Past Program

Writing Foundation: Descriptive Writing

The students were taught:

  • Techniques for Descriptive writing: Adjectives, Similes, Descriptive words, Sentence Variety, Adding details
  • How to start an essay with a “hook”
  • The structure of an essay and the components for each paragraph
  • Different ways to elaborate an essay (use descriptive details, use your five senses, use personal stories) 
Writing Foundation: Descriptive Writing
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Program:
Writing Foundation

Lucas Zheng

P3, Kiangsu & Chekiang

Sharing from Megan Felder, Columbia College, Junior Facilitator of YLOT 2015

 Participating in the Young Leaders of Tomorrow (YLOT) program as a junior facilitator was one of my favorite parts of interning at The Open Classroom. The students are incredibly interesting people with a lot of creative ideas and unique, international backgrounds. It was a pleasure to not only get to know them extremely well over a two week period, but also to have the chance to mentor them and share my own experiences with them. This group of students and facilitators got to be very close by the end of the program, and I know that these strong friendships will continue beyond YLOT. Our shared YLOT experience makes it impossible not to genuinely care about each other and want to keep in touch. I look forward to seeing how the students apply the skill set they learned in YLOT. I know that they will all go far in life as they pursue their dreams and goals. While the role of the junior facilitator is to teach and guide the students during their NGO project, junior facilitators also have the invaluable opportunity for learning and growth. By the end of the program, I felt I had not only gained valuable and hands-on teaching experience, but had also become more informed regarding how to craft a resume and how to have a successful interview. The leadership simulations and self-reflection activities during YLOT helped me to clarify my own future goals and sense of self.

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”

Sharing from Lauren Kreps (2012 Junior Facilitator)

Reading over the student testimonials at the close of the first Young Leaders of Tomorrow (YLOT) program, I noted one recurring sentiment, which was, ‘before this program, I didn’t really know what leadership is.’ Now it is time for me to confess something as well: neither did I.

Looking back on my high school and college career, I could certainly point out moments when I was in a leadership position… as Executive Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper, as a Lead Intern for the Jewish Heritage Programs at Penn, and so on. I think many my age could do the same. But did I ever think about what exactly that meant, beyond the mere fact that I was—on the pyramid of a student organization—somewhat ‘higher up’ than my peers? Well no, to tell you the truth, I didn’t. I’ve always known that leadership experience was something to seek out, and that I learned a lot as I held those different positions, but I don’t think I ever knew precisely why it was all so important.

When Brett Hilliard, one of the many wonderful speakers that took part in the YLOT program, wrote on the board ‘POWER vs. INFLUENCE,’ something clicked in the room. The ‘power’ to tell people what to do, to direct a team, and to be a ‘boss’ are ideas that have been inextricably linked with the notion of leadership in our society, or at least in the competitive educational environments in which I’ve grown up. After getting to know the students in session one of YLOT, I got the feeling that many of them are experiencing similar pressures and may be coming away from their own schools with similar impressions. However, with the juxtaposition of power and influence written before us, a moment of what they would call AWKWARD silence passed, and distinctions began to be made. Influence means striving to inspire, power means striving to rule. Influence is selfless, power is selfish. Having influence can involve rallying people to change the world for the better, and helping others reach their potential. Having power can lead to just the opposite. An effective leader, the students came to realize, hopes to have influence, not power.

The concept of leadership in order to influence people to make positive changes for themselves or for others in the world is something that found application, and I’m proud to say great success, in the two teams’ NGO projects. But reflecting on what leadership truly means and why it is so important also related, for me at least, to the enormous project of figuring out who you are as well. This project, I discovered, doesn’t just involve knowing your strengths, what you’ve always been good at, what you love. It also means accepting those things about yourself that you still have to work on. For me, as I learned in those two weeks through the mock interview and the creepily-accurate Enneagram workshop (a personality exercise used by leading corporations around the world), it’s erasing the self-doubt that stops me time and time again from making decisions. It’s having the confidence to speak a little louder in conversation or even classroom settings. It’s being aware of the fact that, and the reason why I say ‘I guess’ so often when speaking to an interviewer. While these are characteristic #type6problems, they are also things about myself that I’ve always somewhat known, but have never really been pushed to talk about and try to change.

Perhaps students from the YLOT program reading this blog post will be surprised to know that many of my reflections and experiences from this program mirrored theirs. After all, as a Junior Facilitator for YLOT, I was supposed to have this all figured out, right? No, not quite. The JF position may seem like one of leadership, but it is actually more about the true meaning of leadership—having influence, guiding others, learning about who you are—than it is about the leadership of power, of alleged flawlessness. This brings me to something the students may not have realized, but that most of all I want them to know: we, too, were learning from the speakers, from the senior facilitators, from each other, and from each one of the ten high schoolers that entered room 606 of Youth Square that first Monday morning. As much as it seemed like we were guiding you, you were guiding us too… and well, I think that is just downright super amazing. So thank you guys.
 

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”

Lauren Kreps

Sophomore, University of Pennsylvania

Writing Foundation 0: Animal Narratives

Students were taught:

  • Facts about animals in a variety on ecosystems
  • The definition of a narrative
  • Outlining the beginning, middle and end of a story
  • How to use the past tense in narratives
  • How to use dialogue in a story
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Program:
Writing Workshop

Audrey Lin

Finished K3, CCKG

Sharing from June Sun (2012 Junior Facilitator)

With my first Young Leaders of Tomorrow program behind me, I have to say that the most difficult part of this summer job, as a YLT Junior Facilitator, has been describing it to other people. Before coming to Hong Kong, I told my friends at Cambridge that I was going to do a “teaching job”, which raised a few eyebrows among my peers, most of whom were going into internships at investment banks and law firms. No doubt they thought – and I must admit to a certain extent so did I – that my non-corporate teaching experience would be limited to just that – teaching.

Two weeks in, I’d simulated micro-finance loans in rural India, experienced the life of the blind and the deaf, helped develop a formal proposal for an NGO that directly addresses global poverty, and confronted my own deepest fears and desires in front a group of teenagers. On multiple occasions I’ve shed tears out of sheer emotion. Honestly speaking, what I’ve learned by far outweighs what I’ve “taught.”

The facilitators’ collection of credentials at the Open Classroom – both Ivy League and Wall Street – is enough to dazzle anyone. I came into the job expecting to learn from my fellow facilitators, and they have not disappointed. What I had not expected, however, was what the students have taught me. One instance in particular springs to mind, where through mock college interviews, we were learning about the Inner Leader. We, the junior facilitators, started off by giving example interviews, which would help the students prepare for their own mock interviews later in the program.

There we were, with our impressive university experiences, in front of keen note-taking 16 year olds, talking about leadership as if we knew all the answers. Sure, because we’ve got a few years on the students, our verses were more polished. I’m not going to lie – the chorus of positive feedback was a delightful ego booster. Yet the closest I got to my own truth was probably when we watched the students in their own mock interviews.

The point was to get down to the core of your personality so that you could present your best self to college interviewers. The students were pushed to “remember your why” – in other words, to figure out what matters to them. As I watched them search for the words that would describe how they understood themselves and the world around them, I couldn’t help but wonder, were my “exemplary answers” true at all? If so, how long would they stay true? What exactly was my “why”?

The problems our students encountered were equally prevalent to me, although I was a good five years ahead of them. By observing these slightly younger versions of us, I realized that the same insecurities that had plagued me when I was 16 haven’t really disappeared. But I also learned how much I’ve changed. In our students, I saw much of the teenager I used to be, and I thought about the choices I’ve made since I was 16 to make me who I am now. This self-reflection inevitably led me to the next question – what’s next? Our students’ “why” was going to make them into confident young adults, around the corner from university. Where is my “why” going to take me?

Unfortunately I still don’t have the answer. The leadership program did not reveal that to me. Instead, the program made me realize that I have a “why”, and that I need to keep learning to pursue it. I now know that it’s a capacity I have inherently as a person. But I’m not entirely sure what it looks like… For now, in my head, it resembles an enormous whirlpool, ever changing and not a little terrifying. But maybe that’s OK, because I’m still learning. And that’s pretty much how I would describe this job – a program where I teach to learn.
 

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”

June Sun

2nd year, Cambridge University

Writing Foundation: Fables

Students were taught:

  • Techniques for writing a fable: personification, sentence transition, adding dialogues, synonyms of "said", different sentence structures
  • Components of a table: animal characters, setting, story, structure, moral
  • Editing skills: capitalization, punctuation, commas, speech marks, spelling
Writing Foundation: Fables
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Program:
Writing Foundation

Davis Cheng

Y4, CIS

Observations from 2011 Junior Facilitators

The change in the students' attitudes and motivations from day 1 to day 10 was quite palpable. They learned to step outside of their comfort zone in a low-risk environment; being encouraged to speak up for themselves while caring for the developmental needs of others, many students displayed an intelligent maturity toward one another, which was very rewarding for the facilitators to see. Having been through a number of self-reflective exercises like the inner leader portfolio, many came out having a more concrete idea of who they aspire to be and the steps they want to take to get there. As the students grew closer to their peers and facilitators, we could see how engaged and sincere they were by their creative ideas, well thought-out responses, and brilliant smiles.
Graduation night was very memorable because it was the culmination of the students' hard work over the session. When the students gave their final presentations to the NGO leaders, who were very touched by their efforts, I felt very proud to be involved with such motivated individuals who had learned to care for each other's development and channeled that energy into something bigger than themselves. Farewells were difficult to bid, but we promised to stay in touch. I have much confidence in these aspiring leaders,and I look forward very much to what the future has in store for all of them!

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”

Joanne Wong

Sophomore, Harvard University

Recap from 2011 Program

For the 2011 Program, we had 33 top students from local, international and overseas high schools including CIS, HKIS, SIS, ICS, CNIS, West Island, Yew Chung, DBS, DGS, Heep Yunn, Exeter (US), St. Paul's (US), Lawrenceville (US), Alice Smith School (Malaysia), Cheltenham Ladies' College (UK), and Winchester (UK). Our partner NGOs and social enterprises included Grameen Foundation, Dialogue in the Dark, Diamond Cab, and Bits-to-Bloc. Our Senior Facilitators are dedicated educators/life coach who are ex-business professionals having worked at Goldman Sachs, Mckinsey, World Bank and graduated from Harvard Business School, Yale, Wharton, Columbia, Cornell. Our Junior Facilitators are current college students selected from top overseas universities including Harvard, Cornell and Boston University. We received excellent feedback for last year's program - 100% of students would recommend the program, several students "can't stop talking about the program" at home (from parent's feedback), and NGO Leaders are adopting ideas and suggestions from students. Students also learned a lot about leadership and themselves from the program, e.g., about how they make decisions, about the strength and challenge of their communication style, challenging themselves to speak up (or less in some cases), giving each other and facilitators feedback. For highlights from 2011 program, please visit http://www.young-leaders-of-tomorrow.com/past-programs/people/

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”

Writing Foundation: Narrative

Students were taught:

  • Techniques of narrative writing: strong verbs, exciting sentence starters, 5 ways to introduce a story
  • Process of narrative writing: brainstorming, story map, outline, revising
  • Editing skills: improve weak phrases, action chains, punctuation, speech marks
Writing Foundation: Narrative
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Program:
Writing Foundation

Sean Meng

Y4, CIS

Bits-to-Bloc NGO project

Bits-to-Bloc NGO project Video produced by 2011 students to promote upcycling

Program:
“Young Leaders of Tomorrow”