Student leader insights from the 2022 Worldwise Academy Summit

Dulwich College Beijing
DCB Students 2022 WWA

There are many great opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and contribute to the Dulwich College Beijing community. One of the most popular annual DCB events is the Worldwise Academy Summit (WWA). The theme of this year’s event at the Penn Wharton China Center was Sustaining innovation in a changing world. Student Prefect Joe W summed up the importance of this event.

"Over the years, the Worldwise Academy (WWA) has become a cornerstone of student enrichment at DCB. It serves as a pivotal means to bridge the gap between school life and the larger life beyond school, as well as an opportunity for students to demystify uncertainties they have about future career pathways."

To create a WWA event that values student agency and leadership, Senior School students are invited to take key roles in the planning, preparation, presenting and hosting of each event. At the well-attended event in September 2022, Senior School student leaders helped to make the event a great success for other students, parents, guests and staff.

The students that stepped up to be of service to the wider DCB community were Head Girl Victoria H, Head Boy Joe W, Prefect of Approaches to Learning Benjamine Z, Media Prefect Sofia S and MUN/Debating Prefect Brian L. Energetic and friendly, Benjamine Z acted as the Master of Ceremony throughout the event. Sofia S professionally and responsively co-moderated the final part of the event. Finally, Victoria H gave inspiring final remarks for the audience of over 150 accomplished people.

WWA 2022

Student event leaders drew on their previous DCB experience as a Student Prefect when speaking to the audience. Sofia and Victoria mentioned how the communication skills developed through being in this role helped them at the event. Sofia summed up by saying, “We do so many projects that not only involve us showcasing our expertise, but also improve our leadership and communication skills.”

These kinds of skills were actively used by the students in the lead-up to the event and during the event. “This position has definitely trained my public speaking and critical thinking skills,” said Victoria, as her Prefect role involved “tackling various presentations and discussions,” of which “I was able to advantageously exploit while preparing the closing remarks.”

A common theme mentioned by these student leaders was the personal and professional development opportunity that the experience gave them. While stretching their capabilities, the experience was also enjoyable for the students. “It was very rewarding to meet such accomplished parents and speakers, hearing their stories, and learning from their experiences,” said Benjamine.

Being responsible for their work also brought feelings of excitement and inspiration. In her moderator role, Sofia had to “closely listen to every speaker in case anything interesting could be added”, and through this process she discovered “how excited I am to grow into the best version of myself.”

WWA 2022

Being a leader is not without its challenges, and these students had to face both inner difficulties as well as outer, in-the-room challenges.

Feeling a sense of pressure at the newness of the experience and in the responsibility to present well was a common response for the students. As Sofia “had never moderated a professional Q and A panel before” and all the “speakers were such high achievers, at first, I wasn’t sure how to approach them and what kind of questions to ask”. So, like the other student leaders, the “pressure was definitely on.”

For Benjamine, “Flubbing my words when I was introducing a panellist was the most challenging part”, and this common mistake felt like “a punch to the gut.”

Common to many public speakers, Victoria had to overcome her “nerves on the day.” Like Sofia, she knew there were “reputable guests, aspirational students, and motivated parents” in the audience, and she wanted to “leave a strong, final impression”. The result was quite a feeling of “burden”.

Despite these challenges, the students stepped up to the plate and achieved remarkable public speaking results. Their preparation and practice were key ingredients in their success at the event.

Benjamine summed up his strategy in this way: “I go in with plenty of prep, but also have a mindset of flexibility in case I mess up. So, for example, I joked about my own mess-up in a later speech, so hopefully that alleviated the embarrassment.”

WWA 2022 Benjamine

In her preparation, Sofia not only revised her questions for panellists and planned her transitions, she also she boosted her confidence by “reminding myself that I am completely prepared […] and I know what I’m talking about.” She recommended that other student speakers “constantly remind yourself that ‘You got this.’”

Victoria overcame her nervousness by focusing on presenting “myself as I was – as a student, relatively unexperienced compared to all the masterminds in the room” and on “delivering a genuine and truthful message rather than a flattering or perfectly eloquent one.” As a result, “I felt much more confident, comfortable, and also proud of sticking to my true beliefs.”

WWA 2022 Victoria

The 2022 WWA student event leaders were inspired by what the panel speakers had done in their careers as well as what they said. They all received richly insightful take-aways from the event.

“All the speakers were not only great parents to their children but also the best in their careers,” explained Sofia, “which made me so motivated to continue working hard and chasing my dreams.”

Benjamine and Victoria’s take-aways were inspired by what they heard from panellists about innovation. Citing Dr Yufeng Chi, Benjamine loved his concepts of “An association a day” and “A decision a day”.

"Basically, to practice and develop a mindset of innovation, one should strive to make one association between an adjective and a noun to create an idea, and make one split moment decision each day. It trains the mind and improves a person’s ability to innovate."

Victoria resonated with Dr Zhuge Yue’s keynote speech.

"I was truly inspired by how she minimised such a large concept of innovation to a personal level by emphasizing how ‘No idea is a stupid idea.’ This made me realize that anyone could become a valuable leader and innovator, and it also left me empowered and thinking about what positive legacies I could leave in the world and environment around me."

In harmony with Dulwich College Beijing’s mission of creating learning environments where students develop the knowledge, skills and motivation to have a positive impact on society and the planet, each of these student leaders had recommendations for other students who are keen to make a positive difference through DCB events.

Sofia’s recommendations focused on the character traits needed for success.

"I would say be confident, passionate and responsible. Confidence is very important because it can help you with showing the best version of yourself, especially when it comes to big roles with a lot of responsibilities. You need to gain the respect of other people, which won’t happen unless you are confident that you can succeed. Doing something you love is also important because it will inspire others to pursue similar passions […] In relation to showing people that you are trustworthy, it is important to always be responsible, keep your word and never promise anything you cannot give."

Short and sweet, Benjamine emphasized the importance of just taking action and then figuring out things as we go.

"Just do it. Literally. No one knows what they’re doing most of the time. Everyone is confused about where they are and why they should be there. The people with the opportunities are just normal people who went and did it."

Victoria’s student advice centred around valuing leadership as a way to benefit people, and of taking advantage of opportunities, like volunteering at a DCB event, to develop not only as a student yet also as a future professional.

"Rather than focusing only on the benefits the opportunity of a lead role can have on you and your responsibility, try viewing it as a means to work for the benefit of others, and the journey will be made much more rewarding and meaningful.

What I appreciate the most about the plethora of events hosted by DCB is not only the diverse variety of them, but also the relevance they hold in the world beyond our school community. Partaking in this year’s WWA event trained me beyond the scope of a student, and I do hope many other DCB students get to enjoy the same opportunity!"

These DCB students have shown insight and wisdom beyond their years through giving to, and learning from, the wider DCB community. They also showed that other students can take advantage of the opportunities at Dulwich College Beijing to live Worldwise and make a positive difference.