Teen Talk 7-15

By Gianni Risper

The week of July 14, 2008, I had the honor of attending the Civitan sponsored Youth Leadership and Diversity Conference at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan.

As I rode down through the farmland I thought about the people I would meet, who my roommate was and what the food was going to be like.

As we rolled into the parking lot, I saw kids my age get off buses, give parents hugs and foray into a throng of 65 people who we would live with for a week. I went inside passed over all the others and rolled my stuff into my room like I was the best thing since sliced bread.

Immediately from the time I had unpacked my stuff I was making friends with kids from all over the United States and Canada.

Then the realization why I was actually there hit me like a ton of bricks.   It wasn’t about who you were or how cool you were, it was about the ability to lead.

The leadership conference was the single greatest experience of my life. From 7:00 am wake-up calls to 12:00 am lights out, every moment was packed with great exercises that help people break down the racial and social barriers they had.

Throughout the week all 65 of us had fun and tried very new things. I myself saw some of my own barriers break down. Before I went I got claustrophobic when faced with giving hugs. One of things they instilled in us is that everyone should have at least 10 hugs a day. By the end of the third day I was giving hugs and didn’t fell apprehensive at all. It was a liberating experience. I had so much fun in the guy’s dorm. I am trying to go back as a counselor next summer. I encourage all of you who are under 18 to check out this conference. It’s what taught me to become a very different leader. I look at the troubles on a local level and it stems from having bad leadership. The whole world’s problems stem from bad leadership.

Everyone looks towards a main figurehead for leadership and they rely on these people to make big decisions for them. It’s the job of the leader to make sure that everything is in order with those who follow them.

There are qualities which separate people who really are leaders and those who people just want to follow. People chose who leads them but most trust to much in the competence of their leaders.

A leader is a person who uses actions that don’t hurt but help. It’s a leaders job to work with other leaders to help benefit those they lead. A leader is a person who is strong willed has the ability to think through things. A leader has good judgement. Look at your own leaders? Do they share these traits? If they don’t then you must evaluate their leadership skills and realize whether they are still are fit to lead you.

Gianni is a high school graduate who will be attending  college in the fall.