This post was written by Special Olympics North Carolina youth leader, Kyleigh Rossignol during the 2017 Global Unified Youth Exchange.
Today was one of the most exciting yet also one of the most demanding days for our youth leaders. The day started by arriving at the Foreign Language School in Shanghai.
When we arrived we were put in groups and asked independently to draw a creative picture connecting dots on a piece of paper. After, we all hung our pictures up and observed the outcome. The lesson was that all of use drew something different. Some of the drawings were similar but none were exactly the same. This is meant to represent our different thinking processes and how we each have something different to bring to the table.
After that, we watched an encouraging video called “The Tree.” The scene started out as a chaotic traffic jam due to a tree that fell in the middle of the row. The boy walked through the crowd as the people fought and bickered with each other. It started to pour down rain and all the people rain for cover… except the boy. The boy with a look of determination walked up to the tree and tried to pick it up himself. Other kids saw him and were inspired to help, the other kids were followed by many adults. One by one people joined the boy and together they moved the tree out of the way, the rain stopped and the scene was no longer chaotic. The moral of the story was that ANYONE can be a leader. After talking over the story we also learned that “You are NEVER NOT influencing.”
Next, we were asked to define what a leader means to us. Then, together in our groups, we came up with 3–5 key words describing a leader. My group concluded that a leader is kind, respectful, decisive and caring. A leader is so much more than just that, and all the other groups worked together and as a whole we described the key aspects of being a leader.
We then watched a moving video about a leader named Shackleton. He was the captain of a crew of 27 men. They were on a journey when they got stuck in a mound of ice in the ocean. Shackleton ordered to abandon ship and they camped on a uninhabited island. With his crew peaking in mental and physical strength, he danced in the ice to raise their spirits and encourage his crew. After he realized that his crew didn’t have very long left to survive if they stayed so him and four other men left for South Georgia to find help. Shackleton left a note with a single person and told him not to open it for 20 days. The note said “I will come back for you, but if I don’t succeed, know that I did everything I could.” Shackleton and his men made it to South Georgia but help was on the north side. Shackleton and two of the men (the other two were to exhausted) began to climb and hike were not man had ever before, on a dangerous and impossible journey to the whaling station on the north side. On arrival the captain of the whaling station knew Shackleton from the papers and said he would help him. They told Shackleton to rest and that they would rescue his men but Shackleton refused and did that he promised his men bag HE would to everything HE could to rescue them. With that they set off, the rescue mission failed 3 times. On the fourth try, as Shackleton approached the island, he began counting shadows “1,2,3…23! They’re all here! They’re all here! They’re all here!” When they arrived to the island, the man with the note was asked why he never opened it even though it had been well over 20 days, he responded that they knew he would come back for them, and if not they knew he did everything he could have. What he said was just like the note Shackleton left with them that they never opened. All 27 of Shackletons men survived due to his commitment and persistence. He demonstrated all of the key attributes of a leader.
Additionally, we completed the D.I.S.C. leadership activity. We all had to characterize ourselves as people and leaders. “D” is for Dominate, these people are task oriented, fast-paced and outgoing (Example: Iron Lady). “I” is for Influencers, these people are people oriented, fast-paced and outgoing (Example: Obama). “S” is for Steady, these people are people oriented, slow-paced and reserved (Example: Mother Teresa). “C” is for Consciousness, these people are task oriented, slow-paced and reserved (Example: Bill Gates). With all of us in our categories we listed our strength and our weaknesses, to help us identify the strengths of ourselves and our teammates. We also were challenged to persuade and work with people form other parts of D.I.S.C. which proved to be difficult.
All these activities helped us see that we were all great leaders and that together we could turn the 30 leaders in that room to 300, 3,000 or even 300,000 leaders back home. Leaders create leaders.
After the wonderful experience at the school we moved on to our Christmas Party where we we were all individually honored/ recognized and had a grand time talking and getting to know one another.
This day was truly one of the most fun and inspirational days of them all.