ACE 2013 - panel discussions

panelsPanel discussions give ACE students a chance to express their ideas in front of their peers and understand the worldviews of others.

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ith so many top students from China, America and (starting this year) Russia assembled in one place, ACE is an incredible opportunity for youth leaders to learn about each others’ views through dialogue. ACE 2013 included three panel discussions: “innovation and leadership”, “a person or event from Chinese history that influenced me”, and “morality, privacy and government transparency in the internet age: the effects of the Snowden case on global affairs."

During the first of these panels, moderator Steve Warrington (Director of Teaching at the University of Edinburgh) pointed out that across the globe, firms are increasingly looking for innovation in their employees, and that schools are having to react to this need by placing greater emphasis on the cultivation of innovation in students. He asked students to speculate on the relationship between education, innovation and leadership. Some students argued that academic success as it is currently defined does not necessarily directly correlate to the ability to panels2Paige Darrow talks about how the discovery of tea inspired her to take chances in her own lifeinnovate successfully. New York student Amanda Yang responded by agreeing that “not everything is like it is in your text books” but saying that “education provides the foundational knowledge you need in order to think outside the box”.

A few days later was the panel on Chinese history. Almost all of the foreign students at this year’s ACE had studied Mandarin or Chinese history, and this panel gave them a chance to show off their knowledge. Nikolai Ponomarenko, from Moscow’s Gymnasium 1517, found it hard to choose just one, but settled on Emperor Qin Shihuang and Confucius for the impact they made on not only East Asia but the entire world. Paige Darrow from Pennsylvania’s MMI Prep School said one lesson she learned from Chinese history was the importance of being brave enough to try new things: the person who discovered tea wound up changing the world through his bravery, and that inspired her to try new things in her life.

panels4CCTV reporter Huang Da led the discussion on Snowden and privacy in the digital ageBut perhaps the highlight of the week’s discussions was the exciting debate that arose around the case of Edward Snowden. After CCTV journalist and panel moderator Huang Da reviewed facts of the headline-occupying story, active discussion flourished among the panelists and the audience members. The students presented a wide range of opinions: Sergey Galaktionov supported Snowden’s actions saying “what right does the U.S. Government have to read my emails?” while California student Morgan Sasaki focused on the criminality of the act and the harm it caused to the US-led War on Terror. However, a majority of the students expressed the opinion that surveillance did not infringe on their ability to speak freely. The forum encouraged audience members to pose questions and put forward their own opinions, which provided great diversity to the discussion, and inspired students like audience member Zeng Fan to take to their blogs to call the panel “fascinating and inspiring”.
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