As the 2018 Global Leadership and Innovation participants settle back into life in their home countries, they’ve had time to think about their time in Bloomington and Washington, D.C. The reflections of these outstanding students demonstrate GLI’s multi-faceted strengths, which range from enhanced critical thinking and teamwork to personal and emotional growth. The program emphasized participants’ ability to effectively share their stories, understand team dynamics based upon personality differences, articulate personal goals, and work around unexpected business dilemmas. They prepared two team presentations over the course of the two-week program, utilizing a consultant-management dynamic which allowed for robust and challenging conversations. Then, the program headed to Washington, D.C. for one week of in-depth panel discussions and experiential learning on issues ranging from the Middle East and North African policy to entrepreneurship.
Yasser Al Rijjal, Jordanian 2016 alumnus, said that he had been able to re-evaluate conventional notions of collaboration throughout this summer’s curriculum. “It has always came to my mind that ‘being the smartest in the room, means you are in the wrong room’, but being in this program and interacting with everyone gave me the chance to realize and to rephrase that quote to ‘You are always in the right room if you know how to connect with people’, having something new added each day and each conversation whether on purpose or not, by having such kind of immersive environment change and development is imminent. And these are the kind of experiences I always seek, life-changing ones.”
The fast-paced and challenging environment of GLI reminded some participants of the strong bonds they had formed during previous years. 2012 alumnus from Gaza, Iyad Altahrawi, shared his thoughts about the program and personnel which radically altered his outlook on life.
“I also want to talk about the impact on me myself. Not only that this program set me on a promising career path and was the cornerstone of where I am now but also the people involved in this program changed my perspective to life. In 2014, I was frustrated, people were dying left and right, we had no food, and the war was just horrifying. In these circumstances, people normally would lose hope in humanity and feel left out to die. This is how I felt before I received numerous phone calls from program staff and fellow students GBIers to tell me that they have me in their thoughts and they’re thinking about all of us in Gaza.
I had this kind of people who helped me go through the best and worst and I want to be the one helping others who don’t have a LaVonn, Christine, Fred, Michael, and other GBIers in their lives.”
These deep and enduring friendships helped Iyad to deal with horrific conditions in 2014 and stayed with him throughout the following years. Other participants have commented on the value of long-term relationships formed throughout the program, both with other students and with the faculty and personnel.
Lana Shaheen, a 2016 alumnus, remarked, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to begin with something new. GLI was the new chapter in my life because it pointed me in the right direction as it’ll help me to avoid some painful and time-consuming mistakes. GLI wasn’t the end, it’s the beginning.”