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International Emerging Leaders Program

at Collegiate School

Design Thinking at IELC 2017

The design thinking process is what lead to all of the amazing inventions presented at this year’s DesignPitch. The process starts with discovery, in which the participants consider the problem and interview those affected by the problem. After their problems were revealed, each group found their own space around campus to start their design thinking journey.

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The next day, while in the beautiful Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, each design group moved on to the next step of the process, interpretation. In this stage, the groups expand on the problem and questions they are trying to answer with their eventual solution. In addition, each group made a specific user profile for which the product would be designed. These two initial steps left the groups ready to create one of a kind solutions to some of the world’s most complex environmental problems.

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During the ideation stage, the groups took individual brainstorming time in which they each came up with many ideas. This stage was the only one that involved so much individual work, but was especially beneficial to groups who had more reserved members. After writing their ideas on sticky notes, the groups considered all of the proposed ideas. The ideation stage was vital for the next stage, experimentation. Nour, of Morocco, stated, “It was a pleasure to hear different opinions from different countries in order to make an amazing prototype.”

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Experimentation was the stage in which each group finalized their idea and made an initial prototype. Making these simple models helped each group to realize the strong points but also the shortcomings of their designs.

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After each design was finalized, the groups practiced many times in order to prepare for the DesignPitch, which took place on Thursday evening. Each group made outstanding presentations, and they could not have come up with the unique and creative solutions they did without the design thinking process. Gautam, of India, said, “Design thinking was a unique way of interacting with other delegates to empathize with other countries an try to do our part in solving the world’s problems.

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Delegates Share their Environmental Crises

On Monday, October 2, 2017, IELC Ambassadors were presented the environmental problems of each country, which ranged from water pollution to the critical endangerment of the saiga.

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First up was Changzhou, China, who focused on water pollution that inhibits access to clean drinking water. Amy, of Changzhou, noted that “most chemical plants are built near water,” which has lead to past incidents.

Yangzhou, China’s delegation focused on white plastic pollution from takeout containers. While there are many economic and personal benefits to takeout services, plastic from them can take 47 decades to decompose.

Land reclamation is one environmental challenge currently being faced by Malaysia. When speaking with Malaysian residents about the problem, Alda remembered that many “strongly oppose the idea” due to its environmental and economic consequences.

The students from Morocco presented on solid waste management, which has had a large impact on Morocco. In their newscast created for their presentation, Zack reported on the landfills in Morocco which “continue to overflow due to the amount of solid waste.” He also noted that the waste is “treated in an unsustainable manner.”

The Italy delegation focused on toxic waste, which can cause harm or even death to humans.

The United States focused on a problem close to Richmond which affects people all over the East Coast and beyond: the Chesapeake Bay Dead Zone. Claire, Kieran, and Lauren explained that fertilizer and other chemicals wash into the bay, polluting it. In dead zones, there is no oxygen, which kills the formerly abundant wildlife of the Bay.

South Africa presented on the impending water crisis, which has already reached a serious level. They explained that in some areas, such as Cape Town, people are being urged to conserve water. However, government had to resort to shutting off the water and restrict consumption to 20,000 liters per household per month.

The Indian Delegation demonstrated the urgency of the pollution of the Ganges River. This river is sacred to many in India, and is often where people bathe, wash clothes, wash animals, and leave cremated remains. This pollution has proven to have many economic and environmental impacts.

In Kazakhstan, the saiga, an antelope-like animal, is critically endangered. Its population has decreased from 1 million to just 40,000, and it has impacted the food supply of other animals, among others.

Mexico focused on mercury pollution, which is a large public heath risk. When ingested, mercury has many harmful effects including hearing, speech, and nervous system deficiencies.

Wildfires in Spain have shown to be a widespread issue. Trees provide essential oxygen, and uncontrollable wildfires have increased in frequency recently. Each environmental issue presented certainly has great effects on each country and the world.

Earth One Hour

By Zach M.IMG_8889

Earth One Hour, which happened to be more than one hour, was one of my favorite experiences of the trip to China.  The event was designed to reinforce the idea of saving energy, as the whole school shut off its’ power for the event and everyone proceeded to the auditorium to watch performances.

Our very own John Bullock gave a memorable performance, where he and another student sang “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran.  Additionally, all of the Collegiate School students danced to “Cotton Eye Joe” and “Juju On That Beat.”

However, my favorite part of the night was a short play put on by two students of the Beijing New Oriental School in Yangzhou.  Without the use of words, they were limited to what they could do, but their expressions and actions told a life story that was both comical and meaningful.  While we were all exhausted, experiencing this event was definitely worth staying up for.

Fresh insight into Modern Chinese Culture

By Price W.

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My home stay partner 陈礼实 (Chen Li Shi), also known as Marble, was an expert in Chinese folklore and Yangzhou history. As we toured the main Yangzhou attractions, Marble enthusiastically explained the cultural significance of every sight. In addition, the generosity of my host family was admirable. On the first day, my host father told me that I was a part of his family and added their surname 陈 (Chen) to my Chinese name. Every breakfast they prepared a wide selection of dishes for me, to ensure that I could try as many foods as possible. My time spent living at Marble’s home provided me with fresh insight into modern Chinese culture. Here are just a few of my observations and experiences.

Given China’s traditional culture, I was fascinated by the roles my host mother and father occupied. My host mom generously dedicated her time towards cooking and driving Marble and me to school. She also was employed at the family business’ bank. My host father owned the family’s factory and worked part-time at their hot spring, but when he was home he helped out in the kitchen. Both parents returned home at about 10:00 PM and left their apartment by 8:00 AM. During the day, Marble’s grandmother cleaned the household and did the dishes. Overall, the level of cooperation among their family members was impressive. Although this is anecdotal evidence, it supports the hypothesis that traditional, independent Chinese roles are changing.

Within Marble’s home, I saw the first-hand interaction between modern and ancient China. On the one hand, the house was filled with 21st century amenities — TV, heat, a refrigerator. Despite this, my family still remained traditional. They wore slippers in the house at all times. My host mom practiced calligraphy for two hours every day. And their apartment was filled with Chinese paintings. This intermingling of the contemporary and historic is symbolic of developing China. Consider the picture at the top of this blog post taken from 大明寺 (Da Ming Si) Pagoda. In the front, one sees the traditional architecture of ancient China. In the background, rows of apartment complexes clutter the landscape. This juxtaposition highlights the evolution of China, spurred on by rapid population growth.

DaMing Temple and Jianzhen

By Catherine P.

On Friday, our last day in China, our group took a trip to the DaMing Temple.

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The temple was built in the late 400s C.E. and is famous for its relationship with the monk, Jianzhen, who was there during the beginning of the 700s C.E. Jianzhen then made five attempts to voyage to Japan to spread the Buddhist faith, but only successfully completed the voyage on his sixth attempt in 753 C.E. He then traveled for another year until he reached Nara and was welcomed the Japanese Emperor. Throughout the end of his life, Jianzhen worked to propagate Buddhism throughout the Japanese aristocracy. Thanks to his work, upon his death a dry-lawyer statue of him was made and is still on display in Nara. It was temporarily on display in Yangzhou at the DaMing temple in 1980.

We only spent around two to three hours at the temple but during that time, we saw many beautiful buildings, including a pagoda that took exactly 311 steps to climb. From the top, we could see a view that extended over all of Slender West Lake Park and featured the Yangzhou city skyline in the distance. All in all, everyone enjoyed the visit to the DaMing temple and appreciated being introduced to the   traditions and culture that it preserves.

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Slender West Lake Hot Spring Resort

By Elizabeth H.


After the temple on Friday, we walked to Slender West Lake Hot Spring Resort, a traditional Chinese hot spring. Our kind and generous hosts definitely saved the best for last. This was one activity that we will never forget because we have never felt so pampered. Our relaxing visit began with an excellent lunch with many, many options to choose from. Following lunch, we headed to the main lobby where we were greeted by the staff with wrist bands that were our keys to our lockers.

The boys and girls then separated into their corresponding locker rooms where we changed. After getting into our bathing suit, we slipped into our complementary shoes, grabbed our towels, and headed out.

We were already very cold so when we found out that the hot springs were outside we were very skeptical, however, once we stepped into the first pool we were immediately soothed. There were around fifteen hot springs each one being filled with a different substance for a different reason at ranging temperatures. For example, one of my favorite ones was the coffee Spring which “rejuvenates the skin” that was 102.2° Fahrenheit.

But, one of the groups favorite springs was the one with the fish who ate the dead skin off of our body. This was one of those things that you did just to say you did it, however once I got in and became used to the fish it was incredibly relaxing. After hitting all of the hot springs, we went back inside, showered, and changed into a set of clothes that they gave us so that we could go to the resting room.

Catherine and I changed and walked upstairs to find the rest of our group members dressed in the same attire. We took pictures and laughed at each other and then sat down in the resting room. The resting room was filled with around fifty chairs each equipped with a television, pillows, and a blanket. I laid my chair down all the way and slept for an hour until we were all woken up and ushered to dinner. The visit to the hot spring was probably my favorite part of the trip because of how calm and pampered I felt, it was one of the best possible ways to end the trip.

Mini-Model UN Session

By Will H.

Model United Nations is a club both offered at Collegiate and Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School Yangzhou. Both clubs host and attend various Model UN events in their respective home countries throughout the academic year.

During our visit to China, we took part in a mini-Model UN discussion. All Model UN discussions start with a problem and various delegates from countries discuss a solution. The problem presented to us was Corporate Social Responsibility. The country I represented was Zambia.

It was very interesting to see the differences in opinions amongst the various countries. For Zambia, a developing country, we focused on making doing business in Zambia more attractive to corporations to attract economic development. So, to further develop Zambia, in the middle of the debate, we agreed to be acquired by Microsoft (as a joke).

Despite the few jokes and hectic periods, we created a resolution. While we all agreed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was important, two groups formed and were divided on how to best implement CSR – through government regulation or through an independent organization created to oversee CSR policies. Our resolution stated that we would meet again, in another Model UN meeting, and discuss the topic in further detail.

Homestay Experience

By Olivia H.

I was unsure of what to anticipate for my homestay experience. As I walked up the six flights of stairs to reach my host families apartment, I wondered how the next couple of days would go.

The two-story apartment, where I spent the next five days, was beautiful and nicely furnished. My host student, Shirley, took me up a small flight of stairs to show me where I would be sleeping. The loft-like area included: a bedroom, a bathroom and balconies for drying clothing.

Before the trip we were informed that numerous houses and apartments do not have heating. To prepare for the possibility of being cold all night, I packed multiple pairs of sweatpants and sweatshirts. I also brought my own blanket, just in case. Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I was blessed with a heating system.

Each morning I would wake up around 7:30am and be ready for breakfast by 8:00am. Tuesday and Thursday mornings my host family took me out to breakfast. On Monday and Wednesday, however, my host mother cooked wonderful dumplings and noodles. Breakfast time was usually quiet considering the language barrier. Once I finished my breakfast either my host mother or host father would take us to school to begin the day’s adventures.

Every night my host family took me to a new and exciting place to eat dinner. While I do not have a favorite restaurant from this trip, they successfully helped me experience the famous cuisine of Jiangsu Province.

As I was leaving my host family’s house on the last morning of my stay, they informed me that if I decide to come back to China, they will welcome me with opens arms. This trip to China is one for the books, and it could not have been possible if it weren’t for the generous and caring host families from Yangzhou.

Dong Guan Street

By Kate P.

Today the whole group spent the morning at Dong Guan Street market. Located in a historic part of Yangzhou, the market is one long street filled with handmade items, clothing and lots of delicious foods.

When we arrived at the market we were split into four teams for a scavenger hunt. I was in a group with my host Rachel as well as Catherine and her host Melody. We spent an hour traveling through the market searching for red lanterns, drums, jade dragons and much more. We even tried new foods such as squid on a stick, which tasted really good!

After we finished finding everything on the list, we spent the rest of our time shopping in the stores for souvenirs and having dumplings for lunch. I really enjoyed the entire morning and loved walking around the vibrant streets filled with new shops and foods to explore.

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