When the 101 participants in the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry boarded buses at Lehigh on Sunday afternoon, they were feeling the physical, mental and emotional stress of hitting the mid-way point of an intensive program.
But when the buses pulled into a field at the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley, the pressure seemed to vanish. There to greet the interns were happy, smiling children who knew that these visitors from 52 countries were going to help them play baseball.
The Miracle League, located in Schnecksville, gives children with special needs and developmental disabilities an opportunity to play ball in a non-competitive, supportive environment. For the last four years, the Global Village has teamed up with the Miracle League for a “World Stars” game.
During the event, the interns don their native dress and carry their home country flags in a parade of nations. Then, the Global Village interns—divided by the regions of the world they represent—play three baseball games with 70 kids and only three rules: Everyone hits, everyone scores, and everyone wins.
The rigors of business and the rewards of community
It’s a far different environment than the rigorous business and leadership preparation they are immersed in during the six-week Global Village. But it is no less valuable. Part of the Global Village is designed to unite people and share distinct experiences from all around the world.
“This is an event that teaches true leadership, which is giving back to the community,” says Sultan Al Huwaimel of Saudi Arabia, one of this year’s program guides and an organizer of the event. “Understanding the world around them makes them better leaders.”
During the event, interns serve as “angels in the field”—helping kids in wheelchairs “run” the bases, field balls and play catch, while introducing them to their culture and language between innings.
“Many of these kids may never travel, so we bring the world to them,” says Richard Brandt, director of Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute, which runs Global Village each summer. “Some of our Global Village interns from previous years want to develop this kind of field in their home country and adapt it to soccer.”
Inthira Saengprachathanarak ’11 of Thailand was an angel to an energetic Miracle Leaguer named Logan.
“I’ve been very focused on engineering in school,” says Saengprachathanarak, who earned a B.S. in electrical engineering and an M.S. in energy systems engineering from Lehigh. “This program is great because I’m being exposed to business.
“We get a lot out of our projects and classes, but going into the community is even more than we expected. It’s been eye-opening and totally different.”
“We have to recognize what these children give to the Global Village,” says Mary Frances Schurtz-Leon, manager of the Global Village. “These kids refresh their spirits. They miss their families, and here these families within our community are so inviting.”
Photos by Tricia Long