Pupils from Robert Gordon’s College have united with international students for the 3rd Annual Global Alliance for Innovative Learning (GAIL) Convention for which the theme has been ‘Energise the World’s Future’. The week’s activities culminated in presentations this afternoon on different types of renewable energy sources.
The sixty-two delegates travelled across the world from Australia, China, India, New Zealand, North America and South Africa for a week of learning and engagement in Aberdeen. From medieval Scottish castles to high tech laboratories, the students have enjoyed a broad range of experiences.
Ronell Jacobs, IT teacher at Prestige College, South Africa, summed up the interest in the week’s theme among her students when she commented: “As all of our learners have experienced power failures, we were very excited to attend this year’s GAIL Convention.”
The delegates were split into eight different teams, all with one objective: to present their plans on how sustainable energy can be rolled out across the world. They had one week to work together to explore in depth the potential benefits of a renewable energy source of their choice.
The recent surge in the use of renewables around the world made this conference even more relevant. Everything from geothermal energy to wind power has been discussed and a number of innovative ideas for the future of energy were considered, including the implications for schools themselves. Farai Matlala, a pupil at Prestige College, South Africa, made the point that “Schools use so much energy that they should consider renewables.”
Sarah Hogg from Kristin School in Auckland, New Zealand said: “When I return to New Zealand, I hope that I can take the ideas and methods that we have discussed at the convention back and help to apply them to make important changes to how my school uses energy.”
However, Energy was not the only focus of the convention. Every delegate came with the desire to make international friendships whilst expanding their knowledge of other countries’ cultures. As the schools attending hailed from almost every continent, there was a wealth of different experiences and views at the convention. As well as this, delegates had great opportunities to share dances, music and games from around the world during the evening entertainments. Xavier Manning, a pupil at Kimball Union Academy, USA, believes that: “GAIL is a great opportunity to expand global connections and develop teamwork skills whilst giving us a great opportunity to learn about different cultures.” Louis Legoe from Scotch College in Adelaide, Australia, remarked that he had made “lots of good friends” at the conference.
In addition, Victoria Shum and Helene Mierswa from WISS (Western International School of Shanghai, China) summed up their experiences when they commented: “It has been very educational. We also enjoyed the castle viewing and have improved our ceilidh dancing!”
Many of the delegates felt a strong sense of pride for what had been achieved throughout the week though at the same time there was an undeniable tinge of sadness as this year’s convention came to its conclusion. Rafsan Chowdhury (Robert Gordon’s College) summed up his feelings in this way: “I was excited to see the presentations because it was a good way to see how the others got on though I’m sad because the week has gone by so quickly and I’ll miss everyone.”
The delegates were totally focused on the presentations that they delivered this afternoon. Before the presentations, Shreyansh Fofandi from Woodstock School, India, described his feelings about the challenge: “We have confident people on our team and we’ve been brought together as a team.” The judging panel comprised Douglas Craig (Chairman and Managing Director of Craig Group), Damian Bates (Editor-In-Chief of Aberdeen Journals) and Simon Mills, (Head of Robert Gordon’s College). The quality of the presentations was strong as the groups had worked very hard to create them. The judges were highly impressed by the thoughts of these young people from around the world about the planet’s future energy options.
After deliberation by the judges, the winning group was revealed to be ‘Hot Stuff’, who had been researching Geothermal Energy. They comprised Duncan Spilsbury and Sadie Simek (Kimball Union Academy, USA), Linda Maake and One Keene (Prestige College, South Africa), Isabella Tolich (Kristin School, New Zealand), Eliza Ross-Smith (Scotch College, Australia) and Sanjay Vijayan (Robert Gordon’s College). Sanjay commented: “We chose geothermal energy because we were passionate about it and loved the fact that it is a unique energy source. Our team was so successful because we had great team spirit and everyone worked well together from day one”. Simon Mills, Head of College, praised the teams for their efforts during the week:
“What we have observed today gives us hope. We have an outstanding group of young people here.”