GLW Alum Testimonials
"I learned a key aspect of leadership is fearlessness... that leadership means fighting for a cause/outcome that you are passionate about without getting emotional and offended when someone disagrees." ~Nicola, Nanuet, NY
"Through this experience, I learned that to be a leader, you sometimes have to take a step back and let others take control, and that you have to listen to other people's opinions. Moreover, you have to be willing to change your views, and go in an unexpected direction." ~Gulia, Torino, Italy
"For me, the Girls Leadership Worldwide Program I did this summer was a push. A push out of my shell, out of certain delusions, predispositions; a hearty shove away from my comfort zone, sometimes; a nudge towards my plans for the future. It was a packed 9 days and my rapid absorption felt like a severe jolt, but I’ve also rarely felt so enveloped by positivity and welcoming as there with my 29 fellow leadership graduates. I found so many things: friends, understanding, a sense of diversity (for me unparalleled until then), new mottos… As a little snapshot of my takeaway from the program, I’d like to share some of the noteworthy moments which, retrospectively, I know changed my mind.
Five Revelations and How They Were Spawned
My opinion doesn’t have to flow with everyone else’s. Although this message was explicitly mentioned more than once in the duration of the program, it was actually in smaller, real-life ways that I came to appreciate it. When one girl decided to explain how her prior comment was not in fact self-deprecating (as it had been called out), rather than just accepting what everyone had said. When another girl sparked the discussion on how one of our workshops perhaps went against the GLW morals, rather than just wondering to herself and moving on. I was inspired by how they raised attention by not being afraid to speak out. Eleanor herself was of course quite a model for this same principle, but it caught my attention in my own peers around me.
Being a leader doesn’t mean being the loudest. In a kudos round one of our group leaders handed out kudos to the ‘silent leaders’ in the group, which got me thinking about how there was a truth in that, that often the quietest people had left the biggest impact on me with their soft words. It was comforting to know that words don’t have to spill out in torrents to have force or meaning. Value over volume, I concluded.
Confident people get nervous too. This turned out to be a much bigger deal to me than one would expect! What a surprise when one of the guest speaker asked us to raise our hands if we got anxious when talking in front of large crowds and almost every single hand in the room lifted. Her? I remember thinking And her? But.. they do it so easily, effortlessly… how motivational to know that even the people whose stage presence I admired know the same butterflies I do.
A little kindness goes a long way. I can’t even express the almost shocking gentleness and thoughtfulness I experienced from my peers and the GLW team. We built on the atmosphere, on each other’s kind-heartedness. I can’t think of many other situations where I felt so accepted and certain of the positivity around me, touched by how people cheerfully went out of their way to make everyone feel included; the unfailing applause and snaps; the ready hugs and put-ups. I know for a fact that I am more eager than ever to throw kindness around like confetti.
You never know someone’s story until you actually know it. This was my single biggest takeaway from the program. Our ‘Too Much Information’ workshop pressed us to share our hidden stories, our make-or-break stories that shaped us. I have never, ever felt so humbled in my life- I would never have known these things about those girls if they hadn’t explicitly said it. How could I have guessed? And what a comfort that so many people had similar experiences to share and relate and console with. I’m always, always going to think twice before presuming anything about anyone- much is unknown and invisible.
I’m not going to declare myself transformed into a new person after this program. I’m not going to say I was a caterpillar, now I’m a butterfly, nothing about being a ‘new me’. But I am changed, improved- more aware and assured of myself to act. In all honesty I can say I wish every girl my age could be in such an atmosphere for 9 days- the compassion and learning I underwent was nothing I’ve known before."