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Gen Z Speaks: A 4-day students' camp taught me good leadership is finding common ground among 'unlike-minded' people

Last December, I had a whole speech planned out to address my cohort of attendees during the “graduation ceremony” of a leadership camp to reflect on the past four days and three nights that we spent together.

Despite our different backgrounds, I knew that we were in this together. With each passing day, my group members broke barriers and grew together as a team. 

Our differences never once sparked animosity, instead, they opened up doors for us to get a taste of the world outside our own.

Above all, the meaning of leadership often popped up during our group discussions.

To me, the idea of leadership has been frighteningly distorted in our modern society. Instead of a charismatic idol with millions of followers, I see a leader as a shepherd leading his or her sheep.

Leading, as I’ve come to learn in my admittedly limited years of personal experience and observation, is not about holding the loudhailer on the stage. 

Just like how shepherds walk alongside their sheep and guide them with their shepherd’s staff, leaders don’t merely stand in the front to command attention.

The best leaders leave footprints by walking the talk. They lead from within the community and within their hearts. 

OWNING YOUR YOUTH 

During the camp, we had multiple chances to converse with Green Advocates – people who started social enterprises and organisations since their youth. 

I quickly noticed a pattern: Their ambitions were not limited by age. 

Some of them made a mid-career decision, others sowed their seed in entrepreneurship while still schooling, and despite their youth, these changemakers have already left such deep footprints in the sand. 

It made me realise that age is not a limitation. So long as we all have visions of a better future, we should not let age stop us from charging ahead and making those dreams a reality.

Looking back at my camp experience, it provided new and insightful experiences, as well as deep conversations and inspiring awakenings.

As we parted ways, my team reminisced with a bittersweet note, as though we were long-time buddies.

If there was one takeaway I got, it would be to surround yourself with people that will spark growth in ourselves, and to take that leap and see our aspirations materialise.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jemmima Tan Shin En, 16, is a first-year junior college student at Eunoia JC. She took part in the inaugural Our Singapore Leadership Programme in Dec 2022, representing Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (Secondary).

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