Global Visitors Arrive for 8th Annual Conference

This weekend, Collegiate School will welcome 43 high school students from 10 countries as they arrive for the start of the 8th annual International Emerging Leaders Conference (IELC). Since fall 2011, Collegiate has welcomed 17 different partner schools from 16 countries around the world and more than 360 international students.
“Each year as I watch students from around the world collaborate to solve complex global problems, I am encouraged by their unwavering commitment to make the world a better place,” said Collegiate’s Chief Academic Officer Susan Droke. “IELC is an extraordinary learning experience for both students and teachers. You cannot be a part of this experience and walk away unchanged.”

Over the next nine days, the international delegates, who hail from China, Ghana, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and Spain, will be hosted by Collegiate families and, alongside 18 Collegiate seniors, will work in teams to solve environmental challenges facing each of their countries. Collegiate seniors are involved in the conference as part of their IELC senior Capstone class.

This year, six Collegiate seniors participating in IELC, one-third of the class, have had siblings who were involved in the program in past years.
Senior Bailey Andress says she was definitely influenced to get involved in IELC by her sister Claire Andress ‘17, who participated as a senior at Collegiate.

“She absolutely loved the conference and it opened her eyes to potential majors and careers that she had previously not considered,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s involvement stems from a desire to gain a more global perspective of issues that affect the environment, but she looked forward to added benefits.

“I hope to practice my Spanish when working with the students from Mexico and Spain,” she said. “And I want to form new friendships and learn about the visiting countries and their cultures.”

Senior Ann Ross Westermann, whose family has hosted three IELC students in past years, saw the bonds her sister Ellie Westermann ‘16 formed with visiting IELC students and wanted a similar experience.

“My sister made friendships she never would have made without having served as an ambassador,” Ann Ross said. “From my involvement in the conference, I want to have real experiences with different people, and I want an opportunity to learn about other cultures and how they differ from my own.”

Over the course of the conference, students will hear from various speakers and present their solutions at DesignPitch, a culminating event of the conference that is open to the general public. The featured speaker will be Linda Cortright, founder, editor and publisher of Wild Fibers magazine. Ms. Cortright has traveled to nearly 70 countries, often into deeply remote places (including Afghanistan and the Canadian Arctic), to better understand the vital role natural fibers play in the environment and people’s lives. In 2015, she, with the support of her subscribers, built the Pangong Craft Center — the first cashmere workshop in India’s High Himalayas — providing much-needed income for the semi-nomadic women of the region.

The delegates also will share aspects of their cultures as they spend time with JK-12 Collegiate students. And new this year, Mrs. Droke will lead visiting faculty members in a professional development session on the design thinking process.
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