Educating future leaders

“A good leader is someone who relies on God and is guided by God.”

That was the message conveyed by Father Pelenato at the launch of the first Boys United in Leadership Development (B.U.I.L.D) Conference at St. Joseph’s College yesterday. 

The B.U.I.L.D conference is organized by a group of U.S Peace Corps Volunteers in collaboration with Siva Afi and UN Women. The three-day conference aims to develop leadership skills in boys from Years 7 and 8 from schools across Samoa. 

This year, 30 aspiring young leaders from all the different schools in Samoa are taking part in this learning programme. 

This conference is similar to the Girls Leading our World (G.L.O.W) conference which is also organized by the U.S Peace Corps focusing on nurturing the girls to become better leaders of tomorrow. 

Yesterday, at the opening ceremony three guest speakers addressed the audience and the participants highlighting the significance of such a programme. 

The first speaker was Trevor Sa’aga from the United Nations Development Programme. The second speaker was Tomasi Peni from the International Labor Organisation and the last speaker was Sherry Russell, the Country Manager of the Peace Corp in Samoa. 

Sherry Russell firstly thanked the organizers for making the B.U.I.L.D initiative a reality. 

“This is an opportunity for the aspiring leaders of Samoa to think about what they want to become in the future and how to achieve their dreams. 

“This is also the time for them to learn about the opportunities that are out there for them.”

Sherry also used the two famous Samoan celebrities, Sonny Bill Williams and Dwayne Johnson as examples to encourage the young participants to dream big. 

“Sonny Bill Williams did not dream to become a famous rugby player. His dream was to build a nice house for his mother. And he achieved this dream by working really hard and never giving up. 

“He was once a young boy like you. There were also times when he felt like giving up, but with the help of his coaches, friends and others, he was able to achieve his goals.” She also reminded the participants that “no one can build and achieve a dream alone.”

“There are people out there who are willing to help you achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.”

The 30 participants from 10 different schools across Savaii, Manono and Upolu are camping at St. Joseph’s College for this programme. 

The conference is focusing on the topics of “Success in School and Work, Ending Violence in Samoa and Healthy bodies, healthy minds.”

The workshops will cover entrepreneurship, academic opportunities, vocational and agricultural training, standing up to violence against women and girls, physical and mental health and Samoan tradition. 

The B.U.I.L.D’s mission steering committee president, William Sullivan said that the conference is a great chance for our students to build and learn about leadership skills. 

“This is an opportunity for them to build on the knowledge that they have, learn about the important opportunities and hear from successful speakers who can help them to make a difference in the lives of the people in their communities. 

“We are very grateful for all the support of our local counterparts in making this event a reality.”

The organizers are also hoping to have this programme as an annual event in Samoa. 

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