If someone asks me one of the most life-changing experiences I have been through, I would confidently say the World Leadership Congress. From July 21st to 28th, I had experienced an inspiring leadership journey hosted by Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), which is an organization dedicated to nurture the next young leaders of tomorrow. Over the past week, I have met over 400 students who crowded at the same place, Loyola University Chicago, from each corner of the world. It was such an uncommon, novel, albeit and exciting experience. When I arrived on the first day, I anticipated to discover dominant cultural identities from the States since it was held there; however, my assumption was completely mistaken. These ambassadors had distinguishable cultural features from one another, even from the same continent. This allowed me to feel “unique”, rather than “different”, as I began to share the unrepeated cultures of South Korea to all the global ambassadors who were also unique themselves, representing their own country.
The theme of 2018 World Leadership Congress was “Believing Yourself”, also contracted as “Be You”. All the workshops, speeches, and activities were all narrowed down to this main theme. Throughout the day, I met my wonderful group, each from different parts of the world. The next day, more than 400 ambassadors trotted down to the street of Chicago city, one of the renowned cities with bold architectures and skyscrapers. First time being there, I was completely engrossed in the extensive settlements, crowded with busy traffics.
[Group photos taken in front of tourist attractions in Chicago City, Illinois]
Returning from the prior day, the rest of the week was filled with admiring keynote speakers. Few of their speeches were truly impressive. One of the speeches was about a sustainable dialogue; it is a fame institute helping people to transform their personal relationships and carry out to an inclusive community. Through the groups’ activities, I learned how to maintain a dialogue with people by interacting and listening to their monologues. I certainly agree that the first step toward being a global citizen is listening deeply to what others say with respectful manners, by asking and responding to their stories.
Other times of the week, individuals were assigned to the global issues workshops, which I was able to reflect on global issues, such as education, peace & disarmament, entrepreneurship, development, and furthermore. I was assigned to the two workshops: global cities, climate & equity and global security. Prior to the speeches, these topics were not even in my consideration at all; however, I was completely engaged with the lessons as I started to make connections to my local place. The next day, I gathered up with my group and discussed the global issues. We did an extensive research together on a specific topic, which we narrowed it down to global security; there, I presented about the issue revolving around the relations between North and South Korea. This had always been a continuous problem within my nation, which made me want to bring it up. I mentioned any plausible solutions that we could propose as young leaders and discussed it thoroughly. It was a wonderful opportunity to take time and contemplate about a significant problem in my local community.
[Group photos taken at Loyola University Chicago]
While I was a leader, I realized that I need to understand the concept of the iceberg. This iceberg is composed of various cultural elements, on the top with clothing, food, and behaviors, while below the surface is filled with perceptions, beliefs, norms, and religion. The top part of the iceberg is easily noticed by outsiders, which was more like the surface cultures; however, the bottom was a deep culture, which stressed the essence of values and priorities. If these fundamental elements are understood, a successful environment is created.
It was one of the best weeks I have spent in my life and will stay with me forever. The World Leadership Congress was definitely life changing and I would like to recommend being part of the HOBY family.
Cheongna Dalton School
Minji Kang firstname.lastname@example.org
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