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Business student selected by prime minister and Global Vision to attend APEC 2011

By Jennifer Kelly

It's hard not to be impressed by commerce student Samantha Phelan's passion and interest in the global economy. It's an interest she dedicates a lot of her time to and the rest of the country is starting to notice.

Directly on the heels of being selected to participate in a Junior Team Canada mission to Indonesia and Malaysia, Ms. Phelan has been chosen by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Global Vision to represent Canada's youth at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Voices of the Future (APEC VOF) leadership development program. The program will run parallel with the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 7-13.

Under the theme, "Engage, Discover, Forge," the APEC Voices of the Future 2011 will provide youth with opportunities for networking and interaction on APEC-related issues. The participating youth will have a busy schedule with events scheduled all day from Monday to Saturday. Some of the events planned include a tour of a Russian sailing training vessel and attendance at the Asia Pacific Business Symposium. The most notable event will be attendance at the APEC summit itself, which will be hosted by United States President Barack Obama.

At the end of the exciting and intense week, Ms. Phelan and the other Canadian students will have a debriefing session with Prime Minister Harper. There, the chosen youth will discuss what they have accomplished and the business contacts they made.

Ms. Phelan is thrilled to be a part of these events, but she is also focused on the importance of representing Canada and forging new business connections.

"Like the Junior Team Canada mission, this opportunity will allow me to network with CEOs and foreign leaders, but on a much larger spectrum, as it includes representation from each of the 21 member economies involved in APEC," said Ms. Phelan.

As part of attending, Ms. Phelan needs to raise $5,000 from sponsors across the country. She's confident she can recruit these sponsorships and already has a pitch developed to entice potential companies. The pitch? Since Ms. Phelan is an invited guest at these events, she can do a sponsor company's deal making and networking for them.

"The events leading up to the summit and the summit itself are exclusive, invitation only events," explained Ms. Phelan. "Since I will be present, I can represent my sponsoring organizations, make connections and achieve mandates on behalf of my sponsors."

Aside from the enormous learning experience, Ms. Phelan also believes the experience will be a stressful one, but she's up for the challenge – even if she did have doubts at the beginning.

"I asked myself if I would be prepared for the intensity of this before I applied," admitted Ms. Phelan. "But I quickly realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, both as a student and as a young professional."

Despite the hectic pace of the visit, Ms. Phelan hopes she will have time to forge new friendships and get to know the other students attending.

"One of my favorite things about travelling is getting to discover what youth in other countries are doing," said Ms. Phelan. "I have met some incredible young people doing amazing things in other countries. It inspires you to want to do better and push yourself to accomplish something equivalent to what they have accomplished."

All participating youth for the APEC VOF program are selected from the 21 APEC economies: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America and Vietnam. Ms. Phelan was one of just three selected for Canada, an honour Ms. Phelan doesn't take for granted.
"In November, it will mark a year from when I first got involved with Global Vision and if you had told me then that I would be mingling with presidents, CEOs and prime ministers in a year's time, I wouldn't have believed you."