By Heather Travis Wednesday, November 26, 2008
University Students’ Council president Stephen Lecce was given an opportunity of a lifetime to rub elbows with some of the world’s top leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Last week, Lecce attended the three-day Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) conference in Lima, Peru, as one of six youth representatives from Global Vision Junior Team Canada. He participated in Voices of the Future for APEC, a program for top student leaders from the 21 participating member economies.
University Students’ Council president Stephen Lecce (centre) takes a break from the three-day Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in Lima, Peru to capture the moment with other Global Vision Junior Team Canada members Mark (left), Colin, Melissa and Bryan.
During the conference Lecce had the opportunity to speak about trade and investment opportunities in Canada, as well discuss the social, economic and political benefits of the Canadian economic system at the summit of chief executives, which paralleled the 21 Member Economies Leaders Week attended by Harper. He also worked with two other Canadian government bureaus: Invest in Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“It is an extremely humbling experience to work on behalf of my country,” he says. “It’s these opportunities few young people get to have.”
Among those rarities was a roundtable session with Harper.
“We discussed the issues on the ground that the team was hearing from global CEOs, policy makers and government officials … we reinforced perspectives of Canada abroad to the Prime Minister and to (Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway) Stockwell Day,” he says.
Overall, Lecce says global business leaders and politicians were satisfied with the direction of Canada’s fiscal and foreign policies. The nation was also celebrated as providing good investment opportunities.
As a young leader at this major international forum, it felt good to be Canadian; he adds.
When he introduced himself as being from Western, Lecce says the university was widely recognized by participating members. After such a transformative experience, Lecce foresees many lessons he learned from student and global leaders applying to his role as USC president.
“The largest one, I suggest, is the need for collaboration and a strong, unified voice,” he says. “My observation is that having one voice speak for the betterment of students interest is very impactful.
When deciding and making policies, albeit fiscal, social, political, economic – whatever they are – there is an inherent need and a responsibility of government to consult all stakeholders that are implicated.
Global Vision is a London-based youth leadership program that sends Canadian delegates between the ages of 16 and 25 around the world to participate in economic and development missions and APEC. The goal of the program, founded by former Progressive Conservative MP Terry Clifford, is to expose youth to politics and global economics.