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Beyond the confines of the classroom

Youth Leadership Workshop at Stanford University

Between 9 June 2013 and 29 June 2013, under the SP Outstanding Talents (SPOT) programme, I had the privilege to attend the Youth Creativity, Innovation and Sustainable Leadership (YCISL) workshop in the Stanford University.

YCISL was a design thinking workshop that focused a lot on sustainability and creativity. Leadership skills in the context of entrepreneurship were also an emphasis in the program.

Throughout the program, we were constantly encouraged to come up with ideas and challenge our creativity. For example, we had a session that we had to come up with as many uses as possible for a hockey stick. It did not matter how ridiculous or inappropriate the idea or name was, and it was inculcated within us that no idea should ever be rejected at the first note. This attribute is particularly important as a Chemical Engineering student, in the context of our chemical product design modules that have a strong emphasis on design thinking, practicals and final year project. We should never be rejecting any possible cause during troubleshooting, before we investigate the matter.

This workshop had also exposed us to the ways we can possibly start up a business, for example by bringing us to Pixlee, which is an up-and-rising company riding the social media wave, and also by exposing us to numerous sustainable based companies, like MangoMaterials, where they create biodegradable plastics. The sense of pride and accomplishment from the respective speakers has definitely ignited the flame of motivation within some of us, that this could be a probable path.



Definitely, when we’re in a foreign country, culture immersion is mandatory. Also included in the workshop, was a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins. We explored the city during our free time, and what struck me most during this exploration was the prevalent widening income gap between the rich and the poor. In particular, expensive automobiles can be seen driving past a mini-community of people begging for handouts and what little they could get for survival.

Nonetheless, this trip has provided me with far too many lessons that could be summarized in this article. I had never regretted spending my precious holidays like that, because I am truly thankful for such an opportunity to learn and to grow and to be challenged out of my comfort zone.

Fiona Poon
Diploma in Chemical Engineering
Year 3 Student


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