Alan Lightman’s Manifesto for Leadership Residents

Welcome to the Harpswell family. Let me first thank you. You are giving a great gift to our students by living with them, offering your presence, your friendship, and your knowledge of the world. We are working together to shape a struggling country and to make the world a better place.

The young women you will be living with are extraordinary. They have come from poor families in rural villages, many without electricity or plumbing. All of these young women have overcome great obstacles to get where they are now. We have carefully chosen these students from all over the country for their intelligence, their ambition, and their leadership potential. They are the best hope for Cambodia. Each of them is an uncut jewel. Through our efforts, we can help them shine, empower them, and prepare them to become leaders of their country.

Our mission is “to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia.” Our ultimate goal is to help revive Cambodia, a country that is unique among all impoverished nations in that essentially all of its educated population was targeted and killed in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge in the biggest genocide of the last century.

Our aim is to improve education and health care, fight poverty and disease and sex trafficking, re-establish culture. To achieve this aim, we have a two step strategy:

First, we carefully select the brightest young women in the country and empower them to become leaders. Secondly, and over time, our graduates assume positions as ministers of government, directors of NGOs, heads of hospitals, business entrepreneurs, etc and become a powerful force for change in the country.

Although you may be engaged in a number of different activities with our students, from teaching English to creating a cookbook of their provincial cuisines, the most important thing you can do is to serve as a role model. During your stay, please try to spend time with each student on an individual basis. Inspire them with your own life story. Tell them of your travels. Share with them your own hopes and dreams.

Motivate them with your own commitment to serving others less advantaged. Help develop in them a large view of the world, a sense of the power of women, a passion for helping others, a desire to become leaders of their country. Give them courage. We want our students to think big, and I want you to think big.

With appreciation,

Alan Lightman


July 2010