Sahir Devani - representing the Academy at the 2017 IB World Student Conference | Aga Khan Academies

Sahir Devani - representing the Academy at the 2017 IB World Student Conference

Sahir Devani, grade 11, shares his experience as an Academy representative at the IB World Student Conference held at King’s College London, from 6-12 August 2017.

The IB World Student Conference was one of best weeks of my life. I was one of 279 students from all over the world who gathered to explore the theme “Well-being in a healthy world: personal responsibility and global health.” It helped me to build perspectives around global health and well-being, and meet amazing people from different cultures. It was hectic, but enriching.

We started our mornings with motivational, life-changing lectures led by eminent personalities representing high ranked organisations and educational institutions like UNHCR, WHO, and KCL. These were followed by sessions in smaller groups called ‘Global Action Teams’ (GAT) and mine had 19 people from eight different countries. Our difficult job was to recognise mental health issues and well-being issues in our own schools and communities, and come up with one project that would help address the issues of ALL the communities.

The difficult part was that all these countries were very different - culturally, socially, economically, and geographically. Issues were many, and needed to be prioritised to change what genuinely required help. For example: in my community, substance abuse leading to mental ill-health would be alarming, but Michaela (from the United States) was pressed to address chronic depression. Therefore, in order to recognise our GAT’s responsibility, it required discussions, colliding perspectives and debate. Filled with learning, socialising, productivity, it was undoubtedly the most engaging week of my life.

All participating students were either pursuing IBDP or had just graduated IB, hence the like-mindedness that was present helped us work better. Listening to stories of students from around the world, it made me realise that I was merely ‘surviving’ IB. After the conference I’ve learnt to not view it as a threat, but as a challenge. It is often seen that teenagers are victims of mental health issues as a result of academic pressure, but by embracing our learner profile and by actively participating in our CAS activities, we can successfully turn the cause into a cure. I will be working over the coming year to implement our GAT strategy at the Academy, and I’m excited!