International Baccalaureate students set historic meeting at OSU


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nearly 300 high-achieving, civic-minded high school students from around the world will convene Aug. 9-13 at Oregon State University for the International Baccalaureate World Student Conference.

This prestigious meeting hasn’t been held in eight years and it has never met on the mainland United States. It brings together International Baccalaureate diploma candidates from 10 countries for a series of meetings and activities focusing on global citizenship, cultural awareness, and youth empowerment aimed at a “just and sustainable world.”

“The International Baccalaureate program is becoming extremely popular around the country because it has extraordinarily high standards, rigorous curriculum and oversight, and it is externally, as well as internally, graded,” said Blake Vawter, OSU’s associate director of Admissions.

Oregon has 17 high schools that have been approved for IB membership and most are sending students to the conference at OSU. In addition to coursework and conferences, students pursuing IB certification must complete an extensive research-based writing requirement and participate in intensive community service activities.

“These are not just your neighborhood volunteer projects,” said Michele Sandlin, OSU’s director of Admissions and a coordinator for the upcoming conference. “As an example, IB students from Beaverton have been involved for many years with a project to help remove land mines in Laos and Cambodia.”

Sandlin said OSU has become a strong International Baccalaureate “receiver” school, in part because the university was one of the early adapters in changing its admission policies to acknowledge IB credentials. Oregon last year became one of 16 states to adopt statewide IB policies for entering students.

“We’ve begun tracking how IB students fare when they get to college,” Sandlin said, “and we’ve found that they are extremely well-prepared.’

The 2010 conference has a theme, “Sharing our Humanity,” and six topics, or areas of focus. These include:

  • The fight against global poverty;
  • Peacekeeping and conflict prevention;
  • Education for all;
  • Global infectious disease;
  • The digital divide;
  • Natural disaster prevention and environmental concerns.

Students from different regions will also meet and form “global action teams” that will take on service projects in different places around the world. These teams will work to develop their senior year humanitarian projects with agency and organizational representatives from Doctors without Borders, Engineers without Borders, Mercy Corps, Project Our Turn, Habitat for Humanity, Humanity First, Schools for Afghanistan, Beat the Drum Village, and Pennies for Peace.

Among the countries represented at the IB Conference are Canada (17); China (1), Colombia (11), Costa Rica (4), Germany (2), Japan (8), Mexico (10), United Kingdom (4), United States (189) and Venezuela (28).

One of the American students, Callum Reed from Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, has decided to arrive at the conference via bicycle – which is no small feat, since Cottonwood is in New Mexico. He will make the 1,500-mile bike ride with two members of the University of New Mexico cycling team, and the trio will meet members of the OSU cycling team who will escort them the last 20 miles into Corvallis.

“Riding a bicycle 1,500 miles exemplifies the type of ambition and dedication so many of these IB students share,” Sandlin said.

While at OSU, the IB students will visit the university’s Tsunami Wave Basin, Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and attend an outdoor Shakespearean play on campus. They will also hear a number of national speakers, including Michael Furdyk, co-founder of Taking IT Global, and internationally recognized marine biologist Daniel Pauly from the University of British Columbia. Jeremy Gilley, of Peace One Day, will address the students via Skype.

More information on the conference is available at: http://ibwsc2010.org/