Photo: Courtesy of Johanna Silver

This weekend, Leman Manhattan Preparatory School in downtown New York hosted the innovative and international Oppi Festival. Oppi is a festival devoted to the many people that comprise the education system, from teachers, students and parents, to businesses and change-makers. The festival serves to bring people from different fields, with cutting edge thoughts and ideas, together so that they can explore and further their thoughts. It also creates in environment where they to make lasting partnerships and friendships. Headed by a group of education consultants called Suklaa, the festival is a global affair, meaning that speakers and representatives from all over the world were present. The event is held in a different country every year to further promote its international nature. Since Leman itself is part of a global network of schools, it was an ideal venue for the festival.

Taking place on Friday, May 15th and Saturday, May 16th, the festival was comprised of talks and seminars focusing on a wide range of topics from gender equality to education policies to creative business models. One of these sessions that exemplified the diverse range of ideas was a compilation of two presentations; Gender Does Matter in Education by Finnish educator and author, Pasi Sahlberg and B Corporations by Marcel Fukayama. During his talk, Sahlberg discussed the idea that he unearthed through his research that the amount of women in a country’s  government correlates with how successful their education system is. Fukayama’s talk explored the concept of B Corporations, which are corporations whose business models are used as a force for good, rather than capital gain. Though the topics differed greatly from one another, both of the speakers’ ideas helped to highlight an overarching theme that more liberal, less traditional political and business models can yield profoundly positive products.

The sessions continued throughout the weekend, allowing the educators and representatives to express their ideas as well as learn from one another. Students and staff from Leman volunteered to help run the event. The school’s beautiful facilities including their theater, dining area, and amazing outdoor deck space were used to accommodate festival goers. Artist Jon Burgerman was also in attendance at the festival. Some of his beautiful and whimsical creations were on display for participants to add on and color in. Overall, the Oppi Festval was a profound, yet down-to-earth opportunity to absorb ideas from brilliant, innovation-driven individuals.

-by Johanna Silver