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Former Governor of Vermont Inspires Shekou International School Students

By Liz Jheeta

Peter Shumlin, former three-term governor of Vermont, visited with Shekou International School (SIS) students recently. Urging the young people to “use their voice to make a difference,” the former governor recounted the story of how he entered politics to make change at the local level. Finding that he was effective, Shumlin ran for state governor and soon found himself working with world leaders, such as former President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping, and Vice President Mike Pence. During his three terms of service, former Governor Shumlin transformed Vermont into the leading solar state in the United States and moved Vermont’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy. “You can make a difference just looking around and figuring out what needs to change and then raising your voice,” encouraged former Governor Shumlin. “That’s what is so great about this school. They ask you to give back. In fact, it is required.” Firmly set in his belief that his term of service should be limited, former Governor Shumlin is now back at Putney Student Travel, the company his parents founded that provides programs for middle and high school students. Similar to SIS’s Week Without Walls, the Putney programs provide opportunities for students to learn how to make a difference. Students take on responsibilities that matter to the communities with whom they live. From helping to build a school in Costa Rica to teaching English in Africa, students explore the world around them and are taught to ask how they can make a difference for other people. While at SIS, former Governor Shumlin spent time with the senior IBDP Economics class to discuss his experiences implementing macroeconomic policy at the state level. Students had an opportunity to hear firsthand how policies are formulated and enacted. He emphasized to all students that recognizing one’s sense of responsibility is of greater importance than going to a great college. He encouraged participants to explore how they might make a difference for others. Former Governor Shumlin’s discussion inspired many SIS students. Before departing, he met with Head of School Robert Stearns and Dale Cox, who is Vice President of Asia-Pacific with International School Services to discuss a partnership that could provide SIS students with even broader opportunities for service learning around the world. Students had many positive comments about the opportunity to interact with a world leader and are motivated to apply his advice to their own service learning.

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