Imagine a young woman belonging to a developing country getting an opportunity to visit the United States to receive world-renowned international leadership training with all expenses fully covered. In the summer of July 2019, I had the privilege of being selected as one of the young leaders to represent Nepal in Kectil Youth Leadership Training in Atlanta, Georgia. It came as a surprise when I found out that I was one of the 30 youth from across the world (and only one from Nepal) to have been qualified for the training.
What is a Kectil Program?
Quoting from the Kectil website itself, “Kectil Program is designed to identify and nurture highly talented youth in developing countries who have the potential to make a positive difference in their communities and countries”. Kectil Program does this in three states. First, selection through the application process; second, the web-based program; third, Kectil Youth leadership Conference. To elaborate, Kectil selects a group of outstanding eligible young people from developing countries through a competitive application process. The selected ones are then provided a yearlong web-based training. The training includes completion of dedicated assignments through mentorships in a range of issues such as Environment, Innovation, Employment, Leadership, etc. The performance of each participant is evaluated based on understanding on the subject area and quality research conducted in the submitted assignments along with activeness in engagement during the web-based seminars. Subsequently, some outstanding performers are then invited to represent their respective countries in an annual conference held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kectil International Youth Leadership Program 2019
The conference is a weeklong specialized youth leadership course held at Georgia Tech University on an annual basis. In my personal experience, it is highly demanding of time, effort and energy, therefore it requires the dedication of at least 10 hours to complete a full-day session. Moreover, the program is designed to engage each participant through various individual, group, team building, entertaining and fun-filled exercises. The activities in the conference are diverse and generously accommodate the participant’s personalities and their skill sets. The beauty of this conference lies in its process where it aims to polish the talents and skills that the participants possess already and not focus on mechanically engrave a similar set of learning for everyone. The variety of the sessions conducted and their impacts were massive, therefore I feel it’s worth mentioning the key highlights of the program:-
Country Presentations: Nepal well represented
The highest honor, I have ever received in my lifetime, is the honor given to me to present while representing my homeland, amongst the greatest mind hailing from different territories. Although some were only familiar with the name “Nepal” while others knew that it is the home of Mount Everest, I took the pledge to make them understand about where exactly we came from, where we are at and towards which direction we are headed. Henceforth, I talked about our history, geography, society, economics, politics, culture, food, language, and the feeling of pride that we hold for our country. I also took the chance of explaining the situation of youth in Nepal by shedding light on the challenges faced in terms of education/employment and also the opportunities within the country moving ahead. By the end of the session, some of them said Nepal is now under their bucket list of travel destinations, for which I could not have been pleased.
Furthermore, all the Kectil Colleagues shared their personal experiences of growing up in their respective countries, what are they most proud of, what they wished to change and where they want to witness change and more importantly what are their roles in bringing progressiveness in their home countries. This experience of sharing and learning made me appreciate and respect the struggles and successes of each represented countries.
Mentorships and Training by Experts
Among the course of the sessions what also stood out for me were mentorship sessions facilitated by well- known experts in environment, climate change and disease control, waste management, innovation and entrepreneurship, etc. The fact that some of the mentors were young professionals who are achievers and accomplishers in their areas inspired me to believe in myself and my journey towards success.
Tours and Excursions
One thing, I know for sure is that not every day does one gets a chance to have a private tour in the world headquarters of the Coca-Cola company. During the tour, we were explained about their working modality, their influence and impact in the world. It was fascinating for me to know how a profit-based company is getting serious about the environmental concerns put forth by their products, and their efforts in making their packaging and manufacturing process more eco-friendly. Besides, the Coca-Cola Company, we were also taken to guided tours to CNN Headquarters which is one of the largest international news agency and to the Georgia Aquarium where we got chance to explore our fun side and create the bond amongst ourselves.
I am thankful to have had this experience with people whom I now call friends. In seven short days, I learned about leadership and how to implicate it in actions, how to work on ideas to find solutions, friendships, and most importantly about myself. I must confess that my favorite part of the whole conference also came outside of the official activities, especially during our talks, discussions and laughter in the university’s cafeteria and dorms and even in the hallways when we all came together.
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