by Ninnart Siripun, Grade 11 boarder
“It’s a waste of time and energy to try and change others. Better to change yourself and become someone who inspires others to change by who you are.” – Robin Sharma
The leadership conference that the Grade 11 boarders had the chance to attend last week was more than just amazing.
The first speaker, Stu Saunders, talked about perseverance and taking initiatives. We did a few ice breakers and got the chance to meet new people. He showed us slide shows and some brain teasers. He talked about his high school life and what he had to go through as a child, especially when his dad left. (Him, being an eighth grader, had to take care of his mom while his older brother decided to hitchhike to Florida.) He also talked about how in Grade 9, he was afraid of being labelled, and therefore, did not get involved in school. (If you join the band, you’re a music geek; if you join a council, you’re a nerd. etc) He soon realized that he had to get involved because his friends always had to go to sports practices and council meetings, leaving him all by himself. He slowly became more and more involved in his school.
In his senior year, he decided to lead a cheer at his school’s assembly for the hockey team and was booed by the crowd. Instead of feeling bad and embarrassed, he treated it as a sign of jealousy: he thought that his peers were jealous of him because they wished that they had the courage to do the same thing. He decided to try again. Once again, he was booed by the crowd. On the last day of school, the headmaster decided to acknowledge his contribution and he was given a standing ovation by the entire school. Stu says, “Only quit because you can’t keep going.”
Our second and probably most interesting speaker, Scott Ward, mesmerized all of us by his ability to hypnotize people. People were amazed by the fact that he was able to compel the students to do basically anything he wanted them to do, such as forgetting their own names. He also managed to make the students believe that they were on the scariest roller coaster ride of their lives. With the 20 volunteers from the audience, he managed to capture everyone’s attention. He showed us all how powerful the human mind is and that we are capable of achieving much more than we perceived.
Our last speaker of the day, Joel, taught us about taking safe risks. He began by helping a girl overcome her fear. She was able to get over her it when he encouraged everyone to support her as she placed her hand on a mouse trap. This showed everyone that the encouragement of others and your peers really makes a difference. Not only is taking risks an important part of life, but helping others as they take risks enables you to become a better individual. He then went on to address unsafe risks; risks that many teenagers have to face in today’s society. Technology has restricted development in communication. Texting, instant messaging, and Facebook have all induced unsafe risks. People say negative things because they know that they will not have to bear the consequences. For example, when someone confesses their love over chats, and it becomes unrequited, he can easily brush it off by saying “just kidding.”
This was another main theme of his speech. Language has changed since modern technology has advanced. Sentences have been shortened to words and words have been shortened to letters. He concluded his speech by encouraging the audience to start talking, instead of texting or chatting online.