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Dominion Students inspired by participation in Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders Convention

Dominion Students inspired by participation in Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders Convention

 

Like every school club, the traditional activities of the Dominion High School Global Ambassadors Club were temporarily halted this spring by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several planned international exchanges and the Loudoun International Youth Leadership Summit were cancelled.  As student leaders began to consider how they could recreate some of the club’s activities in the virtual world, some inspiration came from the other side of the world.

 

Each July for the past twelve years, Dominion students have participated in the Asia Pacific Youth Leadership Summit in Singapore.  This year Dominion’s partner school in Singapore decided to completely reinvent their program and host the inaugural Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders Convention.  Mackenzie Sherry, Cora MacMillan, Anusha Jain, and Jacob Wesoky represented Dominion at this convention and came away with a new appreciation for the potential of virtual collaboration.

 

The 4-day convention was structured as a simulation game, in which delegates from seven countries around the world were placed into an alternate reality. The alternate reality consisted of 10 different countries, each one similar to a country in our own world, with delegates assigned to them. The entire alternate world had been hit by a pandemic similar to COVID-19, and the delegates had to collaborate to solve the issues thrown at them- including rising infection rates, economic crises, vaccine development, and more. Over the course of 4 days, delegates exercised their cross-cultural communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills to emerge from the crisis stronger and more unified than before.

 

Cora MacMillan, who received an award for best delegate from her assigned fictional country Centredor, reflected: “This [simulation] taught me to hold kindness for others, and to do what’s right even if it’s not mutually beneficial.” 

 

For Anusha Jain, the convention opened her eyes to the potential of learning in a virtual environment.  “Although HC-GDYLC was entirely virtual, it is one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had. Going into it, I had no clue I would become as immersed and passionate as I did. The simulation challenged me to actively apply my creativity and critical thinking skills . . .  in a way I have never done before.” said Jain.

 

Rising junior Jacob Wesoky found the convention to be, “a unique and valuable opportunity to work with passionate teens across the world to apply our diverse perspectives and creatively take action to make the world a better place.” 

 

Mackenzie Sherry was inspired by a keynote speaker from the event, Mr. Lim Siong Guan, Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who said, “we must come together and ‘Think People, Think Future, and Think Excellent’ in order to charter this new era!”  Mackenzie looks forward to applying this mantra to the 2020-2021 activities of the Dominion Global Ambassadors Club.

For Dominion teacher and Global Ambassadors sponsor Jennifer Rodgers, the program illuminated the value of designing educational experiences for students that emphasize the Virginia Department of Education’s 5 C’s.  communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and citizenship.  “The program provided a tangible model of the potential for innovative virtual programs to not only be engaging but also serve to help students develop the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century.”