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Considering your own strengths and weaknesses, how do you feel that participating in this Virtual CAS Conference gave you an opportunity for personal growth?

Before this Virtual CAS Conference, I was definitely uncomfortable with getting out of my comfort zone to approach people that I do not know, which restricted how much I could network with other students/people in general. However, I decided to take a risk and join this CAS conference because I was very interested in the topics to be covered, and I decided it was time for me to step out of my shell.
During the breakout room discussion, I found myself easily clicking with the other students in the room. I definitely underestimated myself, because I thought I would be shy with the other students, but the opposite was true. I found myself being an integral contributor to the discussion. Regarding networking, I believe I did a good job because after the conference I proposed we all stay in contact through instagram, from which another student in the room made a group for all of us. I’ll definitely never forget breakout group 4B.
Regarding my strengths, prior to this conference, I would have definitely called myself an excellent collaborator. I say this because throughout my Service as Action (MYP) and CAS experience (so far), I have been put in a position in which I have to work with other students. Over time and over many projects, I have found that sharing ideas, working with others’ ideas, adapting to different people and their personalities, and using the best of each person’s skill set has become very easy for me. This was definitely helpful during day 2 of the conference in which we were put in groups for the Hackathon challenge.
For this challenge we were tasked with coming up with a sustainable solution for Plastic Punch. At first, my group had 0 ideas for what to do. We pondered over it, probably for 1/4 of the time given. But then, as soon as one person came up with an idea we were able to benefit from the swirl of ideas suddenly coming from all of us. We gave each person a job to do to increase efficiency (I was the writer) and were able to finish even before the time was up.
This definitely gave me an opportunity for personal growth, because in addition to becoming a stronger collaborator, I have become more open-minded. This is because everyone was from different countries which means their perspectives were all varied, but when put together created something great. Being open-minded helped me to be more receptive to all of these different perspectives, instead of just dismissing them because they were different than mine.

What challenges did you face? Which skills did you develop as a result?

The only challenge faced here was that we did not have ideas for the Hackathon at first, however that was not really a big problem and we overcame it by avid collaboration and brainstorming.

Has this experience inspired you to initiate and plan future CAS activities of your own?

Before this CAS experience I was definitely aware of environmental issues occurring, but had never thought about what I could do about it beyond raising awareness. However, meeting with so many like-minded people reminded me that it is imperative we doing something about our decaying environment.
In fact, this conference has inspired me so much that the breakout room that I was first placed in and I decided to do our own CAS project to do something about our environment.

How did this activity require you to demonstrate perseverance or commitment?

This activity requires both perseverance and commitment because taking care of our environment is not a one and done thing. It requires dedication, overcoming challenges, being resilient, and never giving up – all things this experience has taught me.

You worked collaboratively during the Hackathon. What role did you perform and what did you learn from others in your team?

My team did not have specific roles (such as president, secretary, etc.) however, I was in charge of recording what was discussed in the powerpoint. I definitely learned a lot about what occurs in their individual countries (for example, one student is paired with UAE Nature, a government organization I was not aware of before this) and it encouraged me to try and reach out to different organizations to see what I can do as well.

Which issues of global significance do you felt you engaged with? How?

I feel as if I engaged with climate change, education for all, and sustainability. I mention these three specifically because the solution my group ended up decided upon was an interactive website where Ghanaian youth (or anyone) could use to learn more about our environment in fun ways.
This combines the three issues of global significance that I previously mentioned because the website would break down climate change and sustainability through interactive games and downloadable stories for an audience aged 15 and below. This addresses education for all as well, because one of the prerequisites for our website was that Plastic Punch would get into contact with poorer government schools in Ghana to establish a “pen-pal” system between the users of the site, who have laptops and can access it, to each school.

When considering the ethics of your own actions, did this weekend challenge your beliefs? Has the experience inspired you to change any of your own behavior?

This weekend did not change my beliefs per se, because I already knew that climate change was real and we need to do something about it. However, after listening to my peers and understanding how climate change is affecting them and their countries, I realized that I need to do more on an individual base to stop contributing to the process.
In saying this, since the conference ended I’ve only been using a reusable water bottle to reduce my plastic usage, and I’ve also encouraged those in my household to stop using so much plastic. I’ve also tried to go on a vegetarian diet, but am currently thinking of more things I can do to help the cause.