I believe that the GSL ("Global Social Leaders") trip was a truly unique experience. I got to make new friends and explore how leadership works best for me. The whole of the trip challenged us year 9's to step up as a leader at the most unexpected times.
Day 1 was an informative day for all of us. We got introduced to our coaching teams and met all of the Future Foundation coaches. We had a lovely briefing about the rest of the day from Mary. We also had to guess what fact matched who! It was helpful knowing a bit more about all of the coaches as it helped to understand them as a person. After the briefing, we were lead outside to meet our teams and get to know each other more. In each teams, there was around 18 year 7's and 8's with 1 Future Foundation coach and 1 Year 9 Townley Ambassador. Day 1 was mainly about getting to know each other and understanding what leadership is about. During the day, we had plenty of breaks and lots of food to keep us going.
After the sessions ended, we were all sent out to the front of the school to organise who went to what boarding house. There were 3 houses, Cotlake, Hutton and Schoolhouse. Being part of the TGS Ambassadors, we helped with getting everyone to stay quiet while the teachers sorted everything out.
Once everyone was settled in, there was an unexpected fire alarm drill where everyone had to go outside with pyjamas and towels still in their heads. Everyone got out safely and quickly as it was a practice drill.
Around 10 pm, all 8 of us were sent out to do rounds where each pair goes on a floor to make sure that everyone was settled in and getting ready to go to bed. This helped us in terms of leadership as we felt trusted to go and check on the younger years.
In the morning, we had a choice of choosing between 3 kick starters staring at 6.45am. The 3 being swimming, yoga or mindfulness. Some of us could also choose to have a lay in as long as we got to the canteen by 8am to have breakfast.
Day 2 was a generally busy day for the ambassadors. For the first session, each team had to get each other across a certain distance only on 8 foam mats. The catch was that we were not allowed to slide or fall off or we would have had to start again. We also had to get 1 person across blindfolded and another holding an egg on a spoon. It was quite tricky to get started but once each team decided their tactic, they were fast. We were given the role to lead the group as our coaches or teachers couldn’t help us.
After the session, the ambassadors were called aside to organise the GSL Talent Show. We had to start from scratch which included finding acts, organising orders and setting a show. We also had a time limit. After a gruelling 8 hours of planning, we got the Talent Show sorted with lots of talent. Many students said they enjoyed the show and we can all say it was successful and everyone went to bed very tired.
We did not have any kick starters for day 3 as we had to leave early as we were leaving to go to the Eden Project. After a long 2 hour drive we arrived to a warm welcome and a truly beautiful greenhouse.
We had a very interesting talk by Alex Bell about our purpose and an inspiring talk from Chris Hines on his own journey of setting up an action group about cleaning up the beaches in the area "Surfers Against Sewage". I think all of us felt refreshed and buzzing on how to find out what in life. One of the most important things I learnt from there was that you are never too young to find what you are meant to do in life.
During the tour of Eden, we all got very hot and sweaty as the temperatures went up to 47 degrees. However, it was very inspiring as in each biome, has climates where plants can grow even in cold England. It made us think that we can really achieve anything if we really put our mind to it.
For us, the day was mainly about making sure no one got left behind and that everyone was together.
We arrived back to Queens Collage at around 7pm where we had dinner and had free time before everyone had to go to bed and we did our rounds.
On the last morning, the kick starters were back on with breakfast starting at 8am. Each day we had a morning plenary where we got motivational talks by Mary to really start our day.
The whole morning, the year 7s and 8s were planning their Project for Dragons Den. We went around and helped our own teams to prepare their pitch to present to the judges. There were 3 judges who would judge a group of students who would then move to the final round. The ambassadors also split into 3 pairs to help with the mini judging and the final pair helping to judge the final round.
Once there were 3 final pitches selected, the judges had to select one project to go through with. All the judges said that it was really hard to choose.
After the Dragons Den, we had a closing plenary where us ambassadors were given the honour to say or thanks to the GSL team, the Queens college team and the TG team. There were parting gifts and a few tears exchanged.
At around 5pm we were on the coach on our way back to Bexleyheath.
Some of the other Year 9 ambassadors said;
I really liked the lessons they were teaching and the mottos they were using for example “good is the enemy of great”, and, “we are all puzzle pieces that are part of the bigger picture” Giovanna
"Even if you think you don’t have much of the say, the tiniest thing that you do can have a massive effect. It’s like a ripple in the ocean the smallest droplet can set off an effect. We also enjoyed that we got to engage with the other year groups which would not normally have happened and we have formed great friendships with the years 7 & 8. Having communication with the Future Foundation coaches and developing a sense of community and friendship with the staff leaders really empowered us to develop our own leadership skills." Sidney
I honestly believe that this was such a unique trip and I learnt such an immense amount that I didn’t even realise I could have. I also think this was very beneficial as I was able to practice my leadership skills and test them out in a real-life situation. It was also such a great way to make new friends while connecting with others more. I feel blessed to have been selected and would do this trip again in a heartbeat.
Sadia, GSL Amabassador