In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, student leaders from across Asia-Pacific came together last month for a week of discussion and cultural activities.
A group of six St Paul’s students flew to Singapore, accompanied by Headmaster Mr Grant Lander and teacher Mr Duncan Smith, to attend the Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Convention (APYLC), held at Nan Chiau High School from April 8-13.
APYLC is for promising student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to serve society. “It serves as a platform for these students to network and discuss global issues, inculcating in our future leaders a greater social and political awareness,” says Mr Smith.
Representing New Zealand and St Paul’s, the selected students – Sarah Gajzago, Harris Moana, Simon Han, Chris Penno, Jasmine Fountaine and Isabel Mallett (all Year 12) – were joined by delegates from Singapore, China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan.
The theme of this year’s convention was ‘valuing diversity and embracing unity’. Before embarking on the trip, each group prepared a presentation on how their school and country supports this theme and these presentations were delivered during the opening ceremony.
While the convention was largely centred around discussion, the students also had the opportunity to embrace Singaporean culture. They visited the Singapore Philatelic Museum, Fort Canning, Gardens by the Bay and FusionWorld, as well as sampled a range of Singapore cuisine.
For Sarah Gajzago, her most enjoyable experience was FusionWorld. “We saw award-winning inventions and cutting-edge technologies. We were shown things like technology that turns your speaking voice into a singing voice, and we controlled a screen with our minds. It was a fascinating and eye-opening experience.”
The group also took park in a Singapore amazing trail, providing an opportunity to discover and learn more about Singapore history.
But the most beneficial part of the convention, was the daily discussions with the other delegates.
“We were taught so much about their cultures and countries. It was fascinating the way in which each of us had very different perspectives on each topic,” says Sarah.
“The things I took away branched deeper than just the increasingly important concepts of ‘unity’ and ‘diversity’, but also showed me the variety of perspectives from each country, and how to listen and learn in these situations.”
“Through the sharing and rigorous discussions each of us faced, I found my previous views being challenged and questioned and I emerged from this convention with new knowledge and perspective.”