[Sunwah GYLN Canada PLLC] From MACAU to the WORLD

Hello there! My name is Candice Oliva and I am a representative of the Canada Peter Lougheed Leadership College Chapter. I am here to share my insights on the Macau events we all participated in as part of the Sunwah GYLN International Summit 2019! From presentations and cultural shows, to conference sessions and photo exhibitions, to leadership workshops and sightseeing– there was no shortage of activities to participate in throughout our stay in Macau. The most memorable part of our journey was that we got to experience it all together with our fellow GYLN members around the world. Thanks to Sunwah Foundation, we had the opportunity to connect with some of the most brilliant, whole-hearted people from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Vietnam.

Day 1, October 31st, the Canadian chapter safely landed in Macau right around noon. After nearly 24 hours of travel time, we went from a smattering of snow on the ground in Edmonton to a heavy humidity in the air in sunny Macau. I arrived in Macau with two fellow PLLC (Peter Lougheed Leadership College) Canada chapter representatives, Christy and Reshma, and with Evan from the China Institute at the University of Alberta (CIUA).

The welcome dinner soon came with warm reunions, fresh introductions and presentations from a few chapters about their projects. Christy, Reshma and I were first to share the environmental advocacy project that the PLLC Canada chapter has been working on: highlighting the negative effects of single use products on the earth to encourage producers to be more responsible about using recyclable materials. We also heard from Tom (Vietnam chapter) about building a stronger alumni network for GYLN and then Ayano (Japan chapter) prompted us to rethink our pre-existing perspectives on education.

After dinner, we shuttled to University of Macau Hall to rehearse for the next evening’s Cultural Show. From chatting with Japan chapter on the bus, I learned about the time, effort and perseverance it took to not only learn a dance for the Cultural Show but also create and put their costumes together. We also learned more about the Vietnam chapter’s traditional Rice Drum song—although the music and choreography are quite playful and joyful, the lyrics actually convey a love story. These little previews made me excited to see all the performances for the Cultural Show! Even more so knowing that we’ll be closing the show with a group number. Much thanks to Jocelyn for helping us put that together!

Day 2, November 1st, was our first full day in Macau and we had a packed itinerary. In the morning, we attended the International Conference on “New Trends in International Education and Exchanges”. Dr. Jonathan Choi welcomed everyone warmly to celebrate “Sunwah Group: From Macau to the World for 62 Years.”. Invited speakers then followed suit to share their knowledge, research and insight into topics such as adaptive leadership, remote medical education, innovation and business, art and culture education. It was humbling and exciting to hear from leaders about their specific fields. They all spoke different languages from Chinese to French and English, so we had headsets to listen in to live translations!

Then in the afternoon, we saw the photo exhibition organized by students of Choi Kai Yau College. Their photographs provided a wonderfully quaint and honest insight into Macau – its people and its culture, the food and the architecture. The exhibition described a different side of Macau, apart from the luxury hotels and casinos we had seen so far from our windows.

Finally, in the evening, we participated in the Cultural Show that brought together traditional performances from China, Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Vietnam. At the end, GYLN members performed a song together. “Fly”, by Avril Lavigne, is an empowering song about overcoming obstacles together through courage and inner strength. It’s an apt song choice considering that as youth and as GYLN members, we regularly have to deal with different challenges regarding our chapter/project, but what matters is that we rise up and overcome them altogether. Suffice to say, I think this evening was truly a testament that music, dance, arts and culture have immense power to bring people together!

Day 3, November 2nd, was the start of our workshops. In the morning, Ms. Betty Chan, Director of International Relations, Executive Director of Sunwah Foundation, invited the guest performers and teachers from the Cultural Show to come and provide a bit more background about the history and relevance of their performances. It was truly a unique opportunity! We already got to see the beauty and intricacy of each performance last night. That morning, we got to learn more in-depth about Japan’s Nihon Buyo dance, China’s Dun Huang dance, Cambodia’s Apsara dance and Ms. Carol Lin’s mezzo-soprano opera.

Then, in the afternoon, we began our leadership training with Dr. Cristina Stasia, Ms. Ren and Mr. White from the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. In the spirit of true experiential learning, we first delved into the different styles of leadership: traditional, transactional, charismatic and organic, then taught each one back to each other through snapshots. 

Day 4, November 3rd, was our one full day of leadership training. The teachers kept us engaged throughout the day with activities and games in between discussions and reflections. We learned about the importance of followership through the plank activity and this video

We then got to work on our public speaking. We warmed up with an exercise to practice controlling our volume, pitch, and pace. Then we moved on to delivering Greta Thunberg’s “How Dare You” speech. I volunteered to go first in our small group, because this is a topic I’m passionate about. I’ve attended climate strikes in Edmonton and I’ve watched Greta Thunberg speak several times before on social media. This exercise was so self-empowering, but it was also so inspiring to watch everyone else break out of their shell and capture the room with their heartfelt speech.

To end the evening, we each expressed our gratitude towards each other and formed a web of connections to physically show the relationships we have built with each other within just the past few days. We have sung together, worked together, trusted each other and experienced Macau together—it was absolutely amazing to see that represented. 

Day 5, November 4th, was our last day together. For the last leadership workshop, the highlights for me were the last two activities where we each created then shared our life purpose statements as well as drawings of our Macau experience. My drawing is the one that says: “I am filled with hope for a brighter future.” 

That day, after watching everyone bravely share their dream for the world and their learnings from this GYLN summit, I felt very bright and hopeful. I am so proud of everyone. I believe that we have all grown a lot even in such a short time together. We have watched each other be loud and impassioned, be brave in vulnerability, be fabulous and take ownership over our fabulousness. And from the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the best. I have no doubt each and everyone in that room will achieve great things. They are an inspiration to me and I hope to see them again soon!

Day 6, November 5th, was the Canada chapter’s last day in Macau. Our hearts are so full that so many people dropped by saying goodbye. Thank you, last but not least, to all the diligent organizers of this GYLN in Macau event—especially Angel, Tom, Shuvoraj and Hana. Congratulations on such a successful, impactful and memorable event!

Sunwah – GYLN Canada PLLC Chapter