IBWSC – putting thought into action

by rachel

Decided to do a post amidst all the IOP preparation – on a side note, to everyone having their IOPs soon, all the best!! We can do this guys!

Soo… finally decided to churn out a reflection on IBWSC. Every single time I’ve done this before, wordpress decided to be a brat and lose my entire reflection so I’m just crossing my fingers it’s not going to happen again!

Before leaving for IBWSC I was filled with a number of doubts and uncertainties, about whether or not it would be worth all the time and money etc. that it cost to go on the trip. Coming back, I do think it was a worthwhile trip and given the chance to choose again, I would still choose to go. 

To be honest, I would say my main takeaway on the trip in terms of in what I can apply and put to good use coming back to school, was not about diversity but was about the structure of the conference as a whole. Unlike in a number of other conferences I had been to before, what set the IB World Student Conference apart from them was that this time I actually felt pushed to make a difference with what we were being taught at the various plenary sessions and keynote speeches. I felt like as a group of conference attendees we were being pulled together to and motivated to create something. This not only engaged us with each other but also with the topics being discussed. 

How the structure of the IBWSC worked was that each day we would attend a talk in the morning which either consisted of just one guest or a panel of guests who would be sharing about one particular topic. Some of the topics broached were asylum seeking in australia, dealing with disabilities, the processes of empowering marginalized communities, how prejudices are formed etc. I have something to say about the various speakers as well but I’ll leave that for a later reflection

After the first plenary session, we would then split into our various Global Action Teams (or GAT groups for short) to brainstorm and work on our projects that we would plan based off the theme of the conference – Empowering Diversity. The idea was that in the course of the conference we were to come up with ideas for projects in our groups. And at the end of the conference, we would then share them with each other and Post-Conference we were all free to adapt the various ideas that had arose from the conference and perhaps adapt them in a manner that would be fitting in a local context for our particular community back home. This is in line with the IB CAS requirements whereby every IB student participates in a variety of Creativity, Action and Service based projects as part of the IB requirements. 

Following the GAT session, we would reconvene for lunch and a second plenary session again! And… the cycle continues. The fact that the participants of the conference, i.e. us, were required to come up with projects was something that I felt was very crucial towards the effectiveness of the conference as a whole. As participants, it ensured we were engaged with the topic and ready to take what we learnt and attempt to put it into action.

However, the key operative word here is attempt. I understand that the point of us not having to commit to these projects we conceptualize is to allow participants the freedom of taking ideas from each other in order to apply it in their own contexts since it being an international conference means that a project conceptualized by a group of students from all around the world might not be particularly relevant to every student when carried out back home. However, I do feel it is a pity that actually a majority of the projects that we conceptualized from the conference do not seem to be taking off now that all of us are back home. And I myself am guilty of not putting into action my group’s plans despite the fact our group deliberately conceptualized it such that all of us can continue working on it as a team even though we’re all from various parts of the world.

To share a little, this is our project’s tumblr! The Mixing Bowl was a project conceptualized by our team based off the rationale that food is something at once unique to different cultures but yet with the ability to bring different people together as it is still something we all share in common. More information can be found on our tumblr site!

Returning to what I took away from the conference, the whole structure of the IBWSC influenced me in my decisions as we returned back to school to continue planning for a conference the LSC will be executing for the Year 2s – 4s at the end of the year. One key thing that we have incorporated is the creation of projects for every team within this conference. However, we also wanted to try and rectify the issue that the participants did not continue their engagement with the conceptualized projects after the completion of the conference. In order to do so, we plan to mandate that all projects must be executed after the conference. However, we will not be throwing all the participants into cold water with the projects in that these projects will then be handed over to the Gotong-Royong Arts Fund team through which project groups will receive the necessary funding and mentorship. We really hope to be able to ensure sustainability in the creation of projects. Because unlike the IBWSC, this is a conference that will be happening purely within the SOTA community and hence, they all share a common cultural context and will hopefully be able to craft a project that all of them will be engaged in and able to continue work on.

Attending the IBWSC was really and truly a privilege and I hope that coming back with these experiences will enable all of us who were given the chance to attend to continue serving the school community through it. Because as clichéd as it sounds, ultimately as a school community we really are all here to help each other grow and I think through the process of supporting others, you yourself will experience personal growth as well and as a community, as a family, we will then be able to learn together.

There’s still much much more I took away from the conference but my main line of thought for this reflection was about how I could use what I learnt in the conference in order to empower the community around me despite not (yet) continuing on the projects we conceptualized there. Hopefully the conference LSC organises at the end of the year (the name of which is still kinda a secret, unless I’ve accidentally revealed it already) will be successful in starting off the juniors’ arts based service learning journeys and supporting them as leaders.

Anndd… I’m done, good night friends!