In January, a group of young leaders from Saudi Arabia traveled to the United States to study leadership and English language. The participants, ranging in age from 14-16, were excited to travel abroad and become stronger leaders. In line with Legacy’s values and mission, the program focused on developing values-based leadership skills, living cooperatively with peers and exploring new cultures.
The program started in Orlando, FL, the heart of innovation and imagination. Students were introduced to key components of leadership that are shared across cultures, including listening skills, respect, and courage. Prior to arriving in the United States, students were asked to brainstorm a leader they look up to. Students were challenged to emulate this leader during the entirety of the program. One student picked Jackie Robinson,and spoke about one quality he most admires: “Jackie was courageous; he never let fear keep him from doing what was right. For me, being in the US for the first time is a bit scary, but I’m being like Jackie and am being brave. That is helping make the most of this new experience.”
In addition to hands-on workshops, students enjoyed day trips around Orlando. They completed a group service project at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, visited an American mosque to learn about diversity in American’s Muslim population, and enjoyed touring and shopping along Orlando’s famous International Drive. The group topped off their time in Orlando with a trip to Walt Disney World!
From Orlando, students and staff transitioned to the beautiful Florida FFA Leadership Training Center. Students practiced living cooperatively and gained an appreciation for the natural world. Kick-ball, canoeing, a scavenger hunt, campfires, nature hikes and a cruise along Lake Pierce were just a few highlights. Students were challenge by the limited Wifi and technology, but they soon relished the opportunity to simply enjoy the present moment. “It was nice being somewhere new. I felt like I could learn more about myself, and my new friends. We learned to work together, even when we had disagreements. I learned to be a better team player through the fun games and sports.”
Participants returned home with new friendships, greater sense of responsibility, an deeper understanding of American culture and memories to last a lifetime.