Troy High School students and teachers take a break from the Berlin Global Leadership Summit to explore the Alps. From left to right in the front row are Harriet Clark, Ingrid Huang, Pooja Chandrashekar, Varun Ganapathy, Audrey Alcorn, Natalie Haras, Aamina Farooqi and Bella Vitanovich. From left to right in the back row are Max Clark, Sally Craig, Jennifer Bricker, George Perakis, Zoe Silver, Ashley Sawicke and Shriya Kankatala.

Troy High School students and teachers take a break from the Berlin Global Leadership Summit to explore the Alps. From left to right in the front row are Harriet Clark, Ingrid Huang, Pooja Chandrashekar, Varun Ganapathy, Audrey Alcorn, Natalie Haras, Aamina Farooqi and Bella Vitanovich. From left to right in the back row are Max Clark, Sally Craig, Jennifer Bricker, George Perakis, Zoe Silver, Ashley Sawicke and Shriya Kankatala.

Photo provided by Patrice Rowbal


Troy students reflect on European leadership summit

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published September 8, 2022

TROY — Over the summer, 12 Troy High School students traveled to Europe to take part in an international leadership summit in Berlin to learn to work together, listen to those with different perspectives and solve problems.

The Berlin Global Leadership Summit hosted students from around the world in an effort to help mold the leaders of tomorrow. The students left June 29, got to the conference July 8 after several days of activities and sightseeing, and attended the conference until July 11.

“About 1,200 kids from 15 countries attended the summit,” explained Troy Schools Communications Specialist Patrice Rowbal. “Prior to the summit, they all traveled to different places studying the theme of the summit, which was the impact of sports and wellness.”

The students said the trip was a great experience, both for their academic careers and for them personally.

“It was a really cool experience,” remarked Troy High School senior George Perakis. “I was placed into this team, and I didn’t have a lot of high expectations, but as we progressed on this design thinking system … you find problems and you listen to different peoples’ concerns and then we try to find solutions to them.”

Troy High School senior Aamina Farooqi was another student who took part in the summit. She had the honor of introducing the summit’s keynote speaker.

“I introduced the keynote speaker to about 800 kids at the summit,” said Farooqi. “On the opening night, I gave a five-minute speech. I worked on the speech for about a month. After two weeks after applying to give it, they interviewed me over Zoom. It was a great experience, and I got to meet a lot of people.”

Rowbal said this was a very prestigious role that Farooqi worked hard to earn.

“Robin Benincasa was the opening keynote speaker, and that is who Aamina Farooqi introduced,” said Rowbal. “She applied to do this and had two Zoom sessions where she had to give mock introduction speeches and answer questions. I heard 500 kids applied to introduce two speakers. … She was one of just two students who spoke at the conference.”

The summit allowed the students to break off into smaller groups to try and find solutions to individual problems and meet students from other schools and other countries.

“The summit works like a conference, and they have various sessions and speakers to attend … and also time to work in their design teams to identify a global issue concerning sports and wellness and how to solve it,” said Rowbal. “One of the themes from the speakers was to seek discomfort … that you grow and learn the most from situations where you are uncomfortable, and the Troy group really latched on to that, and they did so many things that they all admitted they would never have done without the encouragement to take the risk.”

“The first part was listening to problems. Then we chose a problem to try and solve and then we worked with possible solutions, and then we built a prototype,” added Perakis. “Our team chose how an athlete could have trouble getting the proper nutrition for his diet if he didn’t have access to a doctor. He didn’t know how to find information about nutrients and macros in the grocery store. Our prototype was something called a nutricart, which was a smart, information-based cart, which would scan the food as you put it in there and then feed back information about that sort of food. We wanted to place scanners on the cart so it could all be done in real time and have the ability to connect it to your phone. That way, you could learn what kind of nutrition you still needed to get.”

The students who went had to be nominated by one of their teachers.

“We were chosen for the conference. Our teachers nominated us,” said Perakis. “It was an exciting idea for me because I am interested in going into business, and I wanted to learn about this process and maybe create some new products or ideas. We also got to travel around Switzerland and learned a lot about the culture and country over there.”

Farooqi said they were able to meet people they probably never would have spoken to otherwise.

“Most of us weren’t friends when we started out, but we worked together and got to know each other through going places and solving problems,” she said. “There are so many valuable goals and perspectives people have that you get to learn when you leave your comfort zone.”

The students spent several days exploring parts of Switzerland and Germany and doing activities together that exemplified the conference’s theme of health and wellness.

“The whole trip was very special. We went to the Red Cross Museum,” said Farooqi. “We got to experience some very great places. We did a lot of activities to bring our group together and that encouraged us to try new things.”

“We started off in Geneva, and we explored the city there,” added Perakis. “Then we headed to Interlaken, where we did a ropes course and kayaking and visiting museums. It all was tied into athletics and sports and wellness, so that when we arrived at the conference in Berlin 10 days later, we had some more experience and new ideas.”

The students said this was a wonderful experience in which they learned a lot about the world and themselves.

“I think it really helped me with my career path. I am hoping to go into environmental law,” said Farooqi. “Being able to learn how to problem solve with others — it’s not about yourself, it’s about the world — this conference really exemplified that.”

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