By Ryan Hartnett     10/29/2014

This past summer, Servite High School junior David Gallegos studied Mandarin at a college in Shanghai, China, where he lived on his own for two months.

With no prior experience in the language, Gallegos was faced with an exciting challenge of learning the skills he needed to survive in the Chinese culture. Gallegos is representative of the type of leaders Servite is trying to form with its new Sanberg International Leadership Program.

Although Gallegos’s visit to China had no direct correlation to the program that Servite is now offering, the knowledge and experience he gained while visiting China are similar to what Servite hopes to offer once its new International Leadership Program launches.

The mission of the program is to form future international leaders by introducing students to critical foreign languages, guiding students on enriching immersion experiences abroad and providing specialized instruction focused on leadership, formation and personal cultivation—all informed by the charisms of the Servite Order.

Servite alumnus Joseph Sanberg (Class of 1997) initiated the program and has committed funding to it for a minimum of six years.

Sanberg decided to put the focus of the program in China to start things off. “Because of its rich culture and history, recent economic rise, increasingly important role in international affairs, and large population, China is an excellent source and focus of study for students interested in international education, careers and leadership,” he says.

Students wishing to participate in the program must enroll during their freshman year at Servite and take a Mandarin class for three years. Qualifying students will travel to China over the summer of their sophomore and junior years. Until the program gains momentum, the travel costs for eligible students will be funded by Sanberg.

The classes are small enough that students can get the attention they need since they are learning such a complex language. The class is taught by Ryan Judd, who graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Chinese Studies and received a Fulbright research grant to participate in their China Research program, where he spent one year studying ethnic minority groups in China. c


Ryan Hartnett is editor-in-chief of The Spokesman at Servite High School.