My name is Andrea Nicolia and I am the Foundations Representative Officer in the Alpha Alpha Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi at Niagara University, where I am currently completing my Master’s Degree in School Counseling. I was selected in March for the People to People Ambassador Program Travel Scholarship, giving me the opportunity to serve as a Teacher Leader on a program which focuses on leadership, goal setting, and global citizenship. I discovered shortly after that I would be teaching at the Leadership in Action Summit, held from July 7-13, 2015 at the University of California at Los Angeles! I was thrilled, and ready to get packing the minute I found out where I was going!
I returned from my trip this past Monday, and had a few points I wanted to share with all of you as a result of my experiences! I served on my trip with nine other Teacher Leaders, and we taught students from numerous countries, including Nigeria, Guam, and the Philippines! In my group, I had ten students, four of whom were from Nigeria.
At first, adapting my teaching styles to fit those of students from various educational backgrounds was a bit challenging, yet I welcomed this wonderful opportunity to learn! Students from different countries have had their own experiences, which have led them to how they view the material being taught, the learning atmosphere, etc. However, throughout all the experiences on the program, I was able to see the power that education and leadership has on bringing all students together regardless of age, race, cultural background, and several other factors that as a society, we too often let divide us. My students were not focused on their differences, but rather their similarities, and what made them able to change their own part of the world.
One aspect of the week-long summit was creating leadership-in-action plans, essentially outlines of specific service projects students created for their own surrounding communities that they were expected to fulfill when they return home. I was particularly struck by the dedication and passion these students had for making their communities better places, from creating service projects to assist homeless shelters to restoring seaweed in one individual’s hometown in Hawaii.
If we are going to help create a better world as teachers, then we must be willing to help our students find their specific passions to change their part of the world. We must always realize that our students are the ones who are going to do big things in the future – and what better individuals to help support them and inspire them than us.
My challenge to each of you today is to look at each student in your classroom in the upcoming school year for the potential they have to do something big. When you see a spark in a child’s eyes regarding a topic discussed in class, or a student particularly interested in a certain cause or service to others, nurture these moments as these simple circumstances may become the defining times in a student’s life. Be fully present in these moments. What a simple concept this is, but we too often forget to do so as one summit speaker noted. If we take this time to sow the seeds of empowerment and leadership in our classrooms across the globe, I am certain the power of education will continue to do larger things and bring more students together as it did at this summit.
My sincerest thanks to Kappa Delta Pi for allowing me to be a part of this transformational experience, and my deepest wishes for each of you to inspire your students to be fully present to the needs of those around them – it can and WILL work wonders!
I’m Ryan Estrada and I had an awesome time at UCLA. A matter of fact, I met Andrea Nicolia, another KDP People to People Travel Scholarship recipient, there and we became fast friends. Thank you to People to People and Kappa Delta Pi for offering this opportunity for all Kappa Delta Pi members. When we told how we were selected with the other teacher leaders and program directors at our site, they congratulated us for this achievement.
As a way to say thank you, we made a video selfie during our final days at UCLA. You will be surprised of what we wore. Again, thank you for this opportunity.