Lessons learned from overseeing a youth-planned leadership conference

Going into my third year as the Youth Leadership Manager for OneWorld Now! I’m excited that our annual Get Global Youth Leadership Conference is right around the corner. With such a powerful leadership opportunity for our youth on the horizon, I took some time to reflect on my experience with Get Global and share some useful lessons.

The process is about empowerment

This process is all about empowerment and part of empowerment is giving students agency and authority to make meaningful decisions. If students, at any point, feel like they are not really in charge, they will defer all of their work and responsibilities onto the adults who are supposed to be merely supporting the process – robbing students of valuable learning opportunities!

Structure sets the students up for success

Providing structure and an easily identifiable chain of command for the planning committees keeps information flowing smoothly and allows students to help each other out more readily.  By having a set timeline and calendar, youth responsible for overseeing task completion, and a consistent communication schedule you are able to determine where the youth are at in the planning process to offer support where needed and illuminate blind spots.

Intention & vision are the glue that holds it all together

Intention and vision is huge and informs how the entire process will be played out. That being said, it’s important to ground students in the intention and vision of the conference from the beginning to ensure that every decision, every workshop, every event and performance is in alignment. By having that shared understanding of purpose, adult supporters are able to remind students of the intention and vision if it ever appears that the group is straying from what they set out to accomplish, without coming across as pushy or controlling.

Make time for fun & celebration

FUN is the life-blood of this entire process and if it’s missing, well, the whole experience of Get Global just isn’t the same. One way that I’ve worked to make sure that fun is had throughout the entirety of Get Global is to really focus on celebrating mile markers and accomplishments. If somebody was able to successfully confirm a performance for the Culture Hour? Let’s make sure that gets publicly recognized! Someone got 10 of their friends to register for the conference? Let’s start a mini celebratory dance circle! At the end of the day, having fun is what makes this entire experience so cool and without it, the learning moments and leadership experiences provided aren’t nearly as memorable.

Get Global is happening on Saturday, April 25th from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the Ethnic Cultural Center located at the University of Washington. To register, please visit our website . If you would like to support in planning Get Global as a volunteer, table for your youth organization on the day of, bring a group of youth to attend, or donate/sponsor the program, please don’t hesitate to contact hello@oneworldnow.org.

By Alekzandr Wray, Youth Leadership Manager

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About Alekz: Alekzandr is a graduate of Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College, where he designed his own degree in Law, Diversity & Justice: US Race Relations and Youth of Color. While going to school at WWU, he spent all four years as a member and officer of the Ethnic Student Center’s Mixed Identity Student Organization; learned leadership skills in WWU’s Western Leadership Advantage VIP Program; worked at the Associated Students’ Social Issues Resource Center for two years as the Assistant Coordinator and Coordinator; served as a youth mentor for A Latino Team Organization at Shuksan Middle School; supported teens aged 13-17 as a Homeless Prevention Specialist at the Oasis Teen Shelter in Mt. Vernon, WA; and oversaw the Teen Center program for the Boys & Girls Club of Ferndale, WA.



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