Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Former president of Poland encourages student leaders to make a difference

by Acor Arceo

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Student leaders not just here but all over the world must speak up and fight for their ideas, said Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former president of Poland.

Kwaśniewski, president of Poland from 1995-2005, spoke to student leaders from different Philippine universities during the 2nd Ateneo MVP Center Annual Leadership Forum on July 3. The forum was held at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Henry Lee Irwin Theater.

“The [forum] is an opportunity for students [to] listen to, and learn, valuable lessons from international leaders in different fields,” said Ateneo Board of Trustees Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, whose foundation, the PLDT-Smart Foundation, sponsored the event. “This reflects our optimism and faith in the youth.”

Kwaśniewski said that student leaders have great potential to initiate change through their organizations.

“[Student organizations are] the voice of the new generation. For the government, it is very important to speak to student organizations, like parents talking to children. [It’s] necessary to hear about what they say,” he said.

Kwaśniewski, who was a former student activist and journalist, also gave advice on how to be effective student leaders.

Clark Cue, president of the Council of Organizations of the Ateneo (COA), particularly liked Kwaśniewski’s insight on handling leadership issues in the workplace.

“What really got my attention was his answer to the question on how to practice good leadership even when the people around you don’t see things the way you do,” Cue said in a mix of English and Filipino. “He said that you really can’t impress everyone but you have to continue doing your job. I can apply that to my being in COA.”

Karl Satinitigan, president of the Sanggunian, Ateneo’s student council, also said that Kwaśniewski’s talk reinforced his opinion of dialogue.

“He affirmed how conflict need not be inevitable if only the participants are committed. No paradigm shift there but it’s a fitting reminder as to how we can improve mechanisms for conflict management in school.”

No comments: