Strengthening the Interamerican region by building lifelong friendships while developing leadership skills and gaining a global perspective is what the 4th Interamerican Leadership Training (ILT4) was all about. I had the privilege of being a participant and representing ScoutsTT with Mohini Seejattan (Participant) and Siddeeq Shakoor (Team Advisor). This experience indeed embodied the vision of “Creating a Better World” by equipping youths from 30 different NSOs with the tools to make positive changes on a local, regional and global scale.
This “Disney” themed course kick started on the 28th of December, 2016 at the beautiful Campo Escuela San Jorge Muxbal, Guatemala and came to a bittersweet end on the 2nd of January, 2017. The Disney theme appeared a bit unconventional at first; the team advisors and organizers actually portray Disney characters! Nevertheless, it proved to be the most fun-filled yet effective way of educating us about project planning, team development, communication, the better world framework, messengers of peace (MOP) and how to achieve social impact.
For the purpose of understanding team dynamics, the participants were divided into teams, such that each team had 8 individuals from 8 different countries. Mohini was placed on the yellow team while I was placed on the pink team. My team was guided by the enthusiastic and fun loving Carina Westford, from Guyana and consisted of participants from Brazil, Jamaica, Curacao, Canada, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Guatemala. Each day, a new team leader was selected to fill the role of the leadership position. We all started off as complete strangers but in that short period of time we created bonds that would last for an eternity. We even had a saying: “Ohana means family and family is ILT.”
In the midst of all the learning, there were moments where the entire camp would erupt into song and dance. The fun didn’t stop there, it continued on local day and international night. We were carried to “IRTRA Mundo Petapa,” an amusement park in Guatemala City. Each team had to complete a series of tasks that involved playing games, going on rides and interacting with the public. Not only did the teams have fun, but they learnt a lot about teamwork, became even closer as a team and some participants even overcame some of their personal fears!
International night, New Year’s Eve, gave participants a chance to display their countries’ culture while counting down the hours to 2017. The conference room was filled with various foods and trinkets from the different countries and everyone was dressed up in their local wear. The night ended with fireworks, laughter and partying. It was truly a spectacular way to end the year and bring in a new.
One of the main objectives of the ILT was to equip scouts with the skills and abilities to develop MOP projects (as teams and individually) which are aimed at achieving positive impacts at the community level and eventually on a regional and global scale. Throughout the course we were given examples of past projects and were guided on how to create our own and subsequently implement it. Coincidentally, Mohini’s team and mine came up with similar projects with a focus on providing potable water for vulnerable communities. We decided that collaboration would be a great way to spread the impact, so look out for that project along with many others in the upcoming year!
If there is one thing from this experience that will continuously motivate me to make a positive impact within my local and global community, it is something we learnt in the session about achieving social impact:
“On average, we meet 1017 people in your lifetime and impact 37 of them.”
As chairman of the National Youth Council of ScoutsTT, I intend to implement several MOP projects, institutionalize this style of leadership education within this NSO and continue “Creating a Better World.”