International students work together to solve world problems

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Class is in session at MeadWestvaco, and the students are engaged in what they're learning.

However, the makeup of the group is a bit unusual because the sixty students represent eleven countries. They are taking part in a global conference, which is sponsored by the Collegiate School.

"We started it last year at Collegiate, wanting to bring students from all over the world to our campus to give our students at Collegiate a global experience," said Collegiate School director of international education Clare Sisisky.

Each student came up with an environmental issue to discuss- an issue that is affecting his or her country. The students are then placed into one of six groups, and those groups come together to brainstorm possible solutions.

16-year-old Avani Singh of India says air pollution is her country's biggest concern.

"There are people all over. I mean, the traffic is crazy. So the air pollution is an issue which affects every Indian in their personal lives," said Singh.

She brought her issue to the table, so that she and her new global community can brainstorm and come up with ways to not only solve her country's big problem, but the problems facing other countries as well.

Avani is on the same team as Collegiate senior Matthew Hourigan.

"The global connection is becoming less of a nicety and more of a requirement. The world is changing. That's something that I've really loved about this conference is just really getting that global connection, understanding and being comfortable with other cultures," said Hourigan.

According to Bruce Thomas, the Senior Vice President of Healthcare and Innovation at MeadWestvaco, this is exactly the type of experience his company, as well as similar companies, is looking for.

"The critical human resource for us is people who can help us think and engage globally. So this is talent development for us," said Thomas.

The Collegiate School partnered with MeadWestvaco, University of Richmond, VCU, Dominion Power, and Health Diagnostic Lab to sponsor this conference.

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