Lisa Alshibaya

Nationality: German
Living in: Miami, USA
Attending both of the WYSE programmes was a profound experience, which had a huge impact on me. It made me better able to reflect on myself, be aware of who I am, what my fears and needs are, and most importantly where I want to go and what I want from my life.
 

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John Cummings
Reza Kavosh

Nationality: Iranian
Living in: Shiraz, Iran
When I started the program, I realized that it was very different from other education I had experienced in my life. It is not merely an academic or practical course to help you to develop your leadership skills. It is a program, which helps you to know about yourself, your capacities, and your place in the diverse world. 

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John Cummings
Sugandha Munshi wins award

Nationality: Indian
Living in: Bihar, India
One of our participants from the 2013 ILP in Lucca has recently received an Aadhi Aabadi Women Achievers Awards in India. Sugandha says that WYSE helped her evolve as a person and become a more reflective practitioner. She believes she can do the work she does because she knows she has the support of her WYSE family behind her always.

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John Cummings
Stella Alexanyan

Nationality: Armenian
Living in: Abovyan, Armenia
Programmes: ILP 2011, ALP 2012, Kitchen ILP 2013

"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward."

After leaving all the success I had in my country I moved to a foreign country where sometimes the feeling of being nobody provokes even the strongest soul. In a new place everything is so different: new education experience, strangers in the street, new friends, different lifestyle. This always sounds exciting and in the beginning it is really so, then gradually I become a part of that “new”, finding surprisingly that I belonged amidst the inescapable nostalgia for my country and my past. 

Now, standing on the verge of new changes- finishing education and trying to find the right place for me to show my potential, I am scared. I guess the feeling of fear always accompanies changes. And right there, where everything seems not in the right places, I can access something that I call Joker- it is my experience with WYSE. It is so surprising how the positive emotions and thoughts I gained from an amazing community can really lead me even long after the programs. Being involved in many international programs and getting to know different people from all over the world WYSE always has special place in my life. 

 

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John Cummings
Sugandha Munshi

Nationality: Indian
Living in: Bihar, India
Programmes: ILP 2013

As a traveller born in this world, I have been moving ahead with a never dying spirit where I keep my key to motivation in my pocket. It might sound difficult but definitely not impossible same like our life isn’t it?

I pursued my master’s degree in Political science form University of Delhi India, holding degrees in Journalism and Gender studies, I moved on, making my passion my career, working for women’s development and gender equality. I believe it is always important to take one step ahead, seeking solutions, rather moving the problems and systems around. I have been working in India for development issues for the last eight years, involved in the gender rights movement in my country and have been contributing my bit to bring my society closer to sustainable change.

 

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John Cummings
Eisha Roy

Nationality: Indian
Living in: New Delhi, India
Programmes: ILP 2014

I'm 19 years old and I started working in the development sector at the age of 15. It was my passion to make a difference knowing that my spiritual self is limitless. I came to WYSE at a point in my life when I was in the middle of helping to build a free hospital for 35,000 inhabitants of an Island who have no access to healthcare, electricity and safe drinking water. I had become so action-driven after being affected by the state of the people in the rural areas of India, that amidst building the hospital, teaching in a slum dwelling, going to an orphanage and attending college- I had forgotten who I really was and why I was doing this.

WYSE gave me a much clearer perspective towards my goals and life, as well as helped me understand the importance of striking a balance between doing and being. The first day it was an unknown continent, unknown country, unknown city with unknown people at an unknown home. Within a couple of days, I struck a chord with everyone and I knew I'd found a home away from home. It took just 12 days to form bonds larger than life itself. When I look back, I think about how these 12 days have etched my heart and how I will carry this life changing experience with me for the rest of my life.

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John Cummings
Zainab Kakal

Nationality: Indian
Living in: Mumbai, India
Programmes: ILP 2013

One of the things I did post-ILP was to take an oath of honesty and I am going to write this piece in the very same spirit.

If someone would tell me that an 'International Leadership Programme' has been life changing for them, I would appreciate their input, respect their context and move on. Would a programme as such have an impact on me? I would have thought - no. No programme can teach you how to be a leader. No person or groups of people can hand you guidebooks, lessons or speeches of what makes a good leader.

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John Cummings
Pallavi Gandhalikar

Nationality: Indian
Living in: All over India!
Programmes: Italy 2013

Born in the city of Nasik and brought up in a small town that is now a district called Rajsamand, I had always been very adventurous and curious. A true nature lover. The explorer’s spirit has been alive in me since childhood and my parents have always supported me (though not willingly at times).
 
I did Chemistry honours at Pune University and then a Masters in Communication Media at Mumbai University. Being a topper and gold medallist my parents expected me to work in a white collar job, but my life took a U-turn when I was involved in making a film as part of my own thesis on Child Sexual Abuse. I worked with several NGOs and met grassroots workers who were doing impactful work to bring a change in India. Concurrently, I was travelling across India with organizations working with youth, children and adolescence on issues related to education, child rights, youth empowerment and trafficking.

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John Cummings
Lerato Kossie

Nationality: South African
Living in: Johannesburg, South Africa
Programmes: ILP 2005

Since the ILP in 2005 a lot has changed and shifted for me. I left Educo 2010 and went to work for National Peace Accord in Johannesburg. I must say working with ex-combat was a life changing experience for me as I got to understand the staff. These young man and women have gone through much in life. I facilitated a wilderness eco-therapy for the ex-combat. In 2011 I moved back to Cape Town. 

Currently I am organising to have my own NGO working with people from underprivileged communities, working with youth in violence in my country. I just want to say being part of the bigger circle and partaking in the WYSE programme, has made me to never look back in my life. Always trying to revive opportunities. WYSE programme had awakened something in me that I never thought I had.

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John Cummings
Amie-Jade Cramp

Nationality: Australian
Living in: Adelaide, Australia
Programmes: ILP 2006

Since my time in Lucca Italy I have continued to work in project and event management, community and youth development in various capacities as well as completing my studies in Social Science majoring.

For the past 3 years I have been working as a Community Development Officer –Youth with local government where I have a focus on using art, recreation, music and leadership in a strengths based approach to work towards developing cohesive and connected communities. 

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John Cummings
Rick Rovers

Nationality: Dutch
Living in: Amsterdam, Holland
Programmes: ELP 2011, ALP 2012

Last October I participated in the ALP in Italy. For three reasons. 
Firstly because I held and still hold warm and good memories to the ILP. Beautiful people, wonderful insights and completely refueled and energized were the main gifts of ten days in St. Braivels Castle. And, not to forget, a head full of songs which are unexplainable to anyone who didn’t attend. Secondly, because I just started a new job and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t slowing down in my ambitions now I reached this point. And thirdly, because I wanted to know what more there was to learn.

Again, the whole experience was great. Great to see old friends, and to meet new ... and then there was the food! Delizioso! When I returned from the ALP, two insights or reconfirmations stood out in particular. One is that self-awareness is a great guide in achieving what you want in life. The second tool that WYSE brought me is the set of different methods to see the bright side of things, for example to count the days that you do work up to your ambitions instead of focusing on a day that you might not. This really helps me to enjoy the things I do more and to keep myself inspired and positive.

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John Cummings
Elva (Jing) Zhang

Nationality: Chinese
Living in: Geneva, Switzerland
Programmes: ILP 2013

Hello everyone, my name is Elva, and I am originally from the PR China.  However, I have been studying, living and working in Australia (mainly in Melbourne) for over 10 years now.  In July 2013, I moved to Geneva, Switzerland to undertake a one-year LL.M in International Law with a specialty in International Economic Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).  Prior to this, I was working as a lawyer in the private sector for about 5 years.  

I have an ‘incurable addiction’ to traveling and am passionate about connecting with people from different parts of the world, for I see myself as a global citizen with a firm belief in unity and oneness.

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John Cummings
Eva Wartner

Nationality: German
Living in: Germany
Programmes: ILP 2012

My name is Eva and I'm a doctor from Germany. I volunteer in an initiative called "Medizin und Menschlichkeit" which roughly translates to "Medicine and Humanness". At the core of our vision is the focus on the human being – cultivating compassionate, authentic and empowering relationships with our patients, each other and with ourselves – and through that, to inspire students and young doctors to become change agents for a better and more humane medicine of tomorrow. 

My personal vision is very much aligned to this – I doubt that I'm always and exclusively going to be a medical doctor – my feeling is that my mission in this world transcends that. My intuition is that it rather has a lot to do with integrating different elements of healing and personal development in order to create something new..

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John Cummings
Kanan Dhru

Nationality: Indian
Living in: India
Programmes: ILP 2011

Kanan Dhru was featured as one of 37 "Indians of Tomorrow" by the prestigious India Today group in 2012. She was featured along with the household names from the film industry, sports and politics. She recently received an award as a "Woman with a Drive" by the Times of India on the International Women's Day.

Andy Warhol is known for his experiments with celebrity culture and art. Perhaps what is not so well-known about Warhol is one of the very interesting statements that he has made. "As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it", Warhol was once quoted saying. When I first heard this statement, I instantly agreed and felt it was ideal to be added to the list of Murphy's Laws that everyone can so relate to! Although, while Murphy tells us how anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, Warhol's statement left me intrigued. Thinking about it and trying to relate it to personal situations, I felt there was more to this statement than what I had inferred from it in the first instant.

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John Cummings
Inas Zeineddine

Nationality: Lebanese
Living in: Beirut, Lebanon
Programmes: ILP 2009

WYSE? It is When Your Self Expands. Arriving at the ILP in Lucca that day, I expected everything except what happened. Some may call it a workshop or a learning experience, but it can only be called WYSE. A unique setting offering a combination of beyond-expectation experiences conducted by professional and passionate mentors, who always succeeded in engaging us until we were the experience ourselves. 

The twelve-day programme created a major turning point in my life and triggered a butterfly effect. After over three years now, the WYSE self of mine has not ceased to be and it is even expanding. Each year, my understanding grows bigger and I still fetch my WYSE purse when making professional and life decisions.

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John Cummings
Susan Salem

Nationality: Egyptian
Living in: Alexandria, Egypt - currently studying in London
Programmes: ELP 2011

An Arabisque Story

Over a year after the life-changing international leadership program, how did your life change? Mine did tremendously! In the International Leadership Program, I was taught to use what I know to try and serve the world, what I know is business and my community really needs all the helping hands they can get right now. So as a mean of active citizenship towards where I come from, here's another chapter in my story, www.Arabisque.org

We were asked in the ILP to think of what we are passionate about and what we can do about it. My passions towards Business, Making a Difference & the Arab World are what brought me to think of a way to where social progress can leverage on business models for a stronger impact. There are such beautiful initiatives started by nonprofit organizations all over the world that are unfortunately dependent on the luck of getting a grant in order to make a difference, thinking about why should money stop these initiates from helping make the world a better place, got me to think ''Let's make the money to make a difference!''

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John Cummings
Mohsen Al-Mayyas

Nationality: Kuwaiti
Living in: Kuwait
Programmes: ILP 2012

A friend once said, "Imagine a world without judgment," I tried and it didn't compute. She described it as "one in which you can truly enjoy complete and comfortable silence with a companion," I didn't believe her. She went on to say it's "a place where people are considerate, positive and real—where the environment is crucial, food isn't wasted and technology and stress do not take precedence over nurturing talents and appreciating a quiet forest and cool breeze," and that's when I knew she must have been dreaming.

To me such a utopian ideal world only exists in the realm of our hopes and dreams. Where people aren't tearing the world apart with their selfish acts. My curiosity got the best of me, and I had to discover if what she was blabbering about really existed or if she just had an amazing summer binged on LSD and went into a trip that she never came back from. And that's when I decided to join the WYSE family.

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John Cummings
Lodewijk Hoekstra

Nationality: Dutch
Living in: Naarden, The Netherlands
Programmes: ILP-2002, ALP-2003

My name is Lodewijk Hoekstra. I live in Naarden together with my wife Kristel, son Mels (3) and daughter Diese (4). I am a TV gardener and presenter in the well-known Dutch TV show "Eigen Huis en Tuin" (Own House and Garden) which draws about a million viewers each week.

When I was a bit younger I was seeking my identity and did not know very well what I wanted in life. For this reason, my parents suggested for me to go to a WYSE programme. I attended the International Leadership Programme (ILP) in Havelte, the Netherlands in 2002. Having gotten the taste of it, I participated in the Advanced Leadership Programme in Lucca, Italy in 2003. I have experienced the programmes as being very special and intense -- they have benefitted me very much. "What makes your heart sing", that's what's it all about!

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John Cummings
Marco Petralia

Nationality: Italian
Living in: Sicily, Italy
Programmes: ELP 2011

During the ILP I took part in September 2011 I met great people, had great experiences and great conversations from the first day I arrived in St. Braviels. 

There was just one thing that wasn't as great as the rest during the first days: our lunch! The hostel staff did a wonderful job preparing breakfast and dinner for us, but after 2 days all the participants (especially the Italians) were complaining about the lunch sandwich. That is why we decided to prepare our own lunch and together with the WYSE volunteers, we prepared excellent food for our lunch everyday. We talked a lot about differences and similarities in food culture in our countries and we shared recipes. 

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John Cummings