WEB EXCLUSIVE: GW to host leadership conference

GW will host the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership World Leadership Congress July 13-21, for the third time in four years.

This year’s conference, themed “Leadership and New Technologies in the 21st Century,” builds leadership skills in the areas of culture, science, service, government and business.

Three hundred high school sophomores selected from their regional HOBY Leadership Seminars will attend the eight-day conference, also held at GW in 1998 and 2000. Besides hosting students from every state, the WLC draws representatives from 20 countries.

“At HOBY, our primary purpose is to give high school sophomores the opportunity to discover their leadership potential and how to use their potential to become the leaders of tomorrow,” said O’Brian, who played Wyatt Earp on television in a press release. “We give them a hands-on opportunity to interact with today’s top movers and shakers in business, government, education, technology and other professions.”

This year’s speakers include Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.), Joe Patane from MTV’s The Real World Miami, professors, high-ranking military officers, CEOs and top executives including Vinton Cerf of Worldcom, the so-called “father of the internet.”

Past WLC speakers at GW include former Sec. of State Madeline Albright, Elizabeth Dole and Buzz Aldrin in 1998, and Rep. J.C. Watts and Sam Donaldson in 2000.

The conference will also feature discussions about leadership, science and technology, internet privacy, space exploration, e-commerce, international affairs, volunteerism, higher education, working women and journalism this year.

Graduate student Elizabeth Cox, 2000 and 2001 WLC program coordinator, attended the congress as a student in 1996. She said it is unusual for the program to be held at the same university two years in a row, but the HOBY executives liked GW and decided to come back.

The students, who stay in Thurston Hall, will attend a number of workshops and discussions led by the speakers and will visit D.C. landmarks. All the students also form a choir, a HOBY tradition since the organization was founded in 1958.

Cox said while many students have never sung before, “within a week they sound like angels.” The choir performs at the final banquet in front of family and supporters.

Cox reflected on her own experiences at WLC as an “ambassador” from California.

“I went in 1996, and I volunteered afterwards. I found that as a volunteer I get so much more, I get to meet 300 students from all over the world,” Cox said. “When you attend, you’re meeting with so many future leaders.”

Cox said the students have “high power, high energy, high motivation.” Activities are scheduled from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

“They go home exhausted but wake up the next day and feel great,” Cox said.

The congress will be Web cast at hobywlc2001.org.

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