Global Young Leader shares ex­pe­ri­ence

Jamaica Gleaner - - YOUNG LEADER SHARES EXPERIENCE -

TWASHINGTON, DC

Youthlink.

he 10 days which I spent be­tween Wash­ing­ton, DC, and New York were quite mem­o­rable. Not only was I al­lowed to in­te­grate with teenagers from other cul­tures and from other coun­tries, but I was also able to learn the skills needed to be a pro­fi­cient leader in the world. Each day was a new learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from which, I be­lieve, I prof­ited greatly.

The first five days of the trip were spent at the Sher­a­ton Ho­tel in Pen­tagon City, Wash­ing­ton, DC. This is where most of the lead­er­ship skill build­ing was done. Each scholar was placed in one of nine coun­try groups. I was placed in the ‘China’ coun­try group with 24 other teenagers and an ad­viser. The other per­sons were from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, from as near as the Do­mini­can Republic and as far as Ja­pan.

We had sev­eral in­ten­sive meet­ings as a group. These meet­ings were called lead­er­ship group meet­ings, or LGMs. The fo­cus of the LGMs was to make us aware of dif­fer­ent cul­tures, to build our com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, as well as to cre­ate in­no­va­tive ideas and log­i­cal so­lu­tions to cur­rent world is­sues.We were even given the chance to openly dis­cuss his­tor­i­cal con­flicts and wars within dif­fer­ent coun­tries, such as the Holo­caust, in par­tic­u­lar.

In ad­di­tion to world is­sues, we also fo­cused on the cur­rent is­sues of ‘China’ and pro­ceeded to de­vise prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions to them. Our LGMs were also used to prep us for the two global sim­u­la­tions. The first was the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Each coun­try group was bro­ken into smaller groups to rep­re­sent our coun­try’s in­ter­est and to cre­ate so­lu­tions to the set­tle­ment dis­pute in Cyprus. The mem­bers of these smaller groups were for­eign min­is­ters, am­bas­sadors and in­for­ma­tion at­tachés. In my di­vi­sion, I was given the role of the am­bas­sador. In the com­mis­sion it­self, I pre­sented ‘China’s’ so­lu­tion and was given the op­por­tu­nity to

ne­go­ti­ate with the other coun­try lead­ers on the so­lu­tions put forth.

Other than the sim­u­la­tions, there were also var­i­ous speak­ers who came to talk with us about their ca­reers and how it im­pacted the world. They en­cour­aged us to be im­pact­ful as well. Two of the speak­ers who re­ally stood out for me were Dr Gary Weaver and Mr Brian Le­mek. The for­mer spoke about how we should be open-minded, to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween gen­er­al­i­sa­tion and stereo­types, and to be aware and re­spect­ful of an in­di­vid­ual’s cul­ture. The lat­ter, Mr Le­mek, pre­sented on how one idea can make a tremen­dous im­pact. He has proven this a re­al­ity as he has an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion called Peace Play­ers In­ter­na­tional. This or­gan­i­sa­tion has helped chil­dren of dif­fer­ent back­grounds to come to­gether to play bas­ket­ball as a means to break­ing bar­ri­ers.

Be­sides these dis­cus­sions and speak­ers, we were also given the op­por­tu­nity to go site see­ing. We went to very sig­nif­i­cant and fa­mous lo­ca­tions in the cap­i­tal. These in­cluded the Na­tional World War II Memo­rial, the Viet­nam Veter­ans Memo­rial and Viet­nam Women’s Memo­rial, the Lin­coln Memo­rial, the Korean War Veteran Memo­rial, the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment, the Capi­tol Build­ing, the White House and Mu­se­ums of the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tute. Be­fore vis­it­ing each sight, we were briefed on their sig­nif­i­cance and why they were built in the cap­i­tal. We were sup­posed to have vis­ited the US Holo­caust Memo­rial Mu­seum but, un­for­tu­nately, it was closed due to faulty ma­chin­ery.

The Na­tional World War II Memo­rial re­ally hum­bled me as I was faced with the raw cost of war. It took me some time to re­alise that the wall of stars was not there for dec­o­ra­tion but as a way to recog­nise the thou­sands who had died de­fend­ing their coun­try at the hands of war, greed and power.

We were also given the chance to visit an em­bassy. My group went to the Em­bassy of Sri Lanka. We were told of the vast di­ver­sity of the is­land – re­li­gion, cli­mate and its in­hab­i­tants. It was an in­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and we were also given the chance to sam­ple Sri Lankan tea. Fun was not left out of the pic­ture as we had what they called the ‘GYLC Olympics’, which was two hours of friendly com­pe­ti­tion with the other county groups. In the end, ‘China’ won. The Wash­ing­ton, DC ex­pe­ri­ence seemed longer than five days due to those in­tense ses­sions and ac­tiv­i­ties, but the rest of the ex­pe­ri­ence was ahead in New York. On the way, there we stopped at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia.

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