Students From Around the World Convene at Collegiate School to Tackle Real-World Issues

Throughout this week’s 9th Annual International Emerging Leaders Conference (IELC) hosted by Collegiate School, 41 high school students from nine countries, along with 13 Collegiate seniors, have been working together to create viable solutions to environmental problems affecting their respective countries.
The students, who come from China, Ghana, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and Spain, are being introduced to the design thinking process in order to help produce concepts and prototypes of their ideas. Design thinking involves five steps: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation and evolution.
The students met on Sunday and spent part of the day in Collegiate’s Sharp Academic Commons getting to know each other before visiting Brown’s Island to take part in team-building activities. The evening concluded with a welcome dinner hosted in McFall Hall for the guest students and their Collegiate host families and for the chaperoning teachers from each nation.
During the conference, students are hearing from experts in the fields of business, branding, product design and the environment. On Monday, after a tour of Collegiate’s campus, students listened to Suly Salazar-Layton, director of compliance at Capital One, who spoke about “Cross-cultural Communication in Global Business.” The international delegates then presented an environmental issue each of their home countries face, including sewage disposal in the Jukskei River in South Africa, global warming and its impact on tides in Italy, impact of forest fires in Kazakhstan and mismanagement of municipal solid waste in Morocco.
In the afternoon, the international students participated in a Live Art workshop facilitated by Brendan Kennedy and Maura Sinnenberg of SPARC, during which they took part in activities designed to focus on compassion, acceptance, respect and empathy.
On Tuesday they visited the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach. Today, they collaborated in team brainstorming sessions before heading to Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center for inspiration and workshops focused on green construction and innovation, entrepreneurship and experimentation.
The student teams will practice their idea pitches on Thursday before presenting them to the Collegiate community and the general public at DesignPitch in Oates Theater and Sharp Academic Commons. Prior to their demonstrations, keynote speaker Hannah Dehradunwala, co-founder and CEO of Transfernation, a logistics company focused on building tech-based, integrated food rescue systems for cities, will address the audience.
To conclude the conference, the international delegates will visit with Collegiate students from JK-12th Grade on Friday morning. In the afternoon, they will share their respective customs and traditions at a Cultural Fair for 3rd and 4th Grade students and families. The international students head home on Sept. 29.