Five of Spirit’s Summer Work & Travel students were invited to participate in CIEE’s Civic Leadership Summit in August. This three day summit took place at American University in Washington D.C. and brought together 62 young leaders from 33 countries.
The 2016 CIVIC Leadership Summit is centered around empowering, inspiring and transforming youth leaders into effective change makers. They were 62 impressive youth leaders from every sphere of the globe: Jordan, Colombia, Nigeria, Ukraine, Ireland, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Egypt and Kosovo just to name a few. Over the next four days starting from August 1-4 2016, we pooled our skilled and carried this new found understanding of empathy. With this new understanding and three days of mentally and socially stimulating activities, skills training and qualified presenters, we sought to address various social problems with different social ventures.
This was my first time visiting Washington D.C, first time touring the capitol and visiting the White House, needless to say, this trip was filled with a lot for “firsts" for me. But, we were completely catered for. We had three square meals each day with a variety of snacks in between meals, five-star accommodation by the American University and transportation was covered from all angles. There is absolutely no reason why all participants who desire to be a change maker shouldn’t apply to attend the Civic Leadership Summit. I can guarantee that your life path/direction will change by attending this summit. The staff, team leaders, presenters, participants and most importantly the different sponsors all pooled and made this a life altering experience. The only problem we had, was saying goodbye on the 4th, we all wished we had the entire week, but to think if we had bonded so much over four days, then we wouldn’t be able to say good bye after five days.
Future participants should attend, because we belong to same Human race, despite our skin color, nationality, size, or religion and we all face the same social problems and coming together and creating smart sustainable solutions is to quickest way to may a make a difference.
One of the most powerful and impactful activity that we had did, was that we had to walk around the room with our heads hanging down, no eye contact, no physical contact and I was like an endless two minutes. We were then instructed to “look up and without a word, just smile and make eye contact as you walk around the room.” And as I walked around the room, everyone started smile and the spirit of the room lifted. It showed that all it really takes is a small act of kindness, a smile, helping your neighbor to affect a change in the world, to be a change maker in this world.
The Summer work and Travel Program has instilled in me this relentless work ethic that has even translated into my academic life. My social network and cultural awareness has exceeded my expectations as I indulged in the various cultures within the J1 community. Also every movie I watched, I heard the saying “America is the Land of Opportunity” and this summer I got to embrace the American culture and the various opportunities it has.