On May 2nd, 2019, Twenty-two World Link students started their journey to New York City for the 5-day PAL-NYC Advanced Leadership Conference. These twenty-two students earned their spot in this special end-of-the-year workshop by not only completing all the World Link Public Achievement Leadership Program Requirements but excelling at them.
The United Nations
The conference started with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters. Students learned about the UN, it’s work, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They got to see the famous rooms where world decisions are made and even heard the opening remarks from the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammad who led a general assembly meeting to discuss the attacks in Sri Lanka.
After the tour, a special speaker was set up to further discuss the goals of the UN. Dr. Abraham Joseph, a Senior Socio-Economic Adviser with the UN spoke of not only the SDGs but of their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their successes and failures. Students were inspired to hear the advances both the MDGs and SDGs have made in solving the most pressing global issues and got thinking of how they can continue the work when they return home.
After Dr. Joseph’s presentation, a UN Intern was invited in for a Q&A session to give our advanced leaders insight on becoming a UN Intern themselves one day.
Gaining New Skills
The next day, students learned from alumni speakers, World Link Regional Coordinators, and World Link National Staff. The first guest speaker was alumna Dana Kassymbayeva ’15 (Kazakhstan/CA) who talked about how to get active and stay active once they return home.
Regional Colorado and Texas Coordinator, Holly Nichols then partnered with Dana to help the students brainstorm their first few projects upon returning home with an idea convention.
After lunch, Regional Midwest Coordinator, Karen King-Fitzgerald gave advice on honing their public speaking skills. Each student then came up with an elevator pitch for their first project and practiced in front of the group.
World Link alumna Ninutsa Nanitashvili ’10 (Georgia/GA) was the perfect speaker to discuss grant funding opportunities for projects with participants. Since her exchange year, she has received and handled multiple grants, many of them worth $25,000 or more.
Following her presentation, Ninutsa invited World Link President, Curtis Stutzman to the stage and together they gave tips on writing a successful grant application.
This day ended with a note of inspiration from World Link National Program Director, Lana Stutzman; “We are ready for you. We are ready to support you. We are proud to welcome you to the World Link family.”
Of course participants visited the most famous sites the Big Apple has to offer. From walking the Brooklyn Bridge to getting a birds-eye view of the city at the top of One World Tower. Taking hundreds of photos in Times Square and visiting Lady Liberty herself. For participants, although the location of the conference was a bonus, it wasn’t what they took away from it and the following reflections prove the World Link PAL-NYC 2019 Conference was a success.