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Leadership as a Character-Building Experience

2019-05-08

Giorgi Kaishauri, a fresh graduate from the class of 2019, has received the 2019 Leadership Excellence Award during the Commencement at LCC International University. While being an International Relations and Development major, Giorgi took part in a busy yet exciting leadership positions. By serving LCC community through various leadership positions, he thrived by gaining new experiences and taking full advantage of both academic and campus life.

How would you define your LCC experience? What contributed to your self-development the most?
My intention from the beginning was to be proactive in shaping my own experience and take full advantage of campus life and academic opportunities. I like to experiment and put my thinking at stake, so I have attended various events, some of which have not necessarily reflected my interests, but possibly broadened them and suggested new perspectives. I have never refused to engage in a dialogue or discussion. It does not matter in what form such an exchange takes place. I have had late night conversations with my roommates that gave me a whole semester’s worth to think about. But I have also attended lectures that gave me little food for thought. There are important lessons to be learned from both of these occasions. In a way LCC life is not fundamentally different from life in general. Exposure followed by reflection goes a long way and it has surely gone quite a long way for me. I have changed so much that it is hard to relate to the person I once was. I cherish this change. However, LCC deserves much credit for creating the safe and supportive environment which makes the process of self-exposure less scary. I appreciate that during my 4 years here, I have always felt safe to speak my mind and ask questions. It would have been hard to produce change without such safety. I also cannot overstate the role of wonderful people I met, who keep supporting me and inspiring me as I am about to move to my new adventure.

You have been a part of various leadership programs at LCC. Could you tell more about your involvement with each of them?
I was a First Year Student (FYS) leader, International Exchange (IE) leader and a Resident Assistant (RA). These were the positions that seemed most interesting to me throughout my time here and I am glad I was able to serve in all of them. FYS and IE were less intensive, so there was more room to relate to students I led. We spent quality time together, went on trips, attended cultural events and enjoyed gatherings over food. Leadership based primarily on such interactions is a rare luxury. While being an RA also included similar elements, I had to hold people accountable, enforce community standards, manage and take care of university property, do the paperwork and so on. Being an RA has been the most challenging, however, all three of these positions have been rewarding in their own ways. Ultimately, I evaluate my leadership experiences and their significance based on the impact I have through them.

Why did you decide to dive into leadership positions?
I felt a very natural desire to put myself and my skills into use and actively contribute to the community. I enjoy creating value and shaping the environment in which I live, so these leadership positions served as platforms from which I could focus my efforts and contribute in an organized manner.

How did you manage to combine studies and being involved with leadership positions during your years at LCC?
Combining studies and leadership positions was not too difficult. I often chose spending time with people over doing homework (which I ended up doing later), so I would have been engaged in activities evolving around people even if I had not committed to any specific positions. The way I like to think about this is that time is elastic and it stretches to accommodate what I choose to put into it. Studies and leadership are on the top priority list, so they surely fit without any reservations.

What was your greatest takeaway from your involvement in leadership positions?
Some very meaningful and long-lasting relationships started thanks to the leadership positions I have served in. Leadership is all about people so it only makes sense that people have been the central aspect of these experiences for me. I became more people-oriented, that is to say, more trusting and willing to accommodate people. I focus more on what kind of experiences they have when I lead them, as opposed to managing what they do. I also started looking at events beyond their face value. I see people’s actions as a continuation of their greater stories and I try to become a part of these stories through trust and understanding. Leadership, among other things, has been a wonderful character-building experience. I see improvements in my emotional intelligence and other soft skills. I grew more self-confident and assertive too. I do not shy away from making important decisions, especially when it concerns other people. As I graduate, I am quite thrilled about scaling up and leading large groups of people in more professional settings. I have been really empowered by the LCC Leadership Program and the whole institution at large, and I am going to be forever grateful for that.

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