As most schools get ready for summer break, the Brandon Hall School in Sandy Springs is gearing up to host students from half a dozen countries attending partner schools and to rev up its programs for future “global leaders.”
The students from Africa, Asia, South America and Bermuda, the self-ruling British overseas territory, will participate along with U.S. counterparts in the school’s programs for the Center for Global Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurial Studies.
Simultaneously Brandon Hall will operate the ELL Global Village, which will provide English as a foreign language instruction in an intensive program that incorporates daily cultural and educational experiences around the Atlanta area.
Dean J. Fusto, president of the school and founder of the Center for Global Youth Leadership, came to Brandon Hall in 2017 and decided to rebrand its summer emphasis from remediation and academic enrichment to actualize the school’s global vision.
“We have seen exponential growth in just two years because of our sharp focused and relentless marketing efforts,” he told Global Atlanta. “During the school year we are about 140 students from over 22 countries. The summer expands to over 200 students at its peak. Some of our regular academic year students do attend during the summer. It just depends.”
Under Mr. Fusto’s leadership the school has emphasized the international experience of its middle and high school students, many of whom board at the school.
“Our aim is to equip, ignite and propel forward a new generation of innovative and collaborative global leaders,” he says.
International students are interspersed with American students throughout the day to improve their English and learn about American culture.
By maximizing the local connections he has developed through networking at local international events and drawing on his past experience as an educator, Mr. Fusto has forged a significant number of partnerships with schools located abroad.
These include formalized relationships with schools in Hamilton, Bermuda; Cambite, Domican Republic; Cartagena, Colombia, Santa Catarina, Brazil; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Vung Tau, Vietnam.
In China, it has relationships with schools in Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai and Lanzhou.
Each student enrolled in the Center for Global Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurial Studies is required to identify a societal or global issue that they want to actively endeavor to solve
Those who are admitted to the Global Youth Leadership in Action program compete in a “Shark Tank” like international conference where they have to present their projects before a diverse panel of experts.
Throughout the program they are exposed to guest speakers and workshop facilitators such as the following who already have participated: Canada’s consul general, Nadia Theodore; Matt Murrie, a TEDx speaker; Paul Schur, general manager of Slalom Atlanta, which works with Fortune 500 companies developing technology and strategies to grow their businesses;
Dr. Nyasha M. Guramatunhu Cooper, a leadership studies scholar and educator who explores the connection between intercultural competence and global leadership issues; Sucheta Rawal, an award-winning food and travel writer and author who raises awareness of global cultures through travel and community action; Jennifer Riis-Poulsen, founder and CEO of Powerhouse Self-Defense, who approaches personal safety and empowerment by teaching mental and physical self-defense;
Kendall Robinson, a teenage entrepreneur who founded Love Rolls Inc. to provide toilet paper for the homeless and others in need; demonstrating how one person can have a tremendous impact; Bob McCormick, a founder of the Atlanta Institute for Diplomatic Leadership, which promotes peace through education; Ruhi Rahman, who works with UNICEF USA as a Global Citizen Fellow; and Dr. Hai Ho, chairman of the Millennial Leadership Academy, an Atlanta-based multi-cultural, non-profit corporation designed for leadership development.
The students also become acquainted with Aaron Brazelton, director of the school’s advancement and global engagement, whose personal experience provides an example of how global exposure can transform a person’s life.
While only a junior at the University of Alabama, Mr. Brazelton was recognized by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with its International Exchange Award.
He was only 15-year-old when he traveled abroad for the first time with the Serbia Youth Leadership Program in 2007. Prior to this experience, he willingly admits that he wasn’t active in school, in his community in Huntsville, Ala., and had no concept of cultural appreciation or respect.
But the “the Serbia Youth Leadership Program challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and appreciate people for who they are.”
He went on to found the Heritage Panel, a partnership of the YMCA of Central Alabama and the University of Alabama, which established a year-long training and discussion program for high school students and educators.
He then started the Serbian Fellowship Experience, an educational and social partnership between the University of Alabama Honors College, the University of Novi Sad in Serbia and the municipality of Blace, Serbia.
Now at Brandon Hall, he provides a model for the summer students to emulate.
To learn more about Brandon Hall, click here.