Next Gen World Majlis _ You are What You Eat_ The Role of Food in Our Lives at Terra Auditorium-1650173899623
Student discussions during the 'Next Gen World Majlis - You are What You Eat: The Role of Food in Our Lives' at Terra Auditorium at Expo in February Image Credit: David Koriako/Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai: Students in the UAE have made an extraordinary contribution to the success of the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region through the Expo School Programme.

As part of the programme, 1,003,747 students from around the UAE experienced the school trip of a lifetime and were immersed in unique learning and cultural experiences that placed them at the heart of the largest global gathering to take place since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from the ages of two to 21 years were encouraged to become active participants, innovators, performers and speakers at Expo 2020 Dubai. The range of initiatives offered by the Expo School Programme included immersive journeys across the site’s Thematic Districts, as well as special programmes such as Expo 2020 Young Stars, which enabled students to showcase their talents at Al Wasl Plaza; Expo Young Innovators, which inspired the younger generations to be agents of change; and Next Gen World Majlis, part of the World Majlis, where students shared their perspective of the Programme for People and Planet’s Theme Weeks.

‘What tomorrow could look like’

Alya Al Ali, vice-president of the Expo School Programme, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Visiting the Expo 2020 Dubai site has encouraged students to think about their future careers, to think differently about what tomorrow could look like, to think less traditionally about the roles they can play and to understand that individual actions, no matter how small, play a role in shaping a positive future for all.”

She added: “We have spent the last eight years creating content and curating educational journeys to engage and inspire students from private and public schools all over the UAE and we are hugely thankful to the school community and educational authorities for their unwavering support throughout the many challenges that we faced together, such as COVID-19, the consequential lockdowns and necessary remote learning. We hope that, in many years from now, students who visited Expo 2020 Dubai will realise it has marked their lives or sparked an idea they’re proud of — that will be our legacy.”

The Expo School Programme worked closely with educational authorities across the UAE to enable all students to visit Expo 2020 Dubai before its doors closed on March 31. This included opening up trips on Sundays to give every school in the UAE the opportunity to visit after bookings were temporarily suspended in January.

Students’ reactions

The Expo School Programme shared some of the comments it had received from students and teachers about their experiences.

One student said: “I saw the world from a different perspective.” Another said: “The journey made me realise the power of individual action. The message is positive enough that it can influence collective action, even if it’s something as small as not using a plastic straw.”

“An amazing journey, I was proud of going to Expo 2020 Dubai and seeing what the future would be like. I’m already looking forward to the future,” said another student.

Expo records

Expo 2020 Dubai’s virtual Expo Adventures recorded 8.611 million visits from 71 countries, which offered children up to the age of nine interactive experiences filled with incredible facts, animated stories and exciting games. The Expo Young Stars programme saw 65 schools and 3,757 students showcase their talents to the world on the spectacular Al Wasl Plaza; Young Innovators Programme received 6,200 submissions and exhibited 298 projects in Terra — The Sustainability Pavilion for the entire six months of Expo 2020 Dubai; Nasheed Al Wasl saw 14 schools and 580 students perform operatic pieces at the Jubilee Stage; while Next Gen World Majlis invited 128 students from 69 schools to take part in enriching conversations about the world of tomorrow.