Teach Your Child a Performance Formula

Author: David Benzel, Growing Champions for Life

At a low point in my athletic career my coach proclaimed, “There’s nothing wrong with you; everything you need is inside you. Just put it together.” I didn’t understand the performance formula at the time.

tom & samMost young students want to perform well, whether it’s in school, sports, or music. When they don’t, many of them suffer needlessly due to an incorrect interpretation of their results. It’s all too common for kids to question their self-worth, or at least their natural gifts, when they don’t succeed. This is especially true when others around them are making progress at a faster pace. What if we could give our children a new perspective on a performance formula that removes the emotions of what they call failure?

If we analyze the elements of performance and break it down into a formula, what do we find? What are the elements that create success? It might be simpler than you think. Talent is the first ingredient. Talents are like playing cards. Everyone has been dealt some talent cards, but no one has the whole deck. It all depends on how carefully you picked your parents! But the good news is that an athlete’s talent can be leveraged, when the second ingredient is added to the mix – Strategy.

Strategies are methods of doing something, including the amount of effort applied. As adults we’re always looking for strategies to help us with making money, running a household, and staying healthy. The practice an athlete puts in can actually turn talent into new skills. According to Daniel Coyle in his book Talent Code, talent can be grown.

The third ingredient is Self-Belief, – or confidence. Whether your child believes he can do something, or believes he can’t, plays an important part in this three-part formula. It’s the final filter through which all performances flow.

When we draw a line under these three elements and add them up like a math problem, we discover the sum of our talent, our strategies, and our self-belief. Here’s the fun part. If all the ingredients are adequate for the task, it adds up to SUCCESS. But sometimes adding these things together doesn’t equal success. When this happens, our kids might be tempted to call this FAILURE. But in reality, there’s no such thing as failure…this is only a LESSON. And lessons are just steps on the way to success — not failure!

Some athletes get very discouraged at this point because they believe the jury has spoken and the verdict is in. They are “inadequate” for the task, so what’s the use? The truth is, talent can be grown and success can be reached IF they’re willing to adjust their strategy and/or self-belief. There’s nothing wrong with them…it’s most likely the strategy they’re using. It’s just time to find a new strategy……and try again. With the right kind of strategy and self-belief, talents can be transformed into learned skills that equal success. It is the journey of all great performers in every endeavor.

When young athletes learn there’s no such thing as failure…only lessons…they can exit the emotional rollercoaster and focus on learning the next lesson, and then the next. Our job is to explain this one simple truth. There’s nothing wrong with them. Everything they need is inside them, or available to be learned.

Meet HAT Summer Camp Coaches!

Trace Collins


Our awesome coaches are gearing up for summer camp, and we wanted to take the next few weeks to introduce you to them. First up, we have Trace Collins.
Trace has been playing tennis since he was three years-old!  He began playing USTA tournaments at ten years-old and joined HAT when he was in highschool.  Before joining HAT, Trace played at Inverness and Pinehurst Country Club. He spent two years playing on an NCAA D2 team at Florida Southern College before transferring to Colorado University – Boulder to play on their club team.

  • Trace loves tennis because it is both physically and mentally challenging and requires players to be creative and strong.  Ultimately, it is a great lifelong sport!
  • Coaching, for Trace, is a way for him to give back and be engaged in the community.  Trace explained, “HAT taught me so much and developed me into a persistent and hard working individual and has spread into all aspects of my life.  Being part of the community was great, and HAT taught me so much and helped me with my game, I knew I could help others and help the community.”
  • Trace’s favorite aspect of coaching is learning about each player’s learning style and being creative in the way he teaches lessons,  Trace remembers his own experience as a HAT player and learned that whether it involves playing games, learning detailed instructions, or experiences, tennis can be learned in many ways!
  • When he is not playing tennis, Trace is studying molecular biology and neuroscience.  He can also be found in nature on hikes and writing and producing music.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

So, which one are you? A pessimist or an optimist? Or are you one of those people who think it doesn’t really matter? Let’s define each one first. Pessimists tend to believe the bad things that happen are due to being uncoordinated, dumb, or unlucky, or due to an unfriendly universe. In other words, it’s a permanent and internal condition, it’s who they are, or it’s what they’re doomed to endure.

Optimists tend to believe the bad things that happen are temporary blips on the screen-of-life and are due to the mistakes they make, but it’s NOT who they are. They know that circumstances can be changed next time around and they’re determined to make an adjustment in the future.

They see their environments as favorable.

Experiments show that pessimists are three times more likely to give up, and optimists tend to do better in school, sports, and in business, regardless of talent. In one study, optimistic real estate agents sold 250% to 320% more than pessimistic agents.

Pessimists explain things that happen like this:

“I’m so dumb.” Or, “I always make mistakes like that.”

Optimists are more likely to say:

“I wasn’t thinking on that one.”

Or, “I’m having an off day.”

The big news is that pessimists can learn to be optimists using a simple skill: Learn to argue with yourself! When you hear your brain say something like “I’m so bad at tests”, immediately argue back by reminding yourself of the times you’ve done well. If your brain says, “I always blow it in games”, learn to stand up for yourself by pointing out a fact that proves it’s not true. “I made a great play last week!”

Correct the brain about the lies it tells. Don’t believe everything it says. When you learn the skills of non-negative thinking you’ll become more optimistic and the benefits are huge! Research shows that optimistic people not only win more often, but they are noticeably better under pressure, AND better when they have to overcome obstacles. It’s been said that if we truly understood the power of our brains, we’d never allow ourselves another negative thought.

Nothing good comes from negativity!

Choose to be an optimistic thinker when bad things happen. Remember, this kind of thinking is a choice we make. Use your brain as a powerful friend, not a devious opponent.


 David Benzel
Author & Founder, Growing Champions for Life

The Tennis Siblings

Meet David and Eileen Tran High Altitude Tennis Academy student Athletes. They were born in Colorado, both learning to play tennis at the age of six. Growing up in the family that loves tennis, they were easily drawn to the #sport immediately.
Their parents migrated from Vietnam to the #US as refugees after the #Vietnam War. Both David and Eileen work hard and look up to many tennis players as great inspirations. Eileen gets her tennis inspiration from #SimonaHalep. “Although her height is a disadvantage, she plays a very aggressive style of tennis and has an unbelievable speed” says Eileen. “I like #KeiNishikori because he is an aggressive baseliner, plus he has good form, technique, foot works and most importantly his sportsmanship” David stated.
Eileen’s biggest goal is to play college tennis and play #WTA tournament. David has a dream to become the top 500 players in the world. Out of tennis, they are also hard working students in school and earned numerous awards.
To support David & Eileen to achieve their goal of becoming the new tennis sensational siblings, click here https://www.mightycause.com/organization/Hat-Fund

The Big Lie About Happiness

Do you ever wonder why some people are happier than others? How did they get that way?

People at every age, and every walk of life, list happiness as one of the things they want. Everyone wants to be happy. So, most people get busy trying to figure out what will bring them happiness. They start looking to their friends, hoping they will make them happy. They buy toys and luxuries, thinking these material things will bring happiness TO them. Some people believe their activities, like sports and hobbies, will satisfy their need for happiness. And then there’s always the hope that more money will make life fulfilling.

unnamedBut all of us know people who have a ton of friends, or expensive toys, or lots of activities – and they’re still not happy.

All of these strategies are based on a common success theory that’s a combination of “IF and “THEN”: IF I get a promotion, THEN I’ll be happy. IF I get my spouse to change, THEN I’ll be happy. IF I get a new car, THEN I’ll be happy. Basically, we believe that IF we achieve success at something, THEN we’ll be happy. So why are so many successful people unhappy? And why are people only temporarily happy when they get a promotion, a new wife, or a new car?

Answer: Because the Success = Happiness formula is a lie!

That’s right… success is not the way to happiness. In fact – let this thought sink in for a minute: “There is no WAY to happiness; happiness IS the Way.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master)

What does THAT mean? It means that happiness is a choice people make. It is a way of thinking and acting every single day. Most importantly, success tends to follow happy people, not the other way around. You’re more likely to be successful once you decide to be happy!

Over 200 research studies have shown that happiness leads to success in school, friendships, sports, business, and marriage. If you’re looking for some tips on how to do that, here are five strategies that the researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health discovered:

Write down three things that went well at the end of every day.
Be thankful for three things every day and keep a Gratitude Journal.
Write a “Forgiveness Letter” to someone, even if you never send it.
Use an optimistic style of explaining the unfortunate things that happen.
Set aside time for meditation or prayer daily.
These techniques really work if you do them every day. You’ll still have some bummer days, but there’s a reason why some people are generally happier than others. They choose happy, and everything from their smile to their swagger says it most of the time.

The choice is yours. You can choose “unhappy”, or you can choose “happy”– and endure, or enjoy, the results. William James said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.”

It’s time to start singing!



David Benzel, Growing Champions for Life

Teach Your Child to Do the Hard Things

One of my favorite speeches by President J.F. Kennedy was given at Rice University in Texas. He had recently announced our intention to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade. He said, “People ask why are we going to the moon?” His answer was, “We choose to put a man on the moon because it is hard.”

Most people like to avoid the hard things. Their lack of self-discipline points them toward other easier choices. I was talking with a group of competitive swimmers and I asked, “What’s most difficult about swimming? A young swimmer raised his hand and said, “At 5:30 in the morning my bed is much warmer than the pool.” The bottom line is that self-discipline is tough because there are always attractive, easier options luring us away from what’s best for us in the long-run.

  • A brownie is more attractive than a carrot or apple
  • Watching a movie is more attractive than studying for a test
  • Hanging out with friends if more attractive than practicing drills

Self-discipline usually involves doing the HARD THING. So, on the surface it’s the least attractive option. We are constantly presented with choices between immediate gratification and long-term benefits.

This raises the key question for parents: How do we teach our children this important life skill of CHOOSING to do the things you don’t feel like doing, but you know are good for you?

I have three suggestions to help you with this lesson.

Break large projects down into smaller bite-size pieces. Thirteen-year-old Nicholas had to prepare for a promotion exam that would elevate him to a Brown Belt in Karate. He had 30 days to practice his skills, but the task seemed over-whelming due to the number of skills. Procrastination was setting in! His mother helped him by providing a calendar so he could schedule just a few skills to practice every day. Breaking down the task into manageable daily bites gave Nicholas the confidence to chip away at his list of skills a little bit at a time. Learning self-discipline in smaller doses helps young athletes.

Give children some control over making tough choices. Another strategy for strengthening self-discipline is to have your children practice doing the hard thing the majority of time, but less than 100% of the time. If the goal is to eat healthy snacks, allow your children to choose their snacks throughout the week, but they can only choose junk food 3 times per week…all other choices need to be healthy. This strengthens the self-discipline muscle. Teachers accomplish the same thing when they give a math assignment of 20 tough problems, but tell their students to choose 15 to solve. A sense of control over one’s choices also strengthens the self-discipline muscle.

Put triggers in their environment. The third strategy involves the use of triggers, or visual cues that remind us to do the hard thing. A runner who places his shoes at the foot of his bed is giving himself a visual reminder to go out and run first thing in the morning. When our son was in grade school he struggled to learn his spelling words each week. Starring at the words on a page didn’t get the job done. So, we placed a large white board in his room. Each day he would repeatedly write some of the spelling words on the board. The presence of the whiteboard was a trigger to remind him to do the work, and it made the memorization more fun. Triggers work!

In the long run, life is easier for people who practice self-discipline….and we can’t call it self-discipline if someone else is making us do it. Self-discipline is choosing to do the hard thing, instead of the easy thing, because we know it will pay big dividends later on. Jim Rohn said, “We must all suffer one of two pains; the pain of self-discipline, or the pain of regret. The difference is self-discipline weighs ounces, but regret weighs tons.”


David Benzel,

Founder, Growing Champions for Life

Airplanes and Summer Camps- A reply from a coach to the parents

A prospective parent applying for the HAT program recently asked a great question that I want to share with you all. She asked, “What makes the High Altitude summer camp different from the [shoe brand] summer camps that I have researched which are located here and throughout the U.S.?” I love questions like that, and my response was shaped in the form of a story of sorts.

Ryan Segelke - Founder, High Altitude Tennis LLC, The HAT FUND, Inc.
Ryan Segelke – CEO & CO- Founder, High Altitude Tennis LLC.

What was my response? I described the scenario which we have all experienced when you get onto an airplane: you get comfy in your seat and begin a surface level encounter with a very nice person sitting next to you. You don’t feel as if you have a choice since you will be spending the next three hours next to this person and you don’t want to seem rude or anti-social. So, you make the most of it. And, besides, you might learn something new!

You open up the conversation by asking if they are returning home or heading off for vacation and the conversation continues from there. By the end of the three hour flight, you have learned some very basic, surface-level information about the person next to you. And, who knows, maybe you exchange cards so you can grab coffee sometime in the future (in my experience, even in the best of connections, the likelihood of actually grabbing coffee is near zilch). Ninety-nine percent of the time, this encounter does not get beyond the initial conversation. There is just typically not enough time or genuine interest to delve into deeper issues that may be going on in each of your lives.

This is what makes High Altitude Tennis Academy unique. We take great pride in delving deeper to understand what makes each individual student tick. The vast majority of general summer academy offerings sponsored by local colleges and big name-brand shoes are not meant to go beyond this surface-level encounter. And if you look close enough and ask the right questions, you will find just that. This is not a bad thing by the way! With roughly 25% of the families that I talk to, the student is not yet ready for intensive training and is 100% suited to attend a basic camp. And I always recommend and refer them appropriately if this is the case. The feedback I recieve weekly is that there are a large pool of players who have enjoyed and had fun with this type of program but have realized that they have now outgrown this experience and are craving more. A portion of that group is just at a loss and not clearly able to articulate the breakdown they are having. They sense that this fun but non-intensive camp experience won’t get their child to their ultimate goals, yet they aren’t sure what else is out there…That’s where we come in!

If the young scholar-athlete is “driving the bus” and asking for more intensive training and curriculum that includes competition with players from around the world and mom and dad are supportive of not only their child’s aspirations but our champion methodology, that’s a family we are looking for!

At the end of the conversation, I emphasized strongly to the prospective parent to have a fun but serious talk about what their young  athlete is ready for and, based on that conversation, invest their money appropriately. So, that’s the question I leave you all with today: are you looking for a surface level encounter? Or are you looking for something deeper and more meaningful? I would speculate that this is a question that can be thought provoking concerning all parts of your life in today’s fast-paced, over-stimulated, instant-gratification world. But we will leave that for a different article!

Do you have a specific question you would like to see answered by me in a future article? E-mail me directly at ryan@highaltitudetennis.com, and thank you from the bottom our hearts for allowing us to be a part of your child’s journey!

By: Ryan Segelke
CEO & CO-Founder, High Altitude Tennis Academy

Click here to register for the HAT Summer Camp in Denver http://bit.ly/HATSummerCamp2018


How To Handle Nasty Opponents

Author: Jeff Borengasser, Senior Assistant, High Altitude Tennis, LLC.

In discussing the situation of playing opponents that use mental games or gamesmanship, I think it is important to start with something I strongly believe.  A player should always strive to walk off the court after a match with their character and reputation in tact. One can do this in victory or defeat if they played hard and if they played with fairness and good sportsmanship (even if their opponent did not). Winning a match is never more important than playing with fairness and sportsmanship.  As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.


So how can you handle opponents that play with gamesmanship?  It is not easy, but it is simple. It starts with a point of emphasis that every coach I have known has attested to.  Focus on the things that are within your control. When you play an opponent that is obviously resorting to gamesmanship (for example constantly asking the score after you already said it, constantly hitting you the third ball when you don’t want/need it, asking you to wait when you are about to serve, never hitting the ball directly to you between points, constantly questioning obviously correct calls, loudly shuffling feet as a distraction when you are about to serve, playing really slow or really fast as a way to distract you, etc.), you have zero control over what they are doing.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that players that resort to these tactics are doing it to distract you from focusing on your game.

These opponents love it if you get frustrated, start arguing, start name calling, complaining etc.  This is their comfort zone, and they will perform well with the added tension and frustration coming from your side of the court.  The only way to handle this opponent is to ignore their tactics and focus on what you need to do to play your best tennis. What often happens is you might keep your composure for much of the match, and then lose emotional control at some critical part of the match, which is exactly what your opponent is going for.  Instead turn this into motivation by realizing they are resorting to these tactics because they do not think they can beat you. Constantly remind yourself to ignore your opponent and focus on your strategy. A last note, you can call a line judge on these players, but many of their tactics will continue in less obvious ways.  It ultimately falls on you not to try and stop them from doing these things, but to instead focus on playing your best anyway.

Part of what makes tennis great are the unique challenges it presents.  We have to compete one on one, and at the same time be our own coach and official.  Tennis can bring out the worst in people. But, over my years in the game, I have held onto memories of seeing fair play, good sportsmanship, and graciousness in defeat.  These moments are noteworthy and can have a positive impact on you and the people around you. I urge you to do all you can to create these positive memories from your time on the court and to always walk off the court with your head held high in victory or defeat!

Notice I didn’t mention bad line calls above.  I think this falls into a different category that I will look to address in the near future.

Are there other topics on your mind that you would like for me to address? Leave a comment below and I will possibly address it in a future post!

I will see you soon on the court!

What Tennis Tournaments Should My Child Be Playing? (Including a complete roadmap to tournament success!)

Author: Brent Mazza, HAT Coach, USPTA, PTR and HAT Method Certified

Let’s work together to increase participation in this great game of tennis! I came across a few shocking junior tennis stats recently in relation to tournaments. According to the USTA, 38% of junior players drop out of tournaments after playing their very first tournament, 45% of players drop out after playing their second tournament, and 76% drop out after playing their fifth tournament. There are many possible explanations for these numbers. Perhaps the player has only played tennis at that point in their life, and hasn’t developed other all-around athletic skills from other sports, such as soccer and basketball, which in turn, may be hindering their tennis abilities. Or, maybe the player has a very poor technical stroke foundation, and they need to go back to the drawing board to clean up their fundamentals to eliminate unforced errors. Perhaps the player is not very mentally and physically tough, and they haven’t learned how to appropriately deal with adversity and losing, leading them to quit when things get challenging.

In my experience, one of the major reasons that players get discouraged and don’t play another tournament is that the player is registered for the inappropriate level of tournament in the first place, specifically if it is a regular yellow ball tournament. For example, I have seen numerous situations over the years when a new tournament player registers for a Level 5 or 6 tournament for their very first tournament. Unfortunately, they should be playing Level 7 and 8 tournaments at that point in their development. It is the responsibility of the parents and coaches to be correctly informed, and set their junior players up to have the best possible chance of having some success, build confidence, and establish enthusiasm and love for the lifelong game of tennis, especially from a young age.

I am a huge advocate and supporter of the new 2018 Player Progression Pathway, which now requires players ten years of age and younger to start in orange and green dot tournaments before advancing up to yellow ball. However, below I provide a continuation of that pathway, specifically focusing on the regular yellow ball tournaments. Please note that this pathway is simply meant to be a general guideline, and may need to be adjusted on an individual basis when necessary. Also note that a particular player who previously progressed to a higher phase at one age division may need to restart at a lower phase upon aging up into a new age division. Here at HAT, we recommend that players start to age up to the next division 4-6 months prior in order to get a “running head start” in that age group.

A Recommended Regular Yellow Ball Tournament Road Map for Junior Players

Phase 1 (Beginner Colorado State Level Player): L7

  • Rules to Graduate:
    • 66% rule (2/3 win/loss) demonstrates player is in the correct phase.
      • If winning percentage is higher than 66%, the player may move up to Phase 2.
      • If winning percentage is 33% (1/3 win/loss) or lower, the player may need to put in some additional work on strokes and tactics, as well as play some additional practice matches, to improve tournament performance.
    • Winner/Finalist in several L7’s (at least 3-4)

Phase 2 (Intermediate/Advanced Colorado State Level Player): L6

  • Rules to Graduate:
    • 66% rule (2/3 win/loss) demonstrates player is in the correct phase.
      • If winning percentage is higher than 66%, the player may move up to Phase 3.
      • If winning percentage is 33% (1/3 win/loss) or lower, the player may need to move back down to Phase 1.
    • Winner/Finalist in several L6’s (at least 3-4)

Phase 3 (Intermountain Sectional Level Player): Intermountain L5’s, L4’s, L3’s (and L6’s at both current age group and one age group up on an as need basis)

  • Rules to Graduate
    • 66% rule (2/3 win/loss) demonstrates a player is in the correct phase.
      • If winning percentage is higher than 66%, the player may move up to Phase 4.
      • If winning percentage is 33% (1/3 win/loss) or lower, the player may need to move back down to Phase 2.
    • Winner in a L5, Winner/Finalist in several L3’s and L4’s (at least 3-4)
    • L6’s are played in the current age division in this phase primarily to stay match tough, continue to learn winning habits and work on improvements learned in practice. L6’s may also be played at a higher age division (one age division up) to gain match play experience and points against older players.

Phase 4 (National Level Player): L3’s, L2’s and L1’s (and Intermountain L4’s, L3’s on an as need basis)

  • Rules to Graduate
    • 66% rule (2/3 win/loss) demonstrates you are in the correct phase.
      • If winning percentage is higher than 66%, the player may move up to Phase 5.
      • If winning percentage is 33% (1/3 win/loss) or lower, the player may need to move back down to Phase 3.
    • Winner/Finalist/Semifinalist in several L3’s, L2’s, and L1’s

Upon graduating from Phase 4, players enter Phase 5, and thus become international level players competing against other players from all over the world on the ITF Junior Circuit. In Phase 6, players then transition into becoming a world class professional player competing on the ITF Pro Circuit, while Phase 7 is the ATP/WTA Tour level.

My hope is that if more parents and coaches follow this pathway for the yellow ball tournaments, especially at the beginning of junior players’ tennis careers, the stats provided by the USTA with regards to tournament player retention will improve drastically over time. Please leave your questions and comments below, or you can always contact me directly at brent@highaltitudetennis.com. See you on the court (or at a tournament)!

Studying Abroad is not a Glorified Holiday

In the world that we live in today, there isn’t an aspect of our lives that has not been touched by globalization. What is globalization? Simply explained, it is a situation of nations being integrated across inter national boundaries in whatever we do; be it business and economics or political views or culture or the sharing of grief. No doubt, however, that “studying abroad” would top the list as the oldest example of globalization. Though studying overseas is very commonplace today, it still retains a charm that is not easily replicated.

Very easily the greatest charm in studying abroad is the impact that such education impacts the rest of a person’s life; it is a milestone event. Any list of the reasons for choosing to study abroad would include the following:

  • Improving academic caliber
  • Development of professional skills
  • Enhancing employability
  • Appreciation of cultural diversity
  • Value-addition to personal history

Every survey has shown that US universities are the most-favorite destination for students from all over the world. Besides being veritable reservoirs of knowledge, universities in US have also earned the reputation of being the most welcoming of institutions and of imparting the highest quality of education, when compared to any other in the world.

Why is the US the most sought-after destination for studying abroad? I will answer this question by elaborating on the 5 reasons listed above (for studying overseas).

Improving Academic Caliber

Every student, wishing to gain further knowledge in his chosen subject of study, can be sure that a university in the US will offer him the following — faculty who are the most learned and updated on the subject, the access to the most advanced and updated knowledge of the subject and a learning environment which is unique, very practical and very supportive. These are the heady mix of ingredients that every serious student aspires for.

Development of professional skills

Universities in the US are invariably equipped with modern equipment, tools and facilities for the highest level of professional studies. Therefore, students not only gain academic knowledge but also gain hands-on experience of working with the latest tools of the profession. Except in the area of Arts, for which the European universities are the premier ones, American universities are the leaders in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Medicine.

Enhancing Employability               

More and more employers are seeking to recruit those who have been educated abroad, particularly ones who have been educated in the US. Why is education in the US such a sought-after qualification? The answer lies in the fact that an employee who has studied in the US is sure to have been exposed to modern theories, methodologies and the latest equipment; these qualities are a boon to any employer.

Appreciation of cultural diversity            

Irrespective of one’s profession, being able to communicate effectively goes a long way in professional development. Nothing prepares a person better than life spent on a university campus in the US where there are students from all over the world and is therefore the perfect medium for breaking-down cultural barriers. The reality is that our workplace is more globalized than it was ever before, therefore, being able to communicate effectively across multiple cultures, without any inhibitions is a critical requisite for personal success.

Value-addition to personal history

No person can claim to a higher status in society than one who has studied abroad at an established seat of learning. Studying in the US is an eye-opener; it broadens the horizon of those arriving from less-developed countries. When one has studied in the US and returns to their home country, it is sure to make heads turn or draw second-looks in a social gathering!

Several of those who studied abroad have also gone ahead and sought and accepted US citizenship and have integrated well in American society and excelled in the profession of their choice. They have earned national and international recognition and have won laurels for their contributions. American society is an amalgam of several cultures created by waves of settlers originally from Europe but subsequently from nations around the world too.

In spite of the attractiveness of continuing to live abroad, after completing higher studies, many choose to return to their home country. The seemingly natural act of returning is loaded with advantages in favor of the home nation. It immediately increases the intellectual capital of the home nation. In the longer-term, the returnees carry forward business and professional relationships, which are effectively the seeds of collaboration and knowledge-sharing ventures.

Those who study abroad should not fail to give back to their home nation. Upon their return, they can do so by engaging themselves in 3 broad areas, namely politics (or public life), economics (or business) and social (education, health).

(a) Politics — I have mentioned earlier that studying abroad intrinsically enriches a person’s character. Alumni, therefore, are potentially capable of providing transformational leadership, which is commonly missing in less developed and under-developed nations.

(b) Economics — In the field of business and economics, because they have studied (lived) abroad they have experienced the comfort of modern and superior products and the power of technologically advanced methods of production; they are therefore very capable of managing the introduction of new products and modern production facilities.

(c) Social — In the field of education and health, because of their superior personal experiences (while studying/living abroad) they can introduce the best similar practices and mentor the next generation of youth and improve their standard of living.

There is yet another dimension of enrichment – it occurs when those who have studied abroad return to their home country and pursue their profession. The students group themselves and form alumni associations. Alumni associations are not merely for bragging rights but they continue the spirit of camaraderie and play an inspirational role for others to study too in the same institution. In sum, it is a continuation of the engagement with the alma mater by its students.

Alumni outreach events and programs are ideal platforms for saying thank-you to the university to which they owe their gratitude for success. They are best qualified to use the lessons learned from their experience of studying and living in the USA.

Institutions all around the world have a plan in place for engaging their alumni. Failure to have such a plan will mean missing out on opportunities of several kinds. Alumni, for example:

ü  Serve as ambassadors, advocates and mentors for the next generation of students to inspire them to study in the same institutions

ü  Pool financial resources for scholarships

ü  Donate to establish endowments for research projects, for amenities (example, library, study halls, auditoriums, sports arena, etc.)

ü  Create and fund faculty positions for research and teaching a super-specialized subject

A final word; studying abroad is a serious decision soaked in benefits which can last a life-time; it is not a matter to be dismissed as simply a glorified holiday.

By HF Contributor: A. Adeni