On Tuesday, the Global Affairs fellows met in groups of three (one senior, one junior, and one sophomore). Each group predicted four issues that the United States could face in 2022. We brought up issues such as climate change, Covid’s threat to worldwide health and economy, vaccine distribution, tension between China and the U.S., inflation, and Russian expansionism on the U.S. border. After briefing everyone on the issues, we formulated a possible solution.
Everyone loves waking up on Christmas morning to gifts under the tree, but for some families this is not feasible. Global Affairs fellows volunteered to bring gifts from the Christmas list of the children of a family on the Eastern Shore. This family has 7 children of varying ages, and have been through a lot, so they could use our help to bring some Christmas joy. On Tuesday everyone brought in their gifts and we all worked together to wrap them up. We collected gifts such as clothes, a skateboard, games, a scooter, and shoes. Everyone was happy to see the stack of beautifully wrapped presents we ended up with, and were glad to be able to help a family in need have a merry Christmas! ~Kaiya ’24
After a relaxing Thanksgiving, Global Affairs Fellows reconvened on Monday. Sophomores and juniors met with their senior mentors to discuss the break, conduct mental check-ins, and look ahead to exam week and the conclusion of the semester. On Wednesday morning, AC Perry (‘22), Areen Syed (‘24), and Brooke Bettencourt (‘24) delivered a chapel on the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD) and their new Coffee Project as part of the Quality Education Bulldogs Care Campaign. They also announced the much-anticipated pitball tournament! Kaleb Doyle (‘23) and Emma Hugo (‘22) organized the tournament, which took place on Thursday, and 32 upper school students competed to win a free lunch of their choice. In total, GAF raised $435 for AASD. In addition to the tournament, GAF also held cohort meetings. The ‘22s met to create a plan for the second semester, which will hopefully focus on preparing for the 2022 summer Peru trip. The ‘23s analyzed several primary sources regarding human rights and debated document-based questions about the sources. Finally, the ‘24s explored the Council on Foreign Relation’s World 101: Sovereignty page. All in all, GAF had a very productive, successful week! ~Ruby ’23
This week in Global Affairs Fellows we met in our cohorts (2022’s, 2023’s, and 2024’s) to finish some of our curricular work. The sophomores have been studying the Council on Foreign Relations’ modules on the regions of the world. Each of the six sections has information on modern history, politics, geopolitics, economics, U.S. foreign policy, and people and society. For every region we prepare a briefing for “the state department”. On Tuesday, we looked at South and Central Asia. Some of the key issues we focused on were India’s multiple party system and increasing violence towards Muslims. We also noticed how climate change will affect this part of Asia in the future, with Bangladesh at risk of being underwater in just a few decades. We concluded by analyzing the pros and cons of a potential allyship with India. On Thursday, we spent the first half of the block researching East Asia, and how more governments in that region are becoming autocracies. We also recognized how China is becoming a greater threat to the United States.
For the last part of the block on Thursday, the 2024’s were given an interesting challenge. We were asked to count the number of tiles in the upper school. At first, we immediately started planning on how to divide up the rooms in the upper school to count the tiles most efficiently. After realizing that approach would take too long, we all gathered together and brainstormed other ways to solve the problem. We measured a tile and figured out that each one was a square foot. The only thing left to do was to figure out how many square feet were in the upper school. We tried to find the answer on the internet but were unsuccessful. We decided to divide up and ask different teachers if they knew anything that could help us. We eventually met with the Facilities Manager, who was able to tell us that there were around 33,000 square feet in the upper school. Through this exercise we learned the importance of being able to ask for help, delegate tasks, think of different ways to solve a problem, and most importantly, how to work well together.
On Tuesday, we met in our actions groups (Abroad, Communications, and Local) to discuss our current, short-term, and long-term goals. In my Local action group, our current goals consisted mainly of continuing our current tutoring sessions with HR3. In addition, we would like to begin spotlight interviews with members of HR3. In the near future, the local action group also hopes to direct a Christmas gift donation drive targeting migrant farmers in the Eastern Shore. Similar to this, another future goal of the Local action group is to set up a jewelry making programs for migrant children! As for the other action groups, Communications continued to work hard on the Global Affairs Fall Newsletter and Abroad discussed former and potential partnerships with Awamaki, AASD, and Elephants Alive.
On Friday, we split into three groups with the goal of researching 3 of the latest and most important international current affairs: 1. The US-China Climate Agreement, 2. EU Diplomacy concerning Taiwan, and 3. The Pakistan meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In my group, we discussed the recent meeting hosted by Pakistan, which included the US, Russia, and China. Each group focused on researching and delivering a synopsis of the main issue or event and its results and implications.
This week the Global Affairs Fellows learned and practiced the Question Formulation Technique adopted by the Right Question Institute. This process was centered around 4 critical rules to formulating questions:
Ask as many questions as you can.
Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer the questions.
Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
Change any statement into a question.
To put this process into practice, we split into groups of two and each group was assigned a country and a respective set of pictures. Each photo set displayed recent COVID protests. One group member was tasked to write down all the questions on a google doc while the other member stated as many questions or ideas they could think of in 5 minutes that related to the photos. Afterwards, each group reflected on which questions were closed and which were open.
Each group then picked 3 of their questions to research and answer. Then the groups created a powerpoint to present their findings and pictures. The following class, each group presented their powerpoints, explained the background on the protest, and answered their 3 questions. With the following class time, we debriefed the recent election for governor and met with our project groups for any recent updates.
This week in Fellows was very eventful. We had a guest speaker on Monday come and talk to all of the Fellows. Her name is Courtney Doyle, and she currently serves as a Norfolk city council member and works in marketing for Sentara. She explained to us how to be a city council member and balance her work and service life at the same time. She also talked to the Fellows about some of the major projects they are working on in the council, such as bike lanes and the redevelopment of Military Circle mall. She explained that she sometimes has to abstain from votes because she sometimes has a conflict of interest in issues.
The Global Affairs Fellows also met by cohorts to discuss curricular work. The Sophomores discussed an area of the world and gave a brief on it, while the Juniors debated about Human rights and the Seniors talked about trade. The Fellows also worked on their articles for the newsletter, and peer-edited the articles for each other. The people in the communications department served as overarching editors to improve everyone’s work.
This week the Global Affairs fellows are working on their newsletter. Some of us are doing topics such as the uneven vaccine distribution, Kenya’s debt to China, Pandora papers, and the pros and cons of the European Union. I personally wrote about Kenya’s debt to China because I think it is an issue many people are unaware about and an issue that could potentially make a lasting impact on all the world. If African nations owe China money, China could have all of these countries’ support in the United Nations, something which might lead to the United States lacking votes, and giving China all the power to make decisions. Going forward, we will post our newsletter sometime in the next few weeks, and everyone can read all of these interesting topics.
We started off the week by meeting in our grade level cohorts and discussing the articles we had read the weekend before. The 2024 cohort was tasked with the prompt of briefing the US State Department on Europe and our international relationship with them. After a lively debate, we agreed the two main points moving forward is for the US and Europe to prioritize strengthening and building relationships within NATO as well as providing aid to members of the EU facing problems due to COVID. On Tuesday, we convened as an entire group and had a presentation on design thinking by the Word Leadership School. We learned the five steps of design thinking are discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution. Discovery involves interviewing people to gain understanding and build empathy. Interpretation defines the issue through reflection on discovery. Next you go through ideation which is brainstorming ideas and comparing them to needs. Next you go into the experimentation phases and build a prototype. Finally, you present and gather feedback while revising where needed. This is the final evolution phase. On Thursday, we convened amongst cohorts and talked about how design thinking can be shortened and or changed to fit what we do in Global Affairs Fellows.
The Afghanistan crisis has created plenty of issues for American foreign policy, but among them is that the natural resources are no longer fully available to the US. That might end up being the most essential issue in the long-term. In fact, CNN Business reports that Afghanistan has mineral deposits worth over $1 trillion. That includes iron, copper, and gold, plus other rare earth metals. The previous Afghan government actually estimated such deposits are worth three times that. Most importantly, though, is that Afghanistan contains the world’s largest deposits of lithium, an essential ingredient for batteries, which need to be produced en masse as the world pushes sustainable energy. However, lithium is an extremely limited resource globally. Scientist Rod Schoonover, founder of the Ecological Futures Group, said “Afghanistan is one of the regions richest in traditional precious, but also the metals for the emerging economies of the 21st century,” which are set to be based on green energy. But who gets those metals is in the air. “It’s a big uncertainty,” said Schoonover. This’ll be incredibly prosperous for the Taliban: while the group doesn’t have the resources needed to mine for lithium, they can sell the rights to mine the land to other nations, especially China. Already, the Taliban has sold the mining rights for some of the mineral-rich land of the nation to Chinese companies, many with close ties to Beijing. Naturally, the CCP-backed Global Times reported that Chinese investment is already “widely accepted” in Afghanistan. The Taliban doesn’t have any other financial options. They’re not getting any money from outside, and the former president took the treasury with him to Dubai. China has eyed the strong potential of the region for decades. And China’s timing has never been better: as demand grows for lithium-ion batteries in the West, the deficit to China is only growing (even as nations invest millions to cut it). If China can get the world’s largest lithium deposits, it can hold the supply further over the heads of the US. Imagine the irony: coal-powered China raking in a fortune from an America going green.
This week the Global Affairs fellows each prepared a state of the world report and presented it to the entire group. These reports described various world conflicts around the world, and the possible outcomes and solutions to the conflict. Some of these reports included the Haitian migration, the military coup in Guinea, and the U.S.-Australia nuclear submarine deal. The fellows had a great time learning about and discussing these important events that are unfolding around the world.