Continuing excellence with the Mastercard Foundation Summer School 2018
We look back on the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) Summer School at the conclusion of its second year.
Twenty-five aspiring young change makers attended the MCF summer School in Transformative Leadership. The students, who come from 15 countries in total, spent four weeks in Edinburgh learning from talented entrepreneurs, creatives and academics. They developed their leadership skills, design thinking and communication abilities, and have gained a greater understanding of mindfulness as they continue on journeys towards becoming great leaders.
It is the second year that the MCF Summer School in Transformative Leadership has taken place at the University of Edinburgh and it has built on the strong foundations of its initial run, with more students and session leaders participating this time around.
Although the number of spaces available has increased, the competition amongst Mastercard Scholars to earn a place on the program is high. Part of the Summer School’s appeal is the prestige that studying at the University offers and the opportunity to experience the unique cultural diversity of the Scottish capital.
This year’s chosen participants came from a diverse array of backgrounds and cultures including students from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo amongst other countries including India and Scotland. The majority were first and second year undergraduate Mastercard Foundation Scholars, though the project is open to applications from 1st – 3rd year students at the University of Edinburgh, making it a melting pot of ambitious young minds.
The Summer School Program
Overseeing the Summer School and guiding the students towards success in their projects were the session leaders, an impressive mix of entrepreneurs, thinkers and business people with backgrounds covering a broad spectrum of disciplines. Some led individual sessions or worked on a one to one basis with students, while others were more frequently involved with the group.
Mel Sherwood, a former president of the Professional Speaking Association UK and Ireland worked with the participants throughout to improve their pitching and presentation skills. Frequent meditation sessions and discussions on mindfulness were led Sam Parfitt, a certified mindfulness teacher and CEO of The True Athlete Project (a non-profit organisation which aims to use sport as a means to create social change).
The sessions equipped us with the right tools we needed to come up with the solutions to the challenges that faced our project partner. This gave us confidence that we can and surely we did.
The Summer School initially encouraged the students to look inwards: the first week focused on ideas of mindfulness, ethics, understanding personal strengths and how to communicate these strengths to others. As they move through the program they worked together to develop skills in design, prototyping, conflict handling and presentation.
The participants were put to the test as they formed groups to tackle real briefs for an assortment of community projects in Edinburgh and the surrounding area, before finally sharing solutions with eager clients. A standout project of this year came from Dipti Rapte, Isma Kaziya and Patricia Quaye who worked with The Welcoming project to increase the organisation and success of their sustainable garden.
The team tackled this from both a management perspective and through improvements to the infrastructure of the allotment. Recycled materials were used to create an irrigation system to water the crops while a training and reward scheme was put forward to make the experience more enjoyable for volunteers.
In the time I have spent here I have seen a paradigm shift in my way of thinking, my attributes and how I can use such skills that I have acquired back home.
For me it’s self-discovery, I knew I was an introvert but I never took a look at what my strengths and weaknesses are and how I can use that to perform or maybe improve. What I have discovered is myself, what I am good at and how I can apply that in my community.
A large motivator for the team behind the project is the idea of legacy: developing people who might one day do incredible things in their own communities. It’s clear that the value of the scheme is understood by participants – illustrated by their willingness to give back to the project.
The clearest example of this lasting commitment is the return of Prince Chakanyuka, a Mastercard Foundation intern and charismatic alum of 2017’s Summer School who came back this year as a session leader.
Working to build the students skills in reflection, Prince also embodies the intended outcome of the project, his calm and insightful leadership quickly earned him the respect of those now following in his footsteps. After spending time with Prince many of this year’s participants spoke of aspiring to one day be session leaders themselves.
This Summer enabled me to envision the possibility of a sustainable impact that can be brought by young people if they are afforded a supportive and resourceful environment. It was a privilege to support such ambitious summer school scholars through leading reflections on their leadership journeys. I found this to be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
The live projects and the solutions students provide to real world challenges can be carried on in to the future, but it is the transformation in the participants which truly reflects the importance of this short program. In less than a month they are equipped with skills which will allow them to lead others to success in almost any challenge, and they take these abilities back to communities which will benefit from their influence and transformative leadership for years to come.
If you would like to find out more about the MCF Summer School then please visit their website:
More information about The Welcoming and the sustainable garden can be found here: