Written by Denzel (Class of 2019, Zimbabwe)
As outlined in a previous blog post, SNOW is UWC ISAK Japan’s reformed Student Union. It stands for Seito NO Wa and the mission of SNOW is “to provide structure and resources for students to take initiatives for the better of the community.”
Over the course of the past year, Ayana (Class of 2019, Japan) and myself took a back-seat approach and became facilitators of SNOW who would be there to assist the current members when needed. We did this to allow the Grade 11 and Grade 10 students to have a first-hand look at the demands of leadership to enable them to put the leadership values instilled in us at UWC ISAK into use. I think I speak for both Ayana and myself when I say that we learned just as much as facilitators this year as we did last year as ideators in The Student Union. Our duties this year were made even easier by the diligence and commitment of the members of SNOW who really rose to the task of becoming a driving force behind changes that could be made in our community. It was remarkable to witness the growth of the younger individuals in the team and to see them break out of their shells to show real potential as leaders.
The 2018-2019 academic year saw a great deal of change structurally within several divisions at UWC ISAK which has provided students with a greater amount of autonomy. The 3 main changes that have taken place are the assembly system, which is now student led and is headed by SNOW. It has rejuvenated the idea of what a school assembly can be and just how much assembles can unify the community. A second change influenced by SNOW has seen the establishment of a Student’s Voice and Disciplinary Advisory Committee. The purpose of these two committees is to enable students to have a voice alongside faculty regarding discipline-related matters, thereby improving transparency and understanding within the community. This system is soon to be introduced and will go hand-in-hand with the revision of the Code of Conduct.
The third change that SNOW has overseen is the Reformation of Town Hall meetings, which is a long-term project that will be finalised before the end of the semester. Other SNOW activities over the past year include the selection of student speakers at the annual Board Meetings and various long-term initiatives, such as establishment of a “Quiet Space” for peaceful meal times for members of the community who simply want a quiet place to enjoy their meals. While Ayana and I have been thrilled with the progress that SNOW has made in such a short time span, we know that we will not be around to see it progress even more over the next few years. As such, we have have appointed two successors to take on the challenge of leading this cause.
As I mentioned earlier, all the members of SNOW have deeply impressed us and made this decision much more difficult than we had first envisioned. However, after thorough deliberation, we decided that the two people who should take this team forward are Lucy (Class of 2020, Canada) and Larry (Class of 2020, Burkina Faso).
There were several factors that went into making this decision, but the main consideration was merit. As a member of the restructured Assembly committee, Lucy immediately rose to the challenge and her enthusiasm stood out amongst the group. She was the driving force behind the new community building activities in Assembly and has been constantly ideating new approaches on how assembly can be more engaging for the community. From a leadership point of view, Lucy is creative and logical in her approach to problem solving but most importantly, she is very empathetic and mindful of the views of those around her which she shows by always hearing the views of other members of the committee before stating her own points. This is a trait that I admire greatly because often people forget that a leader is a servant of the people rather than a ruler.
Larry embodies the key traits of a good leader in a much more quiet, logical manner and often prefers to let his actions speak louder than his words. He can often be the most quiet person in the meeting but rest assured, he is simply processing the issues at hand and plotting the best possible route to solving the matters. His sincerity and care for the well being of others when he shares his viewpoints is heartwarming. This his matched by the confidence he has not only in himself but in others to get the job done. His presence gives the team a lift which is needed in times when things are not going the way we wish them to. Even though Lucy and Larry have different characteristic and leadership traits, they are a great team and make SNOW much stronger as a unit simply because of how much they genuinely care about the future of the UWC ISAK community and want to see positive changes carried out which would only strengthen the community.
I wish both of them good luck and I have the utmost assurance in their abilities to take on this important role!