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Mira Costa Student Takes Message to Korea

A weeklong trip to South Korea puts a local high schooler on the ground and in touch with students there. So what did he share with the ambitious students he met, and what ongoing association has resulted from his efforts?

Editor's Note: Mira Costa High student Adam Gerard has written for Manhattan Beach Patch since its inception in late February 2010. He has covered a variety of subjects, most from a student's perspective. 

In March, Chadwick International School in Inchon, South Korea hosted the Korean Council of Overseas Schools Conference. This annual event is hosted by a collection of South Korea’s international schools known as KORCOS and was attended by more than 1,000 teachers and nearly 100 students.

For this year’s conference, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be the keynote speaker for the event’s Youth Leadership Institute. My invitation came from the Dean of Admissions at Chadwick International, Soleiman Dias. Dias was aware of my work with the local nonprofit Tree Musketeers, a youth-led and youth-founded environmental nonprofit based out of El Segundo. He wanted me to share my experiences as an environmental leader and activist with the students attending the Leadership Institute and to offer them advice about how they can get more involved in their communities.

Having never travelled outside the continent before this trip, I was fascinated (and sometimes taken off guard) by my experiences in Korea. Whether this meant pasta dishes garnished with fish scales or 5-D movies, every day meant a new and unique experience. During my nearly weeklong trip, I had the chance to explore the Peninsula, taste new food for the Mira Costa Food Critics Club, and get truly immersed in the Korean way of life -- even if it was only for a week. 

However, the week was not all fun and games. My task for the trip was to teach ambitious South Korean students about leadership and environmental activism through speeches and meetings, culminating with my keynote speech at the conference.  

The students at every international school were excited and receptive, some even asked for an autograph following my speech. I was so surprised by this, I gave the students my e-mail address at first since I couldn’t believe they wanted a signature.

During my workshop at the conference, each attendee was tasked with creating their own nonprofit -- complete with a mission statement, objectives and a logo. Some students decided to create an organization to buy presents for orphans during the holiday season, and others decided that cleaning the Han River should be a top priority.

Regardless of what each student chose as a priority, many attendees of the Institute had the chance to reflect on the needs of their communities and create a plan for themselves and their friends to make a change in their community.

Upon my return home, three schools had already pledged to create a Partner for the Planet club at their school. Partner for the Planet clubs are environmental clubs that have been created around the country to allow students to work with the Tree Musketeers model.

The creation of these clubs represented an opportunity, not only for the students in Korea, but also for Mira Costa students participating in the Partners for the Planet Club already existing on campus. Plans are already in the making to allow for correspondence between the club at Mira Costa and the students in South Korea.

My experience in South Korea was an amazing opportunity, and I hope that future correspondence between Costa students and the youth of South Korea create mutual understanding and increased desire to make a difference on both sides of the Pacific.

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