More than 200 Middle and High School students gather to tackle global issues
information from Seattle Public Schools
Students and teachers gathered at Chief Sealth International High School March 22-23 to begin the fourth annual Washington State Global Issues Network (WAGIN) Conference, a two-day international event led by local youth seeking to tackle global issues, learn together, and spark lasting change. The conference brings together over 200 middle and high school students from the Seattle area and three states (Colorado, Texas, and Florida), as well as four countries (Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and South Korea).
The conference theme is “Action for Sustainability Now,” which focuses on immediate action students can take to make a lasting impact on issues like climate change, food security and racial justice. Students participate in the conference in teams and lead workshops in which they share what they are doing to take action on one (or more) of the twenty global issues outlined by the Global Issues Network.
“These students are taking ownership over their future, and the future of the world in which they live,” said Noah Zeichner, a teacher at Ingraham High School and lead faculty advisor for the conference. “They are passionate about mobilizing their peers to work together on these big challenges and to take concrete action. This conference is the culmination of more than six months of planning and preparation.”
“I’m looking forward to having youth come together from all over the world who have a common passion for learning about global issues,” said Natalie Murphy, a senior at Chief Sealth IHS before the conference. “We’ll be able to make connections, have diverse perspectives and educate each other on what we’re doing to solve global issues.”
This year’s conference featured an address from Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who will speak to youth about the importance of leadership and active global citizenship. Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau spoke to the group on Friday. A total of 10 keynote speakers delivered remarks to the students, including:
- • Erin Jones, an educator, who was recognized by the White House in 2013 as a “Champion of Change” and was the first Black woman to run for state office in Washington;
- • Jorge L. Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who works to defend the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees;
- • Andrea Rodgers, an environmental lawyer who represents youth in the Washington climate change case before the King County Superior Court (Foster v. Ecology);
- • Kristi L. Ebi, Josh Lawler, and Cecilia Bitz, climate scientists from the University of Washington, who will speak as a panel on current climate change research and initiatives;
- • Mia Eastman, Sierra Robinson, Marlow Baines, and Alex Trevino, who will represent Earth Guardians, an organization that provides young people leadership opportunities and tools to address the world’s most pressing problems.
The conference was organized by a joint committee of students from Chief Sealth IHS and Ingraham IHS. The team collaborated with a group of over 20 other students and teachers. The conference was made possible through partnerships with several organizations and agencies including the Global Issues Network (GIN), Seattle Public Schools, the Foundation for International Understanding through Students (FIUTS), World Affairs Council, Rustic Pathways, the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington, IREX, and the U.S. Department of State.
This project was made possible by an award sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the U.S. Department of State, or IREX.