Written by Izumi Tsurumi
Ms. Tsurumi coordinates the Leadership program at UWC ISAK Japan.
“A creative life is any life when you consistently, habitually, routinely and constantly choose the path of curiosity over the path of fear” – Elizabeth Gilbert
In the Leading Self course, students have been exploring their personal purpose – the intercept across the unique skills they have, things they are curious about or love, and needs in the world they care about, to find out what kinds of positive changemakers they wish to be in this world. In order to understand one or more of their personal purpose areas in-depth, each student designed a three day trip, and bravely executed the trips during the Spring Project Week. The diversity of self-designed explorations was as diverse as the student body, and it was amazing to watch the students make contact with individuals and organizations that they only dreamt of or saw on social media just a few weeks back. Some of their experiences included:
- Meeting an ex-NBA Basketball Player to train with him and understand what it takes to be competing at a professional level
- Meeting managers from Google and Microsoft to understand needs in the IT field now and in the future
- Interviewing Hoshino-san (from Hoshino Resort) to find out what it takes to start up innovative hotel/resort industries
- Skilling up in application of make-up and attending workshop sessions to find out the future of make-up industries
The journey that each student undertook to make their trips come alive was not easy. They had to overcome the fear of uncertainty and the fear of rejections. On top of this, they had to learn how to write professional e-mails to make contacts, navigate themselves in an unfamiliar city, and for some, coordinate visits for large groups of students. What was amazing for me to witness throughout this process was how many of them blossomed as courageous warriors, who boldly pursue the path of curiosity, rather than following a path of safety because of fear. Acting courageously for things that students found important was definitely an important byproduct of the personal purpose exploration project.
Upon their return from their three day trips, students either individually or in small teams designed a potential project / company that they could start up based on their discoveries. Even with a tight timeline and lethargy that many students were experiencing, students came up with many project ideas that were both purposeful and inspirational. These project ideas ranged from creating a service for travelers in Japan to be matched with abandoned dogs to not only act as companions, but to also raise more awareness for animal rights, to creating an online entrepreneurship school for teenagers.
The important lesson that I hoped students took away from this activity was that their first proposal of a project/company does not have to be “perfect”. On the similar line as “acting courageously”, it was important that students pitched their ideas, got feedback quickly so that they could fail quickly, and make rapid improvements to their ideas. What was important was that they took actions to share and realize their ideas.
As budding positive change makers, my deepest hope is that students will always tune into their heart and ask themselves where they wish to point their compass, and act boldly, experimentally and resiliently to pave the path where their compass points, even when their path may be uncertain, treacherous and unpaved.