The Oxford Dictionary defines leadership as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this.” I would define LeaderShape as “a truly amazing experience that actively engages all participants, and helps them shape, address, and discover themselves and the people around them.”
Right from my days in high school, I knew about LeaderShape from friends studying in Education City. So, in my first semester at Georgetown, I made sure I looked out for the LeaderShape application. Despite problems with online registration, I managed to complete the application as I badly wanted to participate in LeaderShape because of all the positive reviews I had received from alumni. However, I thought of it as an over-rated experience and asked myself, how can spending a week with complete strangers be the most amazing experience of your life?
It was. I have to admit, I did not go to LeaderShape with the most positive outlook. I cursed myself for signing up for it as I had to wake up at 7 every morning in the final week of my winter break. Day one was based on the theme ‘Building Community’ for which we were divided into family clusters, each having a facilitator. On the second day, we were taught the importance of team work and communication through ‘The Value of One, The Power of All’. We participated in a team challenge course to get a sense of the theme. The third day was based on ‘Challenging What is, Looking to What Could Be’ which required us to explore our visions. All of us knew what we wanted for ourselves and the society somewhere in the back of heads, but never really discussed it or put it on paper. The ‘Vision Exploration’ exercise showed the dreams of the youth and what they are capable of. Day four was based on ‘Bringing Visions to Reality’. We played a game called ‘StarPower Debrief’, for which we were put in positions of power and decision-making. This was my favorite exercise because I realized how the most honest and sincere people change when they are granted power. That night, we went to bed (although most of us did not sleep) with a lesson that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. The fifth day was based on ‘Living and Leading with Integrity’. We spent a greater part of the day with our family clusters and shared our thoughts - what we liked about each other and how we could improve. It was amazing how some people knew so much about me in a matter of few days. Further, I learnt more about myself from a group that was unknown to me a week ago. The final day was about ‘Staying in Action’ and taking our visions forward. The program ended with us being declared graduates and receiving certificates in the commencement ceremony.
I remember how we stuck to our comfort zone in the beginning - I hung out and talked only to my fellow Hoyas. As the week progressed, I had some great conversations with people from different universities. We came in as different groups divided by our universities; we left as one big group, a family, called LeaderShape. It’s funny how my attitude changed over the week. On day one, I could not wait to go back home and sleep. On day six, I did not want LeaderShape to end. People say LeaderShapeis a life changing experience. I am proud to say I have experienced that.
To sum up, we were sleep-deprived? Yes. We were exhausted? Yes. We had an amazing time? Yes. Would I want to do this again? YES!