The sheer number of secondary students representated at this conference is undoubtedly impressive. Throughout the conference, numerous speakers have commented on how engaging and informative these students have been. I had the opportunity to dialogue with a few of the students this afternoon to find out their reactions from the Congress. Their comments prove that the youth are an essential component to mitigating and adapting to climate change: St. Gonzaga Secondary School is located in Lyantonde District in the Western Region. The six students at this conference represent a school with over 1000 students. As a result of what they have learned at this Congress, these students have begun initiating a school club that will focus on climate change. Mr. Joseph Rutaraka, a Form 5 student, commented that the club will be a gender inclusive society that will travel to different schools throughout their village to teach students about climate change. These students saw their attendance at this conference as a responsibility. As school representatives, they are now obligated to return to their community and begin making a difference. For students at St. Andrew’s Kaggua in the Kawaala District of Kampala the story is similar. As one student of the 10-person delegation commented, “We are going to teach our friends what they’ve taught us, like how to conserve the environment.” The student also mentioned the importance of teaching parents and grandparents about issues raised during the conference, such as tree planting and water conservation methods. Although most students found that this Congress has “created education skills”, a couple of students, who wished to remain anonymous, observed that Congress delegates were still among the elite. In Kalamoja, for example, the notion of planting trees is seemingly obscure in a district too dry for plants to take root. These critically-minded students pushed country leaders to be mindful of varying problems in local contexts. These students might be the leaders of tomorrow, but they have certainly proven at this Congress that they are an imperative component to the issues of today!
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