After two years of online AISA-GISS (Global Issues Service Summit) events, 160 students and 25 teachers gathered at the Arusha campus of United World College East Africa in January 2023 for an on-site summit.
The days spent getting to know each other through workshops, sustainability teams, service activities, and social events were superb! So much networking and relationship-building happened, and everyone left with new learnings, understandings, connections and inspiration.
The theme of this year’s summit was “The Future is Now”, and artists in the UWCEA Arusha community decorated the campus with murals and panels celebrating the theme. The campus generously boasts outdoor spaces and open-air buildings and was abuzz with summit energy. From the welcoming ceremony, where local dancers and drummers created an energetic experience, to the closing ceremony, the summit was an exciting, robust and thought-provoking experience.
UWCEA Arusha student leaders led sustainability teams that researched global issues and sustainable solutions, culminating in group presentations at the last group gathering on day 3. In addition, student leaders served as emcees and facilitators for keynote sessions, panel discussions and workshops.
Aiden Eyakuze, the opening keynote speaker for AISA-GISS 2023, challenged students to think of the future as key challenges and opportunities such as artificial intelligence and climate change.
“We have the responsibility to do what’s best, not just for us, but for hundreds of generations in the future,” said Aiden, presenting the possibility of humanity’s longevity if we can solve some of our most pressing issues.
Jo Anderson of Carbon Tanzania was the second keynote speaker of the summit, and he shared what his organisation does in terms of carbon offsetting and carbon capture.
“We all have an inescapable and intimate relationship with nature, whether we know it or not,” he said. “The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ecology.”
The fourth keynote speaker, Samwel Shaba of Tanzania’s Honeyguide Foundation, echoed this idea.
“In 2000, we started looking at conservation for people, planet and profit,” explained Sam. “We shifted from community-based to community-led and community-driven. Let’s not underestimate the value of local people having decision-making power.”
Faraja Nyalandu of Shule Direct, the third keynote speaker for AISA-GISS 2023, told an inspiring story of how her organisation has used e-learning to impact learners in Tanzania. “Learning is fluid, and it should be accessible,” she said. “It is not confined to the four walls of your classroom or an 8-3 schedule, and innovation is really about keeping in touch with reality.”
All four keynote speakers presented real-life examples and scenarios of sustainable solutions for local and global issues/needs. The questions asked by students at the end of each session were excellent and profound, demonstrating the students’ deep engagement with ideas about sustainability and action.
Teachers participated in four professional learning workshops while students were in sustainability teams. These workshops focused on themes related to criticality and more profound practice in our service learning and global citizenship programs and experiences. The dialogue in these sessions also demonstrated a deep engagement and understanding of ways we can move our programs in impactful directions.
Thank you to the UWCEA Arusha team for organising and executing such a rich GISS event this year. Participants are already thinking of next year and looking forward to meeting at Al Rayan International School in Accra, Ghana.
Access more information about AISA-GISS 2023, along with photos and videos from this year’s summit, here: https://www.aisagiss.org/2023/
AISA Service Learning Program Coordinator
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