The Inaugural Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders’ Convention

The Inaugural Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders’ Convention

14 May 2021

Delegates of the fictional country Fjordia taking a pledge they had created

From 18th to 21st July 2020, the inaugural Hwa Chong Global Digital Young Leaders’ Convention (GDYLC) virtually brought together 101 delegates from 17 schools across seven countries, serving as a platform for young leaders from around the globe to discuss pertinent issues from a multitude of perspectives. In addition, the delegates had the privilege of learning from esteemed keynote speakers of various sectors of research, industry and government. 

The need to come together in the face of challenges, more relevant now than ever, was aptly reflected in the Convention’s theme – ‘Concord: Standing in Solidarity, Chartering a New Era’.

Taking the opportunity to challenge the boundaries of traditional school events, the student organisers of GDYLC chartered their own unique course by presenting something completely different – in the form of a gamified alternate reality. 

The “GD World” was meticulously built from scratch, starting with the Organising Team (OT) creating its own immersive landscape of countries, with their own complex systems of global relations and domestic politics. Delegates then took on the roles of a range of unique stakeholders, from government ministers to healthcare leaders to political revolutionaries.

Against the backdrop of a fictional pandemic, these stakeholders engaged in daily online discussions, working tirelessly to address a series of fictional crises, which included everything from food production emergencies to hostage negotiations with pirates. 

The OT of the inaugural HC-GDYLC holding their online meeting on Zoom

A novel hurdle GDYLC had to overcome was the time differences between participating countries. To do so, some Singaporean facilitators had to stay up till after midnight — yet, this opened up opportunities for unique memories to be forged. 

“One of the most memorable moments was when we had a meal together with the Western delegates on the last day of the convention during their allocated lunch break, which was around 1.30am SGT,” facilitator Tan I-Xan (20S7G), jokingly comments, “so I cooked Indomie and we just stayed on the call and talked.” 

Ultimately, unprecedented as it was, the event managed to leave an impact on its participants. 

“How funny, kind, and fascinating all the delegates were conveyed the importance of international friendships and bonds,” Cora Elisabeth Macmillan from the USA’s Dominion High School, remarks, “I will cherish these relationships regardless of whether we are across the globe from each other or standing by each other in person.”

While, just months ago, it seemed unfathomable, GDYLC proved itself to be a pioneer in adapting to change, blazing the path for learning and collaboration in the new digital era.

Written by Tan Lyn Shann, Rachel (20S7B) and Soh Yong Xiang (20A15)

(This is a continuing series to capture the vibrancy of Hwa Chong life in 2020.)