Interacting as a Global Entity
Goldman Sachs Foundation institute sets out to prepare next generation of world leaders
By Hilary Hurd Anyaso
They are wise beyond their years. They are multi-talented, entrepreneurial, represent an incredibly diverse group of countries and care deeply about the world in which they live. And their average age is 21. For the past few years the Goldman Sachs Foundation, along with the Institute of International Education, has sponsored top college students from around the world to attend its weeklong Global Leadership Institute in New York in July.
“What we’re hoping to achieve in this program is really to ensure that they develop high-quality leadership preparation that enables them to envision themselves as global leaders. And then actually to obtain the skill-set necessary to become global leaders on the global stage,” says Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Foundation officials also hope the institute will help the students to begin to think more in-depth about international affairs.
The theme of this year’s institute was “Leadership Without Borders.” In past years, the world’s current events have influenced many of the discussions among the students, such as the institute that was held after 9/11. However, this year, the students tried not to let the War in Iraq dominate their conversations about world issues.
“Obviously Iraq has been in the media nonstop, but we came to the conclusion that sometimes the media kind of over-represents certain things to the detriment of other things,” says David Ziyambi, 20, a native of Zimbabwe attending the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “We feel that a lot of the other issues in the world have been neglected. No one is saying that the war is not an important thing…”
And even though discussions of Iraq didn’t dominate, the students weren’t without their own opinions about the war.
“The Iraq issue has put America in a very bad light for South Africans. People feel that it was invaded for all of the wrong reasons, that the Bush administration was pursuing self interests,” says Nhanhla Dlamini, a student at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. “If Iraq wasn’t an oil-rich country, the invasion would have never happened. And now they’re trying to take the moral high ground by saying that Saddam Hussein was a bad person, but there are bad people all around the world. Why don’t they help those countries?”
For Ziyambi, a trip to the United Nations put war in general into perspective.
“They had a statistic that almost three-quarters of the world’s finances are put into war and defense… and only 25 percent of what is put into war would be needed to obliterate the most of the world’s problems with water, with famine, with AIDS, and things like that. It was a scary statistic,” Ziyambi says.
It was precisely those types of discussions that David Overton, a Howard University junior from Philadelphia, said were helpful to him.
“As a U.S. citizen, it’s a struggle to keep yourself from becoming too insular,” Overton says. “So understanding what those pressing issues are is a major focus of this program.”
Overton says he thought the institute was going to be solely focused on international affairs and world issues, but found the agenda to be quite multidisciplinary.
The first day students took a Myers-Briggs test to see what type of leaders they would be; the second day they learned about foreign exchange markets; and on the third day they visited the United Nations to discuss peace keeping. One of the highlights for Overton was the video on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. And although they weren’t able to see the 90-minute video in its entirety, he says it was “incredibly inspiring. They were showing you how this man can have an effect on the entire world — every single day,” Overton says.
For Dlamini, 20, the institute offered hope for the future.
“I’m from South Africa, and in Southern Africa there are just many, many challenges,” explains Dlamini. What the institute did, he says, is “reignite the passion and the enthusiasm for Africa and how much we can still achieve.”
Dlamini and Ziyambi are naturally concerned about some of the issues facing their country, such as HIV/AIDS. They feel that by and large their country and its problems have been shunned by the international community and were impressed that extensive conversations throughout the program addressed how the international community can make a better effort to assist countries with severe needs.
“You’re worried about your own country’s state, but in the back of your mind you’ve always got the global picture in focus,” Ziyambi says. “One of the key focuses of the seminar is to always have in mind the fact that we do interact as a global entity. So correct your problems at home, by all means, but make sure you put input into helping the global society.”
And the Goldman Sachs Foundation is helping the students do just that. A few years ago the foundation began providing seed money for students to launch their own social ventures.
“They’ve started orphanages, schools and other kinds of programs from Africa to India,” says Bell-Rose. “We’re very excited to have the ability to enable them as they develop their leadership vision at age 20, 21, 22, to get out there and to implement the early stages of their leadership experience.”
The foundation hopes that the students will continue to learn from and be inspired by each other as they have plans to bring the institute’s alumni together next spring to celebrate the Global Leadership program’s five-year anniversary.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com