By Sofia Catalina
March 19, 2014
The sun rose slowly over a hazy Shanghai on the morning of EF Tours' second annual Global Student Leaders Summit.
More than 500 students from all different places and all different backgrounds gathered together to discuss the role of social responsibility in the emerging global economy.
March 17 and 18 were packed with motivational speeches, interactive workshops and student-led sessions that helped students realize their potential as current and future global leaders.
The conference started with a quote from Thomas Edison that embodies the attitude of the conference: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Here, students were prompted to collaborate to solve the most prominent problems in our world today. By combining social improvement and economic development, students used innovation to turn their dreams into realities.
The Global Student Leaders Summit is a time of great energy and motivation. All students have their own unique experiences, yielded by their backgrounds before the conference and what they take from the workshops. Keynote speakers Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson, from NPR's "Planet Money," stressed the idea that in the shifting global economy, the only path for the future is social entrepreneurship.
In a world where 1.4 billion people still have not received the benefits of technology, they said, it is the responsibility of an interconnected world to ensure no people are left behind. The movement of human improvement must be shared with all citizens of the world, and social responsibility means communicating with all people to find and solve the problems that are holding us back.
As former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said in his inspirational keynote speech, to achieve a connected, responsible global community, we must share our ideas "heart-to-heart and head-to-head."
Students from China and the United States were able to work together to break down barriers between the two diverse cultures. We were able to collaborate on our own original projects to solve various global issues using innovation and imagination.
As one student from the United States explained, "In the innovation sessions, we really saw how, even as students, we can collaborate and combine our ideas to make something that can benefit everybody."
Finally, as best put by the closing ceremony spotlight speaker, Ankanksha Hazari, "We face unprecedented challenges ... You are the solution."
If every student can take only one thing away from the conference, it should be that it is our generation that has the power to change the future for the better. We are connected, informed and motivated to improve the world around us.