Grade 10 student, Theodore Henlon, was over the moon when he learned he was one of 10 Jamaican high school students selected to participate in last week’s Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP) at Humber College.
It was the first time that the Holmwood Technical High School student had left his country.
“I was excited for many reasons,” the aspiring gynaecologist said. “I had never been on an aircraft, so I was anxious to experience flying and also what another country has to offer. When you add the opportunity to be exposed to high quality leadership training while meeting Canadian high school students, you could understand why I am still on cloud nine.”
The EGLP one-year pilot offered young people an opportunity to explore critical concepts and skills in successful leadership in Canadian and international contexts with special emphasis on cross-cultural communication and team building. It also helped the teenagers grasp an understanding of the most important concepts in career planning and reflect on their strengths and areas of growth.
To be eligible, students were assessed on the extent and quality of their demonstrated leadership capacity based on their community involvement, extra-curricular activities and response on the application form.
As someone who has always had a desire to lead others, Henlon was extremely grateful for the opportunity.
“I want to develop as I grow as a leader and this program is going to help me with that,” said the school prefect and inter-school Christian fellowship member. “My goal is to become the best leader I can possibly be and I intend to fully utilize this opportunity to come to Canada and learn.”
The other Jamaican participants were Shennell Ramsay and Maurice Mason (Wolmer’s), Lori-Ann Grossett (Ardenne), Anesia Edwards (St. Jago), Mathew Dowe (Cornwall), Austin Brown (Knox), Ruel Hanlan (Meadowbrook) and Gillian Williams (Glenmuir).
“This is such a wonderful platform for young people like me to grow as a leader,” said Williams, who intends to become a pharmacologist. “Leadership is thrust upon me at school as my peers look at me as someone who is responsible and can point them in the right direction. I have accepted the role and am now looking to develop through this program.”
St. Jago teacher, Delores McKoy, was the Jamaicans’ chaperone.
She said the selection process was highly competitive since Jamaica has an array of bright young leaders.
“These students are a sampling of the crème de la crème of the young leadership talent in our country,” said McKoy.
Humber College embarked on the pilot project in partnership with the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations, Sakimay First Nations in Saskatoon and the Peel District School Board.
A total of 16 students took part in the innovative program that allowed them to learn and grow alongside their peers.
Alister Mathieson, Humber’s vice-president of advancement and external affairs, said his institution was delighted to be part of the initiative.
“This is part of our strategy in terms of community outreach and it’s part of our ability not only to provide students with a credential, but to educate young global citizens of the future,” he said. “That’s a very important part of our strategic plan.”
Mathieson encouraged the students to explore opportunities to pursue part of their post-secondary education in foreign countries.
“The rewards you will reap from having an education in another place are endless,” he said. “When you have a career, you are going to be working alongside people from different countries and cultures. The experience of those wonderful cultural benefits of having conversations with those people will be immeasurable.”
Mathieson also announced that former Barbados consul general Kay McConney has committed to extending the program to other Caribbean countries.
She was instrumental in linking Barbadian high school students with York University’s EGLP, which was scrapped two years ago. Barbadian students took part in the inaugural retreat in May 2004, followed by Jamaican students two years later.
“At the conclusion of this year’s program, we will see what are some of the outcomes and lessons learned,” said McConney, the founding chief executive of a Canadian-based executive training, coaching and consulting firm. “We will also see where Humber and the AJAA want to go next and, if Barbados and other CARICOM countries are among those places, then that will be excellent. I don’t believe that any country should be shut off from an opportunity that they believe could be of benefit to their young people.
“It’s incredibly important for our young people to see themselves as part of the global community and for them to do so it means they must travel outside of their countries and they must be able to carry their culture with them. They also must be open-minded to the cultures of the world because that is how we create relationships in the world. I think that if we are truly going to be building citizens for the 21st century, they have to be global citizens who have a broad world view and who have the ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in the world and share their culture and their experiences just as confidently as they also learn from those other cultures. It’s just called 21st century living.”
Jamaica’s Council-General, Lloyd Wilks, AJAA co-founder Paul Barnett – who played a key role in bringing the stakeholders together – and other AJAA representatives attended a reception for the students at Humber College, which last year entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Jamaica’s University of Technology that will enable students to benefit from the collaboration and international exchange opportunities.
The Jamaican students returned home last Friday.