Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week One of Washington Leadership Conference, One for Many

E Pluribus Unum

One for many, that is what this phrase found on the back of a quarter means. When we read this phrase we all have many different interpretations, and as our experiences broaden our thought process continues to adapt.

This week E Pluribus Unum took on a new form in my world. This summer I am in Washington D.C. facilitating with a team of four other college students a leadership conference called “Washington Leadership Conference,” or WLC. Our phrase “one for many” appeared in the faces of high school students from OK, MO, WI, VA, WA, TX, and CA this past week.

You see, WLC is unlike any other leadership conference. Yes, we tour the sights of Washington D.C. and discuss the outstanding leaders of our past, but there is so much more. WLC hits on what it truly means to be an authentic leader, and even more specifically the importance to serve.

I was blessed to get to know 132 students this past week, and REALLY get to know 26 students in an even deeper level (seeing how there were in my smaller group, the Freemasons community group). The Freemasons that joined our secret society this week are without a doubt some of the most incredible, big-hearted, and hard working individuals I have met. Yesterday as we all said our goodbyes’, it was extremely difficult for me to articulate just what this group of students has taught me. After a night of reflection here is my attempt to put into words something too powerful to truly understand unless you have experienced it:

5) The “BIG” picture: Freemasons, you all helped to remind me of what truly matters. It is easy for all of us to get caught up in the trends of society, whether that is materialism or selfishness. Thank you for emphasizing for me again the importance of being selfless, even in the simple parts of our lives such as opening doors and looking out for a friend.

4) Hard Work: Austin and D.J. (also known as D. Jizzle), mentioned multiple times after our service project how far hard work can make a difference in anything you do in life. Building fence out at the Oxon Hill Farm as our service project was difficult, especially in 90 degree humid weather. However, we had FUN doing it, and came together like we didn’t know was possible.

3) Commitment: With our living to serve plans (LTSP) we created, it is clear that each student made a commitment. A commitment to do everything they can to make their LTS plan a reality. And if by chance our specific plan doesn’t work as we mapped out, it’s ok because each of us committed to living a heart of service. To service others in any capacity is the real key…the needs are endless.

2) Community: This was our first week of WLC this summer, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to show me what it really means to be a community. We came together as 26 complete strangers, and in five days we were all comfortable opening our hearts in front of the entire group. Thank you for showing me just how close people can become in such a short amount of time.

11) Believe: Such a strong word, and sometimes an extremely tough action to make. This past week, each and every student at WLC showed my teammates and I what it really means to believe. Believe that we are capable of great things, believe that we can change this world, and believe that one person can make a difference. One for many. One empowering action can create that ripple effect to create the change we wish to see in the world.

E Pluribus Unum
…one for many. Thank you to all our WLC students for demonstrating what it means to be one group dedicated and enthused to serve many. Our world is a big place with many needs…and we CAN make a difference.

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