The 18 high school students in PAAC’s 2019-2020 Global Leadership Program (GLP) cohort have much to be proud of. In October 2019, they embarked on an eight-month journey to become better informed global citizens and changemakers in their community. Although the pandemic cut short their school year and prevented many from traveling with PAAC this summer, PAAC’s youth leaders nevertheless made the most of the situation to end the year on a high note.
The most direct impact of the pandemic on GLP was the cancellation of PAAC’s annual Student Showcase event. Sadly, students lost the opportunity to meet and share their Global Action Projects with teachers and school officials, family, legislators, and other members of the community in person. Students instead created short videos explaining their projects, what they accomplished, and why they care. PAAC then shared these videos with the community through its social media platforms.
“The impressive breadth of issues this cohort chose to tackle speaks to the diversity – students represented 13 public, private, and home schools across three islands – and awareness of our future leaders,” said Jason Shon, PAAC High School Program Director. Projects addressed climate change action, mental health and wellness, human trafficking, access to public transportation, bioplastics, restorative justice, college preparation, e-waste recycling, awareness about the Micronesian community, and more.
Undertaking an extracurricular project of this scale can be daunting for students. PAAC partnered with Ceeds of Peace, a local non-profit organization developing peacemakers, to guide students through the brainstorming and planning phases. The extra support and feedback along the way boosted confidence and empowered students. “I am really grateful for this opportunity,” wrote one student. “This project has given me a newfound hope and sense of purpose in life, and it's something I often look forward to working on."
Prior to the disruption caused by the pandemic, students began 2020 by exploring sustainability in urban design and the food system. January’s Sustainable Cities workshop focused on how the human-made environment impacts the way we interact with each other and the natural environment. The workshop featured a walking tour of Kakaako by Ms. Renee Espiau, Complete Streets Administrator for the City & County of Honolulu. Hawaii State Senator Stanley Chang also shared his A.L.O.H.A. Homes proposal, sparking a thoughtful conversation on how a well-designed city can improve social, economic, and environmental sustainability. "I learned how important urban homes are,” one student reflected. “To me it’s important to keep our island beautiful and full of life (wildlife) and urban housing is the best way to do that because it doesn’t require a lot of space."
One month later, students visited 21 Degrees Estate, a cacao farm in Kahaluu (pictured at top), to think critically about sustainability in our food system from environmental, social, economic, and individual perspectives. By analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of the local and global chocolate industry (which naturally required rigorous taste-testing!), students came to better understand their power as consumers to affect change. Read more about February's Sustainable Food Systems Workshop here.
All in all, this year’s program touched on a wide array of global issues: fake news, international trade, civic engagement, urban design, affordable housing, food systems, global inequality, and more. During these eight months, students matured academically and developed into engaged global citizens. Kahuku High School graduating senior, Kimiko Wong, wrote that the program even helped her “to realize what I really wanted to study in college, which is international studies/relations.”
Equally as important as the academic insights are the personal ones. Speaking about his hopes for the future, Jerry Dulluog, a senior at Farrington High School, said:
“I want to never let my doubt or uncertainty inhibit my ability to speak my mind. My voice is as equally as important as everyone’s. I also want to be able to freely admit my mistakes, as I realize that there is no such thing as perfection but invested time and immense effort. Lastly, I don’t want to let opportunities slip knowing that I’m always going to grow in some way; stagnancy lies in the monotony of comfort.”
GLP has provided a safe space for young leaders to develop their self-confidence, increase their capacity for empathy, and grow as human beings.
Congratulations to the 2019-2020 cohort of PAAC’s Global Leadership Program! Although it ended abruptly, we hope you remember fondly those friendships and experiences you have gained through GLP and PAAC.
"Above all, I have become a confident, informed citizen. Before the Global Leadership Program, I had always been curious about the world, but intimidated by the complexities of global politics and doubtful of my ability to take action with meaningful impact. My experiences in the program have taught me how to make impactful choices, whether with my dollar at a grocery store or advocating at the Capitol Building."
Iolani School (Sophomore)
"GLP has taught me nuance. I think all too often we view the world with one set point of view and couple that with absolute statements that stem from our personal understanding of the world. The workshops from this GLP have taught me that there is a lot to agree with a lot of people, but agreeing with one thing a person says doesn't necessarily mean that we agree with everything they say."
Waipahu High School (Senior)
"I’ve learned a lot about myself, and how much my voice matters. GLP really allowed everyone to open up and express how they truly feel. It is important that our opinions were heard and recognized."
Kamehameha Schools- Hawaii Campus (Junior)
"Being a part of GLP has also been a confidence booster... I’ve proudly allowed myself to become more vulnerable with my personality, my emotions, and my compassion and empathy towards other people."
Farrington High School (Senior)