Students Explore Critical Water Issues During 2014 Youth Leadership Summit

2014 Youth Leadership Summit Recap

At the 58th Sister Cities International Annual Conference in San Jose, California, over 100 high school students from the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and South Korea participated in the Youth Leadership Summit. 

The Summit was designed to engage youth in the Sister Cities International network while exposing them to important international challenges focused on the theme, Water as a Shared Commodity. The educational G20 simulation provided students with a platform to learn about diplomacy, international relations, critical thinking, and teamwork. Throughout the weekend, students participated in various activities in addition to their classroom sessions.

Thursday, July 31

Non-local students were housed in the San Jose State University (SJSU) residence halls and were able to experience a taste of college life. After dining on campus, participants geared up for their first round of orientation activities. Students viewed the movie Water Wars, a documentary that uncovers critical water issues facing humanity. Following the film, students returned to the dorms for ice breakers and trivia.

Friday, August 1

The youth represented Sister Cities International at the opening ceremony as flag bearers. Each student carried a flag from a different member community during the Parade of Flags.

Following the opening ceremony, students attended a special session; “Global Challenges of Water.” His Excellency Nigel Warren, Consul General of Australia, moderated the panel. Participants on the panel included The Honorable Mayor Masao Omari, City of Okayama, Japan, Cheryl K. Davis, Manager, Workforce Development Initiative Water Enterprise, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and John Tang, Director of Government Relations and Corporate Communications, San Jose Water Company. The panelists discussed various water issues in their respective communities and encouraged students to become innovative leaders in the field of international diplomacy.

The students returned to SJSU to meet in their country and topic groups which provided them with exposure to a matrix type of simulation. Students were challenged to cooperate with ambassadors from other countries while keeping their own country’s interests in mind.

After the classroom sessions, students joined general conference attendees at the Tech Museum of Innovation for the pre-concert reception. The participants also attended the MGM Inspiring Our World: A Musical Journey production and the Dionne Warwick Concert at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts.

Saturday, August 2

Youth participants spent Saturday morning exploring the trails at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge introduced students to resource management, conservation, and migration.

Upon returning from the field trip, students attended the keynote luncheon Cisco’s Internet of Everything Presentation. Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before-turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for business, individuals, and countries.

Students spent the afternoon preparing their final presentations. They met in their topic groups to formulate and propose steadfast solutions to the various issues their group was faced with.

Prior to presenting their final projects, the students observed a sister city signing between Santa Clara, California and Limerick, Ireland.

The Summit culminated with a simulation intended to explore possible solutions to the five critical water issues that students explored throughout the weekend. Students presented final projects on water and its importance in power struggles, public health, security, social change, and agriculture. The final projects illustrated the importance of international cooperation in tackling some of our most pressing global challenges.

Following the final simulation, students attended the Lou Wozar Annual Awards Dinner and Ceremony where they witnessed firsthand the hard work and contributions that various sister city programs across the United States have accomplished.