A Reflection on the ‘WeStand’ Leadership Summit

Michael and Nicole, Year 10, Gubei Campus

We stand. We lead.

On March 3rd, 2017, a group of YCIS Prefects and members of the Student Council had the great opportunity to attend the annual ‘WeStand Summit’ by Young Leaders World. We were lucky to be invited to the summit and we learned so many new things. The summit conferences provided me with an expanded understanding of how to be a personal, local, or even a global leader, and with a clearer vision for my future. This remarkable day started at 8 a.m. with a bus ride from Shanghai to Suzhou. By 9 a.m. we arrived at the event and were simply given a booklet, a wristband, and a pen. What I didn’t know was that those three items would inspire a whole room full of young leaders to act.

The first speaker's name was Pocket Sun. She spoke about when she lived in China as a child. In her school, everyone looked the same because all of the students had the same haircut, clothes, etc. No one expected that, by the age of 18, she would go to college in the US., but she did. She stated, “It’s not 'impossible', it’s 'I’m Possible'”. Now, she has a Master of Science degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. She’s been highlighted by Forbes magazine in the category of "30 under 30 in Venture", and she founded ‘SoGal’, one of the world’s largest communities of entrepreneurs that have helped many start-up businesses in the US and Asia. After listening to her speech, I can relate to her story as I also moved to China at a young age and had to fit in. She will serve as an inspiration as I strive to create my own business in the future and hopefully become as successful as she is.

The second speaker was Tyler Waye. Mr Waye is the President of an organisation called IN.FORM and co-founder of Young Leaders World. Unlike Ms Sun, he didn’t speak about his personal life; he talked more about what the outlook for our future could be and what we wanted tomorrow to be. Personally, I thought he was inspirational because as a teenager I don’t feel comfortable speaking about the uncertain future, my journey, change, etc. However, Tyler asked us the questions many teenagers like myself don’t like to think about, for example, “Where are you heading?”, “What is going to keep you motivated?”, and “How will you achieve that?” His message inspired us to take ownership of our lives and think “What’s the next step?”

After the first two speeches, we were sent to our designated group areas. Each of us received a different coloured lunch ticket, which led us to various parts of the gym to eat. At first, we were all very excited and curious about what our colours meant, as some of us received yellow tickets and others got orange. But after we entered the gym, we realised that each colour represented a different group of people in society, orange being lower class, yellow being middle class, and blue being the upper class. Just like society, most of us received orange; only some received yellow, and even fewer people received blue. This simulation helped illuminate how society works, and how people feel when they are less fortunate than others. I thought that it was a neat experience and a creative way to educate us on real problems in society by experiencing them. After that eye-opening meal, we were invited to the foyer to do a few workshops. Inside the foyer was a broad range of different activities for us to participate in. These activities focused on environment and animal protection, education, poverty reduction/community building, and hunger/food security. However, one of my favourite workshops was one called “Food for ten days”. This workshop gave each group an amount of rice and told us to divide it equally among ten days. After we had completed that, they gave us a situation. Each situation meant that we had to further divide up the small amount of rice we had into even more smaller amounts of rice to cope with the circumstances. This exercise made me feel like I was in the shoes of others who have to deal with food shortage and these types of problems. It also made me realise how privileged we are that we didn’t need to worry about things like this and how we need to help people who are out there.

Next, it was Denise Huang’s turn to speak. She designs footwear, accessories, and has a boutique in Shanghai. Her shoes displayed in the world’s most prestigious fashion district in the world, New York City. For me, she was an inspiration to be creative and pursue your dream. Since when she started out as a shoe designer, many thought it was only a hobby. Her motto is always to think “Why not?” instead of “Why?” Her determination to follow her dreams and bring back something she loved from her childhood will inspire me to keep following my dreams no matter how many people say "no".

Finally, Gracie Schram spoke. Ms Schram is 18 years old and is a singer/songwriter of rustic indie pop. Her goal is to change the world through music because as a child, she saw a video of children suffering from starvation in Africa and she wanted to make a change. At the age of 18, she has raised over 40,000 US dollars for humanitarian causes. Through the support of her parents, she has been able to explore her musical abilities. By listening to her story, I learned that no matter how old you are, with the backing of the those who love you, you can make a positive change in the world.

By the end of all of the speeches, there was one activity left, called “Vision”. We were told to write down with as much detail our vision of our future. We all had to promise that from that day we would use that as a guide to be leaders and lead others and that we would stand and make a change for the better.

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