During the July-August vacation 2018, the girls of Holy Name Convent participated in this years’ Global Young Leaders Conference. This program allow young adults from all over the world to visit differnt parts of the world to explore, interact and share their personal veiws and opinions of the world. The girls of form 6: Nia Tate, Noelle Ross, Darianne Constantine, Christine Ou, Justine Joesph and Siu Lin Cook shared thier experiences from their adventurous trip overseas and gave us an outlook of the different activities they did.
1. Which country did you go to?
Darianne: We went to Washington DC where we stayed at the Sheraton & New York where we stayed at St John’s University. We stayed in each place for 5 days (were there for a total of 10) and on the sixth day on our way to New York (by bus) we stopped off in Pennsylvania for about an hour at the University of Pennsylvania where we strolled the light he university and got lunch at nearby eateries.
2. Who also attended this program with you?
Siu Lin: I travelled with Noelle Ross and Christine Ou from (then) lower 6. I was the only form 5 student who went to the trip as others were nominated they thought they had their hands full with graduation but I wanted to take up the challenge. So the three of us girls met in the airport at 4am ready to travel by ourselves. This day had a lot of first for me as it was my first time travelling without my parents, taking connected flights and going to Washington,DC ; nonetheless I wasn’t scared only excited to learn how to be more independent. We said our good byes to our beloved parents at the classic rituals coffee shop and so went off. When we got to security check there was horribly a long line and in waiting the girls and I spoke and got comfortable with each other. It was nice travelling with people I knew. Ironically when we finally got passed security we saw one of my friends going to Miami Florida as well. We all mingled which helped pass the time as we anxiously awaited our flight. Christine and I said next to each other on the plane. As you can imagine we slept not so comfortably on the plane.
We landed safely in Miami where we had to walk what felt like the whole Queen’s Park Savannah in order to get to the terminal for our next flight which was direct to Washington. We had a three hour waiting period and it was around lunch time when we landed. So we got food and played card games. It was minutes to four o’clock and if was time for our flight.. this time I sat by myself while Christine and Noelle sat together across from me. I watched a movie and before I knew it we were in Washington. We got there tirelessly running on anticipation of what is coming next. As we waited for our bags we were relieved to see that workers of Envision were walking around gathering their students. It was then we realised that a number of teenagers were among us who also arrived for the program. We were all instantly friendly and immediately took pictures with each other. We discussed where we were from and leaned that they lived in either neighbouring or distant countries.
3. How was the experience of the first day arriving in the country?
Christine: On the trip, we didn’t know there were people on the flight with us attending the program as well, three boys from Trinidad and one girl from the Cayman Islands, until we reached at Washington so we got to know each other pretty well. When we got there, we started to form our little group and we had to introduce our selves and everything. One of the key things I remember was, because I was being so friendly, the invision person pointed at me and said “Why don’t you get everybody to introduce themselves?” That’s just something I remember. We were all trying to get to know each other in that short span of time while waiting for two other people to arrive. We met another trini girl, a girl from argintina…. there were a lot of Spanish people. We were all bonding over our long flights. I also met one of my closest friends there who’s from New Zealand. Our small group grew really close and formed a really strong bond. Even during bus rides, we were constantly bonding.
We took a bus to our hotel which was Shierington City hotel. When we got there, we checked in and got our name badges. We thought we were going to get dinner but it was actually a meeting so we barged in laughing and there were 30 or 40 people in the room who turned around and watched us. We stopped dead in our tracks and they didn’t smile or anything they just smiled and looked at us. It was so weird. Things got serious too quickly and we were all trying get to our seats and everyone was just watching us. The advisor had finished giving his speech and the other people left and then we had dinner and we were talking about how awkward everything was. After dinner, we had to go drop our bags into our rooms and go to our LGMs (Leadership Group Meetings) which we constantly had. We introduced ourselves and they introduced us to the program.
4. How was your exprience meeting people from differnt cultures? Do you remember learning anything specific about them?
Nia: It was quite surreal and probably my favorite part of the trip as I got to learn about different cultures and people. It also gave me the opportunity to speak to them in French and Spanish which was truly amazing to me. I particularly remember a lot of them being quite intelligent and bilingual and even trilingual which was intriguing to me as I love foreign languages.
Christine: The first night there, I met my roommates, Olivia who was from Australia and Danielle form Barbados. We bonded over how our AC wasn’t working and they offered to share the bed with me, since the room had two beds and a pull out bed and I came last. That was so nice of them because we didn’t know each other very well yet they offered a space for me so I don’t have to sleep on the creaky bed. From that night I knew I was going to miss them when we had to leave.
This was one of my favourite things, meeting new people and learning about their culture. In one of the programs, a guy from our country group who was from the Philippines said that when they were ever put through war the colours of their flag would change from blue at the top and red at the bottom to red at the top and blue at the bottom. I found it really interesting and cool. I learned different dances from Jamaica and tried veggie might from Australia and it was pretty good. I learnt New Zealand and some Australian slang, although I still can’t say it right. I met people from Egypt and Greece. We learnt some of Indonesian culture that we had to present, because our country group was Indonesia. We learnt about their music the news and the poverty situation. We also had to present a problem and proposals and suggestions to help solve it. It was truly amazing learning about all of the different cultures and it was definitely one of my favourite things about the program.
5. Which parts of the country did you explore?
Noelle: I had about 8 days to explore Washington; the first two was a lot of sight seeing. We went to Capitol Hill first, and the way it was when we went anywhere new was they gave us a map of the area, a meet up time and let us free go wherever we wanted. So Capital Hill was really nice, the town was so pretty and extremely concentrated with historical monuments and buildings and aside from the families with their MAGA hats, it felt like a really safe and interesting place to navigate. We went to a lot of other places in the city, we visited museums and parks and it was overall a really great experience to share with the people I met there.
We also visited New York. We traveled by bus for 5 hours making one stop in Pennsylvania before arriving at the university campus we’d be staying at. Those 4 days at St. John’s was a whole other slew of experiences like staying in a dorm, learning parts of the campus, even finding time to do laundry. This program is extremely accelerated, meaning, it feels like weeks passed after doing the amount of activities we did in 12 days. I am someone that plans to go to university abroad, and the thought of the distance the distance and being independent and away from family made me a bit anxious, but this was a great program to give me a better idea of what that will be like.
Sui Lin: For the most part we visited museums where I personally learnt more history which allowed me to have much more gratitude towards the things I am blessed with. Visiting the holocaust museum humbled me tremendously and it touched the others around me more deeply. To my surprise we were given the privilege of meeting with the Ambassador of Congo. It was really formal and it called for us to show maturity, respect and gratitude. Immediately after we visited the White House of the United States. It was not as glamourous as I thought it would be because we were very far from the building so it appeared small. We visited a lot of monuments and memorials which again humbled me. George Mason University and Penn state were the universities we toured. St. John’s university is the one we stayed in when we reached to New York. In New York we visited time square multiple times, we walked the streets of Manhattan and visited the 9/11 memorial. Being there was unimaginable as I took in that something so horrific took place so long ago but left such a deep wound in a country. And lastly we visited the UN of New York City where our UN simulation took place.
6. What were the global young leaders conferences like?
Justine: The conferences were very informative and were based on topics that varied from a program that uses basketball to form peaceful relationships between waring countries to a presentation from the world bank. All of these conferences again exposed to me to things I would’ve never been exposed to at home and taught me things I would’ve never learnt. It helped me formulate opinions and raise questions on world topics I wouldn’t normally discuss on an everyday basis, controversial topics that need to be more spoken about.
Noelle: The entire program itself was the conference. Aside from sight seeing and visiting the different places, speakers came and presented different topics to us in the conference halls at the hotel and we prepared for the mock United Nations panel in New York. In each country group we had to split up into smaller groups to create proposals based on the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that we would vote on and present at the UN. I learned a lot about the country I was representing, Colombia, and the issue my partner and I had to research for it, which was poverty. It really opened me up to examining world issues a bit more closely.
7. How were you feeling throughout the trip?
Nia: I felt quite proud of myself as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn new things. Every day I felt like I grew more as a person and leader which made the trip a phenomenal experience.
Darianne: Overall GYLC was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve endured. From the friends I have made to the knowledge I’ve gained, it was definitely a fantastic experience. (Except for having to share dorm with 9 other girls!)
Justine: At first, I was very nervous as I had anxiety about having a roommate that I not only didn’t know but was from a totally different country. My fears subsided when I met my roommate, Summer. She was the best roommate I could’ve ever gotten. Then, I was skeptical about being put into a country group with yet again people I didn’t know but these people ended up being bonded to me for life. We shared so many laughs and personal experiences that I will never forget. At the end of the trip it was bitter sweet. I missed home but the time was too short. I had finally warmed up to these people and I had to leave them. Buckets and buckets of tears were shed and tons of hugs were given out but I have to say l leaving was the hardest part of the trip.
Here are some pictures from their exciting and memorable experience at Global Young Leaders: