I first heard about Global Social Leaders in the Spring from a teacher at my school, St Crispins in Wokingham, who works tirelessly to find opportunities that help Sixth Formers develop ourselves as individuals outside of school.
Global Social Leaders (GSL) is a 12 day leadership residential run by Future Foundations and the Wellington Leadership Institute and aimed at young leaders who want to make a positive social impact in their community. The international programme attracts young people from accross the world and this year comprised of 60 students from 18 different countries, spanning from Australia to Canada.
As a result of winning the Department of Education’s Character Award, Future Foundations offered a number of bursary places on this year’s GSL. applications were open to UK students who attended Wellington College’s partner schools and other Character Award winning institutions.
As soon as I heard about the opportunity I felt it was a gift, I was passionate about bringing positive change and wanted to inspire people with my passion. This opportunity would provide me with the skills and knowledge to help communicate my messages and emotions clearly and concisely. It was time to apply!
The application form asked why I should be chosen, what I thought a leader was and what my plans were for a social action project when I came back to school in September. I wrote from the heart, with the gracious support of my brilliant teachers for grammatical assistance when my heart had difficulty with it and I was truly proud to send off the application. When Steph from Future Foundations team contacted me to say I’d been accepted I felt incredibly honoured and I was pleasantly surprised when on the phone Steph (the GSL project manager) sounded as excited as I was. I had high hopes, GSL blew the roof off of them and has been the best experience of my life. This is my story…
Being the only GSL participant from my school arriving at Wellington College‘s courtyard filled with strangers was a little daunting… I admit. Nonetheless, the experience was equally exhilarating. I knew these young people were passionate about creating positive change in their communities. They were enthusiastic enough to travel hundreds even thousands of miles to be here. Just for this opportunity to become more inspiring, better communicators and educators, to become even better leaders. This reassured me and I respected them already. I was ready to get stuck in.
It helped that the coaching team at GSL put a huge emphasis on integration. During the first few days we were regularly asked to meet one another in between activities and find out facts about a new person, their passion and their story in one way or another. As a result, this made getting to know one another during free time an effortless process and on a mass scale, everyone was approachable – no one was left out. This created an environment that was supportive, gave participants a sense of belonging and one of even greater purpose. We all felt we mattered to each other and thus to the international community because of our shared plans and passion, we will create a better global community together.
The coaches and programme provided the perfect catalyst for good intentions to spring into action. They were the embodiment of leadership and we all wanted to emulate such commitment, charisma and compassion towards each other. The coaches were also respectfully reserved, kick starting the activities and setting momentum but then stepping back and giving the floor to us. When we work together as a team, supportively, encouragingly, trustingly – we all produce incredible results that make us proud of one another and subsequently of ourselves. My coach was Andy guided our team of young, passionate teenagers ready to change the world, onto paths that got us the most and best we could out of every moment.
The Global Social Leaders experience have given me a renewed confidence and ignited a fire in my heart hotter and brighter than it ever has been. My project for the next year is to turn my school into a more socially aware community.
I would like St Crispin’s to be more aware and open to discussions on issues such as depression and anxiety, aware of the affect it has on students. I have experienced the benefits of working with a large group of fully supportive students and have seen the positive impacts it has made on those who feel more vulnerable. At GSL I’ve had a glimpse at what a constructive world has to offer, I have had a glimpse of paradise.
One of the key lessons I’ve learnt over my time at GSL is that a leader rises out of the respect and compassion they show others. A leader is someone who is fully responsible (or response-able), this means the person is present for every team mate as much as is required. They stretch people beyond their ‘comfort zone’ (but keep them out of the ‘panic zone’), inspiring them to achieve their full potential. Simultaneously, they provide guidance, reassurance and trust their team unconditionally. The mutual trust that this attitude brings leads to a truly congruent group of people, passionate to achieve a shared goal.
In summary, I learnt that leadership is not about being directive, giving orders and expecting others to be compliant solely on the fact you have a mutual objective. Respect for a leader is earned by being compassionate and encouraging, sacrifice and humility when accepting responsibility. Most of all, it is about the people you work with and not all about you.
If you want to Go Fast, Go Alone.
If you want to Go Far, Go Together.
I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and would like to thank my teachers who brought Global Social Leaders to my attention. Their enthusiasm and commitment to find programmes that bring the best in us ensures we fulfill our potential and leave with the best foundations we possibly could for a better future. Thank you St Crispins!