A taste of life beyond Clarendon at the National Student Leadership Conference

As we welcomed students back to campus this week, we also welcomed back students from their overseas study tours which occurred during the holiday break. The study tours across the US East Coast, US West Coast and France saw students engage in invaluable opportunities which broadened their understanding of other cultures and exposed them to careers and experiences they otherwise would not have considered.

For the students who participated in the US West Coast study tour, the 9-day National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at American and Georgetown Universities made up a significant portion of their time overseas. The programs provided students with opportunities to explore future pathways in Biotechnology, Digital Arts and Design, Film and Script Writing, International Diplomacy, Law and Advocacy, and Medicine and Healthcare.

While living in university residential accommodation, students attended lectures delivered by experts, undertook practicals, participated in field trips to government agencies and facilities and explored their capacity and potential for leadership.

For Jasper Barnett-Noor (Y11), who undertook the Medicine and Healthcare program at American University, the experience was life-changing.

“While NSLC was intense and pushed me beyond my comfort zone, it was the best and most memorable experience of my life so far,” said Jasper. “I undertook so many activities and practicals that related to my interests, such as diagnostic and surgical skills, that I never thought I would get to experience at secondary school. I also developed my personal and leadership skills and was able to express and assert myself in ways that I never would have thought prior. The friends I made and the experiences we shared are unforgettable.”

Claudia Lopez O’Donnell (Y12) said “I was honestly so scared about studying and living with ‘strangers’ for so long, but I loved it and I have so many amazing memories. The people I met from all around the world had such an impact on my experience and I will treasure forever the friends that I made. The leadership activities and skills were invaluable and learning more about the biotechnology field has made it so much clearer that this is an area I want to pursue in the future.”

For Mia Bainbridge (Y12), the International Diplomacy program at Georgetown University enabled her to investigate, debate and seek solutions to the vital challenges facing our world and our future. Experiencing the complexities of diplomatic negotiations, Mia undertook part of her program in Washington before heading to the United Nations Security Council in New York.

“The invaluable learning I’ve done has been incredible and pushing myself out of my comfort zone has never been so rewarding,” said Mia.

Harriet Tennant’s (Y11) interests were in film and script writing.

“It was such an incredible experience that I will treasure forever as it really pushed me to be independent and outgoing in ways I haven’t before,” said Harriet. “I’ve developed leadership skills and really found a passion for film as a pathway that NSLC enabled me to explore.”

Jenny Gao (Y11), Cooper Nolle (Y11) and Sarah Zhu (Y11), attended sessions within the Biotechnology program.

“The NSLC experience was one that I’ll never forget,” said Jenny. We were encouraged to think more deeply about our future and now I have a clearer idea of my pathway forward. Because I was challenged to improve my leadership and communication skills, I made a lot of great friends in a short time and was able to deliver presentations with confidence which is amazing and surprising for an introvert like me.”

“I wouldn’t change this experience for the world,” said Cooper. “The people I met and the memories we created will be with me forever. I wasn’t sure how living on campus would be, especially so far from home, but I loved it more than anything I’ve ever done.”

“NSLC was a valuable and unforgettable experience that helped me to develop numerous skills that I never dreamed of,” said Sarah. “Not only was the incredible laboratory work and learning inspiring, but the program pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of my communication and leadership skills which, at first, seemed impossibly challenging. Without NSLC, I wouldn’t have known I could do all this.”

Emily Matthews (Y11), who enjoyed the Digital Arts and Design component of the program, said “At first, I found it really hard to be separated from our group and had a fixed mindset about what the program would be like. However, I found my people and engaged so deeply that I wish I could have spent more time with them.”

“NSLC was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced, even though it was really challenging,” said Mabel Goss (Y11), who attended Law and Advocacy classes. “It was difficult at first being so far away from home and not knowing anyone, but I think it pushed me to be more talkative and confident. I made some really good friends and it was interesting to learn about leadership and law. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was so fun and something I will forever be grateful for.”

These sentiments reflect the positive impact the NSLC had on students and the value they saw in every possible learning experience. They were challenged to step beyond their comfort zones as they learned the responsibilities of managing their academic and leadership programs while also living, working and socialising with students from all over the world. In what was a genuine taste of life beyond Clarendon, we are proud of our students for making the most of their time at American and Georgetown Universities.