In the coming days, 13 local high school students will travel abroad to participate in international service projects, in Cuernavaca, Mexico or Ladakh, India. This is the culminating chapter of our 10 month Compassionate Leaders Program. Throughout the year, these students have delved deeply into the cultivation of compassion and leadership through contemplative practices, fundraising, and local community service projects.
We have witnessed an extraordinary degree of transformation in the way Compassionate Leaders view and engage with the world. This appears to be apparent to others as well. Half the seniors received college scholarships for leadership and community service. As one CL senior explains, “My intentions have gone from being self-centered to wanting to serve the world at large. This experience gave me hope. Hope when I look in someone else’s eyes. Hope that there is a good future for man. And hope that I can be anything I want to be.”
We have begun to involve these students in preliminary research with the College of Idaho using self-reported levels of positive emotions such as empathy, forgiveness and compassion. In order to quantify the effects of this program, our hope is to strengthen this research in the future while working with neuroscientists from the University of Wyoming and University of Colorado.