On the plane home.

IMG_3728

I’m sitting on a three-hour plane ride with loads of homework and college applications waiting for me upon my 12:30 am arrival at the Portland airport. Oddly enough, I don’t feel stressed or panicked (even though I probably should). I actually feel happy and content.

Five of us, Lydia, Sarah, Lindsay, Ellis, and I, are en route from Colorado to Maine after the Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder Global Solutions Forum where students and teachers learn about what it means to be an activist who can instigate lasting change to better their own community and the global community as well. 16 students and 15 teachers and course leaders from Colorado, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, and Maine met at the Vail Mountain School to work on our global citizenship.

Global Citizenship. Doesn’t that sound fancy? I thought so too. But being a global citizen doesn’t mean you have to find the cure for cancer or end world poverty and hunger. Yes, it would wonderful if that happened, but global citizenship is about doing the little things too. Things like telling someone they look good that day, or buying a cup of coffee for someone that looks like they need it, or going out of your way to help a stranger. A global citizen is aware of changes that need to be made and is acting upon them. No issue is too trivial or too large to address and change.

At the forum, students did exercises looking at forms of leadership; the positive and negative effects of racial, gender, and other stereotypes; how artivism (activism through art) and music can invoke of inhibit change, and learning effective fundraising strategies, among other topics. We each brought up a problem or conflict that was happening at our own school and created realistic solutions for each other that we can begin using on Monday. We heard from two keynote speakers. Ul Socheat is from the Cambodian Rural Development Team and Tamdin Wangdu represented the Tibetan Village Project. They are both the leaders of their respective NGOs and during their presentations, they explained why their organization existed, what problems they were facing, and how people can help their cause.

If you’re wondering, yes, I am very tired. We were going nonstop. Every minute of our day was planned, from group discussions to time to watch the soccer games. Lunch was immediately followed by presentations and team-building activities closely preceded conferences. Even if I had known that we would constantly be working, I would still have gone. We had a wonderful group of students, who are in constant contact through a group text message. The staff and teachers were fun and allowed us to have fun while being productive. And despite the perpetual motion, we still found time to go bowling together, have a movie night, and play an intense game of sting pong (no, I don’t mean ping pong), a game that I found I was very good at.

All in all, it was an incredible experience. I am so happy I had this wonderful opportunity to collaborate and meet students from all over the country.