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Chinese students learn importance of leadership

PLATTSBURGH - In an effort to make a difference in the world, one group of international students was given a lesson on the importance of leadership.

Sixty-two students from the Sichuan Province of China participated in a cultural exchange as part of the China 150 Leadership Conference offered Jan. 7-9 through the State University of New York. The program involved the students - who are attending various SUNY colleges and universities for the year - participating in a three-day symposium to provide them with leadership skills and experiences that could benefit their home communities upon their return to China.

Dr. Stephen St. Onge, vice president for student affairs at Clinton Community College, was joined by Jackie Girard Vogl, director of international student services at SUNY Plattsburgh, and Cody McCabe, SUNY Plattsburgh international student advisor, in developing the leadership program.

According to Steve St. Onge, the conference focused on several "important aspects of leadership," which included communication, facilitation, making ethical decisions, networking and understanding their own personality profiles.

The students - who came from the Chinese province devastated by the May 2008 earthquake which killed nearly 70,000 people - utilized the conference to bond over the devastation to their homeland, said St. Onge. In the process, they formed a "deep, lifelong connection."

The skills they learned are ones they will take back to their homelands to help their communities continue the process of recovering from tragedy.

Guanghui Zhang, a student studying civil engineering at SUNY Canton, hopes to take back what he has learned from the conference to make him an effective leader that will help rebuild his hometown.

"The conference has taught us the skills we need to be good leaders and some skills such as communication skills and how to make decisions," said Zhang. "I want to go back to China and help people in my province."

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