More than 245 of Canada’s most promising student leaders are in Kelowna this weekend for the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership.
The three-day conference—hosted by UBCO—began Thursday and runs until this evening at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort and Conference Centre. It is open to undergraduate students, graduate students and university faculty and staff.
John Buck, associate dean of students at Webster University in St. Louis, is one of four main speakers at the event. He told students there are four keys to leadership Saturday morning.
First, he said, leadership is a function of choices, not of circumstances.
He told the story of an international student he knew at Webster University who was struggling to speak English after coming to St. Louis from Japan.
Rather than complain about the difficult circumstance, the student took up an offer from a Minnesotan at the university who taught her to speak with a Minnesotan accent.
The second trait of a good leader is to act in surprising and courageous ways, he said.
The room erupted in laughter as Buck told an anecdote about potty training his son.
One day, while Buck was folding laundry, he overheard his son crying while sitting on the toilet. Buck’s wife went to check what was wrong and the boy said, “My penis is broken, nothing is coming out.”
Then, Buck explained, his wife showcased the characteristic of a surprising leader by saying, “That’s OK, sometimes daddy’s doesn’t work either.”
Buck said he followed up with the trait of a courageous leader by admitting to his son, “Mommy’s right.”
“There are times we are going to default very easily to the predictable things, because we’re most familiar and comfortable with those. But there are times when it is necessary (to act) at a surprising level,” Buck told the students.
“Sometimes it’s important to act in a courageous way. Usually acting in a courageous way means that there may be a cost to you.”
According to Buck, the other keys to being a good leader are focusing on relationships and committing to inclusion.
“Those are four things that I think are absolutely essential for any student leader to be effective on any college campus, anywhere on the planet.”
Other keynote speakers include former Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden, War Child Canada founder Dr. Samantha Nutt and inspirational speaker Blake Fleischacker.
“I see this conference as an important piece of student learning and we are excited to host it,” said senior psychology student and event co-organizer, Guillermo Angel.
The 2013 CCSL is the first to ever be held in B.C.