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Highlights from the 2016 CIEE Civic Leadership Summit

As we approach the May 15th application deadline for the 2017 Civic Leadership Summit, we wanted to revisit some of the highlights from the 2016 Summit. Consider applying to be part of this wonderful group of changemakers!

This August a select group of 62 students from the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program gathered at American University in Washington, D.C. for the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit, a three-day event that brings together passionate, young leaders from around the world for a dynamic exchange on leadership, social entrepreneurship, and cultural understanding. Chosen from 2,000 applicants, this elite group of Fellows represented 33 countries from three different designated J-1 sponsor organizations. Funded by CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange, the Summit featured sessions led by Ashoka’s Youth Venture, ‘Girl Rising’ filmmakers, the World Justice Project, and Street Law. During these sessions, Fellows explored perspectives around social issues, democracy, the rule of law, and cultural understanding.

A highlight of the Summit was a daylong workshop called the ‘Be a Changemaker Challenge’ led  by Ashoka’s Youth Venture, an organization that inspires and supports teams of young people to launch and lead their own community benefiting initiatives. During the Challenge, Fellows identified their passions to create change for social issues, and then worked in groups to develop plans for launching their own social ventures in their home countries.

Inspired by their J-1 experience and transformed into leaders following the Summit, read these first-hand accounts from the Fellows themselves.

From N’Dwayne Davis a SWT participant from Jamaica who had this to say of his Summit experience: You've all renewed my hope in mankind and it was a blessing to my soul to have been a part of this platform. I know I have grown personally from the short 3 day sessions; I believe in myself more and I am going to step out into the world in a bold fashion. The best is yet to come! Be the change.

Ndwayne

From Grese Koca a SWT participant from Kosovo who had this to say of her Summit experience:

I feel very rich. Rich with knowledge for some countries that all I knew was their name, rich with new friends and rich with new contacts to develop projects with. You are all leaders and changemakers, and I can’t wait to see those changes take place!

Grese

Inspired by his Father’s international travels, Alaa Elyamany a SWT participant from Egypt shared:

I want to travel like you, Dad!’ I said.

‘You will go there one day, I promise.’ he replied.

‘And I’ll make your dreams come true, young leader.’ CIEE whispered.

Alaa

From Saray Quirant a SWT participant from Spain who had this to say of her Summit experience:

It’s impressive how 3 days in the correct place and with the right people can change your life. On the one hand, I've met the most amazing people ever from 33 countries. People who really touched my heart and inspired me with their lives, experiences, and reality of their countries. People I even called family in just 2 days. On the other hand, this experience has helped me to actually believe I can be a changemaker who this world’s needs. Even being from different countries we all share the same problems, and how I’m sure this cannot end here. Now I’m sure there are at least 62 people looking forward to coming back to our countries and being the change we want to see in the world. I’ll never forget the incredible people who empowered me to believe change is possible. with their lives, experiences and reality of their countries. People I even called family in just 2 days.

On the other hand, this experience has helped me to actually believe I can be a little changemaker who this world needs. Even being from different countries we all share the same problems, and now I'm sure this cannot end here. Now I'm sure there are at least 62 people looking forward to coming back to our countries and being the change we want to see in the world.

Thank you CIEE very much for letting me live the best experience this summer, meeting incredible people I'll never forget and empowered me to believe change is possible.
Saray

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