GSL Catalyst at JBCN International School

In December 2018 we were invited back to JBCN International School in Mumbai to work with an incredible group of young students from JBCN International School. Here, Future Foundations’ coach James Canvin tells us more about the experience and impact on the participants.

It’s been rather a long time since I was sat in Alex Bustamante’s (FF vet, Bolivian and all round legend) sister’s front room in 2013, timetables and content strewn all over the floor, laptops out putting the finishing touches on the ops plan for a big, new project. This would become Global Social Leaders, the first World Summit!

Fast forward four years, some incredible programmes and barbeques and I found myself in Clapham Junction station at 8pm, being handed a suitcase (as chunky as it was on-brand!) by Wandsworth’s ‘Q’ – Jon Harper. It was stuffed with reflection journals, shirts and FF staple blindfolds and tent poles – sadly no gadgets with explosive potential given the strict regulations at Heathrow airport, such buzzkills! Time for a quick selfie and slap on the back, and I’m back in the fold – destination India!

This was a programme I was excited for weeks before my feet hit the deliciously December-warm ground, having been teed up by some awesome conversations and content run-throughs with Amy. The brief: three days, one group, twenty bright, enthusiastic young people ready to roll with a new and improved 3-day GSL Catalyst programme. Twice!

I had a couple of days to orient myself before the programmes began. These days included meeting the incredible Ana and Shajid from the JBCN schools I would be working in, checking out the venues, having a scout for SDGs in action in Mumbai and chomping down on some of the finest paneer-based delicacies the city has to offer.

Day 1 – Know Yourself, from Good to Great

We kicked off in classic FF fashion, you name the activity and it was there!

Toxic Dump – check.

Raising the bar – check.

21 – check.

Shells vacated, and inhibitions defenestrated we were ready to dive deep into some ‘Knowing Yourself’ content – possibly the most beautiful part of the whole programme. A couple of participants would later suggest this was their favourite part, as the questions they had been asked about themselves, were ones they had never been encouraged to think about (let alone had time set aside to do it) before.

They all rose to the challenge, and very bravely and honestly opened up about the things that matter: what people think of them, their strengths and weaknesses, and their personal passions. By the end of the day, everyone was on board with the idea that leadership starts very close to home.

Day 2 – Passion for Change

This is the meaty day in terms of content, and both groups really stepped up to the challenge. They explored what the Sustainable Development Goals are, how they link to each other, and how they link to their own personal passions – all whilst trying to avoid decapitation by the very literal ‘links’ being made using a ball of string.

This lead to an active afternoon, exploring the challenges that previous projects have faced by analysing case studies (this lot were very clear on what could have been improved, and ready to crank things up with their own projects!). Then, it was group time, each selecting based on the Global Goal they were most passionate about, and started thinking big about the things they could do.

Day 3 – Make it Happen

Now we were in full flow and I was blown away by the speed these guys were pulling together their projects – from big goals, straight into practicalities and reality. Collaboration was happen across Google Slides in a way I have NEVER witnessed before, to sugar-paper prototypes, to full blown social media campaigns in a matter of minutes.

One group really harnessed the power of social media to poll their friends through instagram and used this to embed some powerful stats about the perception of Sex Education in their school, lobbying their (extremely impressed) principle to make a positive change.

The ‘hot topics’ included:

Gender equality – an impressive campaign to address stereotypes in uniform code

Food waste – a cunning initiative to recycle school waste, and

Climate change – the creation of a community garden, cared for by a cross-generational group of pupils and volunteers, made up of hardy city-enduring plants.

As I am just about to head to bed nice and early, ready for my flight back to London tomorrow morning, I can’t help but wonder which of these projects are really going to stick. What’s for certain is these incredible young people have some GREAT ideas about how they want the world to look, and certainly the guts and determination to push the world in their direction. I will be scouring through the Global Goals Competition submissions next year, eager to see the contribution our newest members of this global community are making.

Time to fly home. Thanks for reading to the end, for a minute I wasn’t sure you were going to make it, but hopefully you enjoyed it! Happy New Year.

James