Globally, youth face multitude of challenges, including lack of access to education and basic living requirements, mental and physical abuse, and having no voice in decisions which affect their lives. Despite all the ordeals and trials, some self-motivated, enterprising, and innovative young adults are already creating small but significant ripples of social progress through the world. Both their vision and their action emphatically surpass what society expects from their generation. In fact, their work as individuals and in groups aptly showcases how youth activism and engagement can bring about important social changes and they can be the forerunners and builders of a very progressive and developed future.
WYSE International is a global charity that works with such emerging leaders from all over the world who are inspired to make the world a better place. It provides leadership education and continuous coaching support that is delivered by highly experienced professionals on a pro-bono basis.
The flagship programme of WYSE is a 12-day international leadership development programme wherein thirty emerging leaders, aged 18–35 years, from across the world and a diverse range of professions and socio-economic backgrounds take part in an intensive, challenging and rewarding residential leadership programme to work together for global change. The programme this year was held at the beautiful SHARANAM—Centre for Rural Development (of Sri Aurobindo Society), a United Nations–recognized unique training centre in Pondicherry, South India. WYSE International has been conducting International Leadership programmes for over 25 years with participants from over 115 countries, and this was the second time the programme was held in India.
The programme was designed to help the participants learn about leadership with new perspectives, with information inputs from a global community. It provided an opportunity to experiment with new models, creating a holistic view of the world we live in, reinforced by the need for shared values and an awareness of our ultimate interconnection. Apart from Indians, there were participants belonged to several countries, including the Netherlands, Kenya, Malawi, England, Morocco, Scotland, Nepal, France, Belgium, etc.
The sessions consisted of intellectually stimulating sessions on psychological basis of our actions. There were many sessions that delved on the core human value systems, involving the multiple motivations and sub-personalities that operate through us. The highly experiential programme operated through games, group exercises, activities and discussions to establish and reinforce the ideas. There were several pragmatic sessions which sought to give an insight into the larger world problems including global warming, poverty and malnutrition, social inequities and gender issues. The participants were encouraged to consider applying their leadership skills to work on the various UN Millennium Development Goals. Besides, the coaching sessions were insightful and revealed the power of listening and asking the right questions.
One day of the workshop was spent in solitude in nature, where the participants were expected to go within and spend quality time in introspection and silence. For most participants, it was a unique experience. Vijaybhai from Sri Aurobindo Society addressed the participants and shared with them the experience of growing up in Puducherry and Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There was a celebration at the end of the programme and the staff members performed a skit filled with light-hearted, humorous moments.
All the participants left feeling empowered and very positively charged after the programme and the organizers expressed their deep gratitude to the Sri Aurobindo Society for hosting the event.