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Student speeches at Youth Forum Switzerland 2020

28 January 2020

Surval students have many opportunities to make connections between ideas and skills gained in the classroom into practice in the real world. Students Anastasiia (Grade 12, Russia) and Elizaveta (Grade 12, Russia) were selected to speak at the Youth Forum Switzerland 2020 in which the presented on the ideas of unity and sustainability and the impact that young people can have in creating a better future. Highlights from these speeches.


Anastasia on Consumerism Versus Sustainability

Our society’s obsession with consumerism is ultimately fuelled by companies determined to make us buy more and to think less. Thus, the culture of industry simply dulls our senses, turning us into “passive receivers” of whatever businesses provide. 

However, I have applied to study business at university because, business can be at the very centre of change. Ethical and environmental practices employed in a business setting can make the difference we need, and I want to be at the forefront of this.

Here is a little saying: “Sell a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.” This suggests businesses have an extremely high influence on the lives of billions of people, as well as a huge impact on the planet and so have such amazing opportunities to have a positive impact. To this end, I am hoping to establish a sustainable NGO that would focus on helping people in need. 

But do not think though that because you don’t have your own company that earns thousands of dollars a month you are not successful and cannot make a difference - yes you can. Everyone in this world can.


Elizaveta on Unity

Lisa described an experience in which on a family trip she was incited to take action when she saw the trash which fills our oceans. She states:

When we throw things away, the truth is that there is no “away”; there is just somewhere else - somewhere else on the planet we all share.

 I have to admit that to see it with my own eyes just there, really close to me was much more terrifying than hearing and talking about it. At that second I completely and irrevocably understood that what we humans are doing is simply not acceptable and I realised that I need to start making changes myself and do something to change this situation, something that could also inspire other people, especially those in my own country of Russia, to act. Because the more I learn about sustainability, the more I am certain that the future of sustainability is unity.

Liza further described the connection between unity and sustainability as she described a transformative planting a garden as a member of Surval’s sustainability club:

I felt that this was something I could do with my own hands and that effort could perhaps improve the world around me, even if only a tiny bit. However, I also realised, that by working alongside other people, teenagers like me, we could start to empower each other to improve the world…”

As you can see our students have begun the semester by exploring important issues. As we move into the second half of this academic year, we are focused on giving students opportunities to explore these ideas in depth and continue developing the communication skills that will allow them to make powerful change.