RSGF 2020: Experiencing it all online

Julianna Rosh Nebrija ||

Photo by: Julianna Rosh Nebrija

For years now, the Rits Super Global Forum served as an inviting gateway for students from all over the world to the Japanese culture—giving them the opportunity to experience firsthand the country’s school life, traditions, architecture, technology, and so much more. Unlike the previous years, though, a new problem brought by the coronavirus emerged for its organizers: bringing the event to life whilst socially-distanced. 

I, along with sixteen other students, was invited to join this one-of-a-kind reworking of a long-running global school affair. Because this was my first time joining, I didn’t have a particular expectation as to how it would go. All I thought of was how excited I was to be able to meet people my age from different countries and to hear their stories, at least virtually. Still, I was curious to see how the event’s flow would go.

On our first day, an opening ceremony was held live on Youtube. As the program commenced, dozens of messages popped up in the comments section, students and teachers alike eagerly greeting everyone and complimenting the performing Japanese students. The excitement was certainly contagious, as I too spammed the comments section with a barrage of emojis and enthusiastic exclamations. Though I was only seeing the program through a screen, I was fully entranced with their colorful and lively performances of music, dancing, and more.

The coming days were comprised of the main event, which was grouping together with other delegates to discuss their countries’ situations due to COVID-19. Each day had a particular subtopic to focus on; such as how the virus affected each country’s socio-economic life, education, and environment. While it was interesting to hear how other countries handle emerging problems amid the pandemic, the whole ordeal was quite anxiety-inducing for me and possibly for others as well. This was because each day, we were assigned a new group with new members, and we had to quickly get over our nerves because we had to create a presentation detailing possible solutions to the given topic—all within a few hours. Even though I woke up every day feeling antsy, I was determined to make the most of the discussions despite my nervousness.

Then, a cultural day was held on the third day. All of the cultural presentations were prepared beforehand and was premiered through Youtube Live. This was one of the highlights of my week, seeing the people I’ve come to know through our discussions show off their culture with pride and love. Naturally, I bombarded the comments section once again with words of appreciation and emojis.

By the end of the week, we had our final presentations delivered through Zoom and Youtube Live, which was then followed by a closing ceremony. They were bittersweet to watch because, in the course of that one week, I have grown in confidence, learned new and surprising things, and gained new friends.

I was filled with pride knowing that we were able to create cohesive and informative presentations despite the hurdles we encountered along the way. All of us went in essentially with nothing in common, save for being in the same age bracket. As the discussions progressed, we would discover how similar we were after all. It didn’t matter whether our countries were considered progressive or not—each country was fighting its own battles. Though separated by screens and time-zones, we were bonded through our universal experiences all the while.

I don’t normally consider myself a confident and extroverted person. Most of the time, I’d prefer to stay on the sidelines and be content with it. Against my initial thoughts, I decided to participate in this year’s RSGF because I wanted to try being a sociable person for a while. It was extremely difficult to face, but it was immensely rewarding as well. Despite the stress and anxiety that accumulated starting from the preparation to the actual event, I know for a fact that I don’t regret joining it a single bit. I gained more than I’d lost. Someday, I hope we’ll be able to meet—without the barrier of screens.

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