Black Hills State University senior Melissa Giggee, elementary education major, is among seven students chosen to be leader facilitators at the junior high People-to-People World Leadership Forum event in Washington, D.C. this spring break.  BHSU students will each assist 12-16 students in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade in their tours of the capitol and assigned homework, while preparing themselves for future careers as educators.  BHSU students will leave for D.C. Saturday, March 3 and return Sunday, March 11.
Seven Black Hills State University students will be spending their spring break in Washington, D.C., as leader facilitators at the junior high People-to-People World Leadership Forum.  The students will leave Saturday, March 3 and return Sunday, March 11.

The People-to-People World Leadership Forum was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower based on the belief that “people can make a difference where governments cannot.”  The program helps “students and professionals develop their leadership skills so that they can serve as more effective leaders within their schools, organizations and communities,” according to wlfstudentleaders.org. Through access to some of the world’s most interesting people and places, junior high school students with exceptional leadership and academic success are enabled to make friends from around the globe while having fun preparing for great achievement in college.

Dr. Richard Carriveau, assistant professor of education at BHSU and BHSU campus coordinator for the People-to-People program, says BHSU’s inclusion in the Renaissance Group of universities led to BHSU students being chosen to be a part of the forum.  This is the first time BH has participated in the program, and Carriveau says that they “look forward to continuing [their] partnership” for many years to come.

College students attending the trip as student leader facilitators serve as guides, friends and educators to the junior high students.  Included from BHSU are:  Pamela Baker, senior elementary education major from Belle Fourche; Acacia Casner, senior elementary education major from Hot Springs; Shannon Coburn, senior social science/secondary education major from Rapid City; Carl Engwall, senior from Rapid City; Melissa Giggee, senior elementary education major from Rapid City; Linda Herrick, junior elementary education major from Spearfish; and Emily Storms, junior elementary education and special education major from Winner.

All facilitator applicants had to undergo a thorough screening process before being accepted to lead a World Leadership Forum delegation.  Once students are accepted to be student leader facilitators, they are required to complete three online training modules, as well as become certified in CPR.  Upon arrival in Washington, D.C,. the facilitators take part in a mandatory one-day final training session before the middle school students arrive.

BHSU students will each be assisting 12-16 students in sixth, seventh or eighth grade in their tours and assigned homework.  The groups will be visiting many historical, political and cultural sites, such as:  Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Gettysburg Military Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site, The National Museum of American Indians, International Spy Museum, and many more.  In addition to the experience of working with students and gaining teaching experience, student leader facilitators receive free airfare to and from D.C. and room/board at the conference hotel.

Giggee thinks that this is a great opportunity for future growth.  “It will help me to be better prepared for being in charge of a group of students for a long period of time.  It will also give me a chance to experience an important part of the culture of our country.”

Casner said she decided to apply for the People-to-People program because it sounded like a win-win situation, “I get to go to D.C. and hang out with kids for free while I am helping facilitate the program.”

Coburn had seen the student side of a similar program while in high school, and wanted “to see what it was like from the facilitator experience.”

For more information about the People-to-People World Leadership Program, visit www.wlfstudentleaders.org.