Six rising seniors are eager to apply what they learned at Punahou’s Student Global Leadership Institute to a social-action project they hope will serve as a model of sustainability for Honolulu youth.
The students intend to partner with the YMCA over the coming school year to promote clean energy, and hope to retrofit a Y branch with a solar water heater, a white roof and other energy-saving features. The students already are marshalling volunteers and donated resources for the project.
“We decided on a community center, such as the YMCA, because of its wide outreach, particularly towards younger children. We wanted to establish an example of sustainability that the younger children could follow, and we wanted it to be visible,” said Punahou SGLI team member Sara ’12. “We are committed to following the idea of leading through action. If we retrofit a center to be more energy-efficient, both younger and older YMCA members may, in turn, become inspired to retrofit their own homes.”
The students came up with the idea during the SGLI summit, an annual initiative that brings young leaders to Punahou from around the world for two weeks of intensive analysis of a shared global challenge. This year’s summit, held July 25 – Aug. 5, 2011, focused on the theme of energy. The participants — 48 students from 15 schools in China, Japan, Jordan, Singapore and the United States — left Punahou with concrete plans for social-action projects that they’ll carry out over the coming school year.
While most teams developed school-based plans — such as installing solar-powered charging stations for students’ cell phones and other electronic devices, or planting green roofs on campus buildings — the Buff ’n Blue team intentionally sought a broader scope. “We wanted a project that would express the ideas that Punahou has taught us throughout our school career: how to be energy-efficient, energy-conscious and to respect our environment,” said Chelsey ’12. “We appreciate the tools that Punahou has given us … and we wanted to show our gratitude through a community-based project.”
The far-flung SGLI students will stay connected throughout the year, checking in online to compare notes and track each other’s progress. Maintaining such ties is important, as the Institute aims to help develop an international cohort of leaders able to resolve worldwide problems in the 21st century.
“This has been an amazing opportunity that will stay with us for the rest of our lives,” said Saksham, a rising senior at Singapore’s Raffles Institution, recalling the Institute’s diverse field trips, hands-on activities and motivating teachers, mentors and guest speakers. “It’s made me believe that we really do have the ability to change the world.”
The Student Global Leadership Institute at Punahou School is made possible by generous grants from The Edward E. Ford Foundation and the Education Research Initiative (a partnership of Lenovo, Intel and Microsoft), with additional support from the Freeman Foundation and the Luke Center for Chinese Studies.