Parents, teenagers, teachers and members of the wider Surrey community learnt what it takes to be a changemaker for a better, more sustainable future during ACS International School Cobham’s virtual event ‘The world needs…adventurers’.  Featuring renowned entrepreneur, Sian Sutherland, a thriving ACS Cobham alumna, Sissel Tønnesen Engblom, and ACS’s very own Forest School Trainer, Chris Hupp, the event explored why the world needs adventurous thinkers, the importance of nature in our lives now and in the future, and how taking risks and embracing failure creates positive outcomes.

‘The world needs… adventurers’ is the first in a series of events by ACS International Schools which will explore ‘what the world needs’, delving into the big societal and technological challenges the world is currently facing and considering exactly what kind of citizen the world needs to contribute to a better, more sustainable tomorrow.

Hosted by Barnaby Sandow, Head of School, ACS Cobham, the event began with an explanation of what it means to be an adventurer - being bold enough to take risks and embrace change for a more sustainable future.

Former ACS Cobham student, Sissel Tønnesen Engblom, was welcomed back to her alma mater to share a talk on her career pathway from student to urban architect and CEO, highlighting the importance of the spaces we live in for ensuring a sustainable future. A highlight of the talk was Sissel’s thought-provoking description of her involvement with the redesign of the Government Headquarters in Oslo following the 2011 terror attack. Through the power of architecture, Sissel worked to redevelop the space in a way that would heal the hearts of Oslo’s community, and provide a platform for them to thrive moving forward from the attack.

Co-founder of A Plastic Planet, Sian Sutherland, followed Sissel with a compelling talk on how a decision at age 25 led her into a career of entrepreneurship, failings and open mindedness. Sian shared powerful anecdotes on “what she wishes she knew at 16”, highlighting that “If you choose to be an adventurer, you choose to live on a rollercoaster experiencing those ups and downs”. Sian advised the audience on the importance of failure, learning from your lows – not your highs - and accepting that things won’t be perfect. She highlighted that, when it comes to entrepreneurship “if it was easy, everyone would do it”; you need to be prepared to set yourself goals and strive every day to achieve those goals.

Sian discussed her career as a restaurateur, founder of a brand agency and founder of pregnancy skincare brand Mama Mio. All of this led to her enlightenment about the impact of plastic consumption on the oceans and the co-founding of her current venture, A Plastic Planet. Sian left attendees thinking about their relationship with plastic and how we should use our buying power to buy less and buy better.

Wrapping up the event, ACS Forest School Trainer and Lower School Science Teacher, Chris Hupp explored the adventure of childhood and our intrinsic need to connect with nature in order to foster an ecological identity. Chris discussed the benefits of outdoor learning, such as the development of resilience and confidence, as well as the ways it improves wellbeing, creativity, and cooperative teamwork. Chris urged listeners to critically reflect on the modern mechanistic worldview which keeps us disconnected from nature and is a key driver of climate change and the widespread loss of biodiversity. Instead, we must rediscover a more holistic perspective of the complex systems that support life, considering how humans are an integral part of nature. Chris sees education, in particular Forest School, as a way to restore our relationship with the natural world and bring balance back to our lives. 

Barnaby Sandow comments: “It was a pleasure to welcome three such engaging and insightful speakers to our event – they all truly summed up what it means to be an adventurer, and why it’s so important for us all to think a little more innovatively to build a better, more sustainable world of tomorrow. We’ve received wonderful feedback from attendees; it was a fascinating and inspiring experience.”

The ‘What the world needs’ event series sees each of ACS’s three UK campuses highlighting a different area of importance in the world of tomorrow. Events at ACS Hillingdon and ACS Egham will be announced in the New Year.

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