High School News: Youth Forum Switzerland Returns To Help Us Understand Our World and Sustain Our Future

By Ottelien VMH, Grade 12 Student & YFS PR Team Member, and Heather Hobday, YFS Event Manager

In January ISZL will host the second Youth Forum Switzerland. This full-day symposium comprises panel discussions, talks and open sessions centred on today's global issues. In the lead-up to the event, students are participating in the YFS Series of interactive learning experiences. And new for this year, the wider community is also invited to take part in a Pre-Forum. Click the title to read more.

This coming January, ISZL will once again host the Youth Forum Switzerland (YFS). This event was the creation of a group of globally engaged High School students who attended the World Economic Forum’s Open Forum Davos event in 2017. Their experience inspired them to create an event in the same spirit, with the aim of giving youth a voice in global issues in Central Switzerland.

The Youth Forum Switzerland is a full day symposium comprising panel discussions, talks, and interactive sessions centred on youth engagement in prevalent issues that will affect future generations. Over 600 High School students from Swiss and International Schools from across Switzerland will attend YFS 2019, including student guests from the International School of Luxembourg. The Youth Forum Switzerland aims to provide an environment where all students can explore new ideas with an open and reflective mind. It is also an opportunity to connect youth with the world’s leading changemakers, to create innovative solutions for pressing global issues and to inspire future global leaders to take action and become changemakers themselves.

The Theme and Guest Speakers

This year the YFS team selected a relevant and current topic to be the theme for YFS 2019: ‘Understanding our World - Sustaining our Future’. The concept of sustainability applies to many aspects of young people’s lives. Topics that will be explored within this theme include: the circular economy, environmental protection, the sustainability of democracy and youth mental health. To reinforce the theme the students have introduced a Zero Waste initiative for YFS 2019 and hope to make it the first Zero Waste event at ISZL.

Student organisers have brought together 32 speakers, each world-class leaders in their fields, including returning speakers Jaideep Bansal and Rosie Garthwaite from YFS 2018. “What an amazing place for big conversations on the future of storytelling, diversity and technology. It was an absolute honour to be at YFS 2018 and have the chance to meet such blooming brilliant people” said Rosie Garthwaite of last year’s experience.

A True Learning Experience for Students

A core group of staff members has been supporting the students as they communicate with speakers, select panel topics, assign panellists, design art and promotional materials for the event and become trained on how to moderate panel discussions. One of the lead student organisers, Liya B, says “Bringing together over 30 inspirational experts and 600 students has been difficult, but equally rewarding. Serving as an organiser, I found myself more able to realise the needs of my generation and understanding how to better connect us to our world.”

Pre-Forum - Save the Date!

New to YFS this year is the Pre-Forum, taking place on Wednesday 16th January from 16.30 to 18.00. This event is open to our whole school community (students, parents and staff across both campuses) and will feature a Youth Mental Health discussion, with our full panel of global guest speakers, as well as student TED-style talks with Q&A sessions. Look out for more information on how to take part at the beginning of the new year.

YFS Series

To ensure that the Youth Forum Switzerland is more than just a one day experience for youth to engage in prevalent global issues, The Youth Forum Switzerland Series was created. It is an organised series of interactive learning experiences created by students for students. The YFS Series events allow members of the ISZL community to explore topics connected to our annual theme and connect with different perspectives on important issues. These events aim to inspire audiences to take action and make a difference in their local communities.

The third YFS Series Event takes place next week and is organised and led by ISZL High School students on the YFS Innovation Team. This team has the special task of finding novel ways for the ISZL community to connect with our 2019 YFS theme 'Understanding Our World - Sustaining Our Future' by developing programmes and organising events.  Their Series Event looks at ‘Climate, Refugees and Sustainability’, and will bring together several student presentations, MedAir refugee simulations, MyClimate carbon footprint and climate change workshops, and viewings of the award-winning documentary Anote’s Ark (http://www.anotesark.com/) which the director has personally allowed us to screen for this event. Anote’s Ark details how rising sea levels are destroying the Pacific island of Kiribati (pop 100,000) and creating climate refugees. Our goal is to inspire ISZL students to take action on these pressing issues by designing, presenting, and implementing programs and policies for our school community. The day has been designed to give students the opportunity to take action through the various activities on offer.  

The YFS Series team says “All of us joined to help recreate the amazing event we witnessed in 2018. We hope to put our own stamp on it for YFS 2019, and with the fantastic lineup of speakers and panels, we are well on our way! We have really enjoyed the added independence and responsibility given to YFS team members - we really feel like this is a student-led event.”

Made possible by the Fund for Excellence

An event of this magnitude and encompassing so many facets of school life has only been made possible from the philanthropic support of parents and other community members to the Fund for Excellence. We thank you for your generous donations and for the extraordinary experience that will be afforded our students. If you are interested in learning more about the Fund for Excellence and how you can make a gift to transform student experience at ISZL through the Fund, please contact the Development Office at development@iszl.ch or +41 768 2941

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