Education without borders was the first International conference I ever attended. I was very excited to attend it way before I had even begun packing for Dubai. And it seemed like I was not the only one who was extremely enthusiastic to get inspired. The 150 followers of the ‘EWB is going to be legendary’ on Facebook told a similar story of student leaders getting ready to share their ideas and display their skills in working to improve the world. As big as the task might sound, we all believed we could do it; I believed I could do it, and being a part of this conference has just strengthened this belief.
I started meeting my fellow leaders on March 28, 2011, the official first day of the conference. The crowd was quite overwhelming. If I met someone in the morning, chances were that I would not come across the same individual until the end of the day again. Each one of them had a story to tell and something about them that talked about their role as leaders.
It was inspiring. It was inspiring to realize that the young gentleman sitting next to me had climbed Mount Everest while pursuing his studies as an environmental engineer in Russia. It was inspiring to note that a young lady from Mexico had already come up with innovative ways to report crimes in real time online so as to create a safer neighborhood for her community. It was inspiring to talk to the girl from Singapore who had gone from being obese to being slim and healthy in the time span of just one year. One after the other I talked to people who had been real leaders and who inspired me to grow up into becoming one myself.
It was motivating. It was motivating to hear the thirteen year old Adora Svitak talk about her accomplishments as the youngest book publisher. It was motivating to listen to Anand Kumar humbly talk about his journey from being a mere commoner to the founder of one of the best exam preparation centers in his country. It was motivating to see and hear Alain Robert, “the French spider man”, climb the heights the world’s tallest building in front of our own eyes. It was motivating to hear Robert Swan talk about his expeditions to Antarctica to make sure it was clean. This was an experience that brought nothing but gratitude to my eyes to have been placed in the mentorship of such charismatic movers and shakers of the world.
I shall always remember Education without Borders as one of the most enjoyable times of my life. No matter where I go, no matter where I live, I always want to share my happiness with others. And every time I do this, little thanks would go to Education without borders for giving me the confidence that I needed, along with deep reverence to everyone at Fairleigh Dickinson University, who helped me get to this conference.
During the course of my stay in Dubai as a part of Education Without Borders 2011, I interviewed some of my peers and mentors to get their views on this conference. Here is a brief collection of our discussions during the conference:-
What have you learnt from this conference and what initially drew you towards it?
“I met like- minded people who made me feel I could make a difference. I can feel it in the air. There’s a lot that you can do. I came to this conference to meet new people and make contacts. Now, I am learning about other cultures, meeting people from 130 different countries, getting crazy ideas- this is so much more than I had initially anticipated from this conference. Dubai is a beautiful city and EWB has filled with memories for a lifetime.”
-Marie from Senegal
“I think I have learnt the most at this conference just through interactions with people. I know the theme is “Education with borders” but I am also getting “Friendship without borders”. Being able to see the humanity in all of us, sharing the different values and cultures of different nationalities and recognizing how all of us are committed to contributing to the world to make it a better place is beyond extraordinary. I came here to visit Dubai and because my paper got selected. I wanted to hear other’s views and opinions and I am going back having learnt not just that but also so much more about the people themselves. It’s amazing!”
-Mariesal from United States of America
“Here at EWB, I have learnt about global citizenship and how after talking about the change we need to bring about in the world, it’s important to put it into action and make it happen. This gains standing when we realize that we are indeed in an era of globalization. All this is really important to me and having attended this conference, I now know that I need to take initiative and be the change I want to be.”
-Gabriela from Bolivia
Interview withMr. Bruce Stetar
Associate Dean of Applied Communication Programs and Chair of Business Programs at Higher Colleges of technology
Mr. Stetar and I began our conversation with a discussion of how Education Without Borders had grown since 2009. As a HCT employee and mentor, he felt proud to talk about the increased use of technology this time. Twitter users had the opportunity to give live comments online while the presenters were still giving their presentations. The judging was all done online and all the services were automated. This is a huge leap for Higher Colleges of technology. He seemed really happy about that.
We also discussed all that made EWB stand out as a conference. Yes, it brought together students from all across the globe but it didn’t just end there. It allowed students to get into conversations with people they would normally never even meet. It brought together leaders and future leaders, and gave them a way to share their ideas and experiences. And this is what inspires him the most. He believes that learning is a lifelong process and the conference would be successful for him if both he and I had taken something back home at the end of it.
His happiness shone through his eyes. It really excited him to see the interest in the eyes of the student body that surrounded him. “I absolutely love my job”, he admitted joyfully, “ Education is important to feel good about oneself and making friends all over the world while doing that- could we have asked for anything more?” .
Interview withMr. John T. Preston
Managing partner at C Change Investments Management, LLC
Mr. Preston learnt about Education Without Borders while working on energy projects in United Arab Emirates. Having close contacts with the Sheikh of Dubai, he was informed about this movement and invited to have discussions with students of technology. He was deeply moved by Adora Svitak’s speech earlier during the day, since it rightly fit into his perception of call for action, that of ‘Analysis Proalysis’. “Becoming proactive is important”, he said, “since we can only move forward if we act rather than waiting for others to act”. Sitting beside him I could tell that he, too, had been equally struck by the intensity of all the conversations that had been put forth by the students. This was despite the fact that he had missed out on the first day and it was nice to notice that even at his level, he still could learn so easily and modestly.
We then moved on to discuss the improvements that he would like to see at the future conferences. He wants more local students from Dubai to get involved, especially women. He acknowledged that the questions posed by all students had been well prepared but at the same time he wants the same response to come from the relatively shy local women. He underlined the statistics of UAE wherein 67% women in UAE had college and university degrees and had still decided not to work. He wants to see these hidden intellectuals come out of their shells and speak out because to him, their points of views are as important as anyone else’s. Besides that, the conference itself seemed fantastic to him, and he was glad to see so many students benefit from it.
EWB is a biennial international student conference that creates networks across cultures in order to understand, and generate solutions, for some of the world's greatest challenges.
Reports from FDU's delegation to the conference:
Luis Cerón, Sophomore, Majoring in Business Administration, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Thomas J. Magg, Film Major, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Ira Saini, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Devin Seelman, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Thy Truong, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Click here to go to official website of Education without Borders 2011