Miami was pretty hot the weekend of April 7th, especially coming from snow showers in Cleveland just before. What really brought the heat, though, was the energy of almost 70 young leaders dedicated to making indefinite meaning of their experiences abroad. The Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) brought together dynamic young leaders with a demonstrated commitment to global citizenship and the responsibilities that come with it. I was honored to be a part of it.
My road to GSLS was long. Last spring, I studied abroad on the Spring 2017 Voyage of Semester at Sea (SAS). Visiting 10 countries and crossing the prime meridian was a truly awe-inducing experience, and Diversity Abroad was essential in making that experience possible. As a Diversity Abroad scholar on SAS, I joined a community of global thinkers in sharing my photos, writings, and experiences on the Diversity Abroad platform. When I learned of the Diversity Abroad Global Student Leadership Summit, I saw this as an opportunity to bring that amazing online community to life. I had to be a part of it.
The weekend was filled with high energy speakers, participants, and events. Starting with an inspiring keynote address by Saif Ishoof, the conference hosted an array of accomplished professionals who generously offered us their stories and counsel. Starting with the personal, students were challenged to think intentionally about their experiences abroad and how those experience intersect with our individual identities. Moving forward, we met with representatives from organizations offer post-grad opportunities that could capitalize on skills honed abroad.
Professionally, the conference was extraordinary. An incredible line up matched with a beautiful location made for a phenomenal experience in professional development. While the professional was important, I was particularly inspired by my interpersonal interaction with other student leaders. Learning about campus life from students of mixed and diverse backgrounds allowed me to contextualize my own college experience. If that wasn’t good enough, hearing about how other students have worked to diversify the study abroad experiences at their home institutions was amazing. One thing was clear: we were a talented, hopeful, and passionate cohort.
If the goal of the conference was to connect motivated young change makers, it succeeded. If the mission was to expose us to near endless future opportunities, the goal was exceeded. I’m honored to have shared this experiences with my fellow Global Student Leadership Participants. The people I met, knowledge gained, and stories shared will certainly cement a permanent place in my heart as a global citizen. I’m excited to witness what future participants have to offer the world.