Mandela-600x400The winds of change are blowing through the Global Youth Village campus this holiday season.  The weather has changed from what felt like a balmy summer night, to a gusty ice storm, in just a matter of hours.  Likewise, with the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela, we have taken a moment to reflect on the changes he has made in our world over the past 95 years.  Through our reflection on the greatness of Mr. Mandela’s leadership, we find ourselves asking the question: “What calls one to greatness?”


What inspires a person to seek the skills and qualities embodied by leaders like Mr. Mandela – skills like diplomacy, servant leadership, and reconciliation; qualities like humility, resilience and generosity?


What inspired Mandel himself, to act with forgiveness instead of vengeance after he was released from prison in 1990?  What gave the people and leaders of South Africa the strength to set aside chronic political violence and to peaceful embrace a multiparty democracy after Mandela’s election in 1994?


In the words of Mr. Mandela, as played by Morgan Freeman in the film Invictus “How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us?”


The answers are numerous – some say the great leaders who came before us are our inspiration, some say family, some say it is the intrinsic goodness of mankind.  Whatever the answer, over the past 35 years, the Global Youth Village has served as a call to greatness for thousands of participants, igniting as sense of social responsibility and the conviction to lead by example.  Perhaps the catalyst was an “ah-ha” moment in a workshop, or a conversation with a new friend from a new country, or maybe meals shared with respect and curiosity – maybe a combination of all three.


Nelson Mandela’s resilience, sacrifice and optimism serve as model for the work we do at GYV.  We believe that through reflecting his value-based approach to leadership, young people are inspired to greatness each summer.   If you have been to GVY yourself, leave a comment and share what it is about this program that most inspires you.  If you haven’t yet, considering joining us in 2014.

Discover how GYV inspires young people to become leaders