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Liaoning Province Shiyan High School - 2014 Winter Youth Leadership Program

Date:2014-03-21   Author:   From:IESC

"After this trip, I feel inspired and challenged." Student Yifan expressed her overall experience after attending the Columbia Youth Leadership Program (CYLP), a 14-day program focused on participants' English language improvement, culture experience and as its name suggests, leadership skills development. 

There were altogether 43 students and teachers who participated in the February 2014 program.  CYLP was the first time visiting the east coast of the USA for most of the participants. To help the participants adjust to the new environment, IESC's group leaders presented a thorough orientation on various aspects of the American culture.  A series of cultural activities were designed and implemented throughout the program, such as a visit to historic Boston and Philadelphia, an educational trip to Washington D.C., and traveling through famous landmarks in New York City. Every activity was carefully designed so participants could gain a better understanding of the US culture. 

This year's training theme was "I, Team & Community". It was aimed at broadening youth’s recognition of their personal values, their roles in team settings, and their relationship to the larger community. Each training lesson aligned with these themes and covered such topics as learning styles, self-awareness, social communication, and team building. To increase their awareness of collaboration, for example, students performed a team building exercise by learning to juggle tennis balls as a team. Such activity promoted teamwork and creativity. The students “learned by doing” and improved their cooperation while having fun.



Despite the large-scale snowstorm that severely disrupted ground transportation in NYC and a planned visit to a high school, IESC staff responded to the challenge with professional confidence and care for students. Revamping program activities at the last minute, the staff initiated a contingency plan to ensure participants' safety without compromising the program integrity. After the snowstorm the CYLP students were able to visit Cliffside High School in New Jersey. They spent half-a-day observing various classes, having lunch with their American peers, and finally giving their own Chinese New Year performance. It was met with overwhelming praise and applause by the Cliffside students and teachers. As one CYLP student excitedly said: "Today is the day I will never forget! I can't believe I got to have lunch with them (American students) and participated in their classes. I have so many American friends now!" 


During their time in the Columbia classroom students faced many academic-firsts, such as their first public presentation on the topic of: "Discover Community through My Lens". Students were asked to first take photos of the Columbia community and secondly to then present their discoveries about the US culture to a panel of judges. Like all IESC activities, students were required to complete this assignment with their assigned teams. "This was a tough one. I had never made a presentation before. But after this experience, I know where I can improve, and it is such a joy to be able to share my thoughts (with others)." Students were also required to finish an essay at the end of the program. The essay topics included common topics that one may find in a US college application. Designed by IESC education consultants to hone student’s writing skills, students had to reflect on their program experience and write a thoughtful, interesting, and analytical essay.



When CYLP was all over, students highly praised the program for its academic value, food arrangements, lodging experience, and entertainment standards. This year, IESC received its highest rating in its 6-year history of running programs. Overall satisfaction was 97.8%. 


With a reluctance to leave the US coupled with the joy of returning home, the CYLP students boarded the plane, for now --- until their next visit.

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