York hosts Barbados leadership retreat

On Oct. 22 & 23, York University in collaboration with the Barbados Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs & Sports hosted a two-day leadership retreat for 42 of Barbados’ top high-school students. The retreat took place in Christ Church, Barbados.

Right: High-school students from across Barbados participated in the Emerging Global Leaders Retreat

Each year since 1999, York International has organized the Emerging Global Leaders Retreat (EGLR) for York students. The program has expanded over the past two years to include another retreat for Ontario high-school students. The Barbados retreat was the first retreat geared to high-school students outside of Canada.

Over the course of the Barbados EGLR, high-school students who were selected from 19 schools in Barbados, participated in mentorship and leadership skill-building activities. They also enjoyed a series of presentations given by respected leaders in a number of fields. Presenters at the Barbados EGLR included Ernst & Young and CIBC Entrepreneur of the Year award-winner James Husbands; Fred L. Jacques, counsellor for general relations & public affairs for the Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown; and York’s own Associate Vice-President Academic, Rod Webb. The program was designed to help students gain an understanding of the most important concepts in leadership, team building and goal setting. Students were encouraged to reflect on their strengths and areas for personal growth.

Left: Students participated in a number of mentorship and leadership skills activities

“EGLR is a unique program, and one which has added to York’s name for innovative and quality international activities,” said York Associate Vice-President International Adrian Shubert. “Holding the retreat in Barbados contributes to our international strategy of strengthening our connections in the Caribbean. This would not have been possible without the strong support we have enjoyed from the consul general of Barbados in Toronto and the Ministry of Education and the high-school principals in Barbados.”

After branching out into a version of the Emerging Global Leaders Retreat targeted at Ontario high-school students in May 2003, the idea of holding an EGLR in another country seemed a natural progression for York University.

A partnership was established between York University and the Barbados Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs & Sport. Principals from high schools in Barbados were asked to nominate Grade 11 students who had demonstrated leadership skills, expressed an interest in extracurricular activities and who had shown community involvement.

“Given the Caribbean diaspora in Toronto and our existing relationships with local diplomats who could help facilitate this project, Barbados was a perfect choice for us,” said T. Craig Wright, coordinator international student programs. Wright together with Heather Moore, program assistant, international student programs, were responsible for planning and implementing the last five Emerging Global Leaders Retreats.

“An incredible amount of work goes into these projects, but we have a great team of people who work with us, and we have been very fortunate in finding speakers who are committed to this project and youth development initiatives,” explained Moore. “Our real reward though is seeing students engage in the ideas presented, challenge and learn from each other, as well as come up with very interesting projects through connections they make at the retreat.”

The next EGLR for York students will be held in January 2005. Applications and further information about the retreat are available on the York International Web site.