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Varun and I were selected from our school to attend a Leadership program in The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. It was a two-week program which included Leadership seminars, Subject Classes, Team building activities, events, and a trip to Chicago on one of the days.
Our first day was relaxed since we had nothing planned for the day so we decide to bond a little with the people who had landed before us, the Brazilians, and let me tell you, they are great people who make amazing friends.
Our second day was however quite busy because it was packed with a bunch of activities and events. We had an introductory breakfast where they briefed us regarding the program and introduced us to the people who were attending it. That’s when we realized that out of hundreds of applications we were the chosen 50. After breakfast, we had regional Olympics in which the teams were divided according to the place that we were from e.g. North America, South America, etc. We had a number of games such as jeopardy, beach volley ball, basketball, relay, and tug of war. After the Olympics we had Ice skating, which neither of us had tried before, so we weren’t really sure how it would pan out for us. Luckily none of us broke any bones so I would say it was pretty great.
We had a plethora of classes in these two weeks. We had an Economics class on Microeconomics and what economists do, Business and business ethics class on how to be a better business man, Computer science and engineering class where we made a robot and coded it to play golf (which, honestly felt so awesome) and learned to build bridges, Architecture class, and a many more.
We had Leadership Seminars every alternate day where we spoke about our definition of a good leader, whether leaders are born or made and female leadership. We had a number of activities where we got to try our hands at becoming a leader. Sometimes we were divided into two groups and the group as a whole had to devise a plan and beat the other group or sometimes they would make smaller groups and select a leader to guide the rest of the group. The best thing about all of these activities was that there were prizes after every single one. So at the end of two weeks, each one of us had earned ourselves shirts, bottles, bags, footballs or sunglasses to take back home.
On the weekend, we had a Chicago trip planned for us where they took us to Millennial park, Navy pier, John Hancock building, a bunch of thrill rides, Warren dunes and an outlet mall to shop (I’m not going to say that we didn’t splurge but it was definitely within the budget that we had set for ourselves, so that says something).
The fun activities were usually after dinner and most of them being optional. The two of us tried to attend as many as we could. We had a Color run, where we had to run around the campus and there were people placed in some spots to throw color at us. Then we had Drama class where we learned a few useful tips on how to find your voice and how to focus better. It was actually quite helpful. We also had a water balloon fight sometime in the second week, a Latin dance class and it was taught by the same person who taught us Computer science and engineering. Ramzi Bualuan. His Facebook profile is definitely worth a look.
Talent show was by far my favourite event. It feels good to cheer for people and appreciate their talent. There were people who were singing Korean pop. Spanish songs, Chinese rap, Musicals and what not. There were many dance performances as well a surprise performance form the program interns. We ended up teaching everyone else a few Bollywood steps as well.
On the last day, we had to make a presentation on social problems that were assigned to us according to the groups. We had a day to prepare for that and we had to discuss its causes and solutions. So the topics were something that most of us face in todays world like mental illnesses, racial discrimination, gender inequality, etc. After the presentation, we had our farewell dinner where the program interns as well as the students spoke about how this program helped them. Helped them to become a better person, a better leader, helped them make friends, helped them understand different cultures and helped them be them. All the students had contributed a small amount of money to buy a personalized thank you card( which all of us had signed) and chocolates for the program interns and the coordinator which was highly appreciated. The farewell dinner became very emotional by the time it got over and everyone was drowning in the Niagara Falls of salty tears.
“Play like a champion today” was the Motto of the University of Notre Dame and by the end of the trip everyone had understood and executed the same in each activity they participated in. We can now consider ourselves true ‘Global Citizens’ since we learned about various cultures all over the world. This experience opened our eyes to many disciplines that require higher attention. To conclude, we both now know the path to becoming excellent global leaders.
-Vash and Varush (Vaishnavi Khadatare and Varun Venugopal)