By Raviël Morris (YES 2014-2015, Suriname, hosted by ASSE in Lambertville, MI)
This summer and last summer I had the privilege of attending the 2017 and 2018 iEARN Conference and Youth Summit. This annual conference celebrated iEARN’s history in global collaboration and connecting classrooms around the world to build a more peaceful and sustainable world. The 2018 conference theme was Global Collaboration for Sustainable Development, which mostly focused on how teachers and youth can achieve SDGs through global, collaborative project work.
Last year I attended the conference in Morocco and it had a lasting impact, but this year the 2018 iEARN Conference and Youth Summit had an even bigger impact. The reason that this one had a bigger impact on me is because I was much more involved in the Youth Summit itself - I was one of the Youth Summit Committee Members. Organizing the Youth Summit was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun too. In total, we organized a youth summit for 165 youth from 17 countries! This meant we had to read through session submissions, organize the workshop schedule, develop icebreakers and activities, promote the Youth Summit on social media, organize community service events, and of course help everyone during the Youth Summit. Organizing the Youth Summit was a new experience for me. In a way it helped me get better at organizing projects and coming up with project ideas.
Being part of the committee also made me experience the conference in a different way than last year. I was much more involved with the people at the conference and I communicated much more with them. I met a lot of new people and made lots of new friends this way. One of the friends I made is named Vansham - he is from India. I really learned a lot about the UN from him and also about some of the things he has gone through.
I also got to meet the founder of IEARN, Peter Copen. I am really thankful and grateful for him, for creating iEARN. We can communicate, collaborate and make lasting bonds with teachers and students from different countries because of him. Thank you for everything Peter Copen!!!
There were a lot of things that I enjoyed at the conference, but one of my favorite things that I enjoyed at the conference were the workshops. I looked forward to them everyday, because there I got to meet new people, learn about other cultures and also learn about some of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking of the Sustainable Development Goals, that was the theme for the conference. I could not have asked for a better theme. I already knew what the Sustainable Development Goals were, but the Conference made me understand them even better. It showed me that reaching these goals will make the world a better place. Learning about all this really lit a fire in me to do more and I am thankful for that.
At end of the conference it felt like all of us there were one big happy family. We learned a lot about each other and made a lot of lasting bonds. I will never forget the time I spent there and I am thankful for being able to participate in the conference.