The second annual St. George’s Global Stewardship Conference is officially in the books. Last Wednesday and Thursday, the two-day conference turned the Senior School into something quite remarkable. It became a hotbed of knowledge, information, energy, and
interactive learning. There were no tests and there were no marks. Students in Grades 8-12 were asked to attend presentations they were passionate about - unless they wanted to present something themselves (and over 45 students did!). This was unfiltered, organic learning. It was intellectually stimulating, conversation starting, and an incredible amount of fun.
The goal of the conference was to identify issues that face people across the globe and close to home. Massive concerns such as climate change, poverty, and gender equality were explored along with relatively smaller – but equally important – topics such as time management, aromatherapy, and the power of positive thinking. The common thread, however, was that we students – as harbingers of unparalleled technology and connectivity – are uniquely placed to affect change across the globe. It’s a responsibility that global citizens accept and embrace because the future of our planet is at stake. Others may preach isolationism and insularity, but surely the world needs us to practice inclusivity and public service? Let history be our teacher.
The keynote speaker to open the conference was recently retired Canadian broadcasting icon, Peter Mansbridge. In a fascinating talk, Mr. Mansbridge described powerful examples of unforgettable sacrifice he had come across in his 50-year career. This was global
citizenship, he said. In concluding, he threw down the gauntlet to the students: that we should feel compelled to act as global citizens because ultimately, that will be our legacy. Along the way, he addressed a number of hot button issues such as “fake news” media and Russian involvement in the 2016 US Presidential Election. It was riveting stuff.
The rest of Day 1 was a blur of presentations from students, faculty, staff, parents, Georgians, and guests. Diverse topics included marine conservation, First Nations storytelling on “How Raven Stole the Sun”, gun control in the US, and the Irish sport of hurling!
The start of Day 2 featured our second keynote speaker, Shaun Frankson, co-founder of The Plastic Bank. He shared a story of resilience and success. After being snubbed by the Dragons' Den, The Plastic Bank has gone on to partner with billion dollar companies to materialize their world changing idea. Namely, they mitigate the flow of plastics into our oceans by giving value to waste products that would normally be discarded; additionally, they encourage sustainable employment in small communities. Since its conception in 2013, The Plastic Bank has continued to turn everyday waste into a sustainable form of currency. The audience left the presentation inspired.
Day 2 continued where Day 1 had left off; presentations included medicinal plant walks, mental health awareness, breaking language barriers, the impact of menstrual products, and breaking stigmas in the downtown eastside.
Closing the conference on Day 2 was our third and final keynote speaker, Canadian rapper, poet, and science advocate: Baba Brinkman. For those of you that just said “Baba who?”, imagine Eminem meets Professor Richard Dawkins and you’re close. Mr. Brinkman uses rap as a vehicle to advance fairly complex scientific theories and the student body roared their approval both for the message and its mode of delivery. Mr. Brinkman is a true original; a complex, creative thinker who’s getting his message across in an unconventional way.
The second edition of the Global Stewardship Conference at St. George’s was a resounding success. My sense is that it differed from last year in one crucial aspect – whereas last year was more “reactive” (which was understandable – it was Year 1), this year was about becoming “proactive”. It sounds like a subtle change but it may actually be a paradigm shift. Our hope is the school community will accept that global stewardship is not an obligation but responsibility. Hopefully, we’ve turned the corner at St. George’s.
Most importantly, a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the people who put this event together. In particular, the core faculty, organizing committees, student volunteers, and staff. The countless hours of collaborating, planning, and document exchanging paid off! Moreover, an event on this scale requires a concerted school-wide effort. From security to maintenance, IT to food services, the whole school apparatus was supportive and should be applauded. Have no doubt that Global Stewardship 2019 will be even better and brighter.
And finally, let’s not forget the people that gave us the green light. We have a visionary Senior Leadership Team at St. George’s and it starts at the very top. Is there another school in BC or even Canada that’s willing to adapt, innovate, and push the boundaries of learning the way we do? These are heady days and we’re fortunate… it’s a good time to be a student at St. George’s.
(A full report of the conference will appear in the Spring 2018 edition of “THE SAINT”.)
William Tiwana - Grade 11
On Behalf of the Global Stewardship TeamWatch the recap video