By Sayan Ghosh, Global Links changemaker
Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Jeff Sexton, visited the green campus of University of Calcutta in Alipore on February 11th, 2017 to meet the Global Links changemakers of Kolkata. It was a pleasant experience for the volunteers to share their practical experience regarding women empowerment and also listen to positive advice from Mr.Sexton. The visit started with a brief introduction about the Global Links program and Mr. Sexton by Assistant Public Affairs officer, Mr. Greg Pardo. The mission statement of the program was then detailed by the Global Links scholar, Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee.
Mr. Sexton, who has travelled to different underdeveloped and developing countries, stressed the importance of women empowerment and how effectively this may contribute to a country’s GDP. Each of the volunteers shared their experiences with their client during Phase 1 and 2 of the program. Mr. Sexton praised the volunteers for their good work, especially their work convincing the business women’s family members to follow suggestions on business development, advocacy on social and environmental issues, and women empowerment. He also congratulated the volunteers for having been selected for Phase 3, in which they will go to Rollins College for two weeks for an immersion program on Social Entrepreneurship.
It was enriching session for the entire Global Links team, and I personally thank the US Consulate for arranging this meeting. Personally, it was a moment of disbelief to think such a high-ranking US state government official would interact with us in such an informal manner in our own environment. When we go to the American Centre, we are slightly constrained, but in our own University campus, we felt so much at home with Mr. Pardo and Mr. Sexton!!
By Kalapi Dutta, Global Links Changemaker
Yet again, as Global Links Changemakers, we witnessed an incredible experience. This time we had the opportunity to meet the Minister Counselor for Public Affairs for the US Embassy in India, Mr. Jeff Sexton, who gave his time to learn about our Global Links program.
After a brief intro with Dr. Banerjee, he eagerly listened to the five of us about our works and how we benefited our clients. Amazed by the impact of Global Links on the students, their clients, and the society, he wished Global Links to prosper, and we hope more programs like Global Links will exist.
As changemakers, our greatest focus is on creating sustainability steps for the businesses we are working on, and Mr. Sexton emphasized this issue, too.
On a parting note, he suggested we return India after our trip to Florida with our bags full of experiences and adventures, because our experiences in Florida will be absolutely new to us.
And just 21 days left until we land in Orlando (yes, we are actually counting days!), and excitement is at its peak. I am literally at a loss of words. How do I feel? The stir of emotions cannot be put int a single adjective. I hope to feel the rush of excitement at every single activity that I indulge in during the visit. For everything that is in store for us, I know that the inner me will jump high with excitement every time we will be exposed to something new- from the education to the lifestyle to the culture to the food to the leisure activities. I hope to load my bags full of knowledge and experiences which I wish to let out once again when I return to India.
By Ali Zaid, Rollins College Business Management and Economics student
Even though it has been more than two months since I attended the Sullivan Ignite Retreat, I still feel the impact this experience has made on both my personal and professional life. The Sullivan Retreat was not only for business students or psychology students, it was for any students who want to change the world and make it a better place. The Retreat facilitators created activities that worked for attendees of all different perspectives, and the way the activities proceeded was amazing to witness. I think this experience was encouraging, since the tools learned from the activities can be applied to any situation, making them very beneficial.
My participation in the Sullivan Retreat made me more proactive. For instance, once I returned to Orlando, I started to meet people who had previously attended the retreat, and ask for their guidance. I made arrangements to attend conferences on campus to meet like-minded people, a key part of any success story, and I began to look for opportunities around me to actively pursue. After my participation in the retreat, I realized that opportunities can be made, as well as found, which made me think twice about complained when things didn’t go the way I planned. I did not have this encouragement and confidence before my participation in the Sullivan Retreat, and I’m thankful I was chosen for this great experience.
Facilitators at the retreat emphasized the importance of having hands-on experience and to be self-educated about the profession we want to pursue. I have always believed that self-education is more important than formal education. However, the conversations I had with attendees at the retreat made me realize that both self and formal education are key in any self-development and both should be given high priority. Formal education can guide us and help us discover our passions by taking a variety of classes during college. After the two years, self-education should be given more priority since we have more of an idea of our goals in life.
All in all, the experience at the Sullivan Ignite Retreat was unique. This was my first-time participating in a retreat, and it will not be the last. I believe attending more of these amazing retreats help students and educators discover their interests and build upon them. It also helps those who are on self-development journeys by the exchanging of opinions and ideas.