Inspiring New Leaders and a Strong Will to Help Others

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Oct 29, 2019
by Fiona Davis
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Inspiring New Leaders and a Strong Will to Help Others

Former Salzburg Global Intern Fiona Davis reflects on the power of physical spaces to connect and the shared values of Salzburg Global Seminar and Harvard University Fiona Davis at Salzburg Global Seminar

Two aspects about Harvard I want to highlight are its rich history of producing service-minded leaders, and how that history is inextricably linked to the physical space of Harvard's campus. One of my favorite parts about my time as an undergraduate was walking through Dexter Gate as I passed in and out of Harvard Yard on my way to classes.

While Dexter Gate is not one of the more conspicuous or ornate gates at Harvard (of which there are many) the words inscribed across it are, in my mind, most emblematic of Harvard's legacy, and they are the ones that have continued to guide me as I begin my career and life as a Harvard alumna. As you enter Harvard Yard, the gate reads, "Enter to grow in wisdom," and as you exit, it reads, "Depart to Serve better thy country and they kind."

While I did not know about the extent of the Harvard connection to Salzburg Global Seminar before starting my internship, I did know that the Marshall Plan was first proposed by General George C. Marshall's in his speech at the 1947 Harvard Commencement. I can imagine the three Salzburg Global founders [Clemens Heller, Richard "Dick" Campbell Jnr, and Scott Elledge] sitting in Harvard Yard in June 1947, mulling it over in the context of their already brewing plans for a ‘Salzburg Seminar’ and pondering their role in the post-war world. I can see them exiting the yard through the Dexter Gate, walking down to the Kirkland House Library or Eliot Dining Hall and discussing the speech for hours, and reflecting on their own innovative plans as a ‘Marshall Plan of the Mind’ tandem to the new global economic effort. This sense of shared experience with so many students who had come before was one of the aspects of being a student at Harvard I found to be most humbling and inspiring.

I can visualize all of this as clearly as if I were there myself because these spaces and experiences are so familiar to me. I too exited through Dexter Gate after the speeches at my commencement in 2018. I, too, have spent hours talking over ideas in Harvard's dining halls with peers, planning for the future and our place in it.

The physical spaces at Harvard have an amazing power to connect current students to Harvard's past and the students, leaders, and thinkers who came before.

Features like Dexter Gate help to enshrine the value of service that has guided Harvard students from John Adams to Yo-Yo Ma to pursue their passions and live their lives permeated by service to others. For a long time, I considered this convergence of service and place as something unique to Harvard.

That is until I found myself at Salzburg Global. I believe Salzburg Global and Schloss Leopoldskron have the same power of place that is permeated by the shared value of service. As a Salzburg Global Intern in Fall 2018, I found myself sitting not in the Widener Library Reading Room or a Harvard dining hall, but in the Max Reinhardt Library and the Marble Hall at Schloss Leopoldskron, where I could sense the same connectivity with past fellows and the important, career-defining, and world-changing discussions that had taken place there.

Salzburg Global is to me, a living manifestation of Harvard students using their education to serve and to expand Harvard's commitment to service beyond the walls and gates of Harvard Yard, to reach and impact the lives of their fellow man throughout the world.

It is a testament to the perennial legacy of Harvard's history of service, the ingenuity of Salzburg Global's founders, and the stewardship of Salzburg Global's leaders over time that the organization has retained its character and staying power as a now globally focused organization for cross border cooperation.

Moving Salzburg Global's archives to Harvard essentially brings this process full circle. What began at Harvard became a global service organization, and now Salzburg Global's legacy will be permanently remembered and made a part of Harvard's own physical records again. Salzburg Global can become a part of the fabric of Harvard's legacy of service that will influence the next generation's leaders and thinkers to embrace and practice the same values.

Fiona Davis is a former Salzburg Global Development Intern who worked at the organization in Salzburg in the fourth quarter of 2018.