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 purpose of the summit was to empower the participants to make effective changes in their communities.
“The main point of the Civic Leadership Summit was to ‘Be a Changemaker’. During the Summit we went to interactive sessions about discrimination, improving the level of education in some countries, women's and environmental issues,” said participant Viktoriia P., who is from Kyrgyzstan. “During the workshops we discussed the problems existing in our own countries and tried to find causes and solutions for the existing problems. We identified our passions to create change for social issues, and then worked in groups to develop plans for launching our own social ventures in our home countries.”
Jamaican participant, Ackime T., believes that through uniting together, change can be made.
“We belong to the same human race, despite our skin color, nationality, size, or religion and we all face the same social problems. Coming together and creating smart sustainable solutions is to quickest way to make a difference,” he said.
Viktoriia P. said she was inspired by the other participants she met from around the world, and the spirit of diversity that was present at the summit.
“You look at the social justice and civic leadership from different perspectives and will hear the experience of other young leaders from different corners of the world. They inspired me and shared their passion, experiences, lifestyles and culture with me. The Civic Leadership Summit helped me to believe in myself more and gave me a faith that I can be a Changemaker. I will never forget the amazing people who empowered me to believe change is possible.”
Through activities and discussions, participants learned that changing the world can start with something simple.
“In one powerful activity, we had to walk around the room with our heads hanging down, with no eye or physical contact for 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 to 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 Changemaker in this world,” said Ackime T.