The sunshine might have been hiding behind dark rainclouds, but IYLA participants were shining bright.
The opening orientation was a resounding call to for leadership. James Flynn, president of the Global Peace Foundation, a co-convener of IYLA, told delegates to embody moral leadership, leadership “focused on the greater good of all humanity.” John Dickson, Chairman GYLA, another co-convener said, "You are not future leaders, you are leaders now. How you do today is how you do your life."
Mark Farr, president of the Sustained Dialogue Institute (SDI) welcomed IYLA to SDI for a special workshop. Rev. Farr is passionate about dialogue. He stressed the power of conversation between people who “listen carefully enough that they are changed by what they hear.”
“There is a missing art in public life,” he said. “What is missing is the interaction of people. People should be engaged. You need to be involved. We’re trying to change the world!”
Faces lit up as Rev. Farr encouraged the delegates to discuss their vision for the world with their peers.
Let’s hear what some IYLAers said:
“It is important to give others an opportunity, who don’t have a say. We take advantage of our resources. It’s important to work with our natural environment to come up with creative and innovative solutions.” –Megan Glenn, USA
IYLA has brought leaders from so many different corners of the world. Yet, as we exchanged our personal vision, it revealed a shared hope for a world of prosperity and happiness.
Our dialogue was building partnerships that went across racial and cultural boundaries. In the workshop we came together, like-minded youth built strong, meaningful relationships based on what we discovered was a common vision. I saw the power of dialogue.
Relationships like these are key to resolving conflict. Strong relationships formed under a common vision can transform deep, long-lasting conflict between individuals, groups of people, even nations. What a way to start the IYLA, putting into context the importance our connection to each other.
Over lunch, we continued to develop our network, exchanging business cards and thoughts about the workshop between bites of pizza during lunch.
A rainy afternoon provided the perfect opportunity to explore some of D.C.’s most popular attractions: the Smithsonian Museums. Participants “poured” into the famous institutions, “flooding” their minds with rich history and science at the Natural History Museum and Air and Space Museum.
As former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” We were called to leadership today, and we we are learning, learning about each other and ourselves, learning practical skills like sustained dialogue, fast, rain or shine.
We continue our IYLA journey, stepping farther ahead, instigators of change in a world besieged with challenges they are not afraid to face.
Tomorrow is the Leadership Forum on Capitol Hill. Looking forward.