Absent for a day, the sun came back to keep the IYLA nice and warm as we traveled to Capitol Hill.
Our first stop was the Supreme Court of the United States. Our young delegates explored the ground floor of the heart of the U.S. judicial system. Current justices smiled from gold-framed portraits lining a tall marbled hallway. After posing for a few pictures and admiring the architecture and history, participants continued on for a tour of the Capitol building itself.
Described as a “working museum”, the Capitol shares a wealth of the young nation’s artifacts. Our faces were turned in every direction. America’s most well-known historical leaders looked off into the distance, their faces frozen. Long past taking their last breath, the founders of what made America what it is today are still looking ahead, having created a vision that lives on in the hearts of those inspired by their words, their actions, and their ideas.
Capitol Hill Leadership Forum
Following lunch, the IYLA commenced the Capitol Hill Leadership Forum. We were honored to hear from Elias Alcantara, Staff Assistant, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Greg Rheault, Director of the Second Year Experience, George Washington University.
We were challenged to define transformational leadership and its critical components. Often thought about as something unattainable, forum speakers encouraged IYLA participants to believe in their vision. Greg gestured out into the audience saying, "Vision informs values, which inspires action."
Proceeding the forum, IYLA delegates, Brian Poe Llamanzares, Taimanda Shalhona, and Udesh Chaskar introduced themselves and shared what they have learned from the leadership activities they head in their home countries.
US-China Youth Summit
In quick succession, we commenced the US-China Youth Summit. Yeqing Victor Li, president of the Global Young Leaders Academy, provided welcoming remarks and introduced the moderator for the session, Dr. Pimitivo Chua, the International President of Global Peace Chinese Federation.
The Summit was convened under the theme “Vision for US-China Relations in the Age of Globalization and My Role”. High-achieving students attending universities in Hong Kong and the United States, including several full-time IYLA delegates, presented knowledgeable and passionate perspectives on their country’s international relationships. The 7 panelists included Megan Glenn, Michelle Leung, Hongyi Huang, University of Maryland, College Park, Li He, Hon Kong University, Blaine Johnson, Fudan University, Kaiwan Zhong, Cornell University, and Nancy Mannebach, George Washington University.
The US-China Youth Summit panelists brought many topics to the table, from renewable energy to real estate, but they all prompted our young leaders to pay attention to the power of relationships.
Relationships are built on dialogue and a realization of the benefits of diversity in all its forms. Our world is constantly evolving. The technology we develop are tools. As people in this world we choose whether to use these tools to distance ourselves or reach out and become closer to other people.
We need to “get out of our comfort zone,” said Nancy. Blaine posed many questions, asking her peers, “What future are you most afraid of?...What are your hopes for the world?” Our panel of young leaders had thought of these questions many times themselves. In the end, similar conclusions were reached; we must cultivate a culture of open communication. Michelle Leung shared her heart saying, “Make as many friends as you can. Be passionate and proud of yourself… We can utilize our role in connecting the whole world.”
Kennedy Center and Closing
Our excursion to the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts provided IYLAers with some theatrical enrichment. Children from the age of 4 to 14 presented a musical rendition of The Wizard of Oz. A terrace offered a beautiful panoramic view of the D.C. area, the Washington monument reaching skyward.
Over dinner participants demonstrated their relationship-building skills and reflected over the day, describing the people they have followed in their life and the inspiration those leaders provided them.
John Buchan once said, “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” The young people in our communities all around the world have so much potential to create all the change they desire in the world. All it takes is the willingness to discover it. This is the purpose of dialogue, of building relationships: to discover the greatness within ourselves and others to build a generation of innovative leaders.