Tomorrow’s Leaders Conference: A student ambassador reflects

POEM: SandBox

As a child I have seen many things; I have seen
the elder man and woman kneel and press the lips on
the deserting ground – never knowing why,
I have seen the lads in tracksuit bottoms and hoodies,
armed in spray paints, pull down the fence – still
not knowing why. Then the girl at the edge of the cliff,
ready to crash the gentle waters. Being only a boy
I feared water’s limited mercy and her wrath, its gravity.

I have heard my teacher once clear her throat
then mumbles up words; being a high school student
I was just hungry, I remember she said;
If you win, I win, if you lose, I lose…’ to this day
I have hunted the meaning down. Only now
Has it all revealed itself, like a treasure casket
of a thousand memories and dreams once forgotten.

Hereby I stand once more before you, as my knees
knock each other like drum sticks,
though terrified of the microphones; my only wish is to Thank You.

– Herbert Innocent

FreshersFrontS_SquareI wrote the above poem, ‘SandBox’, while attending the Tomorrow’s Leaders Conference in Trinity in June 2014.

I wrote the poem having learned the meaning of being independent and responsible within society. I have a duty and it’s a duty to the society in which I choose to live and share common values. I therefore have a responsibility to my brothers and sisters: it is the responsibility to be the best me I can be.

The week was filled with so much energy and enthusiasm and motivation that by the end of the conference, it felt natural to continue what we started in the conference, to share the knowledge, the challenges and to realise in the end that no one person has the book that offers the answers to the mysteries of life, no one person knows it all. We learn by challenging ourselves until we fail, learn from our failures, realise that we are all human. We can hope and try to shape ourselves righteously and, in the process, shape our society.

In my humble opinion being a leader is not about leading other people, for no one person knows where they are going, not to mention which road to take. To be a leader is to lead yourself though all the challenges that life has to offer you and inspire others to follow their path as you followed yours.

If we are to overcome everyday conflicts, then leadership is paramount especially during troubled times. Working together itself isn’t enough; if we are to thrive, we must explore creative solutions to resolve conflict.

Thus leadership isn’t only about leading; it’s about finding a new method that works better. As the great Irish poet Eavan Boland said, we need ‘a new language’.

President Higgins, who spoke at the conference, said: “Leadership is about leading out of what is inauthentic towards what is the promise of what might flourish for all beyond conflict. Breaking away into new, original, emancipatory thought is not easy, it requires work, endurance, solidarity, even sacrifice.”

I went to the conference, not knowing what to expect. But I walked out with inspiration, friendship and memories.

Herbert is one of Trinity’s student ambassadors, and attended the Tomorrow’s Leaders Conference in June 2014.

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