No Time to Waste
What Global Youth Leadership Did for Me



“What do you want to be when you grow
up?” This is a question we all ask ourselves. It
doesn’t matter if you are young or old, white
or black, rich or poor; we all hope to be somebody
great in the future. What Global Youth
Leadership Institute
forces people to ask
is, “What do you
want to be today?”
Our lives are short,
and our contributions
are necessary.
There is no time to
waste.
I applied to Global
Youth Leadership
during my sophomore year at Detroit Country
Day School. By simply agreeing to take a
seven day trip to New Mexico, I would have
never imagined the impact it would have on
my life. While on the Reservation I learned to
love, respect, and befriend people who are in
many ways diff erent than me, but in more the
same. I was taken out of one of the most segregated
cities in America to an environment
where my color, culture, context, character,
and class were not only accepted, but appreciated.
This made me realize the possibilities
for humanity. It only took one person to reach
out to me so that I could understand that we
are all in this crazy world together.
The memories I have had with GYLI are limitless,
but one always stands out in my mind
that symbolizes my experience. During the
third year in Costa Rica, we went white water
rafting. I am terrifi ed of the water so it was diffi
cult to even make myself get out there, but
once we began I got the hang of rafting and
was having a lot of fun. Suddenly, the workers
asked us to stop and instructed us all to get
off onto the side of the river. We climbed up
this hill to fi nd a twenty-foot cliff on the other
side. “¡Salta!” ( jump in Spanish) the man said.
Of course those who could swim immediately
jumped off the cliff without hesitation, but
me, there was no way I was going to do it. My
friend Kristen was explaining to me that my life
jacket would bring me up and assured me that
I wasn’t going to die. So I took her hand, and
jumped. I splashed in the water and began to
rise, but for some reason I was nowhere near
everybody else. I eyed Kristen and calmly said,
“Somebody needs to help me. Somebody
needs to help me.” It is funny now, but then I
was terrifi ed. A worker immediately came and
helped me fl oat ashore, and I was fi nally safe.
So, if somebody asked me to jump off a cliff ,
would I do it? Only with GYLI.
That was the level of trust we all developed
during these short moments of time
together.

Not only did my participation
in GYLI change me, but it also
encouraged me to impact my
community. I have used the
tools from this institute to share
something that is not heard
enough among my peers back
at home: the significance of
challenging oneself in a diverse
environment. I took advantage
of all that GYLI had to off er, but
most importantly I learned one
of life’s greatest lessons. The
most significant contribution
anyone can give is positively
aff ecting the lives of others no
matter how great or small, and
‘aff ect’ means to change a part
of a problem.
In my case it has been one that
lingers from generation to generation
in the metro Detroit
area, the drastic social and
academic diff erence between
inner-city and suburban students.
During the summer of
my senior year a friend and I
designed a program entitled
Leadership in the Face of Diversity,
Adversity, and Necessity. I
planned to work with YES for
PREP, an organization designed
to assist the transition of innercity
students into prominent
and highly acclaimed high
schools in the metro Detroit
area. Through this organization
I was able to implement our sixweek
curriculum to a group of
young eighth graders from
schools in the city. The vision
statement was “ to empower
our community’s youth by helping
them develop confi dence
and realize their potentials.”
Through a medium of topic
discussions, games, leadership
exercises, and projects, I challenged
the students’ perceptions
of what it means to be a
leader in three contexts. I fi rst
addressed Leadership in the
Face of Diversity. Under this category
the stereotypes we hold
as Americans were brought into
question. We began to understand
how they aff ect our ability
to be successful leaders. Leadership
in the Face of Adversity
consisted of examining confl ictresolution
skills that are eff ective
in overcoming obstacles.
Lastly, Leadership in the Face
of Necessity encouraged the
young people to look at the
issues of the world today, and
begin to think about where
we will be in twenty years.
Many of them became adamant
about domestic and
international issues. They
discovered that it is our
generation’s time to act and
become serious about positively
infl uencing our world.
Benito Mussolini, even
though a fascist dictator,
made a great point about
how inspiration ignites leadership
and change, “If only we
can give them faith that mountains
can be moved, they will
accept the illusion that mountains
are moveable, and thus an
illusion may become reality.”
Giving this kind of inspiration
and influence are things that
make the diff erences in the lives
of many. So that is exactly what
I did: inspired and gave with
hopes of touching one group of
kids who will touch others and
spark a progressive change in
their communities, and eventually
around the entire globe.
I am now a freshman in James
Madison College at Michigan
State University studying
International Relations. There
are many things that have led
me to pursuing this career, but
quite honestly my experiences
traveling and being a part of
Global Youth Leadership Institute
convinced me the most
that this is the field I want to
be in. What GYLI did for me is
what I attempted to do for that
young group of students.
That is to impart wisdom and
experience, so that they would
have the tools and the confidence
necessary to take the
initiative in solving problems
big and small. Our lives are
short, and our contributions
are necessary. There is no time
to waste.