July 28, 2010
Written By Rachael Coleman
As a way to put their leadership training into action, students are selected each day of the trip to be a “Leader of the Day.” From departure day to arrival back home, the students are challenged and equipped to step out of their comfort zones and step up into the responsibilities of leadership, and they rise to the occasion.
The Leader of the Day aspect of the trip emphasizes that anyone has the capabilities of being a leader; that leadership is not simply reserved for adults. For some students, this is a very rare opportunity. In the Leader of the Day journal reflection, one student commented: I thought being leader of the day was a good experience. I’ve never been much of a leader; I am more of a follower so being the person that makes decisions and tells people what to do is good. There have been a lot of times in my life where I let other people make the decisions which resulted in me getting into bad situations. I have also found that I don’t like to tell people what to do because I want people to like me. So today I stepped out of my comfort zone and told people what to do, not worrying about what they thought of me. I know it is something I am going to have to learn to do in life. I’m glad I got the opportunity to be the leader because it rarely happens in my life. I felt that I learned a lot from my experience and I hope to further that knowledge later in the trip.
The Leader of the Day is responsible for everything from making sure each student has his/her passport and tickets, to reporting health concerns, to conflict resolution and encouraging the students to always be putting forth their best effort. The students understand that if they have questions or concerns or if a decision needs to be made, they are to turn to the Leader of the Day for help rather than one of the adults on the trip. By providing them with this kind of opportunity to exercise discernment and guide their peers, the students are empowered to step up and lead with confidence.
Alex Tuai, a Leader-in-Training with GV, stated that she considers Leader of the Day “one of the most important aspects of the trip.” She points out that as the leader, “you are the one indicating what will happen each day.” It is the Leader of the Day’s responsibility to keep the group together, answer questions, bridge the gap between the Chapines (Guatemalans) and the Gringos (Americans), and manage the logistics of the daily agenda.
Each student comes away from their day of leadership with a unique experience. Some wish they had done more to make the most of it; others astounded even themselves by what they were capable of accomplishing. As the students actively learn how to be globally responsible leaders in their own communities, they will hopefully draw upon the best and the worst of this leadership experience to increase their understanding of what leadership really means. As one student put it, “GV wasn’t kidding when they said that they’d teach us how to be better, more independent leaders that can think for ourselves. I can only hope that it will be a skill we take with us for the rest of our lives.”