IBWSC … before

by rachel

Just before leaving for GPS, a bunch of us were asked to apply for the IB World Student Conference that’s happening this July in Brisbane. It took me awhile to decide whether or not I wanted to go for it. It definitely sounded like it would be an enjoyable few days but it came with a rather large price tag and we would also be missing a few days of school for it.

Speaking to a number of the Year 6s who attended the conference, their comments more or less all fell along the same line – that the largest takeaway they got from the conference was the friendships that were forged over the week there. Being able to connect with IB students from all around the world was definitely something that sounded very enticing. I think this is something that has come up in conversation with my friends quite a number of times – how being in the IB together gives you something to connect about. Being able to discuss your EE, IAs, which HLs and SLs you take and all without having to explain the entire syllabus just immediately helps you form a bond with whoever it is that you’re speaking to. And to have the chance to see how other international IB students perceive their worlds could very well be valuable.

A number of things were holding me back but eventually I went with it and applied for the conference. Upon coming back from GPS, a bunch of us received confirmation of our application and so… it’s decided – we will be going to Brisbane from 6 July till 12 July for the IBWSC at UQ.

I won’t continue talking about the things that were holding it back but since this is how things stand now, that I am going for the conference, I think I would much rather look forward. In all honesty, there is a lot to look forward to – getting to listen to the viewpoints of different students my age, listening to international speakers about diversity and various other issues and just getting to know people in general.

As a reminder to myself, I think I will include what I wrote in my application under ‘Why we should send you for this conference’:

The topic of this conference – “Empowering Diversity: Explore ways to make a positive impact in all communities” is a topic that is particularly interesting and important to me. From the work that we’ve done in OSL, GPS and even anthropology class, I’ve grown to really appreciate and understand the importance of being able to empower the different communities around us through an understanding of their individual cultures and social contexts. The conference seems to focus on a number of key issues such as poverty, disability, the media and asylum seeking. While I might not have the most thorough understanding of the above areas, I hope to be able to be given the chance to go on this conference to gain a better understanding and hopefully see if perhaps these are areas that I might want to explore after leaving SOTA.

Also, I would treasure the opportunity to be able to take part in an international conference such as the IB world student conference together with other international IB students. I think the fact that you have all these students who are bonded by one common curriculum yet situated in vastly different cultures provides a very interesting framework for discussion and the building of friendships – we all have something in common to connect with each other but yet something different to bring to the table. If given the chance, I do hope to be able to gain a more diverse worldview from the perspective of students all around the world.

Finally, as a student leader in the school, I would also hope to be able to bring back what it is that the participants of the conference have taken away from the experience and share it with the other students in order to better benefit the rest of the student body. Especially since the LSC hopes to be able to plan a leadership conference for the SOTA student body at the end of the year, I hope this can be an opportunity for me to understand more about different frameworks for conferences in order to bring it back to my team so we can further discuss how to improve our programme.

The one thing that I particularly want to talk about would be the last point – when applying for LSC this year I remember one thing that I mentioned in my interview was that perhaps students who get the opportunity to go for various conferences and stuff should organise sharing sessions with other students in order to expand the reach of what it is they learnt. Perhaps ‘sharing sessions’ wouldn’t be the best way to do it because I’m not sure how much someone would pick up from just listening about what happened, what was learnt etc. but I intend to fulfill the main idea of what I meant when I said that – that the opportunities given to one student shouldn’t stop at that student alone, that it is our responsibility as students to make use of these opportunities in order to empower the rest of the student body so we can grow together. Being in the LSC, I really hope to be able to use it as a vessel to serve the student body and help create these opportunities.

I understand that getting to go for this conference is a privilege as well. I have to say one reason why I was hesitant about attending was also because from experience and from numerous other conferences that I have attended, the takeaways are largely social. I’m hoping this conference will be different, considering how it has a specific issue that it is targeting and also because of the international aspect. I say this also because I hope that the Leadership Conference that LSC is planning for the SOTA student body towards the end of this year will go beyond a surface exploration of leadership. Hopefully attending this conference will allow me and the other students who are going to bring back something to our community back in SOTA.

Going for this conference, I also really hope to step out of my comfort zone in order to push myself to be open to everyone I meet and make a real effort to get to know people. I’m not exactly a shy person but it takes me awhile to open up to people for real – like I generally talk to people easily but there aren’t a lot of people I would really share too much of myself with. But I think in order to really build friendships that are going to last and get a better understanding of the various world views that people hold, I’m going to push myself to hold back a little less and let go a little more.

On another note, after finding out that I would be going for the conference, I promptly let my homestay friend from my Year 3 OIP trip to Brisbane know that I would be in the city again! Since Year 3 we’ve still kept up contact every once in awhile and it was nice to have a chat about what we could do if I have any free time while there and also just catching up about life in general. Even though she’s the same age as me, she’s already in her final year of IB, scheduled to take the November 2014 exams!

And hopefully with this upcoming conference she won’t be the last friend I make taking the IB in various parts of the world!

I’ll let you all know how it turns out in about a month’s time!