The International School of Lausanne offers an outstanding IB Service Programme, giving students the opportunity to lead valuable social, educational, and environmental initiatives within the school and our wider community. In order to ensure that our students have the skillset to successfully lead these services, Ms Moran, Secondary Service and CAS Coordinator, invited Inspire Citizens to deliver a Future Now Leadership Training day to ISL High School students at the start of the term. Learn more about ISL’s service programme below, then read on for an engaging student-led account of the Future Now Student Leadership day, written by Raphaël (Y12) and Divya (Y12).

Sometimes the most important lessons in school take place outside the classroom.

At the International School of Lausanne, our outstanding Service programme gives students the opportunity to develop personally and socially, as they work on projects both within and beyond the school community.

A core part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) has been proven to enhance students’ civic engagement, project-management skills, and levels of self-confidence, maturity and open-mindedness.

For the academic year 2022/23, there are over thirty services on offer, each related to one or more of ISL’s five pillars of service: environmental stewardship; action for social justice and equity; preparedness to serve; local partnership; global connections. These services are supported by staff, with the students themselves taking the lead in creating new initiatives and coordinating events.

Action for social justice and equity: the 2022/23 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion service group.

It is key, therefore, that a significant part of this staff support takes the form of ensuring that our students have the leadership skills necessary to not only ensure their service’s success, but to instil in them the self-belief and conviction in their capabilities that will lead them to pursue leadership opportunities in the future.

With this in mind, prior to the launch of this year’s service programme at our Service Fair on September 29th, Ms Moran (Secondary Service and CAS Coordinator) invited Steve Sostak, the Co-Founder & Director of Inspire Citizens, to deliver a full day of Student Leadership training to ISL High School students.

Steve Sostak, the Co-Founder & Director of Inspire Citizens, beside a list of leadership qualities compiled by the ISL students on the Future Leaders training day.

Delivered as part of Inspire Citizens’ Future Now programme, Sostak was particularly impressed with the enthusiasm and supportive attitudes shown by the ISL future leaders during this training day on August 31st:

“A key element of Inspire Citizens’ holistic mission is working directly with students of all ages to take ownership of meaningful learning that builds compassion, connection, understanding and action in shaping a healthier present and future.” 

“The ISL student leaders that attended this Future Now leadership experience demonstrated an incredible willingness to try out diverse approaches and tools to both enhance the experiences within service clubs, but also to establish a cohort of peers dedicated to providing one another with support, feedback, and celebrations related to the journey of evolving and compassionate leadership in our complex world.” 

“A few highlights that stood out for me was watching students engage with strategic foresight, active listening, mindfulness, systems thinking, and goal setting built around both inner and outer sustainability.” 

In the workshop, we emphasized openness and a sense of vulnerability in facing challenges that united this group on a common path to making all of the ISL service groups remain interconnected, ground themselves in deep purpose, establish reciprocal learning in community partnerships, and set forth on authentic action. It was a fantastic day.”
Sostak highlighting key points in the Eco Society service group’s poster.

Our CAS Coordinator, Ms Moran, who supported the students throughout the day with characteristic warmth and enthusiasm, was equally delighted with the commitment and passion the students brought to the learning experience, believing that this will stand them in strong stead as they lead services this year:

“It has been a great opportunity for our young leaders to come together to share ideas and develop a mindset to create change in our local and global community. We want to empower students to make decisions as changemakers, but, until now, they haven’t always had the leadership skills necessary to know how to successfully initiate and create change.”

“This training day is the launch of a wider school leadership programme in which myself, Ms Gifford, Ms Edmunds, and other selected teachers will continue to coach the leaders throughout the year, ensuring that the students have the skillset they need, with a strong support structure in place.”

International School of Lausanne CAS Coordinator, Ms Moran, and ISL Director, Mr Cairns, in conversation with a group of ISL Future Leaders.

So what did the International School of Lausanne students themselves have to say about their learning experience? Read on for an account of the day by Raphaël (Year 12) and Divya (Year 12), featuring testimonials from some of their peers.

“We shape our future and our future shapes us.”

What makes a leader? The fulfilment of a prestigious role? The rigorous planning and action behind a goal?

Surprisingly enough, it took only the minds of thirty passionate students, a one-day workshop, some pains au chocolat, and a ton of post-it notes for us to find out.

Dreary-eyed in the morning, timid, and yet inspired to change the world, a group of ISL student leaders assembled in the South Building on Wednesday to participate in the Inspire Citizens: Future Now Leadership Programme. The student leaders of different service groups and activities took part in this unique experience to further their skills in leadership and positive management.

To guide us through this process was Steve Sostak, founder of Inspire Citizens, an organisation established to empower young leaders and encourage them to flourish into global citizens.

Sostak ensured that the students were applying the new concepts being learned to the context of ISL’s service programme.

The day took off to a rapid start; students drew stick figures on poster paper, inquiring: What goes on in a leader’s mind? What about their eyes? And their heart? The group also partook in frequent reflections of gratitude, writing supportive messages on post-its, or taking meditative walks around the school.

Eventually, Steve explained the crucial intersection between the future of our planet and leadership now. Students created presentations on potential climate scenarios and used proactive thinking techniques to derive solutions. These techniques were then applied to ISL’s Service Groups, including the Student Parliament, Gender Equity, Eco Society, and Arts and Advocacy, with each group creating its own identity, values and target tangible artifacts for the year.

Students create the ethos for their service activity.

Students were exposed to different techniques that they can use to further the goals of the organisations that they lead, such as visualising clear goals to assess future success, determining priorities, and dissecting the pedagogies of Thich Nhat Hanh (a peace activist and author, who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr towards peaceful change).

As the energy from the morning croissants began to wane, the workshops circled beautifully back to the starting question: What are we, as leaders, grateful for? Here are some student responses:

“I had never realised how I much I talked during meetings, and I think it was because other people weren’t talking! Now I have the tools to embrace and encourage the others to share ideas, such as ‘the dialogue walk’.”
– Alice (Year 12)

“The workshop was very interesting. The topics, subjects, and activities were very intellectual and active throughout the day. Almost every activity was done in a way so that we could bond with people we didn’t know, and get a connection between different service groups, leaders, and projects.”
— Arthur (Year 10)

“I thought it was so engaging; the concepts it covered were new and I definitely learnt some techniques to involve into team meetings that will enhance the general atmosphere and energy. It also redefined what it meant to be a leader and how important it is to understand and follow through with it.” 
– Jaime (Year 12)

“I thought it was very interesting and gave me a very different perspective on leadership and what it means to be a leader. Not only that, it showed me how that was possible and what I would need to do if I wanted to be a good leader.” 
– Anonymous, Y12
Academic Counsellor, Ms Edmunds, joining the listening students with some questions as the Student Parliament team present their ideas.

“We shape our future and our future shapes us”. A simple phrase, yet a powerful message that was repeated time and again throughout the workshop to a point where it has become an ISL leadership motto. This will be a message that we all internalise and act upon in order to leave our community an even better place than we found it.

It seems fitting to end on this note and to remark that however small the actions you take as an individual, the impact is monumental. Leader, learner, or observer, we all play a part in bettering the world we belong to.

A leader of the ISL Eco Society pauses working in order to listen to some words from Steve Sostak.