Student selected to help lead ambassadorial conference

Andrew Leistensnider (center back) poses here with other students from the 63rd annual Japan-America Student Conference, an international event for students that promotes leadership, addresses current events, and helps students from Japan and America to build relationships.
Courtesy Photo

By Jennifer Kang

One Baylor student is taking advantage of international opportunities.

Greenwich, Conn. junior Andrew Leistensnider was named an executive committee member of the Japan-America Student Conference of 2012.

The Japan-America Student Conference, which began in 1934, fosters leadership, addresses current issues and helps build relationships between Japanese citizens and Americans.

Yoshiko Fujii Gaines, a full-time lecturer in Japanese who taught Leistensnider’s Japanese class, recommended he attend the previous conference held last July.

For the conference in 2012, Leistensnider was selected to be an executive committee member by a combination of other delegates and previous executive committee members. Leistensnider will travel to Japan to attend the conference.

Leistensnider said the executive committee members play an influential role by planning and running the next year’s conference. The executive committee comprises eight American and eight Japanese students. As one of the eight American members, Leistensnider represents Baylor among other representatives from schools like Cornell University and Duke University.

“Each year, the executive committee builds next year’s conference. We do everything from designing the events we will be doing in each of the cities, transportation, lodging and the cultural events,” Leistensnider said. “We also pick next year’s delegates, decide the roundtable topics, evaluate the papers that students submit and listen to their presentations.”

The selection of executive committee members is a lengthy process, typically a month long event Leistensnider said.

After being selected, students must participate in many events to qualify.

“Delegates write and submit papers about their roundtable topics. There are seven roundtable topics that change each year and range from ideas such as culture and environment to globalization and technology,” Leistensnider said. “Over the month of the conference, you also travel to different cities. We go to forums and other conferences and learn about current events such as the Japan-America alliance and issues in the host country.”

Gaines said the conference is very competitive. In order to attend, students must be skilled in leadership.

“It’s not just for people who have a language skill,” Gaines said. “Language skill is a plus since you go to another country, but it’s more a leadership training program.”

Gaines, who taught Leistensnider for multiple semesters, said she saw his drive and leadership quality.

“Because this conference is based on leadership, I wanted to recommend someone who has that leadership quality,” Gaines said. “I have seen Andrew as a leader for group projects and dialogues.”

Gaines said she believes Baylor provides a good background for students to engage in international work by giving opportunities, like this one, to study abroad and to learn foreign languages.

Citing globalization as a factor in the work force, Gaines said Andrew is a good example of a future leader.

“He uses the language to communicate with the people from Japan to build a relationship,” Gaines said. “But you also have to have more than just a language education. You have to be sensitive and knowledgeable about other cultures so you can function as a member of the global community.”

Because of his experience in conferences such as these, Leistensnider said he hopes to have a career in international business.

“I think Baylor has a lot of opportunities, and programs like [the Japan-America Student Conference] give me further opportunities,” Leistensnider said. “Students should take these opportunities that Baylor gives to go abroad or do international work.”