I received a call early last semester from a close friend recommending I participate in LiNK’s Young Leaders Program. Although my life was quite hectic since it was my first semester in college, I did not hesitate to join the program because I knew it would be an opportunity to meet a lot of great people. I figured that if the other fellows were also dedicated to learning and growing despite their busy college lives, I would surely learn a lot from them.
So far, the best thing about the Young Leaders Program is the in-depth discussions on tough topics like “empathy” or “failure,” since I can tend to become absorbed by my day-to-day tasks and not think about these things in my normal life. The recent discussion we had on empathy really made me think carefully. I have always wondered if I would be able to fully relate to people with completely different backgrounds and experiences to my own, but I realized I could after another fellow taught me that empathy requires not just listening to what others are saying, but using your eyes, heart, and body to put yourself in their shoes and think from another’s perspective.
Although I still have a long way to go until I complete the Young Leaders Program, I have changed in many ways over the past two months. I used to be stubborn about my opinions, thinking my beliefs were the only right ones, which sometimes caused friction during group projects. It was not easy at first to reach a consensus on the topic we wanted to work on because everyone had different preferences. Eventually, we decided to work on three different topics, spending an equal amount of time on each. However, I didn’t easily accept that idea because I believed that it would be more reasonable to focus on one project in order to come up with the best result. Seeing the three projects going well now proved how arrogant I had been. I am very grateful for my group members’ understanding, but I am also sorry for thinking and behaving in a way that I now regret.
Every bi-weekly session that I go to is full of joy. I am always excited to see my friends there and to learn new things from our lecturers and guest speakers. As of now, I have about three months left until the end of the program. I look forward to seeing how much I will have changed and grown three months from now.
‐ Rae Hyung