TiltShift Conference 2011

By Catriona Grew:

A few weeks ago in Raffles Institute, Singapore, the Global Alliance of Leading-Edge Schools (GALES) successfully pioneered one of its most exciting new initiatives. The TiltShift conference of the 12th-18th June 2011 brought together students from twenty schools across five continents, to discuss some of the most pressing global problems facing this generation, and their possible resolutions.  The summit is named after a type of creative photography in which the lens is manipulated in such a way that the subject resembles a miniature-scale model: the aim of TiltShift was for delegates to begin tackling seemingly insurmountable difficulties by coming up with scalable solutions to be applied at a grassroots level. The purpose of the conference was for students to exchange ideas and perspectives, and for each school delegation thereby to devise a constructive project addressing one of the seven TiltShift themes felt to be applicable to the teams’ respective local neighbourhoods. These themes ranged from the provision of clean water, to climate change, to racial stereotyping. The purpose of the summit was for students to leave ready to implement a valuable scheme in their home community, having negotiated suitable funding for their project plans with GALES.

Lower VIth pupils Caspar Moran, Olivia Haynes and Catriona Grew attended the summit in Singapore as representatives of Marlborough and the UK, and were accompanied by Mr Harrison, the future Director of Studies at Marlborough College Malaysia. Concentrating on the theme identified by TiltShift as “short crop” – the dilemma of global food distribution – the project we came up with during the conference works to encourage local support of local farmers, and to promote Wiltshire produce as a more desirable alternative to imported goods. It aims to revive community spirit in Marlborough by fostering interaction and unity between private businesses on the High Street, in order to balance the feeling of supermarket monopoly that tends to prevail in the town.

Powerful emphasis was placed on collaboration and partnership throughout the course of the summit, and as a result, we gained fascinating insight into the spectrum of outlooks the other delegates held. South Africa, France, Pakistan, Hawaii and Taiwan were the countries represented in our set alone – the programme of seminars, debates and what were quite peculiarly named “infusion” sessions, was a fantastic springboard for dialogue and interchange, from a remarkably diverse set of standpoints.

Experiencing Singapore-style boarding was also exciting – we stayed in the students’ usual accommodation, and it contrasted dramatically with Marlborough life, not least because of the difference in climate. Students live in huge high-rise blocks, and rooms are bare and minimally furnished. This perhaps reflects the enormous scale of Raffles in comparison to Marlborough – altogether, the school has about 2000 students, who constitute the top 3% of exam results in Singapore.

Highlights of the trip itself included a visit to the Indian district in Singapore, a ride on the Singapore Flyer, and an excursion to a beautiful island just off the mainland. We were also lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the site of Marlborough Malaysia by Mr Pick and Mr Croucher; it seems to be progressing at phenomenal speed, and a sense of Marlborough can already be detected amidst the building works.

Tiltshift was, overall, a wonderfully exciting and stimulating experience, and the three of us feel privileged to have been a part of it. We are so grateful to all who were involved in enabling the trip to happen, and are really looking forward to implementing our “short crop” project in the Michaelmas term.

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