The Global Social Leaders programme is taking place right now at Wellington College.  Lavender – one of the 2013 alumni – writes about her experiences so far this year.

When I first received the email from Valerie offering the chance to come back this year, I decided I would apply no matter what, right away. The reason is simple: after what happened last year, everything in my life has changed. I still keep in touch with my teammates from team ECSTACY. Having decided which course I am going to take for university after Steph’s inspiring talk about city planning in one of the special topics from last year, I finally found my passion and decided what kind of experiences I would love to have in my life.

After both the 50k miles of journey in total from four continents and the welcoming package tour to London, we finally got everyone together for the very first time at Wellington College, in Great School. Day 1 began and I started my incredible journey of GSL 2014! Following the brief introduction of the (amazing!) staff team, we got to know each other and started bonding with our own groups. In the evening, we put on our traditional costumes to present our countries to our diverse group and it ignited my interests to attend a Jordanian wedding one day.

In Day 2, we had discussions with each other about specific leadership styles in different countries. We were introduced to leadership styles by coaches and then put it into practice. After meeting the passionate UK future leaders from NCS programme, we welcomed Brian McBride, the CEO of ASOS, to give us a talk on leadership and his experiences.

Last year, I experienced the London Factor. This year however, the challenges were set in Oxford which gave us the perfect opportunity to explore the city and learn to work as a team. It was great to visit such a prestigious university which is so renowned for academic excellence. Some of us who were initially reluctant to step up were given the chance to lead the team and did a fabulous job.

What has been the best/ most challenging experience in the past few days?

It was when we were coming up with a team name. I realized I could be more confident than I thought I would be and that I had the freedom to express my ideas.

Attawit Chaiyaroj, Thailand

As a leader, finding the balance between finishing the task and making people happy.

Yiren Ye (Tony), China

The best experience was when we were accepting the team challenges and when we were having group discussions. It was such a good opportunity to know more about each other because we were more open to each other at that time. I was really amazed by how our differences and similarities could be worked out so perfectly.

Akshat Khanna, India

How many friends from other countries have you made so far and how do you feel like getting to know each other’s cultures?

Countless. I feel great about meeting new people from different countries because I’m going to study in US in two years, so there will be people from all over the world within one college. I think it’s a good opportunity and experience to practise beforehand. Also, I love travelling. It’s always helpful to know more about everything.

Yuanyang Chang (Jerry), China

Many, I’ve got almost one from each country. I think it’s very interesting. We’ve got to know each other 1 or 2 days before the programme started, we shared same experiences with each other and it was really fun. And I think these friends I’ve made in these days can last forever. I will never forget them. We have people from 6 countries in my team and it fascinated me to see how systems work differently between countries.

Geetansh Pabra, India