IH Catania have adapted their Discovering the Leader in You leadership course during over the past few months so that they could offer it online to protect the health of local students and to be able to continue welcoming international students, who may not be able to travel due to Covid19-regulations.
Previously, the course, designed by Palmina La Rosa, certified coach and Director of Giga International House in Catania, Sicily, was offered face-to-face to teenagers in an intensive, one-week format.
In June 2020, Giga IH Catania launched the new, redesigned programme and delivered two trial lessons. The response was very positive and the new format was a success. Students joined from various cities in Italy and from IH schools in other countries.
In this article, Palmina tells us more about the online experience of the course.
So what is the course about?
We believe that every teenager is a potential leader. The leadership programme allows them to tap into this potential in a positive environment, using engaging learning materials and a range of interactive tasks. The aim is to help students be better able to articulate and communicate their ideas, use body language and tone of voice effectively, build trust and empathise with others. Students will improve their ability to speak in all kinds of contexts, and to interact more effectively with the people around them.
Putting the feedback and experience from the trial lessons into action, the full course was tweaked and then offered fully online in September 2020 with students joining from International House schools in Italy (Pescara, Rome, Catania), Ukraine, Ecuador and France. The course took place over two weeks, giving students a day between each lesson to reflect and put into practice the new skills they had learned. In the online classroom, the students had time to share their ideas, experiences, and opinions, to explore various topics related to leadership and 21st century skills, and complete projects and games together in teams to put their leadership skills into practice.
The international online experience
Despite some initial difficulties and some trepidation, the perceived limitations of the online classroom turned into a wonderful opportunity for students to leave their comfort zone and interact with people from different countries and backgrounds, and collaborate in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Using a multitude of different online tools ensured variety and students were able to experiment in different scenarios and contexts: persuasion role plays, problem solving activities, playing a communication-based video game, creating a goal planner, and motivational activities – this all helped foster learning, creativity and, perhaps most importantly, companionship between the students almost from the get-go. Students from the course are actually still in touch and are planning to meet up in person as soon as the pandemic is over.
Here’s what some of the participants had to say after the experience:
“Sharing different points of views and ideas with students from Italy, thinking outside of the box and expressing my thoughts. It was a pleasant experience and I would love to do it again.” - Nika (17) - IH Jantar Split Croatia
“I really enjoyed speaking with ‘strangers’ because it hardens us and as time passes we will get used to talk with new people.” - Anna (16) - IH Kyiv
“It's a great opportunity to improve ourselves and our skills and to share our ideas, opinions and points of view. It's really motivating.” - From the anonymous end of course feedback
Looking towards the future
Giga IH Catania are working on the next course dates and are looking forward to sharing this experience and learning journey with many more students from around the globe, bringing together students from different backgrounds, especially during times of increased isolation due to the pandemic.
All students need is a computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet with a webcam and headphones. The course is for 14-to-17 year olds and students must have an upper intermediate level of English (B2) in order to be able to effectively participate.
For more information, visit https://www.gigact.com/discovering-leader-in-you/.