A weekend retreat at Camp Makuleia evokes thoughts of white sand, blue surf and lazy days away from civilization.
But last month, 20 teens from around the state – the first-ever cohort of the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council’s Global Leadership Program – convened on the North Shore to talk about unearned privilege, globalization and leadership.
“The idea (behind PAAC) is to help young people become more globally aware and have critical thinking skills, and to see the connections in the world,” explained PAAC high school program director Natasha Schultz.
PAAC noticed that some students returned repeatedly to attend its events and decided to focus on developing these students into future international leaders.
Thanks to funding from Qatar Foundation International and the McInerny Foundation, the organization welcomed the inaugural class of students from high schools including Kalani, Punahou, Waianae and Campbell.
The nine-month program already has set the students to work.
“Some of the activities we have done so far include communication challenges, leadership style analysis, cultural awareness activities, commitment class and a model Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,” said Keenan Goo, a Kalani High School student.
Eventually, cohort participants will be expected to take on leadership roles at PAAC’s regular student summits (including a Nov. 21 conference on microfinance at UH Manoa) and in projects at their own schools.
“I hope to emerge as a more experienced and confident leader who is aware of global cultures and issues,” said Goo.
Schultz explained that all the activities are designed to help students achieve future success, whatever path they choose.
“We really want the students to see that there are connections between themselves and the world, and it doesn’t have to look like the traditional international relations,” Schultz noted.
She recently interviewed a student-applicant who wanted to be an astronomer and thought PAAC could help in that because “scientists need to work with those in the international community,” even in something as simple as visiting telescopes around the world.
“Even if we’re just the first step for these students, we’ll help to open other doors for them.”
For more information on PAAC, visit paachawaii.org