One of the most exciting pillars of the LEAF Academy is its Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) program. EL strives to provide students with skills and competencies through project-based learning that will allow them to make a positive impact on their communities.
These skills include the ability to constantly improve, find new and interesting opportunities, develop them as ideas, create projects around them, and collaborate with a team of like-minded peers to bring the projects to fruition.
Work in EL is centered around diverse multi-cultural teams. Students solve real-life case studies, and have the opportunity to work in and lead student enterprises, which operate not only within LEAF Academy´s environment, but also in the outside economy. Cooperation with businesses and companies gives students a unique opportunity to experience the working environment first-hand.
Through this experience, students receive feedback and insights into their own strengths, passions and growth areas. This prepares them better for their future careers, as they are receiving powerful lessons in cooperation, cross-cultural communication and teamwork in the process.
One example of such a project was a cooperation with a local community center and café Kalab. Two groups of students were helping them create and prototype a new concept of activities that can better promote Kalab’s ideas and mission to a wider audience including elementary school students.
“First I thought this project will be great for students to work on something, but at the same time it was such a great opportunity for us. I can name hundreds of things which this project gave me and gave to students. We got so much inspiration and they created such a great things together. Seeing how they are connected with the project, how they are working hard and hearing their reactions is great. I have seen how much effort they put into it and how they always improve their ideas and bring something new.”
Andrea Kutlíková, from Kalab
As a result, one group created a promotional video explaining the key activities of the center while another group prepared a set of experiential games supporting empathy, which were prototyped at several elementary schools around Bratislava.
Simulated experiential learning activities are another integral part of our EL courses. Students are challenged to solve problems, compete, collaborate, or fulfill given tasks, all of which helps them to discover more about themselves and their own reactions in critical situations.
An example of such an experiential activity is a situation, where two teams have to cross a simulated swamp without falling into it.
However, the only way of successfully completing their mission within the time limit is by cooperating rather than competing. The subsequent discussion with students leads to powerful realizations and deeper personal learning, which the participants are able to derive from their own actions during the simulation.
EL also focuses on a human-centered design thinking process. This process encourages students to believe in their abilities, understand the world around them, identify its needs and the opportunities it provides, invent creative solutions, listen to feedback and be ready to continuously improve their ideas until they are ready to be implemented.
Sample ideas could include anything from improving the surroundings of their block, finding solutions to improve care for the elderly in their city, or creating prototypes for devices with national or international impact.
Reflecting on their experiences, students are able to constantly grow and learn from each other, draw conclusions, and develop the competencies necessary for successful future leaders.