Leadership Institute Challenges Students to Think Globally
By Gabrielle FinleyNEW YORK
For Charles Reynolds, attending the Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute last month was a humbling experience, one that opened his eyes to a more culturally diverse world.
“There are many interesting people around the world that are trying to make a difference,” says Reynolds, a junior finance major at Howard University in Washington. “It’s a humbling experience to meet with different leaders around the world. You start to realize that there are problems that you don’t see in the United States … there are things that we take for granted.”
Since its inception in July 2001, the Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Institute of International Education, has helped many students like Reynolds begin to think more in-depth about international affairs.
Based in New York, the institute brings students from different countries together for one week to build relationships and discuss major global issues. The program also includes workshops on the challenges of leadership and leadership simulation.
Faculty from Morehouse College, a historically Black institution in Atlanta, led a series of interactive workshops on leadership simulation throughout the program last month. The workshops provided students with different frameworks for leadership and focused on the ethics of leadership. Student groups were presented with different ethical issues and asked to confer with group members and present a solution.
A focus on terrorism was included in the workshop line-up this year in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. In the workshop, “Challenged to Leadership in the 21st Century — The Hurdles Presented by Terrorism,” three cultural perspectives were given on the issue of terrorism as a global issue.
Dr. John Esposito, founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, shared his beliefs on why Americans don’t understand terrorism and explained that we are the only country in the world that, before Sept.11, hadn’t experienced terrorism; Dr. Mahnaz Ispahani, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed how women can create a stable and ethical framework within their families, communities and ultimately the nation to combat terrorism; and Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell, director of the African Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service and professor of anthropology at Georgetown University, offered her perspective on how Africa is dealing with terrorism in the face of political divisiveness.
The exposure the students receive from the workshops and other students is what makes the leadership institute a beneficial experience, says Garry Jenkins, chief operating officer of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
“We’re taking students who have demonstrated a talent as university college sophomores. They’re exchanging ideas with students coming from 22 different countries. It’s the exposure that we think is going to be an experience,” Jenkins says.
Among the 50 students chosen to attend the institute, two African American students, Reynolds and Donielle Newell, and a U.S. student from Senegal, Africa, Yakhara Sembene, were in attendance. For these three students in particular, the leadership institute served as an experience that opened communication lines among different cultures and underscored values, allowing the students to collaborate on solutions to global issues.
Newell, a junior biomechanical engineering major at Stanford University, says international issues are much more complex than she imagined and as a result has learned to think more on a “global level.”
“Things can’t be solved overnight … I’ve learned that. We had to come to a consensus with a different group of people, and I had to be able to see their perspectives and step out of my comfort zone,” Newell says.
Sembene, a junior economics and mathematics major at Smith College, says her previous views and values have been reinforced by her participation in the institute.
“My views have been fortified. Being in this type of environment is very stimulating, just seeing the approach of the problems and ideas. You get a lot of knowledge, and it’s an eye-opener. It was amazing the type of ideas people had,” Sembene says.
Newell also learned that listening is an intricate part of being a good leader.
“It is important to listen to other people and to step out of your experience to learn someone else’s. Leadership is something you learn from all different experiences,” Newell says. “Sometimes being from a developed country you want to take on a paternalistic responsibility and impose those views on others. You have to respect that imposing is not helping or leading the country. It’s really important to learn people’s values and cultures and the role that their culture plays in their lives,” Newell adds.
Reynolds says the networking and building of relationships was the real benefit of attending the institute.
“You get to network with people from around the world. You draw from other skills that people have and develop your own.”
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