Skip To Main Content

Think Like a Leader

Think Like a Leader
  • Character
  • Field Trip
  • High School
  • IB
  • Leadership
  • Upper School

This article focuses on the Design Thinking approach to solution innovation and strategic planning that the Emerging Leaders Program provided to four of our Juniors this year as well as many years of GWA alumnus.  

When students encounter roadblocks in their learning, it is easy to react by encouraging students to not give up and push through.  However, students who are equipped with problem-solving skills and a growth-mindset are far more likely to be able to navigate the challenges of school life and home life than students who aren’t equipped with the same life skills, study skills, and problem-solving skills.  And yes, those are all skills that need to be exemplified, modeled, and taught.  

Four GWA Juniors (Ghita Chbarte, Sophia Said, Amine Saoudi, and Neil Courson) represented GWA and Morocco at the International Emerging Leaders program, hosted by CollegiateRVA Global, in Richmond, Virginia this past month.  In the following reflection, Sophia Said describes her main takeaway from the jam-packed week of workshops, lectures at top universities, conferences, site-visits and collaboration sessions focusing on creating innovative solutions to global issues. 

“Hello, my name is Sophia Said and I participated in the International Emerging Leaders Conference that took place in Richmond, Virginia. This experience has allowed me to enhance my public speaking skills and has also enabled me to open up easily while talking to complete strangers. I have made lifelong friendships in a span of a couple of days and I was simply amazed at how smoothly the whole week passed. This was all thanks to the Collegiate Faculty assisting over 50 kids throughout the entire day. Whether it be regarding transportation, food, or even personal issues, they went out of their way to make sure we were at ease while still keeping a smile on their faces. They introduced us to a new way of thinking: design thinking, which is a step by step sort of brainstorming session that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. I personally have never tackled issues this way, but I can confirm that it is the easiest way to bring ideas to life. In addition, I am so grateful to have had an extremely generous and hospitable host family that has welcomed me in their home with open arms. In such a short amount of time, I already got used to the American culture, and I got to discover so many new things that are part of their daily routines. I am not exaggerating when I say that this has been an unforgettable trip that has allowed me to meet amazing people from all over the globe. I just can’t believe it ended so quickly!”

As Sophia emphasized in her reflection, the process of Design Thinking was one of her greatest take-aways from the Emerging Leaders experience.  Design Thinking is quickly becoming a popularly adopted method of identifying alternative strategies and creating solutions to any sort of problem or hurtle, taught in leading universities and applied at major brands such as Apple, Google, etc.  Design thinking is a 5-stage path starting with Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. GWA’s four Emerging Leaders participants got to learn and go through this 5-step process and actually pitch their innovative design solution to the public. 

Ghita’s team challenge was to create an innovative design solution to the problem that many Chinese cities face of people discarding their broken bikes in graveyards. The team had to design a prototype of their design solution and then pitched their solution to the public the next day.

Ghita explains their Design Challenge prototype in saying that, “It’s basically a bento box made out of recycled bikes. So the steel from the bikes and the rubber would be separated so that the box itself would be made of melted steel with a rubber condensation lid to prevent any condensation. We also included a handle in case the box is hot. These boxes would come from a start-up company named “Boks”, and they would be used mainly for delivery purposes. When the boxes are delivered to customers from different chain restaurants, they will eat out of the box and will throw them in specific bins spread around the city so that they can be recollected and washed at the end of the day. The same cycle would happen all over again. With this box, we could be able to solve the problem of excess bikes found in graveyards and around the cities of China (especially Changzhou).”

These four Emerging Leaders can now apply the same Design Thinking approach to any and all struggles they encounter in life and in schooling.  They are equipped with a life-long skill that will benefit them now as well as in the global workplace. Supporting students begins with equipping them with the proper skills to succeed -- not just encouraging them to push through challenges -- but learn the process of coping with challenges and navigating toward a solution.  We are very happy that many years of GWA students have been able to participate in this innovative program. If you’d like to learn more about the Emerging Leaders program, feel free to reach out to Amina Erreda, for more information.

  • Design Think