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Summer 2016 spreads its wings!

Summer 2016 has arrived in DC and our newest students are off to a tremendous start!

The five-week Institute focuses intensively on our core Ethics and Leadership program, while also allowing participants to enjoy the best summer offerings of our nation’s capital.

After our first-night ice-breaking activities, an empanadas-and-salad dinner, an opening orientation, and our first dorm meeting, the students settled in for their first night.  (This summer we’re staying in a newly-renovated row house on the George Washington University campus, just a few blocks from the White House!)  The next morning, the students explored their neighborhood (including the State Department, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Lincoln Memorial) and then walked to our Dupont Circle Academic building.

Once there, they took on some of SEGL’s classic low ropes course-style activities: trust falls (fully supervised, of course!), the Minefield, the Dream Reach, and the infamous Spiderweb. In addition to accelerating our positive group dynamic, these activities are designed to help each student reflect on her/his leadership and collaboration skills: to provide a base line from which to grow.

Prior to the session, we discussed the four keys to success at the Summer Institute. (These all deserve more explanation but we will let you speak with a current student to hear more!)

1. Being smart doesn’t make you smart.  Practice makes you smart.
2. The best learning happens in an atmosphere of shared vulnerability. If you are afraid of sounding dumb, you won’t learn.
3. Narrow your gap.
4. It is no use trying to be clever. We are all clever here. Just try to be kind; a little kind.

After a trip to the drug store for missing essentials and dinner from a local Italian restaurant, we started our first academic session.

Like many things in our first few days together, our first academic session is an SEGL tradition.  Together we watched live CNN coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks–a difficult thing even for these students, many of whom were too young for preschool at the time–and then we reflected on the aftermath and meaning of those attacks.

The conversation that followed was insightful, respectful, and inspiring: this is a dedicated, warm group of young people who are poised to carry the SEGL banner forward to new destinations.  Given the weighty world events–the Orlando shooting, the “Brexit” vote, the upcoming United States election–that are the backdrop to our summer, there is no better time for them to start their journey.

Today we chase after Skittles, argue over two provocative articles by the philosophers Garrett Hardin and Peter Singer, and prepare to meet our first guest speakers.  More on that later this week!

(n.b. Remember to click on each picture for a fuller view!)

Jun 27, 2016

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