The EAISAC Student Leadership Conference, held from September 8-9, was an exciting opportunity for NIS to host members of the newly formed East Asian International School Athletic Council for an initial activity of flexing their intelligence and social-emotional learning as opposed to flexing their muscles on the court or field. It was an opportunity for the students to look into what it takes to be an effective leader and bring out the best in themselves, as well as the people around them. In the end, it was more than just a conference; it was a journey of self-discovery, growth, and empowerment.
The conference activities actually started on Thursday, with schools arriving in the evening. NIS student leaders welcomed their peers and accompanying teachers from Fukuoka International School (FIS) and International School of Busan (ISB), ensuring they were comfortably set up with their futons in the various classrooms. the evening turned to fun and excitement as students explored the open gym and field for sports, opened classrooms for board games, and enjoyed a delicious dinner together.
Friday kicked off with a warm welcome, and time for everyone to officially meet and greet one another. Soon they were down to business as they dove deep into their morning sessions exploring leadership styles, with an engaging workshop on the "Five Levels of Leadership." Students discussed what type of leader they aspired to be and what defines a successful leader. The session was all about building leadership skills and understanding different leadership approaches as students were divided into mixed groups.
In the spirit of collaboration, students continued their journey with an exploration of the "15 Ingredients to a Successful Team." Working in diverse groups, they learned the key elements of effective teamwork. Then, after a well-deserved lunch break, the afternoon session delved into the "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" activity. This workshop allowed students to identify common team challenges and develop strategies to overcome them.
The day ended with team-building and cooperative games, fostering strong bonds. Later in the evening, everyone enjoyed a taste of Japanese cuisine at NIS, further enhancing the cultural exchange.
Saturday began with another nourishing breakfast, followed by a leadership workshop led by Travis Peterson, Primary Principal. His session, "Leading by Leaning In," inspired students to lead with impact by actively engaging in their roles. A unique activity followed, where students teamed up to explore leadership topics of their choice, for example, the 4Cs of leadership (competence, character, connection, and culture) and the five different styles of leadership (authoritative, autocratic, democratic, participative, and laissez-faire). Each pair conducted research, gathered information, and shared their knowledge with the rest of the table, creating a dynamic learning experience.
In the afternoon, students put their learning to the test by preparing and presenting club challenges, showcasing their leadership skills and teamwork. Each group was tasked with creating an imaginary product that would dramatically increase intelligence to ensure top IB scores OR a product that would give leadership ‘superpowers.’ To demonstrate this amazing new product, they were tasked to come up with a marketing strategy that included a jingle, infomercial, poster, and skit, with each member responsible for participating in some aspect of their presentation.
It was a moment of pride as each group demonstrated their creativity and learned skills. From the ‘IB-leaf’ (edible leaf leaving you with a perfect 45 IB score) to the ‘leadership hat’ (ensuring hordes of loyal followers), the students dug deep to collaborate, create, and charm the judges!
The conference concluded with more team-building and cooperative games, reinforcing the connections forged over two days of learning and growth. With the closing remarks, students were challenged to reflect on their incredible two-day journey.
Tom from FIS discovered that sometimes being a good leader means it is OK to take the reigns and make decisions as opposed to getting total consensus in certain situations. He’s looking forward to taking what he has learned back to his sports clubs and applying different approaches to the various situations he encounters as a team captain.
Before coming, Elli from ISB didn’t have many expectations but as an athlete and coach of younger students, she was looking forward to learning new skills. Through the conference, she realized what type of leader she is and could appreciate her strengths while also identifying areas for improvement.
Likewise, Mio and Maya, NIS student leaders who were involved with the planning of the conference, both relished identifying what type of leaders they were. They think understanding that more deeply will help them as they tackle their own project of teaching leadership to Grades 4-8 at an upcoming conference that they have organized for their younger Primary peers. In addition, in their club activities, Mio is looking forward to utilizing the knowledge she gained in identifying possible dysfunctions that contribute to club breakdowns to motivate her fellow club members to tackle those issues together. Maya looks forward to putting into action the information she learned in the session on 15 Ingredients of a Successful Team and looking for the key priorities for the different activities she is involved in.
Clearly, the conference had an impact on the students and staff who participated. EAISAC hopes to create many opportunities for athletic and academic exchange between its current member schools of NIS, Fukuoka International School, International School of Busan (Korea), and International School of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia). The EAISAC Student Leadership Conference of 2023 was a remarkable first event that left attendees with a deeper understanding of leadership, a network of friendships, and the inspiration to go back to their communities and strive to bring out the best in those around them!