Choate Students Travel to Osaka, Japan for Global Symposium

Photo courtesy of Abbie Chang

Choate students interact with students from schools in Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines.

In the second to last week of fall term, when most Choate students were studying for tests and making up homework, Abbie Chang ’19 and Owen Orthwein ’19 went on a week-long trip to Osaka, Japan as Choate’s student representatives at the Think For The Future Global Symposium.

The Think For The Future Global Symposium is an annual global conference that began two years ago. Choate has been invited since its beginning by the host school, Seifu Nankai Senior High School. Along with Choate, students from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, in the Philippines, and Le Hong Phong High School and Marie Curie High School, both in Vietnam, attended.
Chang and Orthwein each had slightly different reasons for applying to the program that wanted students who were “willing to communicate with people from different countries and enjoy sharing ideas and opinions with them through various activities.”

Orthwein said, “I felt I would get a better feel of the culture going to school in Japan than just going as a tourist.” Chang had similar thoughts, but was additionally attracted by the actual program. Chang said, “I looked into the website from the school and their pamphlet from the year before, and it sounded really interesting.”

When Chang and Orthwein arrived at Seifu Nankai, they and the other students were split up into four groups, three groups for scenario planning and the last for a panel discussion. “I was in the scenario planning group,” Chang said, “which is what I’d been really interested in when I looked at their pamphlet.” Essentially, Chang’s group was given a topic, The Future of Air Travel, and then had to make a plan for what they thought that would look like in the future based on different factors while having the opportunity to collaborate with many people from a variety of nations. “Even though I do have that opportunity at Choate, which is amazing, it’s a really different experience to do that in the home country of some of the people you’re doing that with,” said Chang.

Meanwhile, Orthwein was a part of the panel discussion, which focused on the subject of Global Leadership. “We were given a couple different questions to think about before we came to the discussion, like, ‘Do you want leadership?’ and ‘What values does your country look for in leadership?’ We talked about that for most of the time,” said Orthwein.

Chang and Orthwein also got to see how different Japanese schools were from Choate. Orthwein commented, “I think everyone there was really motivated, similar to Choate, but at the same time, home, school, and outside of school were all separate.”

Cleanliness was also a priority in Japan. For instance, all students had two pairs of shoes, one for inside, and one for outside, to keep the floors clean. Even the public transportation system was very different. “It was very quiet, and everywhere we went it was super-clean,” Chang noticed. “People would fall asleep on the train and have their stuff sitting in front of them without worrying it would get stolen.”

After presenting their work in front of the entire school, Chang and Orthwein reflected on their trip and what they learned. Orthwein said, “Everyone was very nice, friendly, respectful, and sometimes at Choate, we kind of forget about that.”

Chang said, “For me, I think at Choate we sometimes come into things with preconceived notions about people.” She continued, “But with this, there’s no way to do that, because we didn’t know who the others would be, so it eliminated that possibility and allowed us all to become really close friends. The whole experience made me want to live in Japan.”

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