A young man with an exciting summer story to share
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Sep 11, 2013
No matter the age or grade level, upon return to school one of the hottest topics to start the new school year is undoubtedly the discussion on how students spent their summer vacation. For most, it was a trip to an amusement park or shopping, then relaxation, but for one young man, the summer break gave him the opportunity to take advantage of the chance to develop his leadership skills.
Lyford Cay International School eleventh grade student Sean-Ryan Thomas was a participant in the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC), a nonpartisan leadership development program that brought together outstanding young people from around the world to help them build critical leadership skills in a global context in Europe.
The Eastern European adventure that allowed 15-year-old Sean-Ryan to explore international career options, expand his global thinking and embrace the global leadership styles that are in high demand from colleges and employers, took him to Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany.
Sean-Ryan was selected based on recommendations from his teachers and counselors due to his scholastic merit and demonstrated leadership ability.
“Having seminars and lectures given by diplomats, humanitarians and other world leaders was the highlight of the GYLC,” said Sean-Ryan.
During his visit to the Austrian parliament, young Sean-Ryan asked three Austrian leaders about steps taken globally and locally to achieve zero infant mortality by 2015.
He was also able to exchange ides with his peers and some of the world’s top business leaders, policy analysts, lobbyists, journalists, diplomats and academics, many of whom shared about the sacrifices they made, their life journeys and what the participants should expect when they take on leadership roles.
Sean-Ryan and his cohorts also learned about decision-making, values, goal-setting and how to create a balance between professional and personal life.
The young man, who aspires to become a neonatologist and pediatrician like his father, Dr. Carlos Thomas, was the lone Bahamian representative at the European event. He said he did his best to not only represent The Bahamas, but his own interest in neonatology and his desire to see no child die from illnesses such as heart disease.
The Lyford Cay International School eleventh-grade student also attended a presentation on drugs and crime with a focus on the Caribbean. He said it was interesting to have an international organization objectively make a presentation on what was occurring in his region. Sean-Ryan said it encouraged him to be more open-minded on ways to successfully tackle issues such as crime and drugs.
During another presentation on the European Union, the Lyford Cay International School student said he was able to have presenters expand on their communications and determine how the information shared could be useful in the Bahamian society.
“I have become more empathetic and open-minded in my awareness of customs and cultures around the world,” said Sean-Ryan. “At the Global Young Leaders Conference, one does not only learn how to be a political leader, one learns how to apply leadership skills in all aspects of life,” he said.
The European experience allowed him to receive a certificate of merit that can be included on his resume. He also obtained two college level credits from George Mason University.
Back in the classroom after one of his most exciting summers ever, the honor roll student said the experience will help him to be more focused in his studies and be able to approach them in a more global-thinking manner.
Sean-Ryan also participated in tours that highlighted art, music, culture and history while showing policies and laws that were in place to preserve structures. And he was lucky to be able to walk on both sides of the Berlin Wall as a part of his journey through history. After attending GYLC, he has become more appreciative and open-minded in his awareness of other customs and cultures around the world.
“I had an incredible experience,” said Sean-Ryan. “I now have a greater appreciation and respect for different religious beliefs. I have an appreciation for European architecture, the arts. It was a multicultural experience,” he said.
To his peers who are interested in GYLC, Sean-Ryan said he recommends that they be focused in school, set goals and work towards achieving those goals.
“GYLC is a program I would recommend to any student who desires to see the world, be a part of discussions of global importance, have the opportunity to meet world leaders and have a multicultural experience,” he said.
And he is indeed a leader. During the previous school year, Sean-Ryan and his sister, Channing, showed their altruistic spirit when they shared the monies they earned from the sale of gumballs to the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation to help improve the lives of other children. Their effort demonstrated to their peers and adults alike that no amount is ever too small to repair a heart.
He even encourages his peers to donate $5 to assist a child with heart problems.
Young Sean-Ryan, who lives up to the guiding values fostered by his school, says he always aspires to be caring, open-minded, inquiring, a risk-taker and principled. And he says his foundation and support comes from God, his parents Dr. Carlos and Loretta Thomas, and his sisters Channing and Courtney.
“It is important to be a team player while exhibiting leadership, skills, fairness and honesty,” said Sean-Ryan.
The Lyford Cay student was given months to prepare himself for his European summer jaunt after being accepted into the program, as he had to adhere to formal dress codes and had rules that he had to uphold.