Following the first JTS leaders’ conference in August 2018 and the second conference in November 2018, the third conference opened in April 2019. The topic of the third conference was “Bridging Leadership”—in other words, resolving issues by building relationships between villages and stakeholders (county district office, government organizations such as barangays, and NGOs).

The participants, who knew each other from two previous conferences, greeted each other happily. This time, 15 people from three sitios of Manolo Fortich and one sitio of San Fernando joined the leaders’ conference. The first hour of the conference was spent going over the lessons from the previous conferences. Participants wrote on colored papers key words that they associated “Bridging Leadership” with. The people who wrote the same words were grouped together and happily went over the lessons mentioned earlier and discussed why each of them had chosen to write down the words they did.

On the second day of the conference, the participants extensively discussed ways to solve problems with a method called “6 Thinking Hats.” This method involves using white, black, yellow, blue, red, and green hats. They also shared the hardships that they had faced while dedicating themselves to working as leaders, and they had an opportunity to self-reflect while listening to stories of leaders from around the world.

Next, they practiced the speeches that they would give during the graduation ceremony. Since many of them had little experience speaking in front of a crowd, they felt awkward, but each of them quickly learned to deliver their speech in a calm and communicative manner. Finally, they all decided on the programs and plans that they would deliver and implement in their own respective villages.

By continuously holding leaders’ conferences, JTS tries to provide an opportunity for the village leaders to ponder what leadership means and what they can do to lead their own villages. What kind of changes will the lessons that the leaders learned bring upon their lives and villages? Looking forward to the stories the leaders would tell at the next conference in 2 months, the JTS staff said their goodbyes to the conference participants.