Originally reported in the Panama Star
02-17-2009 | DAVID YOUNG
The team of young leaders got a chance of some rest and relaxation before beginning a busy week of meetings, research and negotiationPanama Star PANAMA. From major event coordinator to reserve air-force pilot; entrepreneur building low cost homes from discarded shipping containers; working at a summit of world business leaders to youth involvement activist and financial consultant. A span of activities that belies the average 19-22 age span of the participants.
Fifteen young Canadians on a week long mission to Panama run the gamut of community leaders in the making, and all giving hope that they will one day be participants in rebuilding a world that has seemed intent on self destruction as greed has so often replaced need as the watchword of society.
The visitors form part of Global Vision, Junior Team Canada, itself the product of a vision by former Canadian MP (Member of Parliament) Terry Clifford, in the 1980’s that became a reality in 1981.
Its mandate was to provide Opportunities for young people with their own dreams of playing a positive role in world markets, and who had already demonstrated their ability to do that by their involvement in their own communities.
The program began by fostering Global Leader Centres in every Canadian province, involving over 15,000 high school and university students, who received mentoring from local business leaders and competed for positions in teams that have traveled the world, promoting Canadian business and culture and building enduring ties between countries.
Missions involving over 700 graduates have visited over 20 countries throughout Latin America, Europe and the Far East.
Each mission is supported by over 500 companies who provide sponsorship, and to whom mission members provide marketing reports.
The students now in Panama are among the brightest and most involved in their country, and travel as Junior ambassadors, building trade and cultural links between Canada and the world.
They count as honored representatives who, as the end of their tour will be “graduates” of the program. Most of their mission alumni now hold leadership positions around the world, in government or business, including two Canadian ambassadors and the youngest ever vice-president of the World Trade Organization.
The current mission of high achievers seems destined to follow the same path to leadership.
Apart from having to satisfy Vision’s management team with written and verbal presentations, each candidate for missions has to enroll local sponsors to the tune of $5,000. In return they provide the donors with a market report, including potential contacts.
So far participants have produced over 400 detailed reports.
This mission will add dozens more to the benefit of Panama and Canada.
It also presents an opportunity for Panama to develop a similar program and meetings have been set up with potential sponsors.
Tomorrow: Getting down to business.