Contributed by Cynthia Gibson
“But how do we get them to be better than they think they can be? That is very difficult, I find.
“Inspiration, perhaps. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us? I sometimes think it is by using the work of others.”
This is the scene from Invictus, a film about Nelson Mandela’s life and leadership, that begins the Freedom Foundation’s (now known as Something New) Inspirational Leadership Training.
Mark Duke, founder of the Freedom Foundation (now Something New), uses a combination of his unique life experience, the work of other inspiring leaders, and the examples of Foundation volunteers to ignite a passion for leadership and service in training participants. The training is intense, self-reflective, inspiring and touching and pushes student leaders to become their best — at their schools and in their communities.
The Freedom Foundation’s (Something New) Alternative Break philosophy is different than most programs of its kind. Many alternative break sites provide direct service opportunities for a week – this one aims to inspire volunteers to serve for a lifetime.
Mark uses personal life experiences as well as moving examples to inspire students to dig in and examine not only their passions, but also what would keep them from following those passions. Students listen, reflect, share, write, and even evaluate themselves. The training is direct and intentionally designed to push students to consider what really matters most in life.
Matt, an Alternative Break student from Ohio who recently participated in the training, shared that the training “forces you to think about what you truly find important, and what role you see for yourself in that cause. If you have a strong drive and direction but can’t yet seem to find traction, and you are willing to seriously confront yourself, you’ll have the opportunity to force yourself forward.”
Candace, a student from Florida makes it simple: “Mark’s passionate, thought-provoking approach gets straight to the heart.”
And the heart is what matters. Mark has followed his heart to lead a life of purpose—his actions inspire many to follow.
In pursuit of his passion for justice and equality, Mark Duke founded the Something New after leaving a seven-figure salary. His inspiring personal story of gaining it all, and then giving it all to help make a difference in the world, inspires students across the country to a life commitment of service.