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Skylar Wiseman ’20 represents the United States at Harvard’s Global Citizen Initiative Summit

Ravenscroft is a longtime partner of Harvard University’s Global Citizen Initiative, whose mission and purpose is “developing effective and ethical global leaders.” In alignment with Lead From Here, our citizen leadership framework, each year Ravenscroft sends a student to participate in GCI, where the fellows combine “discussion-based learning, design thinking and human connectivity to develop character, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity and leadership skills for the 21st century.”

CGI is highly selective, admitting 28 students worldwide, only two or three of which are from the United States. Ravenscroft looks for a representative who is growth-minded, has the ability to grasp and grapple with global issues, is proficient in languages other than English, and will be the best ambassador for our school (and country).

This year’s representative, Skylar Wiseman ’20, spent nine days at the GCI Summit this summer. Enjoy Sky’s reflection on the summit and learn about her resulting Global Services Project. 

Global Citizens Initiative: Empowering Students to Become Global Citizens

by Skylar Wiseman

From July 27 to August 4, I had one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. At around noon on July 27, I arrived at the Boston Logan Airport, anxious and excited all at once to immerse myself in cultural differences for nine days. Tanner, a 17-year-old boy from Hawaii; Louis, a 17-year-old boy from Nigeria; and Mimi, my amazing and insanely talkative TA, were the first people I met. From that moment, I knew I was in for a spectacular summit. As we drove from the airport to Irving House, located in Cambridge, I was nervous about two things: making friends and creating an amazing project. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the Global Citizens Initiative, founded by Ms. Yumi Kuwana back in 2014, a program that kicks off with a nine-day summit at Harvard University.

Over the nine days, I met 27 other fellows from 12 different countries around the world. Each day, we had plenary talks, keynote speakers and discussions and worked on our global service projects, which have a global focus that can be implemented in local communities. Thus, Young Educators was born. I began by looking at the main problems in North Carolina, and with all the recent budget cuts and teacher strikes, I knew I wanted to focus on the public education system. Over the next nine months and more, I will be working to create and implement a program at Ravenscroft where I will learn and then train a group of high school students on how to effectively tutor and mentor young children in the public education system. Working through the Ravenscroft administration, I plan to contact the heads of various public schools in the area who will hopefully distribute this information to teachers and parents as a free resource for students. From there, I plan to hold tutoring sessions every month or even once a week in order to guide and mentor these children. If given the opportunity, I believe that every child has the potential to succeed. It is up to us to allow them to live up to their potential.

Not only did the summit allow me to come up with a powerful project to work on over the coming months, it taught me valuable life lessons, changed the way I approach creative thinking, allowed me to grow as a student and as a person, and, most importantly, put me in contact with some of the best people I’ve ever met, hailing from across the globe. I cannot think of another time when one has the opportunity to sit at a discussion table with people from 12 different countries and talk about the global issues facing the world today, things like politics, sexual orientation, gender stereotypes, controversial images and ethics.

Each society responds to these challenges in such diverse ways. It is one of the factors that makes this experience at CGI something that occurs only once in a lifetime. Each one of us approached problems differently and came up with the innovative solutions needed in order to be global citizens. Every racial stereotype was shattered, leaving only the person and the personality, in which I made some amazing friends whom I hope to keep in touch with for years to come. I learned that a leader is someone who changes the way you think, act or feel, and not just someone who barks orders with the intention of being overbearing. Each day there was a new theme, whether it be engagement, ethics, discovery or leadership, and each day I felt my mind expanding to encompass these new ideas and new ways of thinking. One of these ways included a process called design thinking, in which you start by empathizing with your intended audience, defining the problem, ideating to come up with solutions, creating a prototype and then implementing that prototype for experimentation in order to improve and grow.

This method is what allowed me to come up with the ideas for my project, and it completely enhanced my ability to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. The evenings were filled with keynote speakers, all of whom graduated from Harvard, Yale, Stanford or some other Ivy League and are renowned professionals in their respective fields. It was an incredible experience to listen to them talk and inspire, and to be able to shake their hand when it was all over is something I will never forget. So, as you can imagine, when the summit ended, it was with great sorrow that I departed. I will miss all the friends I made, but the experiences will truly last a lifetime.

I hope to making a lasting impact on our local community and look forward to what the future brings. The ride back to the airport felt very different from that first car ride nine days earlier. I was no longer nervous or concerned, but instead I was full of love for the people of this world and bursting with the lessons I learned. If there has ever been an enlightening, surely this is it.