Chloe Hummel

Youth Forum Switzerland 2021


Karen Lurie celebrates the continued growth of Youth Forum Switzerland, which turned the requirement to meet online into an opportunity to go global


What exactly is the Global Changemakers Project?

The Global Changemakers Project (GCP) is an extension of the annual ISZL Youth Forum Switzerland programme, connecting young people with leading changemakers from around the world who are focusing their work on the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  There are 17 SDGs in total ranging from No Poverty, Climate Action, to Social Justice.


The Global Changemakers Project team consists of six Grade 11 students:  Roni A, Amanda M, Caroline D, Amalie KL, Emilia C and Ann-Sophie J and is supported by three staff members: Fabio Paron, Linzie Stephenson and Karen Lurie.


Is Mr Paron crazy? (aka: Where did it all begin?)


On a bright, sunny day last May, our team assembled to discuss how the team would connect Global Shapers (a group of 20-30 year old changemakers identified by the World Economic Forum) with students, not only at ISZL, but from similar IB schools worldwide.  Enthusiasm was in the air and ideas were being tossed about, when suddenly Mr Paron announced that his aim for the team was to connect students and changemakers from all seven continents! Greeted with blank stares and dead silence, he told us all to “just think about it.”


Amanda M recalls “We truly had no idea what we were really going to be doing, it just sounded pretty cool. But when we realized the magnitude of the project, we all walked away from that meeting clearly thinking ‘is Mr Paron crazy?’


Summer Reboot

While some students were out paddleboarding, hiking or socialising with friends, the GCP team were conducting weekly zoom calls, researching, drafting letters, and becoming quite proficient on LinkedIn, connecting with global shapers from around the world.  By the end of August, they had secured over 170 global shapers from six continents for the project.  The next task was to secure all the external schools and students. Emilia C describes that “It gave us a real purpose over the summer, knowing we would be meeting students from around the world discussing important issues.”  Ann-Sophie J added: “working on this helped me combine and further create an international mindset, allowing me to make connections with global shapers that before I didn’t think was possible.”


Spreading the word

In September, the Global Changemakers Project was introduced to all ISZL Humanities teachers and students from Grades 6 to 10 as part of the Youth Forum Switzerland 2021 event. Students, working in teams of two, would research a sustainable development goal of their choice. They would be matched with a global shaper currently working within that specific goal, and then would conduct a thirty-minute interview with their global shaper.  At ISZL, a total of 500 students would participate in the project and be mentored by Roni, Amanda, Amalie and Caroline.


Our external schools and students would be mentored and managed by Emilia and Ann-Sophie.  Students from Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, Ghana, Germany, the U.K. and India would join ISZL students in this project.  Amalie reflects “we were able to channel our ISZL community to a far-reaching global community in India, creating a unique education experience for approximately 40 students that might not have had an opportunity like this. It is really heartwarming to know that we did this as a team.”  In total, the GCP team secured 600+ students, 25 external schools and 173 global shapers.  An incredible feat - as Mr. Paron states, ‘It’s remarkable what a talented and committed group of students and educators can accomplish during challenging times.’


Turning Learning Into Action

During the week of January 23rd, all students began interviewing their global shapers from around the world.  The hallways at the high school were buzzing as students began logging onto Zoom to meet their global shaper and discuss relevant issues.  Middle school students assembled together to interview several global shapers at one time. After two rounds of 30 minute interviews, students came out of classrooms feeling inspired, elated and very professional.  Kudos to our incredibly talented and hands-on tech team at the high school - Matt, Cate, Ian C, Linzie and Seb, supported by Oliver W and Olimpio P in grade 11 - we could not have done this without you and your technical expertise.


In early February, the GCP team officially closed the Youth Forum Switzerland 2021 with a celebratory Zoom call that included over 100 participants including students, educators and global shapers from approximately 20 different countries.  Our guest of honor was Wadia Ait Hamza, Head of Global Shapers from the World Economic Forum, who spoke to many of the participants and thanked the GCP team for making this project come to life. ‘This is when it finally became real to me’ states Roni, ‘we were putting all the names and faces together and that's when it really hit home. It was a bit overwhelming to be honest.’    


Respect, Motivate, Achieve

At ISZL we are a community of learners determined to make the world – or our corner of it – a better, kinder place. The Global Changemakers Project is a perfect example of students fulfilling their mission by making the most of this opportunity and challenge.  Caroline comments ‘It was this project that truly humbled me. To be able to use my privilege to do something for others, well…it is just extremely heartwarming and definitely opened up my view of the world.’ 


As educators, it is always our goal to further inspire students and to develop new experiences for them.  Linzie S states this best: ‘Working with these dedicated students to develop a new experience within the YFS programme, to incorporate a world-wide element, while negating the limitations through Covid-19, was exciting, challenging and at times mind-boggling.  However, they did it and I am very proud of everything the students achieved.  The real eye opener for me was seeing the students interact with all the people they had connected with during the celebration zoom call.  Seeing the true extent of the project for the first time, how the participants had made meaningful connections, and seeing the maturity of the GCP team while talking to shapers, the schools, supervising teachers, made all the effort worthwhile and contextualised for me the reason we continue to expand and innovate within the YFS programme.’


As Lead Project Manager for the Global Changemakers Project team, I remain deeply honored to have worked with this talented group of Grade 11 students, alongside colleagues Fab and Linzie, all of whom continue to inspire me daily with their passions and humour


Karen Lurie, on behalf of the Global Changemakers Project team.


  • FFE
  • High School
  • YFS