Vincentian teens enhance  leadership skills across the world
August 21, 2015
Vincentian teens enhance leadership skills across the world

Four Vincentians have gained a deeper respect for other cultures and opinions, following their attendance at the 2015 Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) in China.

On July 12, Tito Patterson, Nafesha Richardson, Elizabeth Simmons and Raisa Byron-Cox left St Vincent {{more}}and the Grenadines to participate in the GYLC programme, which is geared towards building leadership skills in teenagers from all parts of the world.

“It’s important for young people like us to go to things like this because most of us grow up in this one culture, so we have one way of viewing things, so it’s a way of showing us how different parts of the world deal with situations. Also, it helps you to form lots of friendships. A lot of us may become big successful people and are more than likely going to need one another’s help at some point,” Patterson told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview this week.

While in China, they were each a part of a country group, where they formed mock governments, organizations and NGOs to assess simulations in which they employed leadership and problem solving skills.

They also had an opportunity to visit Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong where they saw various sites, including the Great Wall of China. The delegation also savoured traditional Chinese dishes, including Peking duck and hot pot soup.

According to the four teens, travelling to China for the first time presented a “culture shock” experience in which they were thrown into an environment where they had to adapt and engage with persons from different backgrounds, practices and ways of thinking.

While some may be daunted by this, Byron-Cox explained that it was much more of a self-esteem booster, because one had to speak up in order to be heard.

“Well, it’s also a confidence builder. First of all, being nominated is an honour…it boosts your self-esteem and also being thrust into situations where there are people from so many different countries, you have to be very outspoken in order to be heard; you have to stand out …speak more and be able to communicate well with others,” she said.

Simmons also shared a similar view, noting that being a part of the programme has caused her to be open-minded in different situations.

“It definitely broadens your perspective on things. It really opens up your mind; you have to be open and understanding, because there are so many different ideas and opinions on things,” the 17-year-old said.

For Richardson, the experience was about learning the importance of managing time and meeting new people.

“For most of the trips, we had to make sure that we were there at least five minutes before, but apart from that, being able to throw yourself into a situation that you’re unfamiliar with and just making friendships with others (was most memorable),” she said.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College students expressed gratitude to their Literatures in English lecturer Rhonda Morgan for nominating them, their parents for helping to fund their trip and sponsors who helped them to journey to China.

They all agreed that they would suggest that other persons work towards attending future GYLC conferences.

The GYLC conference takes place in the summer months of every year in China, Europe and Washington, USA.

The VIncentian delegation returned to St VIncent and the Grenadines on August 12.(BK)