GYLC: My Productive and Fruitful Summer
Dr Seuss once wrote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” This was the concluding quote read to four hundred student scholars as they parted from the Global Youth Leadership Conference. I must say its meaning struck me then and remains with me even today.
This past summer, I had the fabulous and rare opportunity to participate in the Global Youth Leaders Conference held in Washington DC and New York City. I was reluctant to attend the conference at first, since I would miss celebrating my birthday with friends and family. However, this thought was quickly forgotten once I landed in Washington DC.
It was 11 pm and I had experienced a flight with a 13-hour delay. I was allotted into the Brazil country group once I arrived at the conference hotel in West Virginia. Shortly after, I met both of my roommates whom I was going to be staying with for a week before going onto New York City.
It was amazing how quickly I was propelled into GYLC mode the next day. After breakfast in the ballroom, I rushed to my first Leadership Group Meeting. It was at this LGM meeting that I met my fellow “Brazilians.” Never in my wildest dreams would I have known that these were the people I would spend one of my most meaningful summers with, and that they would change my life forever.
We spent these two magnificent weeks: learning that, “Five minutes was the new on time!”, writing numerous speeches and resolutions in preparation for our different summits. The three main summits and town halls held during the conference taught us how the United Nations worked to bring peace to the world and how the organization made their decisions and policies. We were also privileged enough to have our Global Summit held in one of the United Nations conference rooms. Sightseeing also had taken a completely different meaning during the conference. For example, we were taken to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC. We saw the tragedy of World War Two, and the horrors that the Nazis inflicted upon the different minorities in Germany during the war. I had learnt about the Holocaust in class, but seeing some of my fellow scholars crying their hearts out because they were related to a holocaust victim, or the gruesome video clips shown behind the museum walls opened me up. I remember that a few of my group mates and I lit candles as we wiped away our tears in the Remembrance Hall. Without a doubt, this experience significantly impacted my life forever.
Ultimately, the four hundred students attending this leadership conference were selected for a reason. We were chosen because we were recognized as being top leaders in our schools. A skill taught and focused on was Cross Cultural Communication. We learned how to deal with conflict and difficult situations amongst a myriad of different ethnicities and cultures. I believe that this was one of the most important skills I could ever learn because it helps me to further myself as a global citizen. Keynote speeches by some of the world’s top diplomats, politicians, business leaders and professors, gave us an ever more global insight into cultures and issues faced today.
Until this day, I will never forget the many incredible people I met during the conference. For in this very conference, we came as people from different cultures and nationalities, but we bonded together as one. With this as my first leadership conference abroad, I am certain that I will never forget the important skills GYLC has taught me. A productive and fruitful summer experience that I was sad to leave, but will smile about because this conference happened. It will be etched in my heart for years to come.
By Alyssa Than,
Yew Chung International School of Beijing