Global Forum Reflection

-By, Katie Tsai

A week without academic classes or homework to do one of my favorite activities?! Obviously, the weekend before Global Forum began, I was very excited. Having met the girls in my studio on Community Curriculum Day in November, I anticipated a relaxing week of creating garbage art in a kind and supportive environment. However, after seeing my classmates’ posts on their finstas (“fake” Instagram accounts on which people often vent) on the first morning of Global Forum week, I realized that some were less enthusiastic than I was. For instance, some were not looking forward to recording the two-hour presentation or having to listen to someone speak for so long about trash. Despite my peers’ complaints, I maintained a positive attitude on the way to school.

Yet when I saw the title of Mr. Hettwer’s presentation as I sat down in the theater, I was disappointed. I was going to have to listen to a two-hour presentation about ships? Boooring. However, as soon as Mr. Hettwer explained what ship breaking is, I became intrigued. As I listened to him describe the terrible conditions in which Bangladeshi men and boys as young as 10 years old work for very little pay, I grew fascinated with the way that human rights converges with environmental issues. Additionally, because I love photography, I enjoyed viewing Mr. Hettwer’s “secret” National Geographic photos, which depict the most polluted places around the world. I was captivated by his ability to show environmental disasters while still using the elements and principles of design. His images made me realize how fortunate I am to live in my clean town, where I do not have to pay attention to where my trash goes after I throw it in the bin.

My enthusiasm for Global Forum further increased as I walked into the art studio. Bulging bags overflowing with wrapping paper, egg cartons and cereal boxes — all raw materials to create works of art — were piled on the floor. When we were assigned small groups to work in, I knew that ours would develop a thought-provoking and complex project idea. We did come up with one: making a collage from food product boxes and containers to remind people not to waste. Upon finishing the project on the first day, we were motivated to create something even larger and decided to make a collage of Winsor. Though it was tedious to glue hundreds of tiny scraps of paper to the cardboard, after having worked on it for so long (almost three days), we were all proud of it.

While the Lower Schoolers in my studio remained eager all week, the Upper Schoolers appeared less motivated as each day passed. Groups left the room for long periods of time “to work” when really they talked or went on their laptops. Others were frustrated that they had nothing to do. One Upper Schooler described her negative experience: “I was in the Documenting the Forum studio, and the first couple of days consisted of doing nothing and waiting for the other studios to figure out what they wanted to do. In addition, I found some studios that I observed to be quite hypocritical: lots of sticky notes, paper, plastic and food were wasted — more than on a typical school day at Winsor.” Another student commented, “[Global Forum] felt kind of rushed and unorganized (for my group at least). There were also no guidelines in what we should have been working on because it was supposed to be open for us to decide, which was nice but kind of confusing.” Other groups were frustrated that their studio leaders did not give them anything to do. People were bored and they desired the structure of the regular school day and the work of one to keep them busy. By the middle of the week, my optimism was diminishing, as most of my classmates were vocal about not having fun. Furthermore, I underestimated how tired I would be after working on art projects for hours. By the end of the week, everyone in my studio was exhausted and ready to be done with “trash week.” But when we shared our work on the last day, I realized how much progress we had made as a studio; each piece of art was beautiful, and it really seemed like we had worked our hardest despite the negativity throughout the school.

When I went to the showcase, I was also impressed by how much our school had learned and created and by the many interesting experiences that people had had. I saw clothes made from broken CDs and a table made from books, and I learned how much paper Winsor uses. I was and still am proud of what we did during Global Forum. Despite most people’s joy about going back to their regular schedules and having classes with more than a few from their grade, I knew I would miss my Global Forum studio. Moreover, I do not think that I have ever learned so much information that was actually useful for my everyday life as I did during this week. I was enlightened about environmental issues and the ways in which I can help solve them. Currently, I am looking for a good reusable water bottle (those who have seen me know I have only used plastic recyclable ones), and I am excited to find out what the theme is for Global Forum 2019.