ISSF 2018 Day 1 Recap ~ Opening Ceremony & Design Sprint

ISSF 2018 Opening Ceremony

The day began bright and early with breakfast sponsored by Sodexo, where students began to meet fellow participants while enjoying some delicious food. Next, ISSF officially began with the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony was an opportunity for both IMSA to showcase some of the talents that the community has to offer while also introducing ISSF and recognizing the many cultures that will be showcased throughout the week.

Participating schools were each recognized, and speeches by Dr. Torres (IMSA president), Evelyn Sanguinetti (Lieutenant Governor of Illinois), Dr. Erin Roche (IMSA Board of Trustees Chairmen and IMSA Alum charter class), and Richard C. Irvin (Mayor of Aurora) gave exciting and inspiring speeches advising students to cherish the friendships that will be made throughout the week and to share their unique perspectives while also learning from one another.

Video messages from Congressman Randy Hultgren and Congressman Bill Foster welcoming students to ISSF were also shared. Between speeches, a band comprised of IMSA students (Renzo Ledesma, TJ Ptak, Ian Fowler, Brandon Young) played an original blues song along with a short prelude featuring Dr. Torres, while IMSA student Matthew Selvaraj treated the audience to a beautiful composition on the viola. After a quick explanation of the day’s agenda, and logistical reminders, students had a short break with mingling and snacks provided by Spinning Wheel Brands.

Zero Hunger Panel & Design Sprint

In preparation for the Design Sprint that would occur later in the day, IMSA first hosted a hunger panel with Julia Freedman, WE Schools Senior Program Manager, Waija Chang, Area Specialist at Northern Illinois Food Bank, and Bill Davison, Extension Educator, at University of Illinois Extension who works with local food systems and small farms. The panel was moderated by Britta Wilk McKenna and consisted of two separate questions: “What is the most frequent problem related to zero hunger that your organization frequently encounters?” and “If you could fix one problem as pertaining to hunger, what would it be?”

To the first question, answers ranged from a lack of diversity in crops, misconceptions about hunger and food banks, lack of sustainability, and lack of accessibility. Second question responses consisted of better food bank accessibility, establishing a Universal Basic Income, and using nature as a model for farming, such as agroforestry. Utilizing those responses, students were split into Design Sprint teams and began brainstorming problems and potential solutions within the larger umbrella of the world hunger crisis. 

Each team generated innovative and diverse solutions to the aforementioned prompt. Ciaran Edwards, ISSF participant, explained how his group planned to “design an educational framework that will increase agricultural production in specific areas.” A different group, as explained by ISSF participant Ross Winter, planned to utilize genetic engineering to increase the diversity of foods. Other groups’ designs ranged from eco-farming and agroforestry to buying excess foods from supermarkets and selling them at a cheap price in urban areas. Ultimately, the groups voted on the top two designs, which then were presented in front of all the participants. The top two picks utilized sustainable farming and hydroponic systems, and were both rewarded with IN2 goody bags for their hard work.

After the Design Sprint, students had dinner and spent the rest of the night doing fun social activities, such as stuffing their very own Build-a-Bears and watching the Avengers with their newfound friends. Participants spent a long yet rewarding day becoming acclimated to their new homes for the next week, forming friendships, and exercising their innovative minds.

As Richard C. Irvin said in his speech, “There’s something happening here. Can you feel it?” Today was just the beginning of what promises to be an incredible week, and we can’t wait to see what happens next!

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