July conference to promote extracurricular learning

Sarah Novicoff

The theme for the second annual World Leading Schools Association Student Conference, hosted by Harvard-Westlake this July, will be “Learning Outside the Curriculum.” The conference will be preceded by the World Youth Leadership Institute, a weeklong program with leadership training for international students along with students from the Los Angeles area.

“The idea is that all of us – whether you’re in a traditional Chinese school, a traditional U.S. school, an English school, an Australian school – we all have parts of school that are related to the academics, and we also have parts of school that are outside the academics,” said Head of Summer Programs Jim Patterson, who visited China this month to promote the conference, said. “Those areas could be anything from athletics to arts, both visual and performing, clubs and activities, community service, ethics and character, all of these things that are certainly a part of school but not a part of the academic classroom. The theme of the conference is to talk about how those aspects of learning outside of the curriculum are similar and different across the world.”

In the mornings of the WLSA Student Conference, students will discuss extracurricular programs at their schools.

During the afternoons, the school will host the Hudnut Cup, a soccer tournament with six to eight teams of boys from around the world.

“[Last year’s conference] was an impressive experience to meet all the students coming from different cultural and educational backgrounds, communicate with each other, brainstorm and discuss the differences and similarities between ourselves, schools and even nations,” WLSA committee member Hang Yang ’14 said.

A committee of Harvard-Westlake students are also planning cultural activities in the Los Angeles area for visiting international students. The committee has so far proposed Rodeo Drive, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Staples Center, Venice Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier, among others.

“Every day of the event will be both educational and culturally immersive for the international students,” WLSA Committee member Nina Woythaler ’16 said. “We plan to take the students to landmarks around downtown L.A. and Hollywood, as well as multiple universities, museums and countless other landmarks. We have also worked in lots of activities to give the students a chance to get to know each other, such as a pool party and a day at the beach. We are looking to make this experience enjoyable and simultaneously pivotal to educational systems around the world.”

The conference will take place at Harvard-Westlake July 14-18 and will be “an intensive course in leadership and the challenges of leading in a hyper-connected world,” according to a letter from President Rick Commons on the WLSA website.

Signups are open for Harvard-Westlake and international students.

Patterson also toured two WLSA high schools and their English programs.