Angela Li attended the IB World Student Conference in Rotterdam in July 2018.

“What? That’s so crazy!” was a phrase that I had uttered far too often at the IB World Student Conference (IBWSC) in Rotterdam.

For a week in July, I experienced non-stop discovery. Along with over 70 other IB students, I was put into a Global Action Team (GAT) to explore the theme of “Vital Cities, Vital Citizens”, or in other words, discuss what problems the world will be facing over the next century. Each day was filled with both academic and recreational activity. We were given the opportunity to talk to local Rotterdam citizens as part of a scavenger hunt, see the oddly-shaped Cube Houses, and listen to a lecture by a professor from Erasmus University.

However, like with many other things, the best part about the IBWSC was the people. At The Student Hotel, I became exceptionally close with the girls on my floor, who were from countries all over the world, including Kenya, Turkey, Mexico, the USA, and China. What I saw on Canadian news networks became real to me, as I heard stories about Chinese schools bribing government officials to allow students to use certain programs. My GAT group was just as interesting, as I realized that the FIFA World Cup had given Russians from the countryside a much-appreciated chance to celebrate and welcome tourists.

News reports don’t do their citizens justice. It was eye-opening to listen to people that had actually lived through news events. Coming back from the IBWSC, I became so much more aware of the personal impacts of global issues, such as natural disasters, political instability, and corruption. IBWSC wasn’t so much about being an IB student - it was much more about being a global citizen.