International Leadership for Social Impact (ILSI) is a unique four week program that teaches the skills for a career in global leadership. There is so much more to the program than just the academic portion of it! Michelle is a counselor at the program and highlights 10 of the best parts of the program.
1. College Life. Live like a college student on one of America’s most beautiful, historic campuses. Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1749, the University of Pennsylvania boasts not only gorgeous architecture and walkways like Locust Walk, but also features wonderful resources like its excellent museums and libraries. You’ll have a lovely campus to call home for a whole month while you live with the independence of a college undergraduate. (And yes, this does mean you’ll have to do your own laundry!)
2. Explore the East Coast. Explore not only one historic, metropolitan city on the East Coast, but three. While you’ll be living in Philly and spending most of your time there, you will also be going to New York City and Washington, D.C., two other beautiful locations that you will get two opportunities to visit, each!
3. Weekend Activities. Play tennis with professional coaches, go shopping in America’s biggest mall, and swim at the Jersey Shore. These are just a few of the fun things you’ll get to do over the weekends! Whether you’re in class, on campus, or even out of Pennsylvania, we make sure that there’s never a dull moment here at JKCP.
4. Amazing Food. Eat interesting food you’ve never tried (or even heard of!) before. Every Friday, we bring students to a cool restaurant with cuisine that they’ve likely never eaten-- personally, my favorite has always been the delicious Burmese restaurant we go to, but I always love learning about the culture and history of the other cuisines we try!
5. Independence Day. Watch the fireworks show after dancing with your friends after eating at the camp-wide barbecue after visiting Independence Hall, all on the 4th of July. What better place to celebrate America’s independence than in Philadelphia, the heart of Revolutionary America? Here at JKCP, we go all out for this holiday! For American and international students alike, this 4th of July, that begins with exploring Old Philadelphia and ends in watching a beautiful fireworks show with your friends, is truly one to remember.
6. Interactive Academic Experiences. Speak with and learn from university professors, activists, CEOs, and representatives of international organizations. Each week features at least one guest speaker-- sometimes a professor who gives a guest lecture on the complexities of Middle Eastern conflicts, an activist who explains the methods of community leadership for young adults, or an executive director of a legal think tank who answers the confusing questions about international law. We also bring you to New York City and D.C., where we’ll meet representatives of the United Nations and other international bodies, visit the headquarters of an NGO that’s working in 135 countries, and learn social media marketing strategies directly from a Twitter representative, at the Twitter office!
7. Hands-on Learning. Learn about what it takes to lead a successful organization. Through the Invisible Issues NGO project, you’ll be working in a team with other students to research a human rights issue, develop a strategic plan to address it, hash out your different roles and responsibilities, write a grant application, and present to a panel of judges for the chance to win $500 to put toward your cause.
8. NGO Project. Create a non-profit organization for a topic that you’ll become an expert about. From building bridges in rural India to assisting with girls’ education in Nepal to addressing the water crisis in Yemen to battling mental health discrimination in Indonesia, and much, much more, ILSI students do a lot of remarkable work in raising the awareness of human rights issues to the whole Penn campus. Learn more about the NGO project here.
9. Learn New Skills. Broaden your horizons and discover skills you didn’t know you had. Are you terrified of public speaking? Have you ever written a professional grant application? Have you ever spent 6 hours in one day, just doing research? Do you know what counts as Western business attire and how to present in front of a whole room? Are you used to working on projects alone? Or are you used to getting lots of help from others? Do you know what an elevator pitch is, and how to give one? Whether you’ve never done any of these things, or you think you’ve already mastered them all, ILSI will teach you a lot this summer-- not just about international issues and leadership, but also about your own potential as a young activist, speaker, businessperson, researcher, and leader.
10. Friends for a Lifetime. Meet some of the best people you’ll know for the rest of your life. I’ve met some of my favorite people ever through this program, students and staff alike. You’re going to be spending lots of time with other motivated, engaged students in class, sometimes in competition and sometimes in collaboration. You’ll also hang out with people from other Penn programs outside of class. Between getting breakfast together, going to the beach together, commiserating over classwork together, shopping at the mall together, and playing volleyball together, you’re going to connect with your peers more than you’d ever expect from walking in that first day. And you won’t believe it now, but trust me: every summer, the last day is a tear-filled, emotional mess as we wave goodbye to-- and promise to reconnect with-- our ILSI family.
These are only ten of all the things I could tell you about our program, and I haven’t even mentioned the food truck with the best burritos, the prettiest Instagram spots around the city, or our amazing instructor who organized this program. Every year, ILSI is the best part of my summer, and I’d love for you to experience it too. So what are you waiting for? Apply today for the International Leadership and Social Impact program here at the University of Pennsylvania-- to learn new skills, visit cool places, and make some of the best memories of your life. I look forward to meeting you next summer!