15 May

Empowering youth to take meaningful risks

English No Response

The Loran Scholars Foundation has recently launched a thought-leadership series on the theme of meaningful risk-taking. As a Loran alumna, I decided to take on the challenge and reflect about my own understanding of risk and about some of the life experiences that contributed to shaping that understanding.

Looking back, I realize that risk-taking has played an important role in both my personal and professional life. Why? Because those times when I decided to put myself in a position where I didn’t know precisely what the outcome would be (thus placing myself at risk) are those where I learned most about myself, my values, and my dreams.

I view the notion of risk as being deeply connected with the notion of change. People who are determined to become changemakers will, at one time or another, have to make risky decisions. Finding an innovative solution to a problem and challenging the status quo always involve risk-taking. Risk is a powerful way to learn and to grow. It enables us to know ourselves better, our limits, and our potential. Through risk, we become more resilient, creative, and resourceful.

However, risk-taking has to come with a purpose.

Meaningful risk is about undertaking something that seems scary at first, but whose potential to drive positive change outweighs the fear.

Meaningful risk comes with a plan, a vision.

Am I taking this risk because I have a support network? Is there someone out there who believes in me? Am I convinced, deep down, that this is the right thing to do?

Meaningful risk is not a solo journey.

It can be at times both exciting and frightening. But it is worthy.

My years as a Loran scholar have been momentous in shaping my own definition of risk. The Loran Scholars Foundation has been investing in the potential of young changemakers for the past 30 years, guided by its three pillars of character, service, and leadership. It has provided me with countless opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and to build connections with a diverse set of equally motivated people who want to make a positive impact in the world.

Loran is much more than a merit-based university scholarship; it is a unique combination of opportunities, identity-building, inspiration, and support network. For me, becoming a Loran scholar meant having the possibility to invest time and energy in things that I cared about, but also to seek experiences that are completely new and unfamiliar. The Loran Scholars Foundation enables each scholar to broaden their horizons, to go beyond their expected paths, to challenge themselves.

Completing my undergraduate studies in a second language in a city 5,000 km away from my hometown was definitely a risk worth taking. The feeling of remoteness did not last long because I was part of a strong community. Majoring in International Relations, I might have looked exclusively for work experiences in that field. Instead, thanks to the Loran summer program, I was encouraged to pursue an intentionally interdisciplinary path. It is through one of my summer internships that I discovered how much I cared about education and youth development.

In its own way, the Loran Scholars Foundation taught me how to find meaning in the decisions that I make, and to choose projects where I feel I can have a positive impact and not only projects where I know that I will succeed.

It helped me redefine what success is. It made me understand the value of a supportive network and collaboration. But, more importantly, it taught me to believe in my ability to create change and to share this belief with the next generation of young people.

The support and opportunities provided by the Loran Scholars Foundation were stepping stones in shaping my philosophy on taking risks and making positive change. And this led me to understand that the philosophy of meaningful risk-taking is something that can be learned and developed. Learning to take risks is a process that should begin from a very young age; Education is a safe space to build self-confidence, curiosity and creativity, which are necessary qualities to take meaningful risks.

How far could we go in a world where every person feels supported enough to undertake challenges that are meaningful, and confident enough to find their unique path?

Traditional school curricula do not often integrate opportunities for children to take risks and live authentic experiences based on real-life situations. Yet, when they learn in a context that is authentic, children are more engaged and motivated. When they are given the opportunity to share their ideas and play an active role in their learning processes, children build their self-confidence, which is the foundation of success in the face of uncertainty.

Children should not be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, mistakes should become opportunities for growth and children should be driven by the desire to create positive change. Entrepreneurial education, an integrated approach that ensures both the learning of basic school subjects and the development of an exit profile, can be a motor to teach children how to take meaningful risks in order to find innovative solutions to real-life problems. By using entrepreneurship as a learning tool, schools can team up with partners in the community to make children aware that they are changemakers.

Never underestimate the potential of a child!

Today, as the Communication and Program Development Coordinator for Idea entrepreneurial education, I work together with educators to provide them with tools so that they can, in turn, implement the pedagogical and educational approach in conscious entrepreneurship.

With this approach, students learn to become more innovative in order to build their lives responsibly and autonomously, while being conscious of their impact on themselves, their human environment and nature. Teachers become coaches of a process initiated by students, who carry out entrepreneurial projects (real-life event, service or product) that respond to a need in the school or the community.

In the schools that we work with, we’ve seen elementary students in a disadvantaged neighbourhood create and manage their own toy library so that every kid could borrow tows and bring them home to play with. We’ve also seen students in a vocational school conceive a playground seesaw that pumps water, and travel all the way to Bangladesh to install it in a village that did not have direct access to water.

Those are just a few examples to illustrate the potential of conscious entrepreneurial education. I invite you to follow us on Facebook or to subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know more about what we do.

The number of educators who believe in the importance of empowering children through conscious entrepreneurial education is growing. Today, we have a network of 150 entrepreneurial schools across Canada, Belgium, Morocco, Benin and Ivory Coast. We also organize several events that aim at mobilizing, inspiring and fostering collaboration. In October 2019, we will be gathering more than 300 educators for the second edition of our Congrès automnal en éducation entrepreneuriale consciente.

We believe each school has the potential to change the world and we help educators transform their dreams into reality. Together, we hope to nurture curious, resilient, and purpose-driven young people who are unafraid to take risks in the interest of making positive change.

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