What is the best way to prepare a group of 17 women from around the world for a 20-day sports mentoring program and introduce them to American culture?
Bring ’em to Washington, D.C., of course!
Well, we by no means have a perfect system since this is the inaugural run of the program, but this is what we’ve done.
Since this project is cooperative with the State Department and espnW, the home base for the program quickly became Washington, D.C. The location provided our emerging leaders with plenty of opportunities to see historic monuments and buildings. On Saturday, these ladies toured the Capitol building, ate lunch at Grand Central Station, and visited the FDR, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln monuments. The location also gave the women access to the State Department, which is where they spent most of their first day becoming aquainted with the people who are a part of organizing this program.
Also incorporated into orientation was a special programming created by Drs. Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman that will prepare the emerging leaders for the next three weeks with their mentors. The “doctors” (thus named by the emerging leaders) led the group in various teambuilding activities, opportunities to share and discuss key issues in their communities, and ideas on how to strategically develop an action plan that is important to both them and their communities.
Another key to developing emerging leaders is to provide them with a network of supporters – people who believe that what these women are doing is important – and can assist them in a variety of ways, whether it be financial, emotional, or otherwise. And through this program, not only are they connected to the program partners and to their mentors, they are connected to each other. Now they can use each other’s experiences to develop their own ideas and goals. They can encourage each other in failures and appreciate even more their successes.
The community developed among these women after a mere five days is remarkable, and we can only imagine how sweet the reunion will be in just three weeks!