For many of us at St. Andrew’s Schools, the past year and a half has been a surprising reminder of how tied we are to global issues: pandemics and politics have influenced our lives like never before. If anyone was prepared, though, it was the Priory PAAC club, which has taken many of these events in stride and turned them into opportunities for the club to learn and grow.
The PAAC (Pacific and Asian Affairs Council) Club is the Priory’s chapter of the statewide PAAC organization, which is “an independent, international education 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to promote understanding and empower engagement on global and international issues, with special attention to Hawaiʻi’s role in the Asia-Pacific region.” Headquartered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s East-West Center, PAAC works with high schools across Hawai’i to grow global citizens and future leaders. The organization uses the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs) to organize the ways in which students can investigate the world and take action for a better future.
The Priory’s PAAC Club is especially active, with a membership of about 20 and an eager involvement in summits and conferences with other school chapters. Here on campus, the club has not let the continuing restrictions for COVID safety cramp its style this fall, and has been active with discussions, speakers, and projects.
PAAC has been a source of speakers for Upper School assemblies, with a large network of globally minded folks willing to come speak to students about the work they do. The first global speakers of this year were returned Peace Corps volunteers, whose talk coincided with the 60th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Three returned volunteers spoke about their service in Benin, Madagascar, and Afghanistan, which spanned the 1970s to just a few years ago, and inspired students to think about ways they can be of service to the wider world in their careers.
In the bi-monthly club meetings, the members have jumped right into current affairs, holding discussions of the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and women’s rights in the digital age. They related these events to the SDGs of no poverty; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; and peace, justice, and strong institutions, which will inspire the club’s action project for the year.
PAAC has also maintained its nurturing of the school gardens, a previous club action project, which member Hannah Moses kept alive over the summer break. Tied to the SDGs of no hunger, good health and well-being, and climate action, the PAAC gardens are in their third year of bringing awareness of Hawaiʻi’s food sustainability issues to the Priory community. Coupled with the school’s new cafeteria service that emphasizeslocal produce and sustainable consumption, the gardens remind our current and future eaters of the global implications of what’s on their plate.
Going, growing, glowing...PAAC club is an important part of our school’s vision “to help children learn and grow – to be their personal best, engaged in the world, and inspired to make it more humane and just.”