This week marked Wildwood upper school’s first World Leadership Forum, a day of student-led workshops about local and global issues. Created by senior Ethan G. and Emily R., the forum was inspired by their exposure to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as part of Wildwood’s multicultural and global citizenship work.
The mission of the project was to create a space for students to explore the idea of international cooperation while providing a leadership opportunity for students. "[W]e wanted to create this event so that everyone at this school would have a direct path to lead a workshop about exactly what they want,” said Ethan G. “We wanted everyone to have the chance to be a leader, and we are so impressed with everyone who took up that challenge this year.”
Keynote speaker Liz Vogel, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves Los Angeles, started the morning with thought exercises to help prime students’ minds for the two workshop sessions they each would attend. She expanded on the aphorism, “Think Global, Act Local.” She asked students to examine how their identities might shape their perception of the world—are they close to or removed from the issues they are passionate about? Learning about the phenomena of human behavior, students were challenged to think about how they and others decide to act on local and global issues, and what are the barriers they might face.
Attendees chose from sessions ranging from virtual/augmented reality to theater, from immigration to access to education, from parliamentary process to flag design, healthcare to LGBTQ+ rights. Student leaders used their skills in project-based learning to educate their peers, creating interactive games and hands-on activities, and guiding engaging discussions. Guest speakers also led two workshops: Jihad Turk (Wildwood parent and college professor) spoke about modern Islam; and Merri Weir from Facing History and Ourselves Los Angeles led a workshop about educating against racism.
The morning of deep discussion ended with Maggie Wheeler and Emile Hassan, members of the Golden Bridge Community Choir, leading students and teachers in rousing call and response songs from Africa and Australia that signified gathering and working together in harmony.
Congratulations to organizers Ethan G. and Emily R. and all student workshop leaders for a successful event!