*You can access the complete leadership curriculum for YES and CBYX students here.
The goals of youth leadership are to…
- Introduce a relational model of leadership
- Identify personal capacities and opportunities for exercising leadership
- Provide opportunities to observe and practice principles of leadership (both collective and individual)
Through leadership activities students will gain…
- Knowledge of alternative leadership styles
- Inventory of leadership skills and attitudes to build on and/or develop
- Practical experience of leadership as a behavior/action
- Experience in establishing common goals among peers and community members through a collaborative service project
- Increased self-confidence as leaders
The goal of the leadership focus is to develop the skills and attitudes necessary to work effectively with others in order to meet common goals through experiential learning (learning follows a sequence of experience, reflection, generalization, and application).
- Experience: Students experience an event or activity.
- Reflection: They then share what they saw, heard, felt, etc. In this process, some students will likely see things others missed (students can also keep a journal to facilitate the reflection stage; facilitators can also work with students to encourage dialogue about a particular experience).
- Generalization: Students are asked if they have ever experienced something like this before or if it relates to other experiences they have had. By doing this, the experience becomes broader and more applicable than it initially appeared.
- Application: Students are asked how they can apply what they have learned from this experience.
This model is also reflective of the established AFS Learning Objectives:
Personal Values and Skills:
At the core of all AFS experiences is the removal of people from their familiar environment and their placement in a new environment. In such unusual circumstances participants are confronted repeatedly with crises of varying dimensions and thus learn to analyze situations, make informed judgments and act without familiar cues.
Every AFS participant becomes fully involved in daily living and working arrangements with a variety of people in the new environment. This requires developing and maintaining relationships with others from varying backgrounds. The interpersonal skills thus developed are transferable to many other settings during the participant’s lifetime.
Intercultural Knowledge and Sensitivity:
During the course of their immersion in the host culture, AFS participants are exposed to innumerable dimensions of that culture, ranging from the simple acquisition of daily necessities to the complex and subtle distinctions made by hosts among alternative values, social norms and patterns of thought. Involvement in so many dimensions of life deepens participants’ insights into their home culture as well as their knowledge of their host culture from the perspective of an outsider.
Awareness of Global Issues:
Living in a place other than one’s home community often helps one recognize that the world is one large community, a global island, in which certain concerns are shared by everyone everywhere. AFS participants learn to empathize with their hosts’ perspectives, and thus appreciate that workable solutions to global concerns must be culturally sensitive, not merely technologically feasible.
While much of the skill and attitude acquisition that will help students become effective leaders will take place in any case during the course of their sojourn, we would like to enhance the opportunity of our Sponsored Program participants to acquire these skills. What can you do to implement the leadership focus? Introduce mentors and role models:
- This begins with you!
- Opportunities through educationally-focused enrichment cluster activities to observe how leadership is exercised and to interact with leaders in various walks of life, who may serve as leadership role models.
- Facilitation and guidance in finding individual mentors.
- Introduction to concepts and vocabulary useful in understanding the skills important to exercising effective leadership.
- Encouragement and facilitation in finding opportunities to take on leadership roles or practice skills important to exercising leadership (through participation in school or community groups, opportunities for making presentations or ongoing community service participation, for instance).
- Guidance and encouragement in the planning and implementation of a community enhancement or service project.
Leadership is a relational process
An important premise of Kennedy-Lugar YES and CBYX is that leadership involves relationships. Students will have a chance to work in a small group, as a team, to identify a service or other community enhancement project in their school or local area that could have a positive impact on the community. For the purposes of these programs, the emphasis of the collaborative community enhancement or service project is primarily on process rather than outcome. The student group will be asked to invite other community members or students to take part in the proposed initiative, and learn about collaborative leadership processes based on that experience.