In early November, as part of the opening of the greenest building in North America, 16 VSB students from eight secondary schools across the Vancouver School District participated in a three day conference at the University of British Columbia. At the conference, the students got a firsthand look at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS). It was a fascinating experience that many of them felt was both inspiring and exciting.
"The conference is something we will never forget. The experiences we had, the people we met and the knowledge we have gained was certainly priceless," said VSB students Alice Paul, Tesicca Truong and Alan Chen in a letter to conference organizers. "This experience will aid and guide us as we continue to try to make a difference in our world."
They weren't the only one's taking in the new building. The conference also brought together experts on sustainability from around the globe including from Oxford University in the UK, MIT in the USA and world renowned local experts such as environmentalist David Suzuki and John Robinson, a professor from the University of British Columbia.
The students noted that the diversity of topics covered at the conference was impressive - and occasionally - a bit challenging. With speaking topics ranging from global issues to 'systems thinking' to the 'Global Eco Crisis', Paul, Truong and Chen say they got exposed to a little bit of everything.
Yasmeen Akbari and Jessica Jun, two other student participants say the collection of high profile environmental minds was particularly stimulating.
"I learned that there are many ways I will be able to apply my knowledge to help make the world a more sustainable place," said Akbari.
It was sentiment echoed by Jun.
"It was very exciting and inspiring to meet other youth who are passionate about the environment, and we had the chance to discuss our ideas, concerns, and projects that we started or would like to start in our schools, such as compost programs and solar panels," she said.
VSB staff say it's likely the conference experience will likely pay dividends well into the future for both this students and the district.
"The students had the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the experts in the areas of Green Building and Sustainability during these three days, and the educational and overall sustainability outcomes to the students and school district are likely to be significant" said Kirthi Roberts, VSB's Manager for Energy and Sustainability.