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AISA Global Issues Service Summit 2018
By Maya and Patricio Saenz Flores 13-May-18
This year, the AISA Global Issues Service Summit was held at the International School of Kenya (ISK), from 18–20 January. Schools from all over Africa, and even one from Europe, joined us for three days filled with inspiration, excitement, enjoyment, and hard work. Over the course of three days, students learned many invaluable lessons in the company of a diverse group of people. They gained insight into different cultures, countries, and global perceptions. The theme of this year’s conference was, “It starts with us!” Those in attendance had the opportunity to listen to many exceptional individuals who have made it their life’s work and passion to make the world a better place. The first speaker to take the stage was Chris Mureithi, founder and C.E.O of Premiere Group Limited. Umra Omar stepped up next to talk about her passion, managing Safari Doctors. As a CNN Heroes nominee and a brave combatant in pursuing her dreams no matter what, Umra gave participants new insight into the theme of the conference. A trend began as Chebet Lesan and Lilian Wagala, two other independent and successful women took the stage to share their journeys. The former spoke about creating charcoal from trash while the latter shared her story of resiliency, which has benefited many kids in Kibera, Africa’s largest urban slum. Peninah Nasaru shared her opinions on how to overcome obstacles when pursuing a better world. Later, attendees listened to Tendai Lewa, who made sure to express his support for education for all. Finally, Dipesh Pabari from the FlipFlopi project shared with us how he and his team want to begin a plastic revolution. The abundance of inspirational speakers did not end with those who took the stage but included Peter Muchuri, Mumbi Ndung’u, Maina Chege, Patrick Kilonzo, and Amy Rapp, who were able to host breakout sessions for our participants to have a more personal interaction. Finally, we had a group of young, up-and-coming Kenyan Changemakers attend a dinner we cohosted with IBUA Africa, an organization devoted to reframing the African narrative one inspirational story at a time. All of these young Kenyans have found a way to enact change locally, while thinking on a global scale. To ensure an engaging conference structure, attendees were broken up into Global Villages. These groups consisted of students from a variety of schools and each was presented with two problems to tackle. Participants were instructed to gain a deep understanding of each situation and to propose solutions. This activity allowed students to get creative, meet new people, have debates on pressing issues, and acquire practical knowledge as well as global and cultural awareness. Further, students from all schools were able to share their service projects with other attendees. Service learning is the exercise of giving back to the community by getting students actively involved in the betterment of their surroundings. This is a very important facet of this summit and what sets it apart. To this end, on Saturday 20 January, everyone hopped onto buses as we headed off to Karura Forest. There, students and teachers dove into several activities, from helping paint structures to picking up garbage and cultivating the land. The conference was a success, emphasizing the message that, in order to make our world a better place, we have to start by improving ourselves. You have to know yourself first, know who you are and what you are capable of, in order to make your greatest contribution. We all learned to learn more about ourselves and what we can contribute, because it does start with us. We shouldn’t wait for someone else to take the initiative—we can start one on our own. The conference showed us that the world is full of different cultures and types of people, and it is our collective goal as an international society to break down these borders and connect with numerous diverse communities, in order to find solutions to global issues and work collectively to improve our planet. This conference was a step towards achieving that goal. Maya is a Grade 11 student at ISK who was part of the student team that planned the annual AISA GISS conference. Patricio Saenz Flores is an IBDP Psychology teacher at ISK, who co-coordinates the Global Issues Network club that was responsible for putting together this year’s GISS. >
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