Students from Blacksburg and Ireland talk world issues with US and European legislators

European Parliament program Bridge the Pond features Blacksburg High School students

High school students from right here in Southwest Virginia and Dublin, Ireland presented their ideas on world issues to officials in both countries.

It’s part of the Bridge the Pond program. We first introduced you to what students were working on back in January.

Since then, students from Blacksburg High School and the King’s Hospital School in Dublin have met multiple times online. They studied topics like climate change, digital citizenship and study abroad.

Then on Wednesday, students from both countries presented reflections and solutions to major issues to members of the U.S. Embassy, European Parliament, Irish Embassy and a member of the General Assembly.

Colin Baker, European history teacher and assistant director of education and outreach center for European Union, Transatlantic & Trans-European Space Studies at Virginia Tech is beyond proud of all 30 students.

“It’s such an excellent thing for students to realize that if they can do this when they’re 15, 16 then think of what they can do when they’re at college and beyond it’s very inspiring,” said Baker.

He believes this experience will stick with students long-term.

“I think becoming globally aware and aware of issues that are not just local to the United States but affect all of Europe and the world and that there are common solutions and there’s a new generation of leaders not just in Virginia but across the Atlantic,” said Baker.

10 News spoke to two Blacksburg students right before their presentation and they said they were nervous but excited. The experience was a challenge they enjoyed.

Sam Woolsey said this program will help him in the long-run, wherever his interests take him.

“Anywhere it’s going to help you to have worked together with people from all over the world and then just the process of finding a problem and solving it,” said Woolsey.

Caoilainn Christensen, another Blacksburg High Student said, “I think it’s important for high schoolers even though we can’t vote yet or we’re not adults yet we still have ideas and inputs that we can share.”

After their presentations, they answered some tough questions from the leaders.


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