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Student delegation heads to Bangkok for University Scholars Leadership Symposium

July 30, 2018
Sustainable Development Goals imageStudent delegates at the symposium will address the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve extraordinary things by 2030: end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, and protect the planet. (image provided by the UN Foundation)

For the first time, a group of seven University students from the College and the Eastman School of Music is headed to Bangkok, Thailand for the ninth University Scholars Leadership Symposium, hosted by the Office of Humanitarian Affairs in Asia and the Ministry of Education in Thailand. From August 1-7, these University students will join 1,050 other student leaders from 80 United Nations member states in learning what it means to give back to the community and be challenged to respond to the needs of the marginalized. The symposium theme is “Inspiring Confidence, Inspire Change,” and will be held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok.

The group of student delegates attending the symposium

Back row: Bri Terrell ’20, Yixin Cao ’18 (T5), Vlad Cazacu ’20, Olavi Hangula ’21; front row: Nathan Leopold ’20, Beatriz Gil Gonzalez ’19, Jing Tian Ngiaw ’19E

The seven University students attending are: College undergraduates Bri Terrell ’20, Vlad Cazacu ’20, Olavi Hangula ’21, Nathan Leopold ’20, and Beatriz Gil Gonzalez ’19; Yixin Cao, a May 2018 College graduate and Take 5 Scholar this fall; and Eastman School of Music student Jing Tian Ngiaw ’19. Two of the students are Handler Scholars. The delegates’ bios with their thoughts about the upcoming trip are available on the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) Facebook page.

The symposium includes several sessions and panels designed to build contemporary leadership skills with a global perspective. The student leaders are asked to think about the ways they might lead and design change to address the suffering, hardship, and poverty in many parts of the world. Participants will devote attention to generating new ideas to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the set of 17 health, environmental and anti-poverty goals that in 2015 the world committed to achieve by 2030.

Rochester students are also asked to commit to a follow-up project once back on campus this fall that helps spread the knowledge from this cultural experience with others.

Glenn Cerosaletti, assistant dean of students and director of RCCL, is accompanying the group to the conference and will also lead them in a service assignment during the week, which will be a visit to an elementary school two hours outside of Bangkok. The school serves mostly Muslim students, and the student delegates will be painting classrooms, an auditorium and a fence at the school, as well as interacting with the students and their culture.

This past March, Cerosaletti helped to identify the possible contingent of student leaders to travel to Thailand this summer for the conference. Financial support of $1,500 for up to five student delegates was made available through the College and Global Engagement, to help cover registration, housing, meals, and travel expenses. Cerosaletti says that it was difficult to select only five students for the expenses-paid conference, but the resulting group represents the global and academic diversity of the University.

“The purpose of the symposium is to bring together young leaders from colleges all around the world, all of whom have a sense of purpose around humanitarian issues,” says Cerosaletti.  “Members of our delegation all clearly revealed their humanitarian purpose in their applications, and it will be a great opportunity for them to build their leadership skills through this conference, especially given our institutional focus and priority on internationalization, as well as our commitment to community-engaged learning and doing.”

Former president of the UN Security Council, Kishore Mahbubani, will deliver the keynote at the symposium. Mahbubani serves in the boards and councils of institutions around the world, including the Yale President’s Council, and the World Economic Forum.

Cerosaletti plans to post video blogs from the students at the RCCL Facebook page during the trip.

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Category: Campus Life

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