This past November, the World Learning team was thrilled to welcome 127 students from 59 countries for the End of Program Summit in Washington, DC. They traveled from universities across the United States to participate in leadership development seminars, network with one another, and explore the city. Highlights included a visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and performances representing 21 countries at our “Take the Stage” talent show.
Misheel Odgerel, Mongolia, American University
From the summit, everyone has learned about leadership by participating in various kinds of activities that focused on improving team work and communication skills. I have understood during the summit that team work is not continually following the leaders’ orders or decisions. It is about communicating with other team members and making decisions as a team. Leadership is about finding balanced communication which is inclusive, respectful and understanding. I am saying this because every individual has their own unique trait or skill. During the summit, there were people that tried to solve problems by dominating the discussion. On the other hand, there were more introverted students that helped the group to tackle the issue by thinking alone and creating solutions. Or there were students that listened to others’ opinions and summarized everyone’s thoughts to solve the problem. Leadership is about learning everyone’s personality and creating an atmosphere that is inclusive and equal.
I learned many great things from my peers. They are enthusiastic and motivated students that want to solve problems in their home community. For instance, some founded projects dedicated to women’s advocacy or children’s education or teaching English to rural high school students. During the summit we had a session to talk about future projects and how to write grants. This inspired me to do more in my home community. Before coming to the United States, I dreamed about implementing projects to improve my community but financial aid and other issues made me feel stuck. After the summit, I am aware of many great resources that include funding from other organizations.
Overall, being in a circle of great thinkers that wants to do better things and change the world is the most inspiring, encouraging environment that a person can ever be in. Not only do you learn about yourself, you learn from others too. Even though the summit lasted only few days, it changed my perspective in so many ways.
During the workshop in Washington DC, I realized that to be a good leader is not only about ordering others around, but also about hearing and listening to everyone. In the team building sessions, everyone was trying to help the team win the challenge, but we didn’t succeed at first. Everyone was telling one another what to do and how to do tasks. However, the game seemed easier by hearing each other and letting one person lead. Once we figured out this method, we easily won the game.
Yang Qing, China, Lewis-Clark State College
During my time in Washington, DC, I realized the great importance of cultivating self-awareness about leadership. In some interactive activities with other Global UGRAD students, I found that no matter how different we are from each other, we are all leaders in our own way. Everyone can speak up and every individual has the ability and possibility to lead the group to a better place. This is what we should keep in mind going forward.
We also learned a lot of leadership skills through seminars at the End of Program Summit. I’d like to share what I learned about empathy and listening with my home community in China. I think that above all, if you want to be a good speaker, the first thing you need to do is be an efficient and effective listener. Efficient proposals come after we have listened and understood others’ opinions. I know I am on the way to becoming a better listener and a better leader.
I am very grateful about this chance to communicate with my fellow Global UGRAD students and learned so much from them. I really appreciate this amazing and fruitful D.C. journey.