What can eight students from an extraordinary set of backgrounds accomplish in seven days? Our inaugural cohort of Summer at SEGL students found out last week in a jam-packed, enlightening, and meaningful session.
SEGL created its first-ever summer experience in collaboration with Egil “Bud” Krogh, one of our most popular guest experts, and The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where Krogh serves as Senior Fellow and Chair on Leadership, Ethics, and Integrity. Along with Krogh and SEGL Director Noah Bopp, the staff included longtime education leader Nancy Glenn Hansen, SEGL Director of Residential Life Robert Ross, and Spring 2010 graduate Emily Heller.
The highlight of the first day was a Monument Walk. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Krogh (a former White House official) told of following Richard Nixon on a spontaneous 4:00am trip to the Memorial to speak with visitors about the Cambodian incursion. (Krogh mentions the episode in his book, Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House, a copy of which each students received.)
The week also included two case studies, on the National Debt and Middle East democracy. Students met with Austin Smythe (Staff Director of the House Budget Committee) and Barbara Ferguson Kennedy (DC Bureau Chief for Arab News and a trainer of military leaders leaving for the Middle East) and visited the Saudi and Kuwaiti Embassies, the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement, and, of course, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress to hear more from Krogh. Hansen also provided public speaking workshops.
On Thursday evening the students received a special visit from Carl Wilkens, the only American to stay behind during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and another of SEGL’s most popular speakers. Wilkens and his wife Teresa spoke with students and he read an excerpt from his recently-published autobiography, I’m Not Leaving. (Click here for more information.)
The goal of the session was for each student to design a Citizenship Action Plan to address a challenge in her or his local community. On Saturday morning, the students presented those plans with articulate and thorough passion. Mouna, a recent immigrant from Morocco who lives in New Jersey, will reduce gang activity at her school by recruiting incoming ninth graders for sports teams. Claire, an international student from China who studies in Dallas, will develop diversity workshops at her school. Nate, who lives in Washington, DC, will organize “Cookies, a Cure for Cancer” to provide education and funding to combat breast cancer. And Marchelle, from Maryland, will help prevent teen suicide from reoccurring at her school by helping her peers understand what to do when a friend is depressed. Each of the plans promises to make a tangible difference.
Stay tuned for word about Summer at SEGL 2012! We plan to grow the program and build on our success.
Summer at SEGL was made possible by generous grants from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Squire Family Foundation.