Monday, July 19, 2010

Revisiting the Global Youth Leadership Summit - 25 June 2008

**This is a never-before-published journal entry from June 2008.

Hi again from China!
A big thank you again to all of you who've contributed to my trip.  This has been by far the most unforgettable trip of my life.  China isn't just on the opposite side of the globe, it's on a completely different planet. 
The Global Leadership Summit was an amazing experience through which I formed some great relationships with fellow students.  During discussions in formal meetings, on the bus, and over dinner, I was touched by their insightful thoughts and opinions on anything and everything.  I'll never forget Lema, a girl from Beirut, Lebanon who had lived the scenes we watch on our televisions about the conflict in the Middle East. 
I was happy to see how much my past travel experiences positively affected the way I was able to skip over cultural barriers and relate to many of the international students.  After having lived in a variety of countries and states I was easily able to share inside jokes with Germans, Australians, some Mexicans who spoke French and German, students from California, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, etc., Icelanders, Trinidad and Tobago-ese?, as well as a smattering of people from all corners of the globe. 
In fact, I found a lot of people just like me; students who have been lots of places for relatively long periods of time, and have taken bits and pieces from each culture they've encountered.  Although I most certainly am still American (and don't want to be anything else), there may be a lot about my views and habits that are foreign.  This trip came at the right time- just when I was starting to doubt if I might ever find that group of people where I really fit, I met a whole new group of people, an international community where we all share the same joys of traveling and exploring, and the same struggles to fit in once we get back home. 
The 12-day Summit included A LOT of sightseeing.  Although this was fun, many of us felt that the schedule placed the academic goals of the Summit second to tourism.  We would have liked to have more time set aside to work on our group projects. 
A total of 300 students participated in the Summit.  We were broken down into 9 groups of about 35.  Each group was assigned to a Chinese province.   My province was Shandong-located on the east coast between Beijing and Shanghai. 
Here's the simulation we were given:  The Chinese Govt. has set aside USD $800 million to be given to one or more provinces this year.  The awarded province(s) will have developed and presented a project that will better their province as well as surrounding provinces and China in general. 
Our goal as a group was to conceive, develop, and present a project that we would present to the "Govt Board" (a panel of students) on the last day. 
All of the research and late nights paid off-- when it came time for the awards my group received first place and was one of only 2 groups to have their project fully funded.  Of course, it was fake money.  But it was a great exercise through which I learned a lot about China's infrastructure, social situation, government structure, and how each is affected by the others. 


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