International Emerging Leader Capstone Students Wrap Up Semester

Collegiate School students enrolled in two senior Capstone classes spanned the globe in March, making connections with their peers at partner schools in China and Mexico and, upon their return, shared their experiences with their peers, special guests and community organizations.
Eleven seniors visited China as part of the International Emerging Leaders - Asia senior Capstone class. IEL - Asia focuses on examining the economic ties between the U.S. and China, and also explores current political, cultural and ethical issues arising from an in-depth study of this topic through discussion and a series of guest speakers.

While in China, students gained firsthand insight into manufacturing and business in the country by visiting a Volkswagen car factory, a toothbrush factory and the Shanghai office of WestRock, a global packaging company based in Richmond. Students also experienced a homestay with Collegiate’s partner school, Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School of Yangzhou. Collegiate’s Director of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship and Director of Strategic Planning Clare Sisisky and Chief Information Officer Jamie Britto served as team leaders.

After returning to Collegiate, students visited 1st Grade classes and shared videos and photos about their trip. They also answered many questions about how long the trip took, the food they ate and where they stayed. Later in April, they presented their ideas for new companies that would serve a need they researched while on their trip to David Hudson, a senior advisor for the Asian private equity firm ShawKwei & Partners, who has decades of experience working in China and Africa. The ideas included a fresh food delivery service, an app to assist college students with everything they need in their daily lives and solar-powered blankets to combat the cold in China.
From March 22-31, 13 Collegiate School seniors enrolled in the IEL - Americas senior Capstone class traveled to Mexico to participate in the 5th Annual Youth Forum on International Dialogue, Thought in Action. Collegiate’s Director of Global Engagement and Inclusion Erica Coffey and Senior Capstone Coordinator Rhiannon Boyd accompanied students on the trip.

Prior to arriving in Mexico, students learned about Model UN procedures and prepared position papers to participate in BIMUN, the Model UN portion of the conference held at partner school Carol Baur. While in Mexico, students debated various topics regarding human rights, security and sustainability.

Students also participated in a day of service, and had the opportunity to visit several historical sites. They experienced two homestays, one in Querétaro and one in Mexico City, during the trip. Upon returning to Richmond, they continued the design thinking process to complete four different projects for Sacred Heart Center, one of Collegiate’s community partners. In early May, the students presented their work, which included an electronic weekly room calendar, a Know Your Rights card for members of the center, a medical form to list allergies and other medical conditions in case of emergency and two options for mapping better bus routes to improve transportation to and from the center.

“By participating in the IEL Capstone classes, students receive firsthand experience in gaining cross-cultural communication, a skill that cannot be taught but that must be learned by actually doing,” said Mrs. Coffey.

The IEL Capstone classes are just two of seven senior Capstones this semester. To read about another Capstone, CreateAthon, click here. To learn more about the IEL students’ experiences abroad, visit the IEL blog.
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