Royal Bank of Canada, initiators of the RBC Young Leaders, hosted its annual Young Leaders Awards for 2014. Secondary school students, who are members of the group in their respective schools, were honored for their participation in the Young Leaders program. A specific theme is chosen each year, and students are tasked with an interpretation that incorporates a community project.
Champions for the past two consecutive years, Choiseul Secondary School, made it a hat trick of titles as they successfully defended their honor again this year. I spoke to Miss Fera Descartes, teacher in charge of the group and two of the students, Nelcia Charlemagne and Camiki Albert, on their project and their most recent success.
First of all, what exactly is RBC Young Leaders and share some insight on the project initiative?
FD: Young Leaders is a program sponsored by RBC and it promotes the development of leadership skills in young people. So for the group, you would have an executive, with different positions like all other organized groups such as president, vice-president, PRO, treasurer and so on.
The students participate in the project, and they are the ones who come up with the ideas, and actually put them to work. In so doing, the leadership qualities in these students emerge and they are developed as individuals in the various positions that they hold in the group.
The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Diversity: the 21st century imperative,’ and this year’s group looked at linguistic diversity. They focused on trying to maintain the diverse linguistic situation that we have, where in Saint Lucia we are blessed with two languages, namely English and Creole.
And so to keep creole alive and ensure that everybody, the future generations are part of that diversity, the students created a creole syllabus. But of course it’s a lot of work, so [it could] not have been done for all the grades in the school system so they focused on grade three, and they went to the schools to tryout and teach lessons from that syllabus.
At the end of the year, they are presented with a theme and at the end of the project they do a report of what went on during the year and that report is submitted for judging.
Give us some insight on the RBC Choiseul Secondary Young Leaders.
NC: The Choiseul Secondary School Young Leaders is a group of students of form three and four. We are a vibrant and energetic set of young people who love working with each other. Being part of the group, we are taught different leadership and life skills, which help us develop as individuals and young leaders.
How did you interpret the theme for this year’s project?
CA: Diversity is a broad heading. We chose culture and the aspect of language, which breaks down to linguistic diversity in culture.
On the whole, we realized that there are a number of Saint Lucians who do not know the creole language. So we decided to teach primary school students the creole language, mainly because people learn things much quicker at that stage in their lives.
Which schools did you conduct your work at?
CA: Because of the size of the Choiseul community, we chose three primary schools within the area: Piaye Combined School, Riviere Doree Anglican Combined School and Reunion Primary School.
Did you have to actually teach the students or were you charged with making presentations?
NC: Each school was taught a different lesson; at one school we focused on colours, at another they were taught the different parts of the human body, and at the third school the students were taught how to introduce themselves and have conversation.
How were you judged after completing your initiatives?
NC: For the program we were required to create a written report on everything that was done.
What was the most fun aspect of working with the primary school students?
CA: The most fun aspect was the interaction with the students.
NC: For me it was also the interaction especially the way that the students pronounced certain words; we had a good time with them.
What was the most challenging aspect for you?
CA: I wouldn’t say that it contained a challenge, it was really a good and fun experience.
NC: For me it wasn’t a challenge because what we were teaching them I already knew, and it wasn’t difficult for them because the students already speak creole.
What is the recipe for Choiseul’s continued success?
FD: I think it takes a lot of commitment, dedication, hard work and sacrifice.
It requires a lot of brain-storming, overcoming challenges, not allowing them to be setbacks but allowing them to serve as lessons to move on. So it really takes a lot of perseverance.