Lodewijk Hoekstra

Nationality: Dutch
Living in: Naarden, The Netherlands
Programmes: ILP-2002, ALP-2003
My name is Lodewijk Hoekstra. I live in Naarden together with my wife Kristel, son Mels (3) and daughter Diese (4). I am a TV gardener and presenter in the well-known Dutch TV show "Eigen Huis en Tuin" (Own House and Garden) which draws about a million viewers each week.

When I was a bit younger I was seeking my identity and did not know very well what I wanted in life. For this reason, my parents suggested for me to go to a WYSE programme. I attended the International Leadership Programme (ILP) in Havelte, the Netherlands in 2002. Having gotten the taste of it, I participated in the Advanced Leadership Programme in Lucca, Italy in 2003. I have experienced the programmes as being very special and intense -- they have benefitted me very much. "What makes your heart sing", that's what's it all about!

What makes my heart sing is to be able to connect people with nature in a responsible and sustainable manner.

I always used to work as a gardener. A few years after the ILP, I reacted on the off-chance to an advertisement for a TV gardener for "Eigen Huis en Tuin". They invited me over for an interview, and the rest is history.

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Marco Petralia

Nationality: Italian
Living in: Sicily, Italy
Programmes: ELP 2011
During the ILP I took part in September 2011 I met great people, had great experiences and great conversations from the first day I arrived in St. Braviels.

There was just one thing that wasn't as great as the rest during the first days: our lunch! The hostel staff did a wonderful job preparing breakfast and dinner for us, but after 2 days all the participants (especially the Italians) were complaining about the lunch sandwich. That is why we decided to prepare our own lunch and together with the WYSE volunteers, we prepared excellent food for our lunch everyday. We talked a lot about differences and similarities in food culture in our countries and we shared recipes.

Food really connected us. Actually it connects all people around the world and it is related to a lot of global issues: fundamental rights, social issues (work, fair wages), environment, fair distribution of resources, health, education, culture, history, etc.

In fact, the first UN Millennium Development Goal is "Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger".

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Stephan Allmendinger

Nationality: German
Living in: Munich
Programmes: ILP - 2010
ALP - 2010
Helper 2011, coming up 2012

My Name is Stephan Allmendinger. I am a doctor, working with seriously ill patients in a palliative care unit at the University Hospital in Munich, Germany.

3 Years ago I founded - together with good friends - a small non-profit organisation called "Medizin und Menschlichkeit" (engl.: medicine and humanness). Our vision was to create a competent space where medical students and young doctors can discuss, explore and set into practice topics like self-development, communication skills, empathy and spirituality. We believe there is a need to cultivate heart-centred skills, to include alongside the everyday medical reality. Hand in hand with the scientific knowledge and the technical expertise of western medicine, these 'human qualities' add a very important quality when working with people seeking help.

Our little group has grown to a small movement in the German-speaking countries: We organize workshops, seminars and once a year a six-day summer school for 40 participants from all over Germany and Austria. In this little time we have become a home for many like-minded people and we inspired others to form local groups in their towns.

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Andrea Cardillo

Nationality: Italian
Living in: Florence / Naples
Programmes: ILP 2004, ILP 2005, Helper 2009, Staff 2010 ongoing

Leadership can be a challenging concept to define and a challenging attitude to develop. Things get even more challenging when you have to measure the impact that growing as a leader can have on your life and the people around you. Even after so many years have passed since my first programme, I can still see the 'long wave' generated on my personal and professional life by that experience.

When life gets more tough or I have a hard time, I feel the need to reconnect with my experience in Lucca, with the community of my worldwide WYSE friends and with that sense of positive and concrete trust in the future.

Another way to get back in touch with that inspiration again, is to go back to the stories of some of the participants that have, like me, been to the programmes over the last years. I am pleased to share with you some of the quotes from the Follow Up forms of the St Briavels – Taking Vision to Action participants. My wish for you is that they will act as energizers, supporting us all to think about the impact of consciously using will to make a positive contribution!

Read further to see how the alumni describe the benefits of their participation in the European Leadership Programme.

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Natia Peradze

Living in: Georgia
Programmes: WYSE ILP in 2006 and WYSE Advanced ILP in 2009
I have attended WYSE ILP in 2006 and WYSE Advanced ILP in 2009. Sounds like two simple facts, however it affected my life more than anything else in my past.

These two trainings were the experience I am never able to put into words. When I am trying to reflect my emotions, I just end up being quiet with my eyes wide open and shining.

I cannot say WYSE gave me answers to all my questions. On the contrary, I think WYSE rewarded my mind with even more questions. And I believe that is even more precious. No, life did not get easier or simpler. And I do not want it to be easier.

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James Mills

Nationality: British
Living in: London
Programmes: ILP 2008 - Italy

I applied to be part of WYSE at a key transition point in my life. I was about to move to London from my home town in order to make progress in my career. Almost a year of unsuccessful jobhunting had affected my confidence. Therefore my intention for WYSE was to gain clarity and focus for the future.

WYSE helped me to explore what had been holding me back over the previous few months. Additionally I appreciated the warmth and friendliness of my fellow participants.

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Jason Whitmore

Nationality: British
Living in: Los Angeles, USA
Programmes: Italy, 2011

No matter how different people seem there is always common ground. A place to relate to each other and realise that despite the 'differences' many of the problems we all face are identical.

After going through WYSE young leaders programme I saw the failures of our mainstream global community more clearly - the inequity that penetrates the core of our social systems became ever more apparent.

After finishing the programme I was fortunate to meet a group of like minded individuals. We were in our late twenties, all from different backgrounds and had all been through similar life experiences.

We decided to pool our resources and skill sets and make a documentary that simplified the complexity of the global economic structures we live under.

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