Every spring, 150 students from across Europe attend the International Student Leadership Institute im Oberwesel, Germany, for an experience of a lifetime.
To attend the institute, 75 students from academic high schools throughout Europe and the 75 Department of Defense Dependents Schools students endured the admissions process, which included either winning a language or essay competition and/or receiving a teacher reccomendation.
The six-day experiment is based on a book written especially for the institute by Dr. Robert Woyach, who is a professor at Ohio State University. Just like the book, the institue teaches students the many aspects of leadership and the qualities needed to become a leader. Student regents, elected the previous year, teach and present these different areas of leadership through PowerPoint presentations.
After attending a presentation in each field, students return to their assigned groups that are made up of about 16 students. The students are then asked to create a skit, interpretive dance, a comic strip, a song, poster board or various other presentations and present them as a way to show they have indeed learned something from the PowerPoint presentations.
In addition to these lessons, students also attended a seminar hosted by Ramstein High School psychologist Dr. Terry Arbuckle. This year the topic discussed was, “Bioethics: when does the use of medical technology became harmful and unethical?”
In their groups, students created posters to help explain their stance on the issue.
Sydnie Reynolds, a junior at Ramstein High School, said the institute was the greatest educational experience of her life.
“However, it was not the missing school for a week that made (the institute) memorable, but rather the people and the lessons learned,” Sydnie said. “The experience was definitely an eye-opening one. I was in awe at how well the Europeans could speak and understand English, but after all, that is what got them to (the institute).”
Vanessa King from Bahrain High School agreed with Sydney and said the institute “was a truly amazing experience because it showed a group of future leaders how teamwork and leadership can work in any situation, with any culture present.”
“Everybody involved learned a great deal about other cultures that they may not have ever experienced before, be it German, Finnish or even Bahraini,” she said.