Students reflect summer Rotary conference, the World Affairs Seminar

Grace Goverman

More stories from Grace Goverman

Last summer, three intrepid LOHS students attended the World Affairs Seminar to expand their horizons and contemplate worldwide issues. Senior Sabrina Safari and juniors Liza Wadell and George Danzelaud were Lake Oswego High School’s delegates to the conference, located at Carroll University in Wisconsin.
The World Affairs Seminar is a week-long summer program for high school students sponsored by the International Rotary District 6270. Since 1977, delegates from around the world explore how a certain topic impacts the world in different ways and create both international and community-based solutions to problems. This year’s theme was “The Promise and Perils of Social Media.” Three hundred student delegates attended the seminar and 30 nations were represented.
The Rotary Club of Lake Oswego provided two scholarships to LOSD students to attend the conference for free. The students were chosen through an application and review process. “Mr. Dickinson… placed an announcement about it in the weekly newsletter, and it caught my eye because I always look for the little things [to help with] where it’s needed. I was like ‘Oh, this seems really cool’ and… I just gave it a shot and submitted an application, and it turned out great,” said Danzelaud.
The conference included a series of speakers, including a futurist, an FBI agent, and entrepreneurs of multinational companies.
They were also randomly placed into groups that worked together daily on a capstone project to be presented at the end of the week. Group members came from around the world. “My group had people from the Cayman Islands and a girl from Mexico who taught me how to salsa, and then another guy from Denmark. All these people had stories to tell and it was really cool how it brought everyone together under the cause of social media,” said Danzelaud. “I also played soccer with guys from Mexico and Spain, and they really put me in my place.”
The capstone presentations focused on a number of topics, from literacy to the environment to food security, and were presented at the end of the week in a science fair-style format.
The conference deeply affected the attendees views on social media. Danzelaud described how, going in, “After getting back, I felt completely refreshed… step one is to stay safe and don’t be a person that you aren’t online. Social media is the magazine cover of everyone’s life… In general just reaching out we can be there and everyone can represent themselves and show who they are but that doesn’t mean much if you don’t contribute to what you’re passionate in… After getting [Instagram] back, I started dedicating it to causes that I’m interested in and things I promoted and actually trying to make a difference.”
Similarly, Safari said, “When I came in… I was really optimistic about [social media]… I used it a lot… But when I came out of the seminar it does have some things I never realized, and just this last month I decided to take a break from social media because I found I was spending too much time on it. And now I’m starting to reflect more on what we talked about last summer, and… for me I think that taking breaks from it is healthy.”