In order to work towards achieving our school’s mission of building a community of compassionate global citizens, ISY is participating in the first virtual Compassion Summit from November 2020 to April 2021. This summit is a chance for over 200 students from 17 international schools across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to come together, share perspectives, and learn about compassion in a time when it matters the most. Out of the 200 participants, 10 of them are our very own ISY students. So far in the summit, students have attended conferences with 2 keynote speakers, along with two workshops, with more discussions lined up every month. These keynote speakers include activists, authors, and teachers who share their experiences on a variety of different topics related to compassion.
Throughout the first month of the compassion summit, participants have been discussing a variety of different topics ranging from leadership to service learning, and have learned many interesting things. Su Htet (G10) and Kumud (G11) who are participants in the summit, said that the most interesting thing they learned was about the difference between service learning and charity. Kumud said, “I learned in the summit that we should go further than just charity because charity is not getting at the roots of the problem – that’s where activism comes in. It isn’t easy, admittedly, it takes much more energy and passion to do that.”
Concepts of responsibility and emotional intelligence were common themes found among the workshops the participants of the summit attended. Stuti (G11) noted an important take-away was how responsibility is taken in everyday actions is what makes them count. “Simply going to one protest doesn’t make a long-lasting difference – whatever you take responsibility for, make sure you have a plan and a goal in mind that you strive to reach. Do a small thing that is a part of it everyday, so there will be a long term effect.”
Su Htet (G10) expanded upon the importance of emotional intelligence, which she defined as “the ability to understand and manage your own emotions in order to communicate with the people around you better and understand yourself better, which in return helps you understand others better.” Mr. Todd Davis, an ISY teacher supervisor for the summit, reflected upon similar ideas of emotions’ role in acts of compassion as he stated: “You have to first put yourself in a position of being able to help someone. Only then you will be able to come up with effective plans that will actually make changes. If you yourself are not ready to become compassionate and put in the time and energy to help someone, then you won’t be able to give your focus towards acts of compassion.” He also recounted one of the real-life examples he was presented with at the summit. “One of the workshop leaders told us that she didn’t exactly understand what compassion was until she went to visit children who had cancer … she explained that what she saw was saddening and hard for her to understand, but that is what led her to open up her heart. She had to go through this is hard to imagine experience – being able to be open to suffering – before she could experience true compassion.”
The meetings ended with students reflecting on all that they learned. They also had a chance to ask the speakers questions and thank them for sharing their thoughts and experiences.
Towards the end of this program as a whole, participants will engage in creating an action plan to include compassion into their respective schools. The ten participants from ISY will be creating a long-term plan that will be implemented in our school to make it a more compassionate space. Rohan (G11) says that this plan aims to “solve issues that students face in schools such as managing work life balance, bullying and dealing with stress.”
The summits have been well enjoyed and a learning experience for all, with Apurva (G10) saying her biggest takeaways were “learning more about society and finding ways on improving relationships. I have become the most open-minded I have ever been, which is seriously amazing because I have learned so much about compassion!”