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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Global Issues Forum Kickstarts Engaging Discussion amongst WIS Upper School Students


WIS students once again had the opportunity to express their opinions on serious topics and current events in the second annual Global Issues Discussion Forum on Monday, October 26. Over the past year, certain topics have dominated headlines and public discussion. These events range from having local to international impacts.

“The Global Issues Discussion Forum is an opportunity for WIS upper school students to come together across the grade levels to discuss issues of national or global significance,” Upper School Librarian Sonali Kumar said, “It brings together a diverse group of students with a passion for a topic who may not have another opportunity to intellectually engage with the ideas normally.”

The Global Issues Forum was created to allow for moderated discussion on global affairs. Students engage in a deep conversation on an important and controversial topic, arguing and listening to other peoples’ perspectives.

However, this project was not done overnight; a lot of planning went into organizing of this discussion. Upper school History and Economics teacher and Grade Level Coordinator James Bourke weighed in on the planning process. “The Global Issues Discussion Forum was planned by the Grade Level Coordinators team: Mr. Spezzano, Mr. Beck, Ms. Redding, Mr. Barber, and myself,” he said, “We first came up with the idea last year and decided to plan another round this year. For planning this round, there were preliminary meetings by the GLC team where we discussed possible topics, as well as logistics.”

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However, different from last year, the GLC team decided the topics would be chosen by the students. “We sent out a survey requesting proposals,” he said. “The forums that we set up were all student-generated, although for several, what students came up with matched with the ideas we had also had. The final list was based on which ones students had indicated most interest in”.

Just like the last time, this year’s discussion forum was a success for both the teachers and the students. Sophomore Jude Carver-Kay discussed his experience in the forum discussing gay rights. “I think it is an important issue and wanted to learn more about gay rights in other countries and listen to the perspectives of the other students,” Jude said, “I thought that some people were a little quiet at first but once some people spoke out, a really good conversation came out of it”

Dr. Bourke agreed that his forum also went well. He explained his experience in the forum discussing US funding for Israel.

“Some students were highly engaged,” he said. The conversation was largely on-topic, although it ended up pivoting towards larger debates over Israel’s policies instead of staying focused on the question of aid. There were enough students with different opinions that I did not have to play devil’s advocate.”

With overall positive reviews, it is likely that there will be another discussion forum next year as new problems arise in our global society. Sophomore Jasper Pearson expressed his wish for a future forum. “I would want another discussion forum next year as it allows students share their opinions about important issues with people that they may not normally speak to,” Jasper said. “WIS as a community is built on accepting other people’s cultures and beliefs, and so it is very important to get to know those of your peers.”

By Jair Alleyne

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