Youth develop global leadership competencies through 4-H – Part 4

4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leadership in a Global World curriculum focuses on developing communication skills, one of five youth global leadership competencies.

Youth shaking hands
Participants doing the "A Day in My Life" activity at the 4-H Spectacular! at the Kettunen Center. Photo by Michigan State University Extension.

The Michigan 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum features five youth global leadership competencies to help youth learn what it takes to be a leader in an interconnected, global environment. This fourth article in a series by Michigan State University Extension will continue to introduce the curriculum and focus on the communication competency.

Youth need to be competent communicators to be successful leaders. Characteristic behaviors of youth with the communication global leadership competency include developing solid interpersonal communication skills, communicating effectively with cultural groups different from their own, learning two or more languages, preparing and presenting thoughts, opinions, ideas and information effectively to others, and understanding how communication influences leadership.

The curriculum includes a self-reflection tool and a place to record accomplishments through photographs. Each activity has a “talk it over” section with a set of questions to think about and discuss after completing the activity. Taking time for reflection is a critical part of the learning experience. The process of reflecting and applying to real life situations that participants have experienced reinforces what was learned and the skills developed.

An activity in the curriculum that focuses on the communication and culture competencies is “A Day in the life of an American Youth” (see photo). Participants look at a day in their own life and document things about their life and culture. They document a day in their life through photographs, a video, interviewing family and friends, writing essays, journaling, scrapbooking, art work or other ways they choose. They then create a short presentation on their own culture based on what they have documented. This is a great activity to help youth use their communication skills to document and reflect on their own life and culture. That process can also help youth prepare to share their culture with others during an international exchange experience.

The curriculum’s free online resource matrix offers suggestions to extend learning about the communication competency. One resource is the free Michigan 4-H Communication Toolkit: Fun Skill-building Activities to Do with Kids.

Participating in an international exchange program as a traveler or host family is also recommended in the resource matrix. Exchanges are a great way to practice communicating with someone from another culture who speaks a different language. Visit the Michigan 4-H Global and Cultural Education website for more information on Michigan 4-H international travel and hosting international exchange opportunities and other global and cultural educational programs.

The 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum can be purchased at the MSU Extension Bookstore (search for 4H1643). It is available in a printed version or on a USB flash drive.

Future articles in this series will explore other global youth competencies including creativity and culture. Refer back to other competencies discussed in this series in Parts 12 and 3.

Other articles in this series

Did you find this article useful?