GCD Summit: The First Teacher-Student Conference

GCD Summit: The First Teacher-Student Conference

by high school student, Mia

Hong Kong Skyline

Endless lights illuminated the city of Hong Kong, putting every life, every conversation on display. Victoria Peak robbed me of my  breath and expanded my eyes to the life that was spilling out from every corner below me. For the first time, I was suddenly awakened to the blinding presence of human civilization despite having lived in Tokyo for most of my life. I was so used to the city lights and hustle and bustle of morning trains, I never thought twice about the implications of all the life I was surrounded by and how much history was tied to the growth of the human population, all the efforts, successes and failures. 

I owed this realization to the in-depth discussions on power and privilege I had during the Global Citizen Diploma (GCD) summit earlier that day, where I evaluated its core value, global understanding. The summit, held in February 2019, invited both teachers and students to evaluate the efficacy of the GCD and its implementation at various international schools. YIS is one of six international schools that offers the GCD to students.

The integration of teachers and students in the conference demanded for all participants to be treated as equals; breaking this power dynamic, where the roles of teachers and students became ambiguous, demonstrated the significance of holding diverse conversations. Specifically, the diversity in age, perspective, and experience of the group helped generate a representative environment that elicited effectivity and rapid brainstorming. I gained greater respect and admiration for the teachers, whom I usually don’t converse with in this manner, for the extent to which they notice and understand their students. In particular, I was able to empathize with the youthful apathy teachers often experience from students when hearing the word “reflection”. As a student council member I also have struggled with the indifference of students, which in effect was demotivating to the council.

student and teacher group at GCD Summit in Hong Kong

Hence, “reflection” became a whole topic onto itself to deconstruct as we recognized its indispensability in completing the GCD. We realized how exhausted students have become from reflecting only through writing, required often in MYP and DP courses, which I was also able to relate to as a student. To combat this phenomena and encourage students to take part in the GCD, “sharing your story” became the new pitch phrase over “reflecting”. 

The summit not only excited me as a GCD ambassador, but the unspeakable empowerment I felt was shared among every member of the summit. Returning to YIS, the other YIS ambassadors and I thrived in the agency given to us, spreading this new notion of  “sharing your story” and “finding your identity” to our peers and even teachers. Moreover, from recognizing the different styles of reflecting processes that were available to us, we were able to emphasize the different ways in which students could share their story such as through voice recordings or even art.

It has been a year since attending the GCD summit, but I still feel captivated just thinking about Victoria Peak and wonder about all the stories those people living under those lights have to share. We are more than numbers. With stories brighter than lights.


This article is the second in a series of articles about the Global Citizen Diploma and the experiences of YIS students in undertaking the diploma. See high school student Sabrina's article, My Story is More Than Just a Number.