Servant Leadership Development for College Students
Therapy for low trust cultures
By Cheryl Broetje
In 1990, Vaclav Havel, dissident and prisoner, who then became president of a new Czechoslovakia after the departure of the Soviet regime, spoke to the U.S congress. He said that their country had much to learn from the U.S about democracy, education, economics….but he believed that we also could learn from their experiences. “…when you are pinned under a boulder and cannot move, you have more time to think about your hopes for the future than someone who is not trapped that way.”
He had come to believe that…“consciousness precedes being. The salvation of the human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and in human responsibility. Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed…be it ecological, social, demographic, or a general break-down of civilization….will be unavoidable.
July 9 and 10th a cohort of college students from former Soviet bloc countries of Kazakhstan and Ukraine, along with their S-L teachers and advisors with Co-Serve International visited Tierra Vida, Vista Hermosa and Jubilee Leadership Academy. They were in the U.S to peek in on communities of practice who are trying to teach and model servant-leadership values and principles around shared, community- based leadership. They are trying to unlearn values of the old leadership style there which were based on power, competition, control, order, pressure…..and substitute more life-promoting values such as respect, trust, love, friendship, service, and the use of relational power.
Such values represent ‘spiritual capital’, which lead to a growth in ‘social capital’, which leads to advancement towards the vision and mission of organizations of all types, which in turn fosters a more robust economy, and healthier societies in general. But believing that you truly have the power to change things, and learning to trust others in that process, is hard in a societies that were fear and scarcity-based for so many years.
Several of the students, when asked why they wanted to connect with Co-Serve, said that they want to change their communities. One student mentioned that in her country there are absolutely no animal rights, for example. She wants to change mind-sets there and advocate for changes in policy. We shared with the class a study that had just come out in the U.S actually rating our politicians on how well they were supporting animal rights policies in our country. A senator from Washington state received a ‘zero’ score!
We in Western countries have much to learn from these emerging young leaders-and we, as world citizens, need to be most grateful for those who do the work of preparing them to serve and lead, on behalf of us all.
Please see the gallery below for some photos of the students during their time here: