CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State's Global Engagement and Leadership Experience (GELE) connects U.S. and international students to discuss global leadership. During this two-day event, held Nov. 1-3 at the Normandy Farms Conference Center in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, the students came together to engage in serious discussions, participate in engaging activities and run through practical simulations.
To attend, students go through an application process. There were only 20 students selected, and nine of those 20 were from Penn State Lehigh Valley, with additional students from Penn State's Abington, Berks, Brandywine, Hazleton, Schuylkill, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre campuses in attendance. Sahira Mughal, a senior biobehavioral health major at Penn State Lehigh Valley, shared her experience at GELE.
How did you learn about and attend the event?
I received an email from my student affairs director (Tom Dubruiel). I was interested in the event because after talking to some of my friends, I realized I was the only one who did receive the email. After talking to a few faculty members that said I would be a good candidate, I decided to apply.
What did you learn while you were there?
While I was there I was able to learn a lot on the importance of diversity, and the importance of global leadership. As leaders we need to reflect the fact that leaders must contend with a changing world in which global practices abound. We conducted various presentations, games, and meetings in which we explored skills that a global leader should have. Global leaders need to have an ability to appreciate people’s unique characteristics, since negative stereotypes can be a major obstacle to global leadership. Effective leaders must therefore avoid rigid preconceptions about groups of people.
What did you like best about the event?
My favorite part was about the cultural showcase event. In this event, I was able to interact with students from other Penn State campuses that now I am close to and would consider best friends. This event was about inclusivity of everyone, and why someone or many individuals need to step up and become leaders. In the showcase people from different cultures showed off a dance, song, food, presentation, etc. — something about them that made them feel proud to be from that culture.
Would you recommend it to other students and why?
I would definitely recommend this event to other students because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The knowledge that I gained from this event was more than I was expecting. Every organization would benefit from quickly beginning to define the style they are looking for in their future leaders. This was an important conference to attend because while anyone can become a global leader, only the effective global leaders of tomorrow will be identified today.