Students from across New York City, and four alumnae, gathered on Saturday, April 11 for a Youth Environmental Conference at Chapin for a day devoted to reflecting upon how they can lessen any negative impact on the environment. The event was planned and executed by three environmentally conscious Chapin Upper School student leaders who have been working on a social impact project this academic year.
Last summer, the conference organizers took part in the Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI) program, which takes place at the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Institute’s focus this year was cities, with a specific concentration on the issues of infrastructure, resource acquisition and culture. Schools from around the world— from China, Denmark, England, India, Japan, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden and 10 states within the U.S.—took part in the two-week program, returning to their respective schools with ideas for meaningful social impact projects.
The idea for the conference, the culmination of the Chapin student’s social impact work, was met with much excitement, as it fits well with the School’s theme this year of “Brave For Our Earth.”
Christine Bader, a self-described corporate idealist and change agent and author of the book “The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil,” was the keynote speaker who helped the group kick off the daylong event. Her address was followed by two 45-minute panel discussions, the topics of which the attendees selected that day. Their choices included: “U.S. Policy and the Environment,” “Sustainability Abroad” and “Urban Planning in New York City.” The resulting panels were comprised of a group of 11 women, including a few Chapin alumnae, who work in related fields:
Celeste Abou Negm (Chapin Class of 2005)
Gwen Kilvert (Chapin Class of 1994)
Kelly Nimo Guenther
Faon O’Connor (Chapin Class of 2004)
Victoria Shiah Treanor (Chapin Class of 1999)
After lunch, the students broke into small groups, moderated by Upper School volunteers and the conference organizers. The groups held discussions around the following questions:
“What struck you as the most urgent issue that we face? Did you hear anything today that was surprising to you?”
“How could you apply what you’ve learned at your school or in your community? What could schools do to better support you in this?”
The conference came to a close after each group shared their key takeaways with their peers. Thoughtful and stimulating, the day was a great success and demonstrated the ways in which students from across New York City can be brave for their Earth.
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