The student-led One Voice Summit took place on Friday, September 24 and Saturday, September 25. The mission of this annual event is to inspire young people to collaborate and to challenge each other to come up with solutions for their schools and communities which will have a positive impact on people and the planet.
The One Voice Summit features inspirational keynote speeches to start the day, followed by small, student-run working groups called "Lightbulb sessions" in which there are a number of provocations, simulations, and stimuli to help participants engage in the summit themes and inspire them toward meaningful action.
Diversity and Animal Welfare
This year's event had two themes - "Animal Welfare" and "Diversity" - and featured two keynote speakers. The first was Emily Penn, an activist working on issues of pollution, microplastics, ocean health, and sustainability. The other was Tonye Shuurman, an activist, journalist, writer, and entrepreneur who grew up in Apartheid-era South Africa. Each gave powerful presentations which spurred robust discussions throughout the remainder of the day.
Year 13 student and One Voice co-organiser Annabelle L explains the choice of these two topics: "We decided on diversity because we noticed it was always something very prevalent in the news and, seeing as our team comes from all around the world, we thought we could bring a lot of knowledge and insight to discussions during the conference. As for animal welfare, our Global Citizenship Prefect team had been working on a project to do with the protection of bees, so we wanted to link back to that because it was a topic all of us weren’t too informed about, but wanted to be."
The idea for One Voice Summit originated several years ago with Dulwich Pudong Senior School students who wanted to find new ways to collaborate with other students in Shanghai. They saw that many inter-school activities were based on competition (sports, Model United Nations, etc), and rarely focused on unity and working together. They saw One Voice Summit as an opportunity to fill that gap.
This is the fourth One Voice Summit our students have organised, and owing to COVID restrictions it was once again done online.
It is great to work with students at other international schools, to partner and collaborate with the aim of wanting to inspire one another.
Says Director of Global Citizenship, Mr. Anthony Reich, "It is great to work with students at other international schools, to partner and collaborate, and to meet with the aim of wanting to inspire one another. This is unique in many ways. There is no competition. It is open to any schools in Shanghai that would like to join in. And with us having moved online in the past two years we have been able to cast a wider net with students from Beijing, Suzhou and even as far away as India participating this year."
Aside from the keynotes and Lightbulb sessions, one of the highlights was the "Marketplace" gathering where students from various schools shared how their school is trying to make a difference, showcasing both the challenges faced and effective strategies.
Seeing everyone engage in these global issues and listening to what they did individually helped motivate me to strive for bigger change as well.
Says Year 12 student and One Voice co-organiser Elena L, "This was special for me because it was a space where not only did we meet new people, but we were also inspired by everyone’s actions and listened to some ideas we could try to implement in our own school. Seeing everyone engage in these global issues and listening to what they did individually helped motivate me to strive for bigger change as well."
The organisers of One Voice hope that the event makes a lasting impact.
Says Elena, "It was quite rewarding knowing that all the students left the conference feeling inspired and motivated to make change, and that the effort put into the conference made an impact on each individual’s experience."
Ultimately, I hope that One Voice inspires action that helps the world, however large or small the action may be.
Adds Year 13 student and One Voice co-organiser Krish S, "I hope that this event provides challenging perspectives to people. I believe that discussion and debate is essential to forming and developing a polished idea that can be effectively implemented in the real world. Secondly, I hope that it allows for and builds connections between students throughout schools and communities. Ultimately, I hope that One Voice inspires action that helps the world, however large or small the action may be."
It was inspiring for us to learn more about these two important issues, but also to see our Senior School students really step up, own the moment, and point the way to meaningful change.