"Changing the Face of Leadership" Changes Lives
Earlier this summer, Simmons hosted the "Women Changing the Face of Leadership Program", a program designed and funded by the Study of the U.S. Branch at the U.S Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and we introduced program participants. Twenty-five enthusiatic women brightened up the Simmons College campus, with their willingness and eagerness to change their lives and the lives of others.
The program included four weeks of classes at Simmons taught by faculty from the Simmons School of Management, the Department of Political Science and International Relations, the Department of History, and the Simmons School of Social Work, along with several educational tours. It also included a week visiting popular historic sites and tourist attractions in Atlanta, GA. and Washington DC. The 25 women participated in the Study of the U.S Institute on Women's Leadership closing conference, shared their experiences and networked with women from all over the Middle East, Asia and other African countries.
During the program, I was able to sit with a few of the women, who described some of their favorite and most inspiring parts of their experience, what they would love to take back to their home countries, and what they learned about leadership.
"Women should not be ignored in leadership, they equally make good decisions, given the chance."
"Being a leader doesn't mean you're there to be the master, a leader is like a servant, once you're a leader you should know that you have to serve your people," said Akwero of South Sudan. " I had my own opinions of leadership, but I learned the qualities of leadership are not only leading and communicating but being able to accept others' opinions and a lot of team work."
She added, " After visiting the Boys and Girls Club, and realizing how well it helped young people, giving them a place to do homework and other activities, it's such a great idea I wish I could carry it back home to reduce the number of our street children."
Her takeaway from the program, "Women should not be ignored in leadership, they equally make good decisions, given the chance. Men and women should work together 50-50, we need to work together and support."
In response to being asked to finish the sentence "when I think of myself as a leader", Amma of Sierra Leone said, " I think of creating something new, being the first person to do a great thing that can change the world at large, there are very few women in my field of Computer Science in Sierra Leone, I want to make something that can improve the economy and create more of an acceptance of women as leaders."
She also admired the work of the Boys and Girls Club adding, " They called the kids there young leaders, that touched my heart and I said Whoa! At this age, they are training kids to become leaders of the future. I was so happy and I hoped that when I go home I'd be able to start an organization like that in Sierra Leone."
"I realized I had more similarities with people from different countries than with those from my own country. I would just encourage anyone to come in with the right mindset, be open-minded."
When asked what made her most excited during her experience, Noon of Sudan responded, "I loved learning about the women who contributed greatly to our history, but are no where in our history books. I appreciated the history classes because I loved the truth it told me and I love that I got to know that there were women involved in these processes, in shaping the world we are living in today."
She also shared her advice for anyone interested in the program, "Not only do you get things from an academic perspective you also learn a lot just from day to day activities with your peers. I realized I had more similarities with people from different countries than with those from my own country. I would just encourage anyone to come in with the right mindset, be open-minded."
The Study of the U.S. Institutes are designed and funded by the Study of the U.S. Branch in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Study of the U.S. Institute participants are among over 40,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. For more than sixty years, ECA has funded and supported programs that seek to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Other ECA programs include the Fulbright Program and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. For more information about ECA/SUSI programs, visit: http://exchanges.state.gov/