Last October 21, 2014 at The Daly College, Indore, the Global Alliance of Leading-Edge Schools (GALES) successfully concluded the third TiltShift Summit. The TiltShift Summit is a weeklong conference that brings together students from over fifteen schools and five continents to discuss some of the world’s most pressing global issues and their possible solutions.
The theme of this year’s conference was entitled, “The Rights Approach.” Here, students from all over the world were invited to exchange ideas and perspectives on the importance of human rights. Delegates from each school were tasked to identify a pressing human rights issue in their respective nations and to highlight ways by which these issues could be resolved through showcasing selected persons and/or organizations.
Students were divided into Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and tasked to address a specific rights issue that plagued certain underprivileged communities in India. At the end of the conference, each SIG was required to present their findings to the rest of the delegates—problems faced in the area, possible solutions for such, and importance of addressing said problems. The SIGs were as follows: Empty Pocket, involving poverty and its implications for human rights; Dove Swarm, which tackled issues regarding migration rights; and Glass Ark, which discussed the conflict between human rights and the environment.
H4I students Jedd Ong and Antonio Puyat attended the summit in India as representatives of Xavier School and were accompanied and coached by Mr. Simoneil Mendoza, High School Department Head for Social Studies. In accordance to the tasks set out by the conference, the delegation from Xavier School conducted a series of site visits and interviews based on their chosen rights issues—children’s rights and the right to education—before setting out to India.
The persons and organizations they chose to showcase during the conference were Maruxa Pita and Atty. Evelyn Battad, founding chairs of the Makabata Foundation and the Street Children Development Center (SCDC), respectively. The Makabata Foundation is a school that aims to provide quality education to willing children who are unable to afford formal schooling, while the SCDC is a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide practical and holistic education for street children wishing to enter formal schooling but without the means or socio-moral foundations to do so.
During the conference itself, both delegates were assigned to the SIG, Glass Ark. Site visits were made to the impoverished village of Chikli on the outskirts of Indore, and a presentation was made documenting the various problems plaguing the village, most notably that of lack of clean water and an inability to gather raw materials (e.g Bamboo) for fence making and their main industry of basket weaving. Glass Ark consisted of delegates from the Philippines, Australia, India, Japan, and Thailand.
Arguably, the most valuable part of the experience for the delegates from Xavier was not the extensive dialogue on human rights, but rather the truly intimate, yet international flavor of the conference as a whole. Some of the most memorable experiences for the delegates came not only during the site visits or the SIG discussions, but also during the bus rides to and from the SIG sites and the mealtimes spent conversing with the other delegates about their own cultures and how different their daily lives are from ours yet somehow all the same. Living in such close quarters with people of such different cultures was a truly memorable experience all by itself.
Other highlights from the conference include a day trip visit to the well-preserved fort towns of Mandu and Maheshwar, as well as International Night, where all delegates dressed up in their national costumes and performed a number that personified their nation, whether it be song, dance, football demonstration, or otherwise.
Overall, Tiltshift was a wonderfully eye-opening experience for all delegates involved. The balance between meaningful discussions on human rights, and lighthearted interaction with people of different cultures and backgrounds, set the stage for an event that was truly global in scope—one that reminded all delegates involved that there is indeed a world much larger, and much smaller, than they could ever imagine.