Alannah LeBlanc, a voice for global citizens
“…at this new level of depth, men encounter each other not as strangers, but as other selves. On the surface lie all the differences—of race and nation and creed. At heart, men share a common human substance.”
Alannah LeBlanc shares Barbara Ward’s vision, especially for those in the West where an ordinary individual might learn, while washing one of the family’s three cars with potable water, that over 6,000 children under five years of age die each day worldwide from water teeming with deadly microorganisms. Amid middle class comforts, such tragedies are soon forgotten, so Alannah feels that education must undergo a massive paradigm shift to foster the awareness that allows people to reach the level where they see every human as another self, to “rattle the prison bars of injustice” as she puts it, or to “be a family to the orphan.” She means this literally. Her parents took in eighteen-year-olds whose parents had told them they were on their own and invited younger teens with challenging home lives to join the family on holidays. Alannah plans to continue the practice, offering a home “bursting at the seams with laughter and dancing and singing.”
Admitted to several colleges, Alannah confesses she felt entitled to an all-expenses-paid education at the school of her dreams. Instead, it became necessary to live at home and work her way through college. She sought a job in line with her philosophies, but instead, found herself—a vegetarian—working at entry level for Chick-fil-A. She was “the go-to girl for restroom catastrophes, presents left by toddlers, and overflowing dumpsters.” She spent a year doing everything wrong, but she volunteered often, failing in those efforts as well. She drove to work with a tear-stained face, put on a smile, and burst into tears inside her car at the end of the shift. “I was humbled and broken,” Alannah says.
Finally, the managers began telling her they were glad to work with her, knowing everything would go well. They thanked her for persevering. “We think you have what we look for in leadership,” a manager said. Alannah was promoted to a trainer, and after more trial and error, she learned the “balancing act between valuing both results and relationships.” She discovered that she set the tone of the evening. “My grumbling and complaining only opens the gates for a lousy night.” She observed the learning styles of her trainees and molded her instructions accordingly. She learned to get over her hang-ups and instead embody the values she wanted to see in her team.
Alannah is currently studying foreign languages and literature at UC Riverside with a focus in French and German, minoring in Arabic. She plans to work for change in education, incorporating the arts, prioritizing foreign languages, and equipping as well as challenging students to “achieve the brilliancy they are capable of.” She envisions starting a summer academy, inspired by the Hansen Summer Institute, to help high school students become global citizens and leaders.
In retrospect, she feels abundantly blessed. Having to work for her education increased her appreciation for it profoundly. She learned good stewardship and how to budget and save. She learned “plenty in the way of humility,” and “to live every moment—even the ugly ones—with a song of thanksgiving.” She means that literally too. She loves to sing, and while Alannah’s plans may move mountains, her clear and poignant voice is a gift that somehow connects listeners directly to that level she hopes to help the world achieve, a level of universality where all humans share a common substance and see other people as other selves.