Future Leaders Academy Report – Ayesha | Year 11 Student

During the first week of Term 2, I spent my time in Rarotonga, Cook Islands attending the Future Leaders – Academy.

Founded in 2013, this academy is offered to students throughout the Pacific Region who are seeking to develop their leadership skills, or simply grasp an idea of what leadership looks like through the various activities that are involved.

Within this week I participated in several amazing opportunities – such as business visits to resorts on the islands with Air New Zealand, learning more about local environment and humanitarian issues, beach clean-ups, a cross island hike, cultural activities and youth wellbeing discussions.

For each activity, team leaders were chosen and expected to properly guide and lead their team to achieve all set tasks and goals for the day.

We were also privileged to learn three beautiful waiatas (songs) from each attending nation and a haka to present on the last day at our graduation ceremony.

The course included meeting New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands (Tui Dewes) and Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Gerry Brownlee, with many other members of New Zealand’s parliament in attendance.

This wonderful experience allowed me to be surrounded by many other likeminded youth and aspiring leaders from across Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

The ability to turn differences into strengths and bond naturally came at ease, as we participated in breathwork stations, team bonding activities and many leadership skills workshops, all while exploring the beautiful islands.

From the eight days that I spent in the Cook Islands, I have not only made lifelong friends and memories, but I have also learnt very powerful lessons that I know will help me in the future.