Leadership and mental health came under the spotlight when more than 50 student leaders from all over the world met on the main campus of Stellenbosch University (SU) from 23–26 June 2019 for the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS) Student Leader Global Summit. It was the first time that SU hosted this summit.
IASAS is a non-profit organisation that was founded in Belgium in 2013. It is a worldwide association of university professionals working in the area of student services. IASAS has more than 1 200 individual and institutional members representing 85 countries on five continents.
The fourth IASAS Student Leader Global Summit (SLGS) welcomed 55 students from 16 countries across the world. The SLGS provides a global platform for improving multi and intercultural communication and understanding between students. The goal of the summits is to bring student leaders from different parts of the world together to discuss student governance, leadership, social justice or other topics of shared interest.
With this year's summit focusing on leadership and mental health, participants discussed the what, why and how to cultivate behaviours, develop skills and campaigns that enhance and support mental wellbeing.
In the photo: Dr Birgit Schreiber (Senior Director: Student Affairs and Vice-President
During the opening session on Monday (24 June 2019), Dr Birgit Schreiber, Senior Director: Student Affairs at SU and Vice-President of IASAS, along with Dr Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo, IASAS General Secretary and Associate Vice-President and Dean for Students at Pace University in New York, USA and Damian Medina, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Duke Kunshan University in China, shared some insights into the initiatives and outcomes regarding mental health and well-being support at their respective universities. Students could give feedback and ask questions on their presentations and later discussed the topic further in groups.
“We feel that it is very important that the work we do at IASAS in helping students be successful is noted not just in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom. We look forward to students gaining from this experience and applying it at their universities," said Moscaritolo.
According to Moscaritolo, the issue of mental health and well-being had already been a highly suggested topic of discussion at the first summit, which was held in Montreal, Canada in March 2016. She said she was glad that it could finally be explored in more detail at this year's summit.
In the photo: Dr Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo (Secretary General of IASAS).
In her welcoming note, Schreiber reminded the students how important the summit was in helping to prepare future leaders of the world.
“This truly is a coming together of international students from various countries and multiple regions of the world. It is very important that we come together. It is very important that we speak about leadership in this context of the world together. IASAS is a very exciting organisation that is enthusiastic about student success and using student affairs as a tool and mechanism for student success in the world," said Schreiber.
Over the course of the summit, students also had the opportunity to connect with other student leaders and have group discussions where they explored their own understanding of leadership and gained insight into mental wellness and the role that student leaders play within an ecosystem of support. They also built collaborations and teams, identified resources and strategies that support mental wellbeing, engaged collaboratively across their differences and tried to develop a micro-campaign suited to their context.
For more information on upcoming events and the next SLGS, visit the IASAS website at http://iasas.global/.