where i stand Danbury students make their mark in European summit
A group of Danbury students, called “Team Danbury Connecticut,” recently embarked on a journey to Europe to attend EF Educational Tours’ “The Influence of Technology on Society” conference in Berlin.
We left on July 5 under the leadership of Curtis Darragh, a school counselor at Westside Middle School Academy. Each participant was personally invited to come, whether through organizations such as NJHS or through their scholarship.
“I think it’s so inspiring to see how far they’ve come,” Darragh said, speaking of the student successes of the trip. From touring the streets alone to actively participating in the education provided, students developed a sense of independence and initiative.
“My goals for this trip are to discover new things and learn about different cultures,” said incoming Danbury Hight School sophomore Maryann Dillon when landing in the group’s first destination: London.
Students bustled with energy as they took a walking tour of its sights, and even managed to catch a ride on the London Eye. They also witnessed the street art and its diversity, alongside a workshop on the wonders of combining technology with art and music. Starting a pattern for the remaining cities of the summit, London left an impression in more than just its looks.
The Eurostar is one of the fastest commuter trains in the world. The group was granted the pleasure of traveling on it to watch as Big Ben dissolved into the Eiffel Tower. Paris’ iconic destinations were met on the itinerary. Students visited the Tour de Eiffel and the Louvre Museum. However, there was also a moment of epiphany among the students, as teacher chaperone Laura Navara put it.
“I think I was influenced, alongside my students, in being introduced to whole new ways technology can be involved in society,” she said as she walked around the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum.
When Berlin came around, the group had a motivated mind set. They gathered in the Estrel Congress Center alongside thousands of other peers from across the world to attend the three-day summit conference. I and Caleb Schlissel — incoming sophomores at Dandury High — had to arrive early. We were on our own schedule, the one of the interns. We were two of 15 chosen intern applicants. While I worked on garnering information for this piece in the journalism sector, Caleb introduced keynote speaker Jason Latimer for the public-speaking portion. Both paved the way for the conference’s beginning.
Since the theme of the conference surrounded technology’s societal influence, the ultimate goal was for the individual groups to invent a device which solves an everyday issue. In order to accomplish that, students were assigned randomly to cooperate with like-minded and foreign individuals, compromise and accept cultural differences, and eventually come up with a concept together.
EF Tours provided workshops and leadership activities to aid along the way, as well as provided muses for their upcoming projects. Four idols spoke as keynote presenters at the conference, each of whom touched a different interest of the youth. Randi Zuckerberg and Andini Makosinski encouraged young women to pursue their dreams. Glen Keane and Jason Latimer inspired wonder and boundary-breaking.
Incoming freshman Daniel Moorehouse took each keynote speaker’s words to heart. He and his group of the Green Team won the competition with their product “Savor” — an allergen allertive device to caution ingredients in foods. Their product sought to solve a local peer’s problem of constant supervision around foods. Their prototype can soon be found in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden — showcased alongside memorabilia of former prize winners.
Ultimately, two groups from Danbury made it to the Top Ten, one of them won, two Danburian interns were selected, and every individual left an impression on those surrounding them. The group labeled their trip as a success.
“They’re a bit chaotic at times, but I don’t mind because they’re passionate. I’ve never quite met a group like them before,” said tour guide Karl Inglis.
Thousands of scholars from around the world gathered in Europe. Team Danbury, however, was like no other.
Viktoria Wulff-Andersen is a student at Danbury High School.