It’s a big, rapidly changing world. With evolving careers, new fields and changing technology, it can be hard to determine which skills will be the most handy in five, 10 or 15 years.
A local chapter of an international organization believes at least one skill will always come in handy: communication. That’s why its members are excited to invite area students and parents to participate in an international event coming to Hutchinson this month.
“Most people do not see themselves as public speakers. But we all have to communicate,” said Jennifer Moore, a sponsor and mother of students participating in ECHO.
ECHO, which stands for Expressing Christ’s Hope to Others, is part of the Institute for Cultural Communicators, a national organization working to prepare students to influence today’s culture. Though a goal of the group is to help students learn to articulate their faith effectively, ICC is not evangelistic.
“The institute is for Christian students, but the information that we have applies for everyone,” said Mindy Johnson, a global leader in ICC. She started the local chapter, which now meets in Silver Lake, in 2011.
Those who want to get a taste of ICC’s perspective are invited to sign up for Communicators for Christ, an event hosted at nine venues around the world, including Hutchinson.
“Communicators for Christ is a two-day immersive experience designed to empower parents and students ages 6-18 to influence today’s culture through communication and leadership skills,” Moore said. “This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the community and wisdom of like-minded Christians intentionally pursuing the authentic connections and relationships in which influence flourishes. Our global team of adult and young adult instructors help families start where they are and begin the transformation into extraordinary leaders.”
The event is Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27-28, at CrossPoint Church. Hutchinson Public Schools are not in session that Friday. The cost is $119 for students and $169 for parents. Between the two days, participants will receive 15 hours of training in leadership, speaking and communication. To register, visit iccinc.org/cfc2019. Some scholarships are available. To inquire email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A free program is open to the public 7-8:30 p.m. Friday.
“Expect to see these incredible teenagers that learned to communicate well on and off the platform,” Moore said. “It’s inspirational to see teenagers that know how to connect.”
What drew Mindy Johnson into ICC was a lesson on eye contact. She had always learned that making eye contact makes you seem confident.
“At my first CFC, I saw teenagers teaching we make eye contact to let people know we care about them,” she said. “This was a new angle on it, a Christian angle. We talk about public speaking as an act of service. You do public speaking because you love people, not to hit them over the head.”
Joanna Johnson, 17, will be a global student instructor at the event. She, as well as many other ECHO members, have been to past Communicators for Christ conferences. The closest was in Minneapolis, and this is the first year the event has come to Hutchinson.
“I’m going to help out with younger kids wherever they need me,” she said, “leading games and activities and stuff like that.”
“This is really unique training because we train teenagers to train kids,” Mindy Johnson said. “There is a magical peer pressure that happens at the conference. Kids are dragged in by their parents, but by the end they are speaking at a mic in front of everyone. It’s a wonderful learning environment.”
Miranda Moore, 16, will be an apprentice student leader at the conference. She was 8 years old when she attended her first conference.
“I don’t remember what all we did, but I remember going in and being all, ‘Oh, everyone is so welcoming and I’m not scared to go up and tell my joke,’” she said. “That was our homework. We had to go and tell our joke.”
The conference, which is hosted by an international team of ICC youth, will focus on critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, cultural intelligence and communication.
“People will leave the event with these skills,” Moore said.
“This intern team we are really proud of because it’s the first one where two members are not from the United States,” Mindy Johnson said. “They bring a unique perspective to what they are doing.”