Article by: Jiwon Cyhn

About a year ago, six ISM delegations went to Beijing to participate in GIN (Global Issues Network) and I had the privilege of being one of the representatives. The conference had left such a strong impact on the six delegates and their teacher Ms. Paul that they decided to create a local conference back home—a locally based GIN in which schools in Manila would be able to participate to form coherent and feasible plans to combat local issues. More students were invited to join and by the year end, almost twenty students were part of the Manila GIN (known as GINila) Planning Committee. The committee organized the first GINila conference in 2014 with GANGs (Global Action Network Groups) to discuss over five different topics.

GINila is perfect example of a service organization that actively responses to the local community by creating feasible solutions and plans. At GIN, students discuss issues, specifically those that are alarmingly prevalent in the Philippines, and create sustainable solutions that would ideally be implemented in the local communities. Additionally, GINila holds service trips to the partnering NGOs to allow students to participate in more hands-on experience within the issues they are investigating.

And now, another fantastic 2015 GINila conference is in the works. Co-executive director Matthew Seet states that  last year’s GINila was a “huge success” despite it being “very much a new event”.  He also states that the committee already has some ideas about this year’s conference, such as “being more inclusive towards the other schools” and “making it feel more like a community, rather than just an “ISM event”.  He also mentions that the committee wants to “pass the torch to another school” and keep the role of host school open.

In the long run, Seet has a strong vision that must start with “relatively small goals” but would later “aim to make this conference impactful on Philippine students possibly by involving more schools” and “establish a more profound relationship with the other schools” so that the combined effort can be greater.

He also expresses his desire for other students to realize the importance of an organization such as GIN and hopes that they would soon come to find their passion, as he has. (Seet joined because he “believed in the philosophy behind it” but the ultimate force that propelled him to join was the question: What can we do as students?  This made him “realize that students have great potential to facilitate change in their communities”, and he envisions “GIN as a tool whereby they can innovate and inspire sustainable service.”