Article by: Gitika Bose
Living in an increasingly globalized world naturally endows us with a keener awareness and pulse on major issues that endanger our collective well-being. We are definitely experiencing an expansion in consciousness that reaches far and wide within the global community – the very sort of consciousness that ISM’s annual student-led Global Issues Network Manila (GINila) conference aims to enhance with the ultimate goal of inspiring positive change in a local setting.
Now in its second year, the two-day GINila conference aims to provide a forum for student delegates to discuss such issues, and to analyze and design pertinent and innovative action plans. The conference this year was comprised of 70 students, from high schools all over Manila, who were allocated to one of the following global issues: (1) Biodiversity & Ecosystem Losses (2) Education for All (3) Massive Step-Up in the Fight Against Poverty and (4) Natural Disaster Prevention & Mitigation. This year’s theme revolved around bayanihan, Tagalog for “community,” with a focus on the idea of starting small. Beyond the numerous discussions responsible for the action plan produced by each group, the conference also featured the TED-inspired GIN-X, a morning of community service, and guest speaker Agni Mentaki, a human rights consultant for businesses, who spoke at length about corporate responsibility.
Junior Sofia Contreras shares that she “participated again this year in GINila as [she] feels it is the closest one can come to making an impact on one’s direct environment.” Tasked with moving from room to room to supervise and augment discussion, she says, “I thoroughly loved being in rooms with people who had such wonderful ideas, and who I know can make a big impact.” Sofia adds, “I think GINila was so much bigger this year, not in terms of people, but in the preparation behind it.”
Behind the commendable success of this conference was a diligent and dedicated planning committee led by executive directors Mir Sultan and Matthew Seet. Matthew echoed Sofia’s sentiments in sharing, “GINila was not only up to my expectations, but it in fact exceeded it. We achieved a much greater sense of a network this time and we feel like we surpassed our original goals of networking and starting small.” While proud of their success, Matthew also admits that organizing the event was no easy job. Not only was it difficult to organize the various committees, but also to coordinate with them.
However, the efforts were no doubt fruitful as this year’s GINila was a fantastic opportunity for students to develop their leadership skills, network with other equally passionate members of the community, enhance their understanding of world issues, and actually confront these issues with feasible solutions. Here’s to changing the world one action plan at a time!