Editor’s note: Sawyers Ames is an eighth-grader at Watertown Middle School in Massachusetts. At the end of August, she attended a new camp run by The Leadership Institute at Harvard University for Boston-area kids in 7th through 10th grades. The purpose of the free camp, Youth Lead the Change!, was to help find the next generation of leaders and to give them some tools to speak out and learn how to make a difference.
The following is Sawyer’s look at her third day at the leadership camp.
I look down at the booklet in my hands warily. Letting out a sigh — three speakers? If they aren’t good, then this day is going to be painful.
And the first hour certainly is. My “action” team works on digging back to the root cause of childhood obesity. This was what our speaker came to talk about. She works at a nonprofit group working with schools to help students become more physically fit.
Now, what we had done so far in the week was really about presenting and thinking of yourself as a leader. It was relatively obvious that this woman had not ever taken part in such a thing. Shoulders rolled forward, very quiet voice, monotone, looking at her feet. I almost fell asleep at 9:30 in the morning.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon passes relatively quickly, with little preps here are there for the final presentation we would do the next afternoon. Right after lunch, a Harvard Business School student shows us a PowerPoint on leadership through community service. Her example is as a high school student, trying to get a law passed in Delaware prohibiting smoking in public places. I am happy to report that I have no trouble staying wide awake during this!
We take a small break to do some non-leadership activities. What a relief! Then back to our seats for — wait for it — yet another speaker!
Zeynep Ton had been a professor at Harvard Business School until switching just this summer to MIT. The premise of her talk is to let us know that every single job is important. To put everything in perspective, she uses her apple. And we trace that apple all the way from where it had been grown in New Zealand to the little market where she bought it in the heart of Boston.
The way she shows us all of this was interactive, with a joke and a question here and there. I swear almost everyone in the room genuinely wants to pay attention.
(Photo: Courtesy John Vitti)