In January, 56 students from 16 countries came together for the ninth annual Institute for Leadership in the Americas (ILA) at the University of the Andes in Santiago, Chile. Students hailed from many countries around the Americas, as well as Iraq, Hong Kong and India.
These young leaders came to Chile to grow their leadership abilities while learning more about the philosophical and moral underpinnings of a free society.
Julia Laborne (ILA 16), a student from Brazil, was one of the many young leaders who benefited from the program.
“ILA was one of the most enriching experiences that I have ever had,” Laborne said. “The opportunity to discuss Latin American issues, freedom and development with students from all over the world was inspiring.”
Laborne wasn’t alone in her satisfaction of the program. In fact, 97 percent of the 2016 class said that ILA exposed them to new ideas and new concepts that they had not studied before, and 85 percent said that the ILA experience was more intellectually engaging and thought provoking than the classes at their home universities.
The academic components of ILA are divided into two sections during the students’ two weeks in Santiago. Week one focuses on the philosophical and moral aspects of leadership, economics and politics taught by six-time ILA professor, Dr. Brad Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University.
Thompson’s interactive classes are somewhat unique in academia. He consistently receives high evaluations by students for his ability to engage and many proclaim that Thompson “exposed me to ideas that I had not heard before.”
During the second week, University of the Andes Professors Juan Ignacio Brito, Ricardo Leiva, Juan Nagel, Francisco Ulloa and Jaime Bellolio covered in-depth the public policies that have made Chile a breakout economic power in Latin America.
2016 was the first year that Professor Nagel participated in ILA, and the Venezuelan native made a very good impression on the students, according to the survey taken after the course. Nagel was not only an effective professor of Chile’s economic model, but he has long been a notable critic of the regime in Venezuela. Ulloa, a well-known business advisor to some of Chile’s largest companies, provided an insider’s view of how public policy affects the business environment.
Lorrayne Gaia (ILA 16) was one student who declared that her knowledge grew because of the time she spent in the ILA coursework.
“I’ve learned so much during these two weeks, and I just wish I had this kind of high-quality, engaging exposure earlier in my education,” Gaia said. “I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity for me to enjoy these great lectures.”
In addition to their discussions in the classrooms, the students were also able to attend tours throughout Santiago, including a visit to the Chilean congress in Valparaiso. There they had a briefing from Congressman Jaime Bellolio, who also delivered lectures to ILA students during the second week.
Laura Gasca (ILA 16) who hails from Columbia said that she was especially grateful to broaden her horizons by taking in all that the city had to offer.
“I had the opportunity of seeing the majesty of Chile, its wonderful landscapes and experiences, as well as its people, who are very warm and kind,” Gasca said.
One of the continued highlights of ILA over the years is the guest lecture by one of the original “Chicago Boys,” Dr. Jose Piñera, the architect of Chile’s personalized pension system.
This year, Dr. Piñera spent a full afternoon speaking with students at the auditorium of Libertad y Desarrollo (Liberty and Development), an influential free-market think tank in Chilean policy.
Many components of ILA 2016 offered a unique landscape of discussion because of the real world current events happening across the Americas in the political and economic spheres. One student from Peru, Kei Kanashiro (ILA 16), remarked that because of ILA, she will return to her country better prepared to vote in their upcoming presidential election.
Congratulations to our 2016 ILA graduates! Welcome to the TFAS alumni network. Since 2008, ILA has educated more than 400 young leaders who are now defending freedom in a region where it has long been under attack. ILA alumni are making an impact as founders of free-market think tanks, elected officials and columnist for major newspapers. To learn more about the ILA program, visit www.TFASinternational.org/ILA.