On 29th August 2013, three Year 14 pupils from Wellington College - Kalim Noor, Emma Jane Savage and Stephen McCombe - attended the 2013 Albert Schweitzer Annual Leadership for Life Course at the University of Maynooth. This prestigious course involved fifty students from Belfast schools, along with 300 other pupils from all around the globe, including the USA, India, Palestine and the Republic of Ireland.

Each daily session began with a morning talk in the University lecture theatre by successful businessmen and woman who had achieved executive leadership positions. Following the lecture, we would go in to our groups of twelve to discuss what qualities a leader possesses in order to make them an effective leader. It was interesting to note how varied the perception of a good leader can be, with examples of good leaders ranging from Ghandi to Muhammad Ali to Che Guevara. We determined how and why such leaders were effective and how their abilities enabled them to stand out. Similarly we were asked to consider how we might rise to a position of leadership.

The evening activities ranged from sport to quizzes to talent shows. During the talent show we were graced with a multicultural performance by 50 acts, with performers from Palestine, India and Northern Ireland, all carrying out acts such as singing, dancing, drama and even one dramatic book reading. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, as I am sure it will be a while before I get to witness the native dance of the Palestinians again.

During the second half of the week we began to practice different leadership styles - passive, assertive, and aggressive - within our groups. We were then given opportunities to utilise these styles in team building and creative exercises. We also began to develop our leadership vision for the future and what we planned to do with the skills we had developed.

On the last night we had a gala dinner which was spent celebrating the events of the week. From each country there came a speaker who addressed the crowd, followed by a three course meal and live band. I thoroughly enjoyed my week at the 2013 Albert Schweitzer leadership for life course, as it helped to develop skills in order to better myself and those around. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.”

Stephen McCombe (Year 14)