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  • Sara Choi

GAIL - Global Alliance for Innovative Learning

Each year, ten students are selected from WISS, through grades 9 – 12, to participate in ‘GAIL’. If you’ve sat through the numerous assemblies over the past few years, then you’ve most likely have heard of it. But what exactly is it?

What is GAIL?

‘GAIL’ stands for the ‘Global Alliance for Innovative Learning’. It is a collaborative association, where students from all parts of the world commune at one school, to share their ideas and culture.

There are currently eight schools that are a part of GAIL; Kristin in New Zealand, Kimball Union Academy in the United States, Newton College of Peru, Prestige College of South Africa, Robert Gordon’s College in Scotland, Scotch College of Australia, the Western International School of Shanghai, China, and Woodstock School of India.

Students apply to attend the conferences, and roughly ten students from each school are selected to participate, making it an amazing experience with approximately eighty students.

GAIL conference 2019 at WISS

What do the WISS students think of GAIL?

We conducted an interview of two students that participated the GAIL conference in 2019, and two students that have recently joined GAIL.

Jiwon is currently a grade 11 student at WISS, and she had just concluded her 9th grade year when she participated in the 2019 GAIL conference.

Ehud graduated from WISS in 2020, and was a part of this conference when he was in the 11th grade.

Eric and Edan are currently also in grade 11 at WISS, and have only recently joined GAIL.

How long have you been a part of GAIL?

Eric: I have been a part of GAIL for around a month.

Edan: 5 months

Jiwon: I am currently in Grade 11 and I first joined GAIL when I was in Grade 9. So, it has been almost 3 years since I have been a part of GAIL.

Ehud: Around 2 years

How many conferences have you attended?

Eric: I haven't been to any conferences yet.

Edan: None

Jiwon: I have been to only one conference, 6th annual conference, which held at WISS during the summer of 2019.

Ehud: One, 2019 in Shanghai, China

Why did you join GAIL?

Eric: I joined GAIL because I wanted to participate in solving global issues, making friends internationally, learning new cultures, and improving my collaboration and social skills.

Edan: To interact with the international community and to provide service.

Jiwon: I joined GAIL because I thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with others, learn different cultures, as well as gain a more diverse perspective.

Ehud: It may sound lame but I first decided to join simply because it was set where I lived and the trip was free. The second reason was that my friend was going too and it is cool to spend more time with others and see how different cultures around the world meet.

What is your opinion of GAIL?

Eric: I think GAIL is a very good platform to interchange ideas through different schools internationally, and I'm looking forward to attend the conference.

Edan: Good opportunity to interact with students of different backgrounds.

Jiwon: I also think GAIL is a very good platform to interact with others across the world and it also a good way to promote our school, WISS.

Ehud: I think it is a seriously fascinating event as I never encountered anything else like it before. Everyone that came was ready to step their out of their comfort zone and make new friends even before the event started. Seeing how these vastly different cultures able to fuse in as one so naturally reminded me that we shared the same origin and humanity is such a beautiful thing.

What are some ways you think GAIL could improve?

Eric: It would've been better if covid-19 was over, since I would be able to participate in the GAIL trips.

Edan: If the conference was still going on, and was not shut down by COVID.

Jiwon: I think GAIL could improve by having more time overall. I think the ‘conference’ itself was too short, and I personally believe it would be even better if it extended beyond a week.

Ehud: The whole experience could have been way better and deeper if there was a time at the last day to reflect and share individual’s stories of their favorite moments or what they have learned. The reason for being that the whole event has been a rush, we are playing and connecting every day and there doesn’t seem to be a part where we slow down and ask ourselves what this event really brought to our lives.

How does GAIL benefit WISS as a school?

Eric: I think that GAIL is of one the many opportunities that makes WISS more internationally minded, and creating connections globally. GAIL has benefited WISS by giving students from WISS an opportunity to learn and engage different culture around the world, make friends internationally and explore solutions collaboratively to international issues.

Edan: It allows us to become better global citizens.

Jiwon: I think GAIL benefits WISS by providing students with opportunities to learn different cultures, to be open-minded, and to be a risk-taker by interacting with people that live halfway across the world. Therefore, it helps students to be a good IB learner.

Ehud: It allows the WISS students to apply what they learn such as being a global thinker and the IB learner profile in real life. It also just simply broadens the scope of what big of a impact can a united community bring.

How has GAIL helped you?

Eric & Edan: We joined GAIL mainly to add it to our CAS (Service as Action) hours.

Jiwon: GAIL helped me break out of my comfort zone and step out from it so that I have more chance to socialize with different kinds of people and share ideas.

Ehud: I became more extroverted (half-forced) and I’m glad I did. It always takes time for me to fit into a group, but everyone that came to GAIL is ready to make friends, so that really shocked me how enthusiastic everyone was. Although I opened up myself towards the end of the event, I was able to make some great friends. GAIL taught me to more initiative in making interactions with others so I won’t leave any regrets.

Author’s note:

As a student that also participated in the GAIL conference in 2019, I thought it was a phenomenal experience. As a 9th grader, and possibly the youngest at the entire conference, I was quite nervous to make friends. However, everyone was very welcoming, and it was amazing to learn about the differences in our everyday life from different parts of the world. A quick shout-out to the friends I made at GAIL, and my roommate Priyansha, who all helped make GAIL a wonderful experience for me :)


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