On Tuesday, April 23rd, Scarsdale High School hosted “A Global Conversation with Botswana, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Kenya, and Trinidad & Tobago.” Starting off with a welcome from Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joan Weber and performances by the Scarsdale High School Chamber Ensemble, directed by Mr. Amedee Williams, and the Scarsdale High School Wind Ensemble, conducted by Mr. Jason Noble, the event featured representatives from each of the six countries, discussing challenges that their countries have faced and innovations that have been made in order to solve said problems. The conversation was moderated by Superintendent Dr. Michael McGill, and featured a panel of five Scarsdale High School students, including Seniors Elizabeth Huh, Michael Lu, Max Kober, Geoff Kristof, and Sophomore Claudia Laurie, who introduced the panelists and had questions ready for the Q&A at the end of the night.
The conversation began with a speech by the Keynote speaker, Dr. Sergio Trindade of Brazil, the former U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Science and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate. Trindade, referred to in the program as a “Provacateur,” began with an anecdote on 14th-15th century Portugal, noting that innovation has been spurring globalization since the time of Henry the Navigator. Next spoke the representative from Botswana, H. E. Mr. Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, the Ambassador/ Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations. Ntwaagaebroached the topic of Botswana’s success in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic noting that, “The successful fight against AIDS in our country has created hope from despair.” Mr. Pedro Terra, Deputy Consul General at the Consulate General of Brazil, spoke of Brazil’s autonomous spending program “Bolsa Família,” and on the topic of innovation remarked that, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Mr. Liu Jianqing, Consul at the Education Office of the Consulate General of the PRC, backed by the Vice Consul Dr. Cheng Xu, spoke both on China’s past agricultural successes and its current problems with education, positing that, although Chinese education is very strong in terms of quantitative reasoning, it could improve in terms of teaching innovation. Next, Honorable Mr. Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia at the Consulate General of Indonesia, approached the topic of Indonesia’s efforts to increase communication and education while decreasing international crime. Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, Ambassador/ Deputy Permanent Representative at the Kenya Permanent Mission to the United Nations, after greeting the audience in Kiswahili, spoke about the challenges of forming a creative economy in the digital world, while Mrs. R. Nan Ramgoolam, Consul General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, affirmed the importance of technology, noting that for a population of only 1.3 million people, the nation has invested in over 20,000 computers for education.
At the end of the speeches, the student panel, through Dr. McGill, asked a few questions. However, though a five-minute limit had been placed on the introductory speeches, a lack of enforcement of this rule led to the program running late. Due to this lack of time, the high school panelists questioning was cut short. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that, “It seemed like the students didn’t really have any purpose.” While their purpose was cut short by a less than efficiently run program, the student panelists still found the conversation worthwhile. “It was very interesting to hear some of the representatives point out problems that their countries are facing,” said Kristof. And, if the applause and size of the audience is any indication, they enjoyed it as well. As an interesting aside, the panel was well connected to Scarsdale, includingresidents and at least three representatives who noted that their children attended Scarsdale Schools.
Zach Edelman is a senior at Scarsdale High School. He will join the team at Scarsdale10583 during senior options this year.