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3 reasons why your teen needs a summer leadership experience

So your teenager is constantly on their phone, obsesses over their IG feed or Snapchat, and while you know he/she is smart, motivated, and friendly, you wonder whether they have the life skills to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

Whether they’re about to finish high school or are in their pre-university course, as a parent, you often think about what supplemental training or unique learning experiences you can arrange for them at this stage of their life. The options are limitless, but you hope they eventually do something with their life that doesn’t just help pay the bills but brings positive change to the community as well.

Why not give them an experience that challenges them by:

  • helping them define their life purpose
  • upgrading their leadership skills;
  • building their confidence;
  • giving them a global mindset
  • helping them create meaningful friendships all over Asia

Summer is the best time for young people to continue discovering who they are and what they’re really passionate about. Here are 3 reasons why your teen would probably thank you for sending him/her to a top-notch beyond-the-classroom learning experience:

  1. They get a (wholesome) thrill from trying something new. They’re at the age when, studies show, they’re prone to substance use, illegal behavior, and risky driving. A CNN article on teenage risk-taking mentions what scientists sometimes refer to as “the teenage brain.” Research shows that 13-17 year olds’ prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for decision making and moderating social behaviour, is not yet fully developed. A summer leadership camp would be a good shift to challenge them instead in new, unconquered frontiers like public speaking and competitive team activities.
  2. They make meaningful connections. According to the CDC’s 2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 17.7% of Asian high school students said they had seriously thought about attempting suicide in the 12 months. Meanwhile, a study by Institut Penyelidikan Pembangunan Belia Malaysia shows that young Malaysians do not really regulate their emotions so well. Young people today are more prone to anxiety, depression, and a sense of isolation. Blame it partly on a “hyper-connected” digital age that ironically leads to more feelings of disconnectedness. Another factor is that young people are not taught emotional management skills. At leadership camps or events, they get to create new connections and make new friends – all in the context of making positive change.
  3. They think about life more – and deeply. Getting exposed to new concepts and ideas stimulates teens’ active brains. And because leadership camps and trainings usually delve into personal territory like purpose, life stories, and creating impact, they tend to leave a lasting impression. One participant of the Center for Asia Leadership’s Asia Union Leaders Summit 2018 program said: “This journey has been the most beautiful one ever. I am eternally grateful for those six days that have ended up changing my life forever.”

While there are a whole range of youth activities and events, which one should they go for? One such event, CAL’s Asia Union Leaders Summit, which will be held this year in Malaysia and Singapore, provides an avenue for teens to discover their purpose and adopt a global mindset while upgrading their leadership skills.

Happening from July 21 to 28, 2019, this 8-day, 7-night program will equip and inspire young people aged 16 to 19-years old to tackle the new leadership challenges of Asia. Modelled after courses taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, such as the U.S. Congress and Lawmaking and Adaptive Leadership courses, the Summit aims to:

  • teach interdisciplinary frameworks
  • increase leadership capacity
  • build analytical and behavioral skills

At the AULS, students will not only get the chance to listen to special leadership talks, but will also attend interactive workshops and career mentoring sessions held by Center for Asia Leadership Teaching Fellows. These sessions include learning how to transition from school to work, presentation skills development, career counselling and guides to future career paths, and even a summit simulation to practice inter-country dialogue, networking, and developing collaborative skills. Students will also get to visit Singaporean universities, startups and the Singapore Investment Board, allowing them to network and create valuable connections for their future.

Not only will participants learn what it takes to be a leader in Asia, they will also bond with like-minded teens from all over the continent, learn about problem-solving from the perspectives of other cultures and regions, and get to explore the dynamic cities of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The future of Asia lies in the hands of young people who look to the future with purpose.

For more details, visit:

To apply, visit:

By Nirva Delacruz & Yu Qi Lee

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