Apr 05 2008

Live blogging from the Global Issues Network Conference for students in Beijing, China

Published by at 9:09 am under Education

EARCOS Global Issues Network Conference

I’m sitting in the theater at the Western Academy of Beijing about to listen to Jane Goodall address about 400 students from 35 schools around the EARCOS (East Asian Regional Council of Overseas Schools). The purpose of this conference is to bring young people together to learn from experts and from each other about the major global issues faced by the world today and begin brainstorming action plans needed to make the world a better place.

I just wanted to post a quick message here about this amazing weekend event. It kicked off last night with keynotes by the following global leaders:

Maurice Strong has a long history working for the United Nations. He has acted as the Secretary General of the UN Earth Summit, the Conference on the Human Environment. He represented UN General Secretary Kofi Annan as an envoy to North Korea on human rights in the early part of this decade, and currently advised the Chinese government on human rights and environmental issues. Strong’s keynote to the GIN Conference brought into perspective the broad scope of the challenge currently faced by today’s society in the realm of environment, economy, human welfare, and development.

Jean-Francois Rischard is a former vice-president of the World Bank and the author of an influential book, “20 Global Problems and 20 Years to Solve Them”, in which he proposes creating networks of experts from around the world whose task it is to address the world’s most dire social, environmental, economic and human welfare issues.

The most amazing keynote on day 1 was, however, Hafsat Abiola, daughter of Nigeria’s first democratically elected president, human rights and democracy activist, and inspirational speaker. While she was a student at Harvard, her father was thrown in prison by a military coup, and she became involved in activism after stumbling upon a group of students from Amnesty International petitioning for her own father’s release on Harvard’s campus.

On her way to New York to speak to some city officials about divesting from firms doing business with Nigeria’s military government, Hafsat received word that her mother had been gunned down in the streets back home. From that day forward Hafsat devoted her life to the struggle for womens’ and human rights in Africa.

**interjection: a Shanghai American School freshman, Hae Ju Kang, just asked Jane Goodall a question about water conservation over video conference. Way to go Hae Ju!!

The conference will continue over the next two days, with keynontes from other global activists like Jane Goodall, who is speaking to us at this very moment over video from Washington D.C.

I am finding myself incredibly inspired by not just the global leaders here this weekend, but the students themselves, who are fully embracing the movement for change in the 21st century. Check back here later for another update from the Global Issues Network Conference here in Beijing.


About the author:  Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author

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