Building Future Leaders Today

Notes from Attendees

Symone Gray
Junior, Wyoming High School
LLC Conferee of the Year

The Rotary District 6290 Life Leadership Conference was one of the most influential events that I have participated in this year. My friends and I spent weeks afterward quoting, reviewing, and discussing a lot of the points and ideas that were made and how to apply the skills into real life application. It has made me feel more confident about my leadership abilities, but it also has made it possible for me to see the room for improvement and leadership in the programs and things I'm involved with. 
LLC speaker Molly Kennedy was one of the most influential speakers for me next to that of Howard Oesterling, former Director of LLC. Molly helped me to see that in the times where I feel isolated and alone in my struggles, that I truly have people around me always that understand.  Though each of our life experiences are unique,  there are people out there with wisdom that can be shared to help bring me out or someone else out of the place they are in. 
Howard Oesterling's messages helped me to really reflect on my own school program and how it focuses on not leaving someone out and helping people to find a place. It is so important to help everyone know their value as a person, and all it takes is kindness and being brave enough to put yourself out there.  
The Dangerous Parallel world conflict role play was my favorite activity, because it really helped to push myself out of my comfort zone around other conferees I hadn't had the chance of meeting prior for the most part. It helped me to realistically demonstrate my skills as a leader in my role as foreign minister and observe the skills I had learned in action which is something everyone should be able to experience.
What can I do with what I have learned?  I want to start by helping step up definitely with the incoming freshmen and sophomores at Wyoming High School. Being able to just help make people feel welcome and comfortable in a new setting is important, but not only that, stepping up when it is called upon. Stepping up by helping out more in Color Guard and going out of my way to assist, stepping up in tennis and being energetic and putting in 110%.  Overall, just leading by example, to   get to know people and help bring out everyone's skill set and characteristics to the best of my abilities to create a better and organized environment.
If you ask anyone who participated in LLC, the overall response would be it needs to be longer. The information that was gathered was vital and very useful, but three days felt too short to really get to know everyone around and mingle. Activities such as  Dangerous Parallel made it possible for myself and others to mingle with different people, but the opportunity could have been extended over to other events.  I would also suggest working on a way to mix family groups so they had a chance to get to know other conferees with other activities. 
I think anyone who is old enough to understand what qualities of great leadership are should attend the Life Leadership Conference.  I am glad that I did and much appreciate the opportunity and the Conferee of the Year honor bestowed upon me.
Christian Whipple
Junior, Fruitport High School
All in all, I really enjoyed the Life Leadership Conference. Although I was a bit skeptical in the beginning about what it was and how it was going to turn out, I was very happy that I went.  All the speakers and the games we played were just amazing and, although I really didn't know anyone there, by the end we were like a little family.
I think Molly Kennedy's speech impacted me the most. Her message of Creating the Champion Within and the way she interacted with the audience really moved me. Howard Oesterling's talk was also really amazing to hear. It made me think about people in my life that may be affected in the way that he was talking about with the boy in his story of Cliff Evans and the Cipher in the Snow.
I can see Rotary being a big part of my future, I really think Rotary is a genuine group that wants to spread good in the world. This is why, after talking to Doug Mealey on staff, I would like to start a Rotary Interact club at my school. I think it would be incredibly beneficial to the Fruitport community and the school as a whole being able to spread the message and actions of Rotary and Interact. I absolutely loved participating in LLC, and now,  thanks to Rotary, I have over 100 new friends that I can talk to and make new memories with in the future.

Jasmeen Kaur
Junior, Muskegon Catholic Central

I am extremely grateful that I was able to join the Rotary Life Leadership Conference at the last minute. The speakers and staff made the place feel like home. Connecting with the speakers and having them and the staff as someone to rely on felt easy. Parents were not as concerned, as kids told them that the environment was safe, they were having much fun and learning tons.

The conference structure I thought was thorough and well planned out, in a great way, because high schoolers can be tough to handle. The content was amazing. I felt like the content was everything that a teenager needs to hear in this stage of their life right now. It has impacted many of us. I would recommend this conference to anyone; it was truly worth it. 

One speaker that impacted me the most was Howard Oesterling, the retired, long-time Director of the Life Leadership Conference, when he read Steve Jobs' Last Essay. Although the essay was short, it had the most impact on me; along with the tone with which he read it. This essay changed me. The prompt alluded to success, love, family, wealth, happiness and the things that matter in life. The prompt gave me realization about myself and how I perceive the world. This essay changed not only me, but made an impact on others as much as it did to me. I knew it when I turned to my left and to my right to see many other students so engaged and tearing up. I overcame much joy that this short essay made such an impact on others. After this poem was read, many of us chatted about it and about Howard's talk. This essay changed me and encouraged me to set my priorities straight. 
LLC, without a doubt, boosted my leadership skills. It motivates me to want to be there for others and share my story just as how the speakers did with us at the conference. I would love to help others make a difference and do what's good. Whether it is something compact or something challenging, I am going to want to pass this confidence and leadership to future younger generations who have the motivation and dedication. Thus, they can undertake what Siqi Chen said, “Life is short. Do stuff that matters.”  

The only thing I wish that might be improved is the bonding time within the conferees. Serious relationships and friendships were made on this trip. Like volleyball, each night was super fun, but the time limit barely gave us time to have fun. So maybe more free time for the conferees to be stronger and reflect more on what they learned from the conference or what they are learning. Trust me, most of the time the conferees spoke about what the speakers said during their free time. As well imply it. For instance, during volleyball, a major phrase we used was from Molly, Flip your 20.
Thank you Muskegon Rotary for investing in me!
Adelyn Witmer
Sophomore, Muskegon High School
The Rotary Life Leadership Conference was a blast. I enjoyed the speeches, but the schedule was a bit crammed. It left me tired, but maybe that was for the best. I wasn't a huge fan of Coach McPherson's team building exercises (it often felt like just when we were getting somewhere with the current rules, they would expand the rules in the name of encouraging us to think outside the box), but I absolutely loved the sessions and the talent show!

As for speakers and how they impacted me, I’ve  kept Anne Bonney's message of "action shrivels anxiety" with me, and it has and will help in many situations, because it's so tried and true! Each time I think of it and take action, I am astronomically less stressed.

In times of uncertainty, I can encourage others to take action, or flip their 20, as Molly Kennedy likes to call paradigm shifts. Retaining our optimism is a powerful tool, especially in a service organization such as Rotary!

Like everyone else, I wish the conference had been longer. Then maybe it wouldn't feel so crammed, and of course, we'd have more time with our new friends.

I'm so glad of the opportunity to learn about leadership and meet other student leaders. Thank you Muskegon Rotary and the MHS Class of 1965 Advised Fund for sponsoring me.
Kylee Foster
Muskegon High School

I went to the Life Leadership Conference (LLC) and expected it to be like any other conference: mundane. I was pleasantly surprised when each motivational speaker presented themselves in such a lively and welcoming manner. I met many fellow Rotary Interactors and found common ground on a variety of subjects.

The array of activities and icebreakers brought to us by our LLC families offered the opportunity to build many connections. My highlight from the conference was when the youth exchange students talked about their experiences with getting prepared to study abroad. This is something that I’d like to do, so hearing it from a different perspective was quite informational.

I learned quite a bit from everyone, but one thing I had noticed was the sheer amount of high school Rotary Interactors just within Michigan! I learned the importance of community as well as communication. Our group was able to find a wide assortment of networking opportunities that may be quite important for the future of our Muskegon High School Rotary Interact club!

As far as what I plan to do with what I have learned to make a positive difference this year, I’d like to introduce speaker Molly Kennedy's Flip Your 20 (shifting your paradigm on things when needed to overcome obstacles) concept to my club in order for us to positively build upon our viewpoints.

LLC has truly brought upon such a wide range of change and growth opportunities, we don’t know where to begin. The future is bright! Thank you LLC, Muskegon Rotary, and the MHS Class of 1965 Advised Fund for allowing me this opportunity.

Raj Grewal
Graduating Senior, Calvary Christian Schools
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity as a Senior to participate in the Rotary Life Leadership Conference. It sounded appealing, but I really didn’t know what to expect. Furthermore, I didn’t know how much of an impact it would have on me. All these questions were answered rather
quickly when I saw the enthusiasm within students and staff. The agenda let me know how everything would work in an organized fashion and the staff was very helpful throughout the experience.

The speakers were the highlight of my experience, as was the case for most people. They were all different in their endeavors, but had common themes in overcoming certain circumstances. The different messages were motivating, intriguing, and impactful. It didn’t feel like a boring assembly at school, as some may suggest, but rather like the person is talking directly to you and knows your own hardships. The inclusive environment was evident in the nightly volleyball matches, group lunches, and Family Time.

The application to my life from LLC was automatic and became habitual quickly. I still think of the quotes and stories I heard from that very weekend. I feel motivated to make the same impact I felt throughout the whole conference. I would recommend this experience to everyone I know and even the people I don’t know. I still talk with the friends I made during my stay there and relationships were built that should last a long time. Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible in the best way possible!
Note:  Raj Grewal is the only graduating senior out of the 22 conferees we selected this year.  Raj attended Calvary Christian Schools. He was chosen partly on the basis of the terrific Law Day speech he delivered and a later interview conducted by Joanie Smith and John Noling.  Raj will be attending the University of Michigan this fall, where we hope he will join the UM Rotaract Club and be a leader at U of M.  
Abby Silvis
President, Mona Shores High School Rotary Interact 
The Rotary Life Leadership Conference was the best experience I have ever had. I would say it is so worth it. The staff is so friendly and welcoming! The people and speakers can truly change your life.
Molly Kennedy's presentation was one of the best messages of LLC.   Her main talk was "Creating the Champion Within."  It really made me think through my daily life and what I can do to make it better. Molly's message changed how I think of things as a leader and how I can create a better place for anyone, including friends, family, and others. 
 I am going to use all of what I learned to create a more positive environment and make everyone I can feel welcome and wanted.  I will be sure to create positivity and communicate thoroughly and fluently. Being a leader is a position where people depend on you. I will make sure that I can create a less stressful and more creative environment while serving as President of Rotary Interact this year at Mona Shores High School.
Chloe Wilson
Junior, Reeths-Puffer High School
The Rotary D6290 Life Leadership Conference was definitely one of the most beneficial conferences that I have experienced as a 16 year old Youth Exchange outbound, soon enroute to Chile. 
During my time at LLC, I was able to learn about things I never knew existed. Choosing to change my paradigm, flipping my twenty, as speaker Molly Kennedy shared with us), learning that I don’t need a corner office to be considered successful in life, and discovering that a bowling ball can magically appear out of thin air (Ben Whiting) were some of the many things that impacted me personally at the conference.

This conference was also special in creating stronger bonds between friends I already knew, and new bonds between people I’ve never met before. My roommate and I went from speaking in simple introductory conversations to just three days later watching Stranger Things together at 10 o’clock while squished into the same twin bed in our dorm. I have met some life long friends through this amazing opportunity and I am very grateful for it!

One of the coolest things about the LLC for me was getting to listen to all of the amazing speakers that Rotary was able to bring in for us. Although sometimes I wish that there was a little more activity and more variety throughout our stay, I am appreciative of everything we were able to experience. One thing that really stuck with me was when speaker Howard Oesterling recited three great poems from memory. One of my favorites was called It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Albert Guest, about how you can do anything even if people tell you that you cannot. As a RYE Outbound, this resonated with my thoughts and has stuck by me since.

Rotary has helped me in so many ways and the LLC was just one more to add. I wish that it was longer so that we had more time to meet people and to study the principles of leadership. It truly was an amazing experience that I would totally recommend.  Thank you for inviting me and sponsoring me to be in this life changing organization.