Student Global Leadership Institute

Sabrina Mellinghoff and Chloe Slater

Through the generous support of the Bronxville Foundation, two juniors and one faculty member participated in the Student Global Leadership Institute founded at the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii held in July.  The two-week experience is aimed at developing an international group of student leaders who discuss shared challenges and work toward positive social change. This year, 75 students from nearly 15 countries explored the theme of moral courage and what that looks like around the world.  The institute builds the skills of leadership, collaboration, multicultural perspectives, and empathy, which are aligned with the Bronxville Promise. Upon their return from the two-week intensive, students participate in a local project exhibiting moral courage that spans the entire senior year. 

The following article was written by Sabrina Mellinghoff and Chloe Slater, who participated in the Student Global Leadership Institute this summer. We look forward to Bronxville continuing to participate in this exciting opportunity.

We stood there together, about to give a presentation like we so often do in Bronxville, but this time to an audience of students from twenty-six different schools in eleven different countries. It was the culmination of our work done at the Student Global Institute in Honolulu, a program that stretched over two weeks in mid-July, where we were incredibly grateful to represent Bronxville in its first year as part of the summit.

SGLI was founded by the Punahou School in 2010 with the intent of promoting leadership and engaged citizenship worldwide. Every summer for the last nine years, the institute chooses a theme addressing a prominent world issue, such as the environment, economics, or ethics. This past summer’s theme was “Moral Courage”, the power of following one’s own ethical compass despite the risk of adverse consequences. 

Over this two week period, seventy-five students from countries ranging from China to Denmark to India to New Zealand were hosted at the K-12 Punahou School. As Hawaii’s first school, Punahou has also remained the most prestigious, with its most famous graduate being Barack Obama. The school has over 500 athletic state titles to its name and was recently ranked the greenest school in the US. Its sprawling 76-acre campus features a snorkeling pool, pottery room, and recording studio. The University of Hawaii housed all of the SGLI participants and faculty. Our roommates, including a globally-ranked Model UN student from India and a baton twirler on the Japanese national team, were purposefully chosen to be from places far from our own home so as to broaden our horizons to their varying customs and experiences. Dorming with peers from around the world allowed us to notice global similarities and differences firsthand, from our hobbies to our school uniforms (or lack thereof) to what apps we had on our phones. Each morning we took a pleasant 15-minute walk with our new friends from the university dorms to the Punahou School. 

The first week of this year’s program focused on understanding the different meanings of leadership, ethics, and moral courage among a diverse group of people and cultures, as well as noticing the commonalities. To help us accomplish this, the institute hosted a series of discussions, workshops, and talks by incredible speakers, among them the former Attorney General of Hawaii, Doug Chin. Mr. Chin shared with us what it was like to vanguard the state of Hawaii in suing President Donald Trump for his travel ban in 2017. His speech about finding his own moral courage in such a vulnerable position was candid and inspiring.

Taking advantage of the program’s location and the island’s rich culture, the institute also took us on a number of field trips in the second week. Highlights included exploring Queen Iolani’s historic palace and working in the sacred taro fields. We also had the chance to visit Pearl Harbor, surf at Waikiki Beach, and snorkel in Hanauma Bay. The goal of the second week was for each school group to develop their own social-action projects relating to moral courage. Guided by a diverse network of mentors, including Punahou faculty, nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs, we were able to outline a service project to bring back to our home communities and implement during our senior year. 

Learning how to establish healthy and consensual relationships is an important lifelong skill, fundamental to being a thoughtful and productive member of any community. ”

Finally, on the last day of the program, we stood proudly in front of seventy-five of our peers and new friends to share the culmination of our work in a presentation outlining the project we hoped to implement in Bronxville. Our goal was, and remains, to create a series of assemblies with keynote speakers, workshops, and breakout groups educating the high school community about inclusive sexual ethics, consent, and healthy relationships. These topics were chosen because learning how to establish healthy and consensual relationships is an important lifelong skill, fundamental to being a thoughtful and productive member of any community. 

We’re all responsible for contributing to the Bronxville community in an inclusive and expansive way. ”

Now having returned to Bronxville, we are so appreciative of the global family SGLI gave us, with teachings and relationships that will extend long beyond our two weeks in Hawaii. The conversations the program fostered challenged us to re-evaluate our perspectives on moral courage, global issues, and service. From SGLI we learned that the community we deserve is the one we help build. We’re all responsible for contributing to the Bronxville community in an inclusive and expansive way.