When a visionary comes to town look out for action and results, we got both and a new leadership hub
Panama Star Terry Clifford the former Canadian Member of Parliament, who 20 years ago created a youth and leadership foundation whose message has circled the world, left Panama yesterday with his troupe of 16 future business leaders, a happy manwho will soon return.
In less than a week in the city, he had managed to establish contacts to ensure speedy settlement of Canadian graduates of Global Vision in four-month internships in Panama, and set the wheels moving to make Panama the hub of a Latin American network and training center for the region.
Global Vision started in Canada nearly 20 years ago, to seek out young potential leaders of industry, trade and government.
Through nationwide activities over 15,000 university students have graduated from a program that has deep roots in local community involvement, calls for high academic performance, and the ability to communicate with written and verbal skills.
Since 1991, teams of Global Vision activists have travelled the world, as Junior Ambassadors, developing trade and cultural contacts, and endeavoring to create a two way communications network.
Success has come their way in many countries from the Philippines to China, Japan to Vietnam. In fact the Global Vision programs in Japan and Vietnam, have outgrown that in the founding country.
With the energy of Frank, involved members of his family, and his young team, the flow of young ambassadors will soon be two way.
While the group that left Panama for Costa Rica last night was busy attending government and business meetings and presentations, studying the activities of the Smithsonian and touring factories and development sites, Terry, armed with his newly acquired Panamanian hat was pouring his message into the receptive ears of local business leaders, many with previous Canadian links.
The Mission members, notebooks and cameras in hand, were busy assembling information for reports that they will be presenting to their sponsors when they return. If they are even a fraction as successful as their prime mentor, those who provided backing for the trip will be well rewarded.
Panama is looming large in the Canadian Government’s sights, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper determined to create closer ties with Latin America, rather than continue with policies that leave the country in a precarious position when its biggest trading partner, the US, hits economic rough waters, which quickly spill across the longest undefended border in the world.
During the week, I talked with every member of the Mission, whose achievements are, to put it mildly close to spectacular. One, Colin Chau, set up his own community organization in British Columbia three years ago, while getting his pilot’s license with the Air Cadets, and joining a Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve officer program and collecting on the way, two Duke of Edinburgh awards, one gold and one silver, and producing high academic standards in his university. He has reached the ripe old age of 19.
Others have been deeply involved in community projects, and created business from fashion and hair design to financial counseling and radio broadcasting.
Their ambitions range from medicine to practicing law. caring for the environment, working in foreign affairs, and even adding a cooking course to a commerce degree, before opening a restaurant.
It is the sort of program that is needed for Panama, particularly among the mentally, but not financially well endowed.