Collegiate Hosts Global Issues Forum for Area High School Students

Collegiate School welcomed more than 90 high school students from nine public and private schools around the state today for the 4th Annual Global Issues Forum, which addresses ways youths in the local community can impact global challenges. Sixteen Collegiate seniors who are students in a Global Discussion Senior Seminar also participated.
“The Global Issues Forum creates a community for student leaders to connect and inspire each other, and to hear from leading thinkers on topics of global importance,” said Clare Sisisky, Collegiate’s Director of Responsible Citizenship.

Students with global issues clubs or classes from the following schools attended and led sessions in which they shared projects their student body has focused on this year: James River High School, St. Christopher’s School, Norfolk Academy, Hermitage High School, Cape Henry Collegiate, Virginia Episcopal School, Douglas S. Freeman High School, Henrico High School and Midlothian High School.
John Dau, Collegiate’s Global Scholar-in-Residence, opened the forum by sharing his experiences in surviving a war-torn, impoverished childhood to now lead a global nonprofit organization. He encouraged the students to embrace both the struggles and successes that come with making an impact.

Celebrated author Kelsey Timmerman served as the Forum’s keynote speaker and described for Forum participants (and all Upper Schoolers during an assembly) how curiosity about the garments he routinely wore led him on a journey of discovery about humanity and need around the world. Mr. Timmerman, who penned Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories and People That Make Our Clothes and Where Am I Eating: An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy, implored students to be more than consumers.

“We need to be creators,” he said.

Mr. Timmerman finished his presentation by posing one question to students: What will your impact be?

During morning and afternoon breakout sessions, student leaders from various schools presented on their work in the community. Students from Hermitage detailed how they are raising awareness about human trafficking; students from James River High School described how they secured $10,000 in contributions from their peers for Girl Power Grants, and three Collegiate students discussed a program called the Saturday Academy, through which they and their AP Spanish classmates volunteer every Saturday at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School to help young students with homework and learn from them more about Hispanic culture.

Collegiate faculty member Rhiannon Boyd, who teaches the school’s Global Discussion Senior Seminar and helped organize today’s event, said the most important aspect of the Forum was the opportunity for peer-to-peer education.

“It’s about identifying issues in their community, having curiosity about the planet and going out and making things happen,” said Mrs. Boyd.

Mrs. Sisisky agreed, indicating that the sharing of ideas and activities should inspire the students to continue “acting locally as engaged citizens to make an impact on larger global issues.”

In addition to today’s day-long program, Collegiate partnered with Freeman High School to host a free, community-wide screening of the film Poverty, Inc. last night on Freeman’s campus. The film highlights the uncomfortable side of poverty, and a student discussion followed the viewing.