Elva (Jing) Zhang
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.
When being asked to share my WYSE story with others, I thought it would be an easy task to simply summarize my WYSE experience. Yet, three weeks on, I still found it difficult to put it onto paper, for words seem incapable of accurately conveying the profundity of this experience.
Before undertaking the 2013 International Leadership Program (“ILP”) with WYSE, I was never interested in any leadership programs. Most of such programs appear to be solely premised upon personal pursuits of external success in a fiercely competitive society. I know intuitively that an outwardly focused approach to leadership does not resonate well with my own values and beliefs on this subject. Ironically, I was working in a profession that in today’s world thrives upon human adversities and conflicts, and provides a fertile breeding ground for competitive leaders. As a result, my adult life has somehow become a chronicle of my ongoing personal struggle for reconciling the powerful urge to follow my own inner guidance with the strong push to accept the consensus reality.
In February 2013, I came across WYSE and the information on 2013 ILP. I was overwhelmed by a sense of exhilaration, as the ILP entails a holistic approach to leadership with a particular focus on self-development. Whilst I was certain that I wanted to be part of the ILP, I found difficult to fathom how such a program, which centers on inner-development and conceptual ideals with a strong undertone of spirituality, can possibly be taught.
Then, five months later, I was taken onto this amazing experiential journey under the gentle yet powerful guidance of the experienced WYSE mentors. The 12-day program was packed with all kinds of surprises. Each day we were led a little bit closer to knowing ‘ourselves’, and to understanding more clearly that how by changing the microcosm of our ‘small’ worlds, we essentially reshape the macrocosm of our ‘big’ world. This conceptual re-orientation toward the inner-self is a catalyst to awaken the ‘Dreamer’ within each one of us. Yet, this is merely the beginning. With its thought-provoking discussions and exercises, the ILP is equally committed to equipping participants with practical skills in order to transform ‘Dreamers’ to true ‘Artists’, who are able to manifest their inner dreams in the outer world.
The ILP of WYSE reminds me of what Gandhi once famously said, ‘Be the Change you wish to see in the world’. This is a much-needed paradigm shift in human consciousness, especially in the world today that is filled with conflicts, misunderstandings and wars. The hatred of war and violence does not bring about peace, only love of peace does. Therefore, to create a balanced, peaceful and loving world, we must become a balanced, peaceful and loving individual first and foremost. Often we consider ourselves as insignificant, and see our efforts as mostly unrecognisable. Nevertheless, coming to WYSE, I was empowered to feel that we do have the ability to make positive contributions to the world, regardless how small or big they appear to be.
Also, I came alone to participate in 2013 ILP, but I left with a big WYSE family spread across the globe. It is a real pleasure to partake in this WYSE journey with participants of all colours, races and nationalities. This is true testimony to the unity of humanity, as we are able to transcend our differences by embracing diversity.
Of course, if you have ever met any member of the high-calibre WYSE mentors, it would be easy to understand why WYSE is such a unique and positive experience. The mentors have spent considerable time developing the program, ensuring that it is intellectually stimulating, mentally challenging and emotionally inspiring for participants. Their intelligence, professionalism and integrity are of the highest standard, and their friendliness, helpfulness and commitment are of the purest intention.
Indeed, each one of us is on a tailored journey of self-discovery, so my WYSE experience merely represents one version that is closest to my heart. I sincerely invite you, those who are drawn to read these words, to gift yourself a privileged opportunity of experiencing WYSE should you desire to find your own inner-leader that has always been a deep-seated aspect of your being. This is truly the best present I have ever given to myself.
Lastly, I will conclude with a quote from the great Sufi poet Rumi, which captures the essence of the process of metamorphosis that I have now embarked on:
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am Wise, so I am changing myself.”
Elva (Jing) Zhang