Two weeks ago, I was ending one of the best experiences of my life. I said goodbye to amazing people who I had been with nearly every moment for the past ten days, and I cried every time I realized that it was actually over. During the International Emerging Leaders Conference, we were able to meet people from around the world, collaborate with them, and learn about their countries and cultures. We experienced school in a new way as we used Design Thinking to design, prototype, and present innovative products for global environmental issues. For some students, this student-controlled, empathy-centered style of learning was completely different from the traditional school setting in their country. It was interesting to observe the students adjust to Design Thinking and work together. I know everyone who took part in the Conference this year felt many of the same emotions as me: the sadness in parting, the bittersweet joy in seeing pictures appear on Facebook, and the confusion in having to return to real school (which, according to the mountains of makeup work I have yet to completely finish, was indeed actually going on while we were gone). It’s hard to put IELC into words; it doesn’t feel like enough to simply say that it was great, or fun, or interesting. It was somehow much more than that. It honestly feels like I made a new family that week; the first few days without them felt boring, empty, and just wrong. These people are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They have personalized the world for me; countries that used to just be words on a map are now people, faces, and memories that I will keep with me forever. Thank you so much to all the teachers, students, parents, host families, speakers, and sponsors who helped make IELC possible! If you would like to read more about IELC, read our blog (CLICK HERE) that tracks the Conference day by day! (Written by Katie Berdichevsky and myself. Photos by Megan Phillips, Mrs. Boyd, and Sarah Johnson). Top Ten Things I Learned During IELC
10. Americans are seriously slacking on their multilingual skillz.
11. Mrs. Boyd, Mrs. Rusbuldt, and Mrs. Galston are superhuman.
7. Putting 80+ teenagers together in the Library of Congress usually doesn’t end well.
6. Middle Schoolers ask the darndest things. 5. Empathy is the key to pretty much everything.
4. According to the Lower Schoolers, many of them have been to every country that came for the Conference! What a bunch of world travelers (liars)!
3.5. The love of pizza and Smash is universal.
3. Duck-Duck-Goose and Rock-Paper-Scissors are games of life or death.
e. Every street band is an opportunity for a dance party.
0. Try every day to put more life in your life (s/o to Andy Stefanovich).
Check out this cool video from Kirby Kollmansperger about the conference.