April 2, 2001
Leadership program teaches student to analyze, problem solve
by Deborah Stone
Inglemoor High School sophomore Xiao Wang recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he participated in the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) on Mastering Leadership, an extraordinary leadership development program for outstanding high school students.
While attending the six-day session of the NSLC, Wang and approximately 165 students from across the U.S. and from other countries around the world immersed themselves in a unique learning environment.
They attended special workshops and classes where they studied the "distinctions of leadership" and heard from distinguished guest speakers who brought current issues, both national and international, to life.
The goal of the program is to help students develop their abilities to think on their feet, to engage in critical analysis and to communicate effectively. The hope is that these young leaders will return to their schools with increased potential and newly developed abilities that will enable them to make a positive difference in their communities.
For Wang, a well-rounded student with a 4.0 average, who enjoys sports, music and academics, the opportunity to attend the NSLC greatly interested him.
He says, "I had never been to D.C. before and I really wanted to see the nation's capitol and meet some interesting people. My future interests possibly lie in the law field and I saw this as a chance to learn more about this profession."
Wang was the only student from Inglemoor and from the Northshore District who attended the conference, but said he met a student from Issaquah.
"The kids came from all over the place and I liked talking to them and getting to know them, especially those from other countries," comments Wang.
Several of the speakers, such as Dr. Paul Lisnek, Associate Dean at George Washington University, who spoke about law, negotiation and communication, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, who spoke about his role as a Justice, impressed Wang.
He says, "Dr. Lisnek assisted in O.J. Simpson's trial and it was interesting to hear about his experiences and with Justice Kennedy we had discussions and debates about various positions in certain legal cases. He had us argue opposing views and talk about them, which I enjoyed."
The students in the program toured the nation's capitol, viewed the monuments at night and got to visit their state's congressmen and senators.
In Wang's case, he was able to meet only with Sen. Cantwell's aides, as the senator was unavailable.
In addition, the group participated in a community service project at a local Boys and Girls Club, organizing and cleaning the space for better use.
Each night there were social activities for the students to get to know one another better.
"I had a great time," comments Wang, "because I really enjoy people. Even though I knew no one when I went, I easily met people."
The six days were full of activities and included 55 hours of course time, which Wang is hoping to use towards high school credits, if possible.
He plans to attend a course on law this summer at Stanford University to discover if the legal profession is truly the direction in which he wants to head once he graduates from high school.
"I like role playing and debating issues and I know that's what lawyers do much of the time, in addition to research," says Wang. "I'm just still checking things out and looking around at my opportunities. I also like marketing and am taking a class at high school right now that interests me."
Wang recommends the Leadership Conference to others who are open to new ideas and who want the challenge of speaking in public.
He feels it's especially good for those who have difficulty with this challenge as the conference encourages students to express themselves in groups, allowing opportunity for this skill to grow.
"I think what I will take away from this experience is a different view about looking at problems," comments Wang. "I am used to treating problems the same way all the time and now I think I will view each problem singularly, analyzing it closely before I decide how to handle it. Each problem now will be looked at for itself and it will demand a unique response. I believe that this view will be helpful to me as it will open my eyes more to the possibility of solutions."