At recent assemblies at Ross Upper and Lower Schools, six Ross students who traveled to Rome in November to present at a conference titled “Children and Sustainable Development: A Challenge for Education” shared their experiences with their schoolmates. The conference was the result of efforts led in part by the school’s founder, Courtney Sale Ross, to include the voices of youth in international conversations about sustainability and climate change, and students from around the world contributed to the gathering.
The assemblies allowed the Ross delegation to take turns sharing what they thought were the most impactful parts of their trip to Rome. All agreed it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Postgraduate student Kwazi Nkomo, from South Africa, noted the number of languages she heard spoken at the conference, and marked it as a testament to the international commitment to sustainability. Other students, including Kely A. ’23, talked fondly of the opportunity to work with peers from France, Italy, and the Middle East to develop a list of principles and guidelines that was submitted to the conference committee to review for inclusion in a list of global recommendations that will be released in the coming weeks.
Ross students Malik Basnight ’16, Shanshan He ’16, and Isabelle Rowe ’17 said it was great to be involved in such an important discussion, and they are proud that their work may ultimately help shape a global sustainability curriculum. They talked about the necessity of educating young people about sustainability from an early age and introduced the concept of “eco-literacy,” the idea that everyone should know where their food and water come from if they hope to protect these valuable resources. Diego Vanegas ’20 agreed, saying that preparing students to embrace their social and environmental responsibilities should be as important as learning science or math.
While in Rome, the group also toured famous historical sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum. For most, it was their first time in Rome, and they were blown away to see in person some of the objects and sites they’ve studied at Ross. Malik said the Sistine Chapel was magnificent, and it was incredible to imagine that such a creation was possible.
During the Q&A periods at the assemblies, Lower School students mentioned their latest sustainability project in support of the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery and expressed an interest in one day participating in a trip similar to the one to the Vatican. At the Upper School, students learned that Ross is establishing a sustainability club to gather people interested in sustainability, social entrepreneurship, activism, and scientific and technological innovations.
The students who attended the conference were gratified to have the chance to discuss their experiences and keep their schoolmates informed about how Ross is providing important opportunities for their voices to be heard, inspiring a schoolwide commitment to sustainability.