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How immersive service experiences can help students become better leaders

How immersive service experiences can help students become better leaders

Operating in teams and groups and improving cultural tolerance can be key character-building factors

Gulf Business
Stuart Rees Jones

Gen Z has been receiving excessive attention for their ‘no nonsense’ attitude, where they speak up against passive ignorance towards varying social issues. They continue to prove the impact of standing up for their peers, voicing matters for those who can’t, and showing that this is how we progress together as a society.

As young adults immerse themselves in real-life experiences and the day-to-day routines of the local communities, they start to feel first-hand gratitude for all they have. Helping your children understand the importance of supporting those in need can build empathy, resilience, and greater self-awareness. Introducing your children to these experiences can also make for a bonding experience, improving family relations in the home.

Learning to accept external recognition for their work and being appreciative of their willingness to play a positive and active role in the world is also incremental to the growth of youngsters’ self-confidence, self-worth and satisfaction.

 Innovative, on-the-spot thinking
Actual experiences cannot always be pre-planned and executed to perfection. Life requires one to think on their feet and devise instant solutions to tackle problems while considering varying factors such as the people involved and the logistics. Immersive service experiences start to test and teach youngsters the critical skills of adaptability and quick thinking.

Interactions with different groups and cultures allow youth to develop interpersonal and problem-solving skills. And it works both ways: fresh perspectives introduced into the workflow of volunteering groups can help motivate and re-energise the passions of the project groups.

Working closely with government and private authorities
 An essential but generally forgotten benefit to working with volunteering organisations is the close-knit ties to local, national, and international authorities. Early-on exposure to the functionalities of these authorities and their role in the welfare ecosystem can pave the way for the brightest young minds to work and collaborate with them in the coming years. After all, children are the future of this planet, and exposing them to this environment from an early age can help build their trust and confidence in their abilities and the authorities around them.

Countries worldwide are beginning to spotlight national volunteering initiatives, with a particular focus on the involvement of young people. For instance, the UAE government prioritises inclusive and equitable quality education and hence continues to promote lifelong learning opportunities for everyone. This was demonstrated recently by the UAE Ministry of Education announcing its commitment to high-quality education in the next 50 years.

With this increasing focus on education, it’s fantastic to see the growing interest in volunteering among youth in the UAE. To date, we have hosted 4,500 students from across the UAE on our immersive service-learning expeditions. Their work has created a meaningful and lasting impact on communities worldwide.

Adding value
As students begin to plan out their further education and careers, a strong, well-rounded character can play a vital role in the perception of their applications in the future. Operating in teams and groups and improving cultural tolerance can be key character-building factors.

Working on feedback and learning to constructively take on criticism make for great learning for high-school students as they begin to adapt to university-level practices. For example, rebuilding a brick wall foundation that wouldn’t hold or re-teaching basics in maths to young children can help students learn to balance their expectations, develop determination, and try different approaches to a problem. All of this can play a crucial role in personal and professional success.

Being humane is the value-add that the future workforce requires. Connecting with people through compassion-filled work is the skill to add to that brimming bucket of potential. Lifelong learning and traditions are built on a solid foundation when introduced and practiced from a young age.

The UAE is a strong proponent of school travel, with schools embracing the long-term benefits of outside-the-class learning tools. I firmly believe that impact education and volunteering should be part of educational curriculums and a top priority for all young adults. Why? I’ve witnessed first-hand how it can equip them to create an impact in the lives of those closest to them and on strangers and society in general. And really, what could be a greater skill than that?

Stuart Rees Jones is the CEO of Camps International, a social enterprise that balances profits with philanthropy

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