Frances Waterfall – Global Social Leaders Catalyst: Kaiwen Academy |

GSL Goes to China!

This blog has been written by Frances Waterfall, who was one of our coaches on the 5 day GSL Catalyst at Chaoyang Kaiwen Academy, Beijing, in August 2019. The following text will outline and describe the programme from Frances’ personal experience. 

I had the privilege of being part of a 5 day Global Social Leaders Catalyst delivered by Future Foundations from 12-16th August at Chaoyang Kaiwen Academy, Beijing. I was a Coach alongside Charlotte Spooner, where we each had 20 pupils, supported by our Course Director James Canvin. After settling up our classrooms, resources, planning sessions and fuelled with Kung Pao Chicken, we were raring to go and excited for the week ahead!

The Future Foundations GSL programme is designed to encourage personal self development and growth among the young people; providing an opportunity for them to develop their leadership and communication skills. The programme further aims to introduce and raise awareness of global issues which these young people have a chance to tackle through collaboratively designing social action projects based around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which they are able to develop and improve through entering the Global Goals Competition run by Future Foundations.

It was amazing to see the projects these young people had developed in a couple of days, it was really tantamount to what can be achieved in a short space of time.

The first part of the week focused on themes such as knowing yourself and how to push oneself from good to great. This was a chance for the young people to get to know their team as well as a time for their own self reflection. They had the chance to think about their future and where they were headed through various exercises such as creating life maps. We also explored the notion of comfort zones which encouraged the group to challenge each other and themselves over the course of the week and push themselves into their stretch zone. We introduced and discussed the different styles of leadership which were put into practice in activities such as Lava Challenge and Raising the Bar which proved popular! Each day we finished with a reflection session, allowing for a period of mindfulness, thinking about what we had enjoyed and learned about the day and how to improve for further challenges.

The second half of the week we looked at how as young people they could make a change in the world. This involved thinking about their own passions and values; what was really important to them, whether it was their family, sport, or trying to make a positive change in the world. This led on to introducing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, considering how these goals are not independent of each other but can be linked in so many ways. We also discussed the concept of social action and through assessing different case studies of previous social action projects, providing inspiration and motivation to start thinking about planning their own!

Using SMART goals as a guideline the remainder of the week was spent planning their own projects based on Sustainable Development Goals. They decided in groups to focus on the following goals:

Good Health and Well Being – creating a community garden and fitness group across Tsinga University schools to promote healthy living among pupils and the local community.

Climate Action – aiming to tackle the amount of pollution produced in Beijing; raising awareness and starting small.

Quality Education – aiming to provide reading and schooling materials for under-privileged schools in Beijing.

Zero Hunger – tackling poverty in Beijing through raising awareness and regular fundraising activities.

On the final day, the groups presented their ideas to the School Principal and a number of senior teachers, who were incredibly supportive of their projects questioning different aspects of their plans in order for improvement. We spent the final afternoon reflecting on the past week, creating a tree, full of the young people’s passions, skills and future aspirations.

It was amazing to see the projects these young people had developed in a couple of days, it was really tantamount to what can be achieved in a short space of time. Their passion behind their ideas I really hope will compel them to enter the Global Goals Competition. An amazing experience all round!