ideas for my personal project.”

“I really enjoyed the Global Issues Conference at WAB. I hope to attend it next year, but not just to watch workshops, but to share a project that I created and inspire others as well.”

More photos to come…


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