International Development Student Accepts Leadership in Action Award
Sophomore international development major Sheila George accepted Leadership Houston’s “Leadership in Action Award” on behalf of the World Affairs Council Houston, during a luncheon on March 7. She designed the WACH’s Global Houston website that won the International category.
The Leadership in Action award is given to non-profits and corporations that have made extraordinary contributions through their programs or projects toward the betterment of life in the Greater Houston area.
George manages the website and updates events and content as part of an internship with WACH, where she has worked since July. During the awards luncheon, Linda Wuest, executive director of WACH, could have accepted this award herself, but she encouraged George to accept the award on stage.
“I hadn't even thought I would go to the stage if we won the award, so this was a great honor,” George said.
“The award is largely Sheila’s award,” Wuest said. “The World Affairs Council got the project started, but over the last six months, the work has been 100 percent her work. The website, which is beautiful, is thanks to her talent and her persistence. She deserves full credit.”
The Global Houston website was created by the City of Houston and WACH to foster better communication within the international community, and includes about 400 member organizations.
“Now that Houston is the most diverse area in the nation, it’s pretty important,” George said.
As a link to Houston’s international resources, Wuest said the Global Houston website provides international elements that are increasingly important for jobs, for businesses and for making Houston an interesting place to live.
By working on Global Houston, George said she has seen firsthand how diverse Houston is.
“On one day there will be an event featuring Søren Hermansen discussing the Samsø Model [of sustainability in Denmark], and across town there will be a lecture on the Asia Pivot [about the U.S. turning more attention to Asia],” she said.
“The mayor understands that for all of this diversity to be integrated in the fabric of our community, there needs to be a way for people to know about it,” Wuest said. “Global Houston a place to look for international expertise, all of that Highlights Houston’s international capacity and richness, elements that make Houston a rich and exciting place to live,” she said.
Wuest said George was uniquely talented to manage the website, with her knowledge of international elements, visual and design skills and understanding of other cultures. “She was able to get the full picture of this right away, with no supervision,” Wuest said. “She got it and ran with it.”
George said the internship at WACH has been a wonderful experience for her. “Linda is been an extraordinary boss,” George said. “She goes out of her way to help me get the most out of every project that I work on.”
George wanted to learn more about work in international studies and international development, and she said she is grateful to Dr. Hans Stockton, director of the Center for International Studies and chair of the Department of International Studies, for recommending her for the internship.
“What I learn while working at the World Affairs Council has really brought to life what I learned in class,” she said. “It is one thing to read an article by Stephen Klineberg on demographics in my World Regional Geography class, another to hear him discuss these findings in person.”
George hopes to continue working at the internship until she graduates.