Saint Mary’s sophomores Suzanne Denson and Mitchell Woodrow think big. And this year, they learned how to think even bigger when they represented Saint Mary’s at the Lasallian Summer Program on Leadership and Global Understanding in Philadelphia.
Students from Lasallian colleges and universities all over the world came to Philadelphia to share ideas and gain “an expanded global understanding as they emerge as future international leaders,” said La Salle University Professor Robert Vogel, co-founder of the school’s Leadership and Global Understanding program.
Denson said the experience gave the two SMC students “a chance to expand our Lasallian family.” They met and created friendships with students from France, the Philippines, Columbia, Mexico, Brazil and other students from the United States.
But there was hard work, too. The students focused on some of the challenges that people in every nation face, including lack of education, political corruption, human trafficking and world hunger. Working together in multinational groups, they created projects to tackle some of these issues that they could take back to their colleges.
But more importantly, she said, “we were able to learn what it means to be a global leader with the Lasallian values of faith, community and service in mind. Mitchell and I have learned that to be a leader today, we need to be innovative, productive and act ethically.”
Woodrow said one of the most moving experiences for him during the program actually happened during a side trip, when the group visited the September 11 Memorial in New York City.
“The site is astonishing, doing its best to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks,” he said. “But what really caught my attention was the fact that many of the students from all the countries represented at the conference visited the memorial and paid their respects. Even though the terrorist attacks were on the United States, it became a global issue. As people, as human beings, we have a responsibility to support, love and help each other, no matter what country we are from or what language we speak.”
Another lesson he learned was that globalization is a two-edged sword. “Globalization can have negative effects, like pollution, poverty and war,” he said. “But getting to know people from all over the world and creating relationships with these individuals throughout this conference has allowed me to see the importance of globalization.”
The conference, he said, “serves as a stepping stone for Lasallian leaders to bring back projects that have the potential to impact the entire global Lasallian community.”
Office of College Communications